To be vegan is to challenge the status quo. We have stepped outside the matrix of our upbringing and culture that has indoctrinated us into accepting the brutalization and slaughter of animals.
To be vegan is also to be challenged. Merely mentioning you are vegan will often lead to unpleasant confrontation.
Over the years I have become better at deciphering who is worth engaging, and who is not. Yet within our own community, there is a consistent undercurrent of hostility towards one another, which adds another dimension in the already complex life as a minority.
Are we quick to scrutinize each other because we ourselves often fall under the microscope of criticism? Is it because hurt people do hurtful things? Or do we really consider ourselves to be experts in effective activism, in a position to openly discredit others?
In my utilization of “we,” I am attempting to unify, and build a bridge for, communication. We truly are a minority, and our voice will be louder if we can stop fighting amongst each other.
When I am engaging an individual, I try to read them and find their compassionate Achilles’ heel. This will guide the interaction. I offer recommendations, my email, and the commitment to be a mentor. This works for me and I have found it to be effective, but this does not make me an authority in activism, nor does it grant me the right to disparage others for their efforts.
We are individuals. We each have attributes and weaknesses. We each have our own way of expressing ourselves. As vegans, by default we are independent thinkers. We swim against the current of society, and we should embrace that strength we possess. But when we use it to turn on each other, the message is lost.
I am not suggesting that you automatically embrace all tactics. However, just consider how we appear to outsiders when we publicly engage in this cannibalistic behavior. It does not serve to entice others to join our community. Who would want to be a part of that?
Doc Holly is board certified in Emergency Medicine and has been vegan since February 2007. An outspoken advocate for the vegan lifestyle, she regularly counsels her patients and coworkers alike. We are honored to include her on the blog.