There’s a ‘joke’ going round that goes like this:
How do you know when someone is vegan?
Don’t worry, they’ll soon tell you!
It always gets a laugh from nonvegans. Yesterday, it was recited to me by someone who had to raise their own laugh. I have heard it so often, I scarcely react, but once again it occurred to me just how carefully we vegans tread in this nonvegan world. We navigate our cautious way through the sea of blue touchpapers that one simply has to brush lightly against to uncover hostile justification of humanity’s most sickening atrocities.
Do we tread so carefully because our cause lacks truth or because we lack conviction? No, in fact I believe the reverse is true. Most vegans are utterly honest, having started by facing the lies they were fed from the cradle, having challenged their entire philosophy of life, having admitted to themselves that they were participants in an outrage of epic proportions against fellow sentient beings and finally having consciously decided to live true to their values.
It is my experience that most vegans must exercise considerable self control. In a similar way to how nonvegans have become utterly disconnected with the bloodbath they are causing, vegans must disconnect from those people they meet in their everyday lives who are not vegan. When surrounded by casual cruelty, people laughing over the bloodied corpses of sweet and helpless creatures, chatting cheerfully as they consume the eggs or milk of tortured slaves whose reproductive processes have been abused and exploited, maternal instincts trashed and mocked, and their pitiful existences spent in fear and misery, it is vital to disconnect to an extent or our entire lives would be spent in heart-rending grief.
This casual horror is particularly hurtful when it involves nonvegans who are friends or family. Although we may love them, we cannot love what they do and for almost all vegans, it is our fervent hope that someday we may draw aside the veil of their wilful blindness about the awful consequences of their actions and have them share our values.
We tread warily however, having discovered that where once we hoped for interest, eagerness for information, and a sharing of our values, we now expect to meet mainly defensive hostility and a predictable and unoriginal range of excuses in support of the indefensible. We walk softly so as not to completely alienate those whom we still hope to reach, someday.
So yes, I’m vegan
How do you know when someone is vegan? Well I’m guilty as charged. I will soon tell you. But the real reason is probably not the one that the ‘joking’ nonvegan finds so amusing.
When we meet others. even in the most casual of circumstances, we share information about ourselves, glean information about those whom we meet. Through this sharing, we find common interests, experiences and outlooks and we subconsciously assess the nature of any future relationship we may have with them or reaffirm our existing bonds. If I were to list the things that I consider are important about me and my experience in life I will tell you that I’m vegan because it’s the main thing there is to know about me. It sums up my values and all the lessons life has taught me. Veganism has become synonymous with who I am as a person and to tell you that I am vegan is baring my soul.
So if you are not vegan, the next time you hear that someone is, please hold back on the hilarity for a moment and consider the sincerity that underlies their words. Consider how this word ‘vegan’ can describe the most important thing there is to know about another person and give serious thought to looking into it further. You may find you have more common ground than you thought.
See http://vegankit.com/ for more information.