Once upon a time there was a girl who used to shout from the rooftops. She went to protests and volunteered at farm sanctuaries and conspired elaborate plans to free animals from their torture chambers. Her favorite thing to do was to educate people on the financial, social, environmental and health benefits of being vegan.
That girl is gone. While of course I will never give up my veggie ways, I no longer consider myself to be that proud vegan. After 9 years of having to explain myself over and over again and dealing with tension in relationships and at family events, after falling away from eating healthfully and having my kids go from 100% vegan since birth to asking me to buy them bacon because they eat it every other week at their Dad’s house, I’ve lost steam. The word vegan is said with disdain and even some popular youtubers say the word with a slight twitch.
The word vegan tends to make people close off their views immediately, they get defensive, or they become filled with guilt and shame. None of these are productive for education or change. It may only be a case of semantics, but words do matter.
I am proud of many things. In 2018 it is officially 9 years since I made the change to a “plant based” lifestyle. With all of the controversy and adversary the minority faces in society I am proud of that journey. I am proud that I set up a foundation for my kids to question their own choices when they are ready and a healthy base to their diet even if it is only every other week. I will still proudly wear my farm sanctuary t-shirts in public but I have retired my vegan sweatshirt (partly because it’s a fitness one and I don’t do it the honor of being fit). I’m proud that I have made some amazing vegan connections over those years, and hold those connections close. I love so many things about who I am and the choices I have made. I will continue to be plant based and I will continue to encourage a plant based lifestyle where ever people want to learn by setting an example. While by definition I will always be vegan and I am keeping the integrity of Vegan Solace as a place for everyone in the plant based lifestyle to find comfort and relatable content.
But the term “vegan” has become a negative umbrella term that many people do not understand and don’t want to learn about. It is no longer effective outside of the vegan community when it creates people to shut down or not take me seriously. I encourage you to use whatever term fits your life and makes you feel good.
What are your experiences using different terms for being a vegan?