THE STRUGGLE OF BEING VEGAN

What is the most difficult thing about living on a fully plant based diet?

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Sometimes there’s not much you can buy in a supermarket. Sometimes it’s awkward to ask the waitress in a restaurant if they have something that’s not from an animal (in Czechia the answer is very often NO).

Sometimes you have to deal with bacon jokes and with all the arguments that are completely the same every single time, all over and over again.

But all of these things are not such an issue. They are an obstacle, they make our lives more difficult, they make shopping longer (especially if you’re looking for a vegan AND no-palm-oil product), but we can get used to it.

There is one thing, however, that I will never get used to.

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I don’t eat animal products not only because of my health, but more importantly because of the planet and the animals. You can read more about the reasons in this ARTICLE.

I strongly believe that animals should get their own freedom, that they deserve their right to live and to be a part of the natural circle of life (which is not what we do to them at all). They are sentient beings who can feel pain, pleasure, happiness and sadness, they can even feel grateful. They think.

The problem with ethical veganism is that our main aim is to save those animals. We want them to be free and to stop suffering just because they taste good. But we can achieve that only if others go vegan as well.

And that is the part when it becomes hard, one would say almost impossible, right? How do we make the world go vegan? How do I convice YOU, the person reading this, that this is the path we should choose? Do I have the right to impose my opinions on you?

I’m surrounded by people who eat animal products, by people who love steaks and chicken nuggets, by people who don’t care if an animal they have never met dies or not. It’s not their pet, after all. They haven’t created that magical bond that exists between people and the animals they consider worth of love (dogs, cats, guineapigs etc.)

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And this is the struggle I have to face every single day. I try to save animals, it’s like pulling them out of the water where they would drown, it’s tough and it’s slow but I know it’s worth it. And then everyone I love, my friends, my family, everyone comes and throws all of those animals back in. Just like that.

I fight against everybody around me.

Silently.

I want to set those slaves free while I am sitting at a table with slaveholders.

I cannot bother them too much since having a vegan in their vicinity is itself annoying for some, I cannot be like vegan extremists and shout at people that they deserve to die if they eat bacon. Because that’s not the way it works.

This frustration has made me understand why vegan extremists do what they do. They are desperate. They want those innocent beings to stop dying uselessly as fast as possible. I understand. I feel the same. But I completely disagree with their tactics.

You don’t make people go vegan by insulting them. You don’t make them understand by blaming them. As I see it, it’s not even their fault, really.

Extremists are so blinded with anger and desperation that they have completely forgotten one thing. Most likely they used to eat meat once. Most of us weren’t raised as vegans. We chose this. And there had been times before this choice.

If someone came to me when I loved eating kebabs and McDonnald’s cheesburgers and started telling me that I was a bad person and that their way of seeing the world is the only right possibility, I would most probably tell them to leave me alone, let me eat my burger and f*ck off. And then I would never even try to think about going vegan.

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The problem lies in the system, in the habit of using animals as our source of food, in the way we were raised in. In many cases people aren’t vegan because they don’t have enough informations or because they’re too scared to change their beliefs, maybe their defensive mechanisms are so strong that it’s very hard to break them.

But how do we make people understand?

I’ve tried to answer this question so many times. I’ve had dozens of conversations with people that have driven me absolutely mad but I always know I have to stay calm (which I sometimes haven’t managed and I’m sorry for that), I know this is the chance to show another human the kinder way of living. I’ve failed many times. But sometimes… I don’t.

And that’s why we must keep on fighting.

I’m always so freaking happy when somebody comes to me and says:

‘I want to be a vegetarian/vegan.’

A few people around me have made those steps towards consuming less meat, towards becoming at least vegetarians. I’m not saying that I’m the reason why they’ve done this – not at all. But maybe… having a vegan around makes an impact, even if just a little bit.

The key is to discuss this topic in an intelligent and peaceful way, the key is not to force anyone to do it. I decided to become vegan when I saw the documentary Cowspiracy. And do you know why? Because this film is not harsh, it’s not drastic or brutal, it doesn’t feel forced. For me, this documentary represents peace. And that is what we all must learn from.

‘Does God want goodness or the choice of goodness? Is a man who chooses to be bad perhaps in some way better than a man who has the good imposed upon him?’ – Anthony Burgess

As John Jeavons in Cowspiracy says:

‘We can do it. But we have to choose to do it.’

Every single person must choose this on their own. We can’t force them, we can’t judge them.

We can only show by example. We can influence them just by being vegan, really, because as soon as they know it, they almost always ask why. And that’s our chance.

All those endless discussions about topics such as ‘it’s natural to eat meat’, ‘what are our teeth for’, ‘it’s the circle of life’, ‘where do you get your protein and calcium from’, ‘steaks taste good’, all of those arguments again and again. It’s exhausting, very exhausting indeed. Sometimes I just hope people don’t ask me why I’m vegan so I could avoid this debate.

But the truth is that this is the only thing we can do. We need to spread this thought in a peaceful way in order to save the animals. Vegan extremists actually help killing them because they make people so mad that they go and buy a steak just out of anger.

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There are times when I’m desperate. When I just don’t want to talk abour veganism any more. When I’ve had enough of those stupid arguments that we use just because our ancestors taught us them. When I feel like I’m not doing enough, I’m not saving them, when I just freaking wish people finally understood.

But that’s not the way it works.

The world cannot go vegan over night. It would turn into chaos. Many animals are going to die before we end this madness. The only hope we have is that their descendants will be finally free.

We must believe. Believe in spite of all the frustration, all the desperation and all the disappointment. Believe.

Believe that together, we will create a better world for another oppresed group of beings. First it was slaves, then black people and women. Now it’s animals.

We can hear their voices. And we must believe that one day, others will hear them as well.

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Denisa x

One Comment Add yours

  1. Marek Volf says:

    Sorry, too many topics that I would like to mention. 🙂
    The fact is that everyone has different personality – vegans or non-vegans. Every vegan has different background of his/her story. Every non-vegan could be engaged by different approach. Some of them by peaceful explanation, some of them by more aggresive speech, some by violent movie scenes. The most of them by combination of all througth the time or in one precisely prepared speech.
    Race equality in the USA was not reached only by Martin Luther King. There were also Black Panthers, Malcolm X etc. All these fractions created the whole movement, creating diversity where every single supported could choose the way of support.
    My opinion is that every vegan can spread message most effectively in the same way that transformed him or her. The real issue is (and I feel it in your article as you oppose to so-called “extremists”) that sometimes vegans are not able to respect fully other vegans of their different tactics and strategy. And this destroys attraction of veganism much more than any promotion of veganism stand-alone. Especially for potential vegans that are more socially sensitive it’s horrible to watch this hatred between vegans. So why they would like to join this group of people where pacifists hate radicals each other??? All of them are needed!
    Look at Czech gamekeepers organization, group of 100 000 almost men where the most of them is obsessed by killing of animals. But they are able to present themselves as one in public media although their excessive cases of killing people, dogs, or anything that moves when they were drunk.
    What about vegans and vegetarians… group of approx. same count? They are able to betray each other even in public in the middle of discussion with non-vegans in the most crucial moments. Typically ethical lacto-ovo-vegetarians. And it’s really sad. After a few months or between a year they will change belief and become vegans too, apologize you but it hardly change an old impression of the crowd.
    I would like to ask you to try to distinguish between “extremism” or more likely “radicalism” and so-called “extremism” that seems to me as simple “insanity” as you described it here.
    Please, if you will find the time, read this booklet of Michal Kolesár “I don’t harm if I don’t have to”
    http://michalkolesar.net/?p=4299
    or listen him here…

    “Animal liberation is not a matter of opinion. It is a fight for life. If we lose
    this awareness, it will be only a discussion about wasted lives and dead
    bodies. And from time to time a petition.”
    The conflict between Czech vegan radicals and prejudice (or I would call it presumption of guilt) from vegan pacifists is captured here. I was really ashamed for crowd, especially at the most end…


    Jill’s Film is also great movie about vegan activism in UK, if you didn’t see it already.

    And some other findings…
    * Don’t change word “vegan” for “plant-based…”… it’s misleading inclining to “food only”.
    * The most of people are simply ready to listen or not, no matter how you act. If they are not then they can be a year of two later.
    * If you talk to someone that is not obviously prepared, think of the crowd around. Your goal is to pass the discussion with honour and convince them, not the oponent. You will win when someone of the crowd will stand up for you against that psychos arguing with you. But don’t be sad if not. People will ask you later individually… week, month, year later.
    * Don’t try to convince everyone in crowd, not even majority. It’s statistically impossible… There are about 1% of vegans in population. If you inspire 1 or 2% of people that you meet, this is good result.
    * Family and close friends (especially parents and elder siblings due to family hierarchy) are usually the most toughest people in this case. Explain them the issue, but don’t spend a lot of time and energy with them. The animals really don’t care if person that will become vegan is your relative or not that is usually much more open-minded. E.g. totally unknown person on the street that stops and speak with you shortly while distributing fliers about animal issues.
    A lot of points mentioned in these vieos…

    I mentioned distributing of fliers, it’s really great filling experience. Anyway, there is space for activism in your branch… what about slam poetry…


    Or animal rights-themed play… great challenge.
    http://www.mercyforanimals.org/animal-rights-themed-play-takes-on-the-big-apple

    Liked by 1 person

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