Around here, I drop the V bomb regularly, however, the more people I talk to, the more I realize how the word “vegan” needs a new marketing campaign. To do some research, I asked my recently vegan or as he prefers ”Plant- based” husband what he thinks of when he hears the word “vegan”. And I quote, “some skinny weirdo guy with piercings who has lots of angst.” Oy. Meanwhile, when I think of vegan, I think of my inspiring heroes like Coleen Patrick-Goudreau, Dr. Neil Barnard, or Kathy Freston. I think of living a healthy lifestyle and advocating for the millions of animals that suffer needlessly for our eating “pleasure”.
However, it seems that another group of people have been using the phrase “Plant-based” in an effort to conjure up a different message. It appears that the Plant-Based message is more about health and the environment with little focus on animal welfare. In addition, since it is a relatively new term (at least in my mind) it doesn’t have the same stigmatizing connotations that the word, Vegan does. It is for this reason that I sometimes use both Vegan and Plant-based in an effort to be inclusive.
However, I have heard lots of people say that they feel that they need to be perfect if they call themselves Vegan, and if they wear anything made from leather, occasionally mess up and eat a non-vegan cookie, or perhaps don’t have in depth explanations memorized for why they do everything they do, that they can not in good conscience call themselves Vegan. To be completely honest, nobody is perfect, and I think there is really something to be gained by joyfully sharing who you are and what you do with the people around you.
Sometimes I worry that these “almost vegans” may have met someone who was Vegan who might have intimidated them or made them feel that they couldn’t be part of “the Vegan club”. Ala:
I beg to differ. I think that Veganism is about what you do every day to the best of your ability in the life you are currently leading and also what your intentions are. Come join the party!!!
I also believe that it is important to call yourself whatever you feel most comfortable with and to remember that it will change over time. Guys like Rip Esselstyn have also coined the phrase Plant-Strong which I think especially appeals to men as well.
(Bicep contest at Rip Esselstyn’s House- and yes, that is Robert Cheeke on the right)
Remember, our diets evolve as we evolve. I also want to tell all my Vegan peeps out there “Be kind, be compassionate, and be empathic, not just towards animals, but to other people around you who either don’t know what you know or are just starting out on their own journey”.
When you are first learning and practicing this lifestyle, it can be easy to feel superior to those around you who do not know or refuse to do what you do. Remember what convinced you to live this way, and it wasn’t someone making you feel inferior or stupid. For me it was inspiring writers and celebrities like Alicia Silverstone who made it seem easy, obtainable and something that I could do to live a healthier and more compassionate life. Looking for more information on what to say to your friends to help convince them? Check out Colleen Patrick-Goudreau’s Food For Thought pod casts on Itunes or on Compassionatecooks.com or The Pleasure Trap by Douglas J. Lisle