As I sit and reflect on two full months of being vegan, I can’t help but think about a subject that has come up for me a lot in the last two months. Its something I contemplated as a vegetarian and is certainly not exclusive to being a vegan.
The subject is this, how do you find a balance between preaching and informing?
I’m not an idiot, I’ve worked in marketing, PR events, copy writing etc my whole life and I know that the law of engagement and attraction in what I write about is much more powerful than the alternative of ‘pushing’ my messages onto a perhaps unperceptive / un-receptive / unwilling audience.
However, the longer I am vegan, the more I want to shout about the benefits of this lifestyle personally, but also about what really goes on behind the scenes in factory farming. I want everyone to be enlightened. That doesn’t mean I want to ‘convert’ the whole world to my way of thinking, but it does mean I would wish everyone had their blinkers removed and could see the meat industry for what it really is. I’d love it to emerge from the shadows and for everyone to really know what goes on in order for that meat to become their meal. Its the ignorance that I hate and the fact that this industry manages to hide in the shadows and get away literally with inflicting pain and suffering relentlessly, day in, day out, on billions and billions of animals globally.
So, you see how passionate I am?
And yet, my marketing roots mean I know that ‘pushing’ this message has its limits. People will unfollow me, people will avoid having conversations about food with me, people will ‘write me off’ as a crazy activist, people will shake their head and people will prefer to remain in the dark. After all – who really wants to go onto a Facebook feed and see lots of images of pain and suffering and be confronted in that way? No-one. I imagine.
So therein lies the challenge. If you don’t force it out in the open, it will remain in the dark but if you are too forceful, nothing will ever change and you risk alienating everyone.
I’ve had a lot of people ask me why I’ve become vegan, and sometimes (with close friends who’s curiosity I really appreciate), I am brutally honest because I know they love and respect me and might actually be listening. However, with people who I don’t really know who ask me, I find myself giving a much more ‘vanilla’ version of my reasons and even asking, ‘Do you really want to know?’ giving them an ‘out’ before I start. Because, once I start, I will be honest. I have to try and work out if they are being polite or if they really want to know because sometimes, smiles, the last thing people want over their morning coffee is a vegan tirade..!!!
I wonder if other vegans and vegetarians also struggle with this dilemma? Its a fine line. I feel bound to share the truth but at the same time constrained by the knowledge that sometimes people really don’t want to know. They’d rather just not know so they can carry on doing as they’ve always done without being confronted or challenged.
So many times I want to share something on Facebook and don’t or I want to comment but don’t…as I know the time isn’t right and I don’t want to be that person who is always ‘judging’ or ‘making others feel awkward’. Sometimes I can’t help myself and I know I must come across as preachy or appearing to think I am ‘morally superior’ but its so hard to stay quiet all of the time.
So – to anyone reading – please indulge and respect when I do say something. Its coming from a place of love, concern and a willingness to inform (not to preach). And for anyone who genuinely asks me, I appreciate your curiosity and am thankful for it.
If any of you feel inspired to try something new, there is a meat free week coming up at the end of March. Dip your toes in and try it! It won’t kill you. https://meatfreeweek.org/#
I’ll leave you with my favourite poem. To me, veganism is taking the time to stop and stare. To think and reflect on what my choices really mean.