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I get criticized for being vegan

I am a sophomore in high school and I have been a vegetarian by choice since I was 6. About 3 months ago I gave up dairy too, and I have been vegan ever since.

My mom is supportive and has also given up dairy after my efforts to 'convert her' to veganism. My friends all think my choice is weird and too off the beaten path for them to accept it. When I go to their houses for dinner, they seem offended when I bring my own food or don't eat the food they make, but I am not willing to compromise my ethics and eat meat/dairy.

I have stopped telling people I am vegan because of the disapproving looks I get. People automatically assume that I am a crazy, fanatic tree-hugging hippie (which I sort of am) but I don't shove my beliefs down people's throats, I rarely even talk about my diet choices in front of friends. Why are people so disapproving?

Many of my friends used to be vegetarian but have since gone back to eating beef and cheese sandwiches. I try to calmly deal with the eating choices of the people close to me without saying anything, but it is hard, because when I see a hamburger I see a tortured and abused cow rather than just a nummy treat. I realize that this entry is sounding like I feel superior to other people which is definitely not true. I have never criticized anyone's diet choices, which is why I am seeking advice.

After this lengthy entry, my question is this: Why do people criticize my eating habits when it in no way affects them, and how can I tastefully educate my friends on the cruelty of the meat industry without seeming critical or rude or like someone who shoves their beliefs down other people's throats?



First of all, congratulations to you on becoming vegan. You are making a huge difference in the life of farm animals, as well as in your own body. And, to do it at such a young age is really impressive. Unfortunately, you're dealing with some of the negative sides of choosing a path that's different than "the norm."

I'd like to tell you that you're getting criticized partially because you're still young and the young tend to feel afraid of people who are different. Unfortunately though, even as we get older people still fear what they don't understand. You might have seen this question sent in by a woman who dealt with a lot of negativity from an adult man: www.vegan-nutritionista.com/dealing-with-criticism-for-being-vegan.html . Make sure to check out the comments to get the full story.

You are entirely correct that your decision is yours alone to make and no one else should feel threatened or judged by you just because you choose to eat differently. The sad part is that no matter how positive you are about it, some people will still feel like you are judging them. This has nothing to do with you. What I believe is happening is that their conscience is telling them you are right and therefore they feel like that is coming externally from you. Really, the judging is happening inside them.

The very best thing you can do is remain positive and try to have a sense of humor about everything. I too decided to go vegetarian at a young age (12, not as young as you), and with two older brothers and lots of guy friends, I got teased A LOT for it. When I announced to my family I wasn't eating meat, my brother pinned me down and rubbed slices of ham all over my face. Ha! I probably cried at the time, but now I can laugh about it.

I have found that when you are able to be light-hearted about people's teasing, it tends to die down faster. If you try to fight them or tell them facts, they will keep making you feel terrible (I think because deep inside they know you are right and that they're choosing not to follow in your steps). I can't tell you it will be easy to stomach watching people eat meat because I still have a really hard time with that, but I just try to think of other things and avoid looking at their food. It's just not polite to tell people about the food they're eating while they're eating it. And, it will absolutely not make them change their mind. They will only be more stubborn about what they eat and make you feel more like a freak.

In fact, when you take a positive, compassionate voice, you will find more people wanting to learn about your lifestyle. You will get further with being friendly and happy about your choices, will feel better and less vulnerable to criticism, and others will see that and ask you about your lifestyle. And, it's just a better way to live.

Stay strong and try to find the humor in everything. Remember, there once was a time when you didn't know about factory farms, and that's the only reason you kept eating dairy products. Once you knew, it was nearly impossible to turn your back on it. All those other people are just still in the dark, so have compassion for their lack of knowledge.

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Re: You wanna know why?
by: Anonymous

I'm sorry but your comment is ignorant and senseless. Please delete it. Vegans are not against animals dying and if you think that you have selective hearing. You're also trying to comfort your own deep feelings of guilt from eating disgusting, factory farmed, tortured, suffering, slaughterhouse slop passed off as food.

To be a vegan is the only solution to ending the practice of animal abuse in this country. It's saying NO to a capitalistic approach for raising sentient beings to be consumed without care for anything but profits. Veganism is how one can take a stand against the destruction of rainforest to create pastures and soybean feed farms. It's a stand against excess methane production from cows and the dead zones from feces running off into the oceans. It's a fight for justice and against the brutal killing of males in the egg and milk industry.

For anyone living in the world with complete access to a variety of plant based foods (so anywhere other that Siberia, Alaska, or the Antarctic), you have very little reason to be anything other than vegan. It's not about feeling bad if you aren't BUT if you can; YOU SHOULD. That's that. So keep your silly comments to yourself because everyone deep inside has a conscience telling them that the way we raise animals for food is wrong. If you choose to ignore it, that's your business. Hurt people, hurt people...keep that in mind before spewing out nonsense in an effort to soothe your hurt inside.

Factory farming is not natural
by: Anonymous

The point of being a vegan in today's world is not to save animals from top predators. No vegan I know would ever make the argument that veganism is to disrupt the food chain. I hope that this argument would never be used to defend an anti-vegan's perspective ever again as it's done here in this comment section.

I am a vegan because I believe that animals should not be used for human consumption when there are many, many nutritious alternatives to the disgusting factory farmed animal products available today. I want to have a clear conscience that the food I put into my body didn't suffer and didn't cost animal life. I'm not interested in death to animals so that I can live. And in the end, eating animals may lead to early death to humans. Perhaps it's a karmic cycle that meat-eaters should certainly face and soon.

Furthermore, meat-eating is an industry that depends on your money to sustain itself and I'm not going to give another dollar in that direction. There are so many levels of suffering when it comes to meat production including the underpaid slave labor of meat factory workers to the native species that are displaced when forests are cleared for cattle herding...and not to mention the horrible living conditions of factory farmed animals including organic/free-range/grass-fed whatever. It's all a death trap when it's done on such a large scale and ultimately for profit.

So to answer the question: Guilt is the only answer to why non-vegans attempt to insult or hurt vegans. It stems from lack of will power, denial of support in animal suffering, and unwillingness to be inconvenienced by the harsh facts of meat production and the need for a lifestyle change. I understand it's not easy to give up your cultural connections to animal-based products but if you can you absolutely should. If you can't, no judgement on you and in return, don't judge me or other vegans.

Moving forward, I have a wish that non-vegans do not attempt to dismiss their animal product consumption habits by justifying it with irrelevant stuff. I encourage you to be quietly comfortable being uncomfortable. We all have to make our own choices about what we eat and don't. If you feel sorry, change. It's none of my business what you do to your body so don't make my lifestyle choice yours; not as jokes, insults, fear-mongering about nutrients, or whatever else comes to mind that is dismissive of my veganism.

Not all the same....
by: Anonymous

Another person who thinks that all vegans disagree entirely with any creature being eaten throughout the entire food chain.

It might surprise you to know that some of us even enjoyed meat as omnivores and may even believe that eating meat is perfectly natural....however, we as humans have moved FAR beyond natural meat consumption. We now treat animals as though they are just another component of a food factory. We are encouraged to believe that meat can/should form part of every meal and should cost no more than factory processed crap. If people knew even a fraction of the truth of how their 'Nightingale Farms' meat/dairy/eggs were produced, they might feel like going vegan too - but then most people prefer to stay blind and choose personal comfort over truth.

You wanna know why?
by: Anonymous

Because being vegan doesn't help at all. Humans are omnivores and restricting yourself to just plants will mean you will have less nutrients for your body and have to eat twice as much food.

If you're a vegan because you want to protect animals. Then you should go kill the top predators so that animals can all be safe. Oh whats that? 95% of the animals in the food chain/web are technically predators? Then why don't we kill all of them so that only plants are left! That would be great!

You see how hypocritic you are? Despite your efforts, animals will still die, and if you're gonna be like every other vegan in the world, i.e PETA.

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