Veganism, like many religions or personal beliefs, is something one should keep to themselves. Many people may be turned off or downright irate at your audacity to give up eating animals and animal byproducts to avoid exploitation of non-human beings. Nobody wants to put off anyone else, so the best thing to do is avoid those who may bully you, as a thin-skinned vegan, in order to more prominently exert the cause into the mainstream.
Here are some situations to avoid:
Don’t piss off the ex-vegans. There exists in the world a subculture of veganism, called ex-vegans. These are people who hopped on the vegan bandwagon at one time or another, but decided, for whatever reason, that veganism was just not all it was cracked up to be. If you are currently still practicing your vegan ways, be very wary of stepping on the toes of those no longer “in the club.” These ex-vegans may have decided they can live a sustainable life while still eating meat. They may have decided life was just too hard without their morning steak and eggs. Or they may have decided that, while the cause is still worthy, someone else can do the fighting. Keep your vegan flag in a corner, stifle your tofu scramble back into the depths of your lunchpail, and don’t offend the ex-vegan, who may be having a terrible time recovering from the oppression of their life as a vegan.
Don’t request special meals. There is nothing an omnivore hates worse than having to deal with YOU and your meat and cheese free potluck request. It’s a BBQ for Pete’s sake, can’t you just have a burger like everyone else? If you are going to a dinner party, and there is at least one omnivore, it would be rude to ask that at least one meal be vegan. After all, there are only so many spots on the dining room table, and to hog the space with your veggie burgers would put out a guest who brought salad with bacon bits. At restaurants, you can expect your food to be spit on if you ask to hold the queso, so it’s best to just order the menu sans the 86 (in restaurant speak, that mean without).
If you really want to make veganism appealing to the masses, whatever you do, don’t post vegan articles on social media sites. Non-vegans have to read there too! How can any respectable person expect to get their fix of Perez Hilton or scan their Twitter feed if you are making them feel bad with news of factory farms, PETA campaigns, and meat-free recipes. And of course, if those non-vegans wish to comment with disdain on your personal blog about your summer vegan road-trip, let them, because, after all, if you didn’t want your lifestyle criticized, you shouldn’t have spoken up in the first place.
In reality, not everyone in the world will ever decide to be vegan, but we all have to live here together. Don’t be an evangelical vegan to the point that you are criticizing not only non-vegans, but your vegan peers as well. On the other hand, there is an appropriate level of vegans wishing to extract compassion from the meat-loving majority by shedding light on inappropriate and unethical industrial food practices. I’m not saying we should all hold hands, or that complete agreement is even possible, but respectful and well-informed debate and education is possible. That’s the best we can do.