Seven years ago, I started dating the man that would become my person. He was a dedicated carnivore. I thought nutritional yeast and seitan were household staples. As we grew together, we met in the middle. I ate a bacon wrapped date with him and he proudly declared that he “fixed” me.
Now, we are a vegan household. This didn’t happen with cajoling or nagging, but it was an organic decision that evolved from our dedication to animals, the planet and our health.
I realize that not every meat-eater meets vegetarian is a love story, but this article is to make us realize what we have in common. The world is divisive enough without getting snippy over what we place on our plates. These ten things are meant to break the barriers we form over the question, “To meat or not to meat?”
1. You love animals.
The other day, my partner and I saw a mouse on our balcony and decided to let it continue to live there. You may not be as inclined to rodents, but tell me that you haven’t met a puppy that made you melt, or a spirited cat that made you reconsider your stance on crazy cat ladies. We love our domestic animals, whether we are vegan or not. The #adoptdontshop hashtag on social media has further proven this fact, expressing support for shelters rather than breeding animals. Celebrities like Olivia Munn and Hilary Swank have joined the movement.
2. You think abuse against animals is bad.
There are few of us that want inhumane conditions for animals, no matter whether those animals are made into a platter of bacon or not. There have also been studies addressing that animals feel pain in a human way. Many farm animals that are put in crowed, miserable conditions are smarter than your dog. Who wishes that on another being?
3. You both enjoy nature, clean air, and healthy water.
Sometimes when I am asked to think about what I’m grateful for, I think about how awesome it is to be outside walking, to breathe clean air, and to drink water without being concerned about the repercussions. These things are not just a given for being human. Livestock production affects the climate and the air, contributing to climate change. Every bite of a meat-free meal is a way of saying “thank you”.
4. You think we should protect the earth and do what we can to avoid environmental destruction.
Al Gore is not the only man on the side of the environment. Whether you have gotten on the compost train or decided to bike to work, the information we’ve received that our earth is in serious trouble is worth taking into account to change our own habits. Vegans are simply trying to do so via their dietary choices.
5. You don’t like hypocrites.
Admit it, the last time you were on a Tinder date and the person pretended to have a value they did not actually possess, you started considering when you were going to make your exit. Vegans are simply trying to make sure that they don’t become this Tinder date, by aligning their values with how they actually act.
6. You like actual facts (vs. alternative ones).
Although “alternative facts” and “fake news” make the rounds on the Internet, you are the type of person who wants science and proof. Recently, I was asked how I got my nutrition as a vegan/vegetarian. Rather than getting defensive, I responded with evidence based on vegetarian nutrition. I grew up being told that I had to drink milk to grow tall. Now, research is indicating that we don’t need it for bone integrity (or any other reason). When we know better, we can do better.
7. You dislike apathy.
Vegans have gotten a bad rep because they can be notoriously passionate (especially when asked the seemingly innocuous question, “Why did you stop eating animal products?”). However, what is life if we can’t have passion about something? You have probably chosen many of your friends and your social circle based on your ideals and lack of apathy about similar subjects. Once we hit adulthood, “I don’t care” is not a good response to, well, anything.
8. You believe in speaking your mind and standing up for what you believe in.
Whether you believe in the need for more female comic book heroes or the fact that your sheets should be ironed, you are probably filled with opinions. Whether you are a vegan, upping your meatless Mondays to several days a week, or dedicated to your meat, you have to respect those who are willing to stand up for something that will make the world a better place.
9. You believe in sticking up for the “underdog.”
Right now the underdog might literally be a dog. Animals seem to have less and less of a voice and vegans are trying to stick up for them, in that same way that you stuck up for the kid who was almost stuffed into a locker in high school.
10. You don’t believe in compromising your morals (just to avoid an awkward situation).
We become our values: the mirrors that reflect our purpose, our priorities and how we conduct ourselves. If you have ever compromised your morals to fit in, you know it feels pretty icky. So although vegans may be the ones bringing their own casseroles to a dinner party, they are trying to stay true to who they are. Just like how you can’t compromise your awesomeness.
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