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How to Not Be a Judgmental Vegan

October 1, 2013

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My decision to become a vegan was met with all sorts of jokes, questions, and concerns. In a family and society where meat, eggs, and dairy are at the top of the food chain, my love for tempeh and almond milk seemed a little strange.

It’s now been seven years since I've consumed meat and a little over two since I last ate eggs or dairy, and my family is finally starting to digest my dietary decision. It wasn’t until last year that my grandparents stopped offering me chicken cutlets and that my parents finally understood the difference between dark chocolate and milk chocolate, but slowly but surely they are warming up to the idea.

Although veganism has become a bit more mainstream since I first declared my ways, I’m often still faced with questions and criticisms. Like most vegans, I’m extremely proud and passionate about the way I live my life and that openness tends to attract a lot of discussion regarding my choices.

It can be frustrating to constantly field questions about my decision. However it's important to remain patient with questions and nonjudgmental with others’ choices. After all, the foundation of veganism is compassion and equality for all.

Learn how to avoid the stereotype of being a “judgmental vegan” with these four tips.

1. Don’t forget your past.

Chances are you weren’t born a vegan. Instead, you most likely learned about the lifestyle through a friend, as I did, or from leading documentaries and books on the topic. Next time you notice yourself judging someone else’s lifestyle decision, remember that there was probably a time when you weren’t vegan, either. Instead try offering your personal experiences or vegetarian literature that might inspire those who are interested to learn more.

 2. Respect the freedom of choice.

When sharing your thoughts, the key word to remember is “interested.” If you have a friend who’s having trouble eliminating eggs from their diet, or sometimes “cheats” with dairy, be there to offer them support. However, remember that diet is a personal choice and if someone says they are not interested, it is best to respect their wishes and resist the urge to overwhelm them with information.

 3. Remember that health comes first.

There’s no one-size-fits-all diet.  While one person may thrive on a vegan diet, others might feel their best when consuming animal products. A person’s health is top priority and they reserve the right to cater to their individualized nutritional requirements.

4. Show why veganism is awesome.

As soon as word got out that I was vegan at my last job, I became the butt of all sorts of vegan jokes. Instead of remarking on my co-workers diets, I chose to show them just how amazing vegan food tastes. I didn’t convert anyone to veganism, but they soon became believers in the power of healthy and animal-free foods.

My best advice for all my fellow vegans is to remember that many of us chose this lifestyle in order to create a healthier, happier, and more compassionate world. Instead of passing judgment on those who choose a different diet and lifestyle, respect their decision and be there with open arms and veggie burgers if and when they want to learn more.

How do you share your passion for veganism without being judgmental?