For a lot of people, becoming vegan stems from the intention to do good. However, in this day and age with the growth of the internet and social comparison over social media sites, I question If we have become unable to support and encourage those with good intentions. Instead tearing them down when we suspect any slight mistake.
Speaking from experience, countless times I have been called out on my veganism. Upon telling friends that I had gone vegan a few comments such as but what foundation are you wearing I can’t possibly call myself a vegan If I haven’t got rid of everything in my life that isn’t 100% vegan. I got comments such as this far more than the acknowledgement that this was something positive, not that I was looking for a pat on the back or anything!
I see a lot over social media in particular, the competition to be the best is fierce and I’ve recently seen many vegan influencers on YouTube speak out about this. The pressure of being a ‘perfect’ vegan is often too hard for them to up keep, therefor denouncing themselves of the tittle in order to stop the rain pour of hate comments that are so prevalent amongst social media in current times. The truth is In this day and age it’s impossible! But what we can do is try are best and encourage others to do their best as well even if their best is cutting out meat and dairy products once or twice a week.
We cannot force change with hate comments on social media platforms such as YouTube and Twitter etc. Through the use of internet, we have the power to educate people on topics that may not be widely spoken about through the general educational systems. A quote that really stuck to me was spoken by a great woman called Maya Angelou an American activist.
‘Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.’
For me personally this quote is exactly what veganism is about, making better choices based on the information we are given. I think it’s clear to say that a lot of the information about veganism comes from the internet and the use of social media sites such as Instagram. For example, when we think about demographics ‘close to half of all vegans are aged 15-35…compared with just 14% who are over 65’ (Marsh, 2016) We are all aware that the majority of people online are a younger demographic meaning it them who are being provided with information and making an informed decision to change their eating habits based on this.
A lot of the time, Vegans in particular are demonized if they make a mistake, and I get it as a group of people we like to preach what we believe. However, referring back to the quote. A mistake is knowledge if I accidentally used a foundation that is by a company that isn’t Vegan I can now have that knowledge and know to do better.
In many conversations I’ve had about veganism, I too often hear:
‘I would go vegan, but I could never be the ‘perfect vegan’ all the time’
The fear of messing up, and not being able to live up to the expectation of being vegan is in-fact scaring people away from ever trying it! It’s important we encourage people to take a pledge to try not a pledge to perfection… we all know that doesn’t exist.
Now by no means am I saying vegans should allow themselves to be able to ‘cheat’ However, I will share a personal story from when I first went vegan I was trying so hard to find out as much information possible about what was vegan and what I should avoid I was set on doing this, 5 days in all is good and going well, I tuck into a tube of salt and vinegar Pringles thinking.. this can’t possibly not be vegan! A little voice in the back of my head urged me to read ingredients after I had my hearty helping and there it was.. milk I was so disappointed in myself, almost feeling as though I should denounce myself there and then. Now I may be slightly dramatic, but I can’t help but feel this is what a lot of people feel when they make a mistake as a vegan, and a contributing factor why people find it hard to make the commitment to veganism the feelings of guilt associated with not being ‘perfect’.
As a community I feel we should be more open about the mistakes we make on this journey and share it with people In order to avoid people feeling alienated by the community. Recently as the pressure has started to build and ideologies of being this image of perfect have started affecting people it has been uplifting to see influencers with large platforms speaking out about this and sharing their experiences and mistakes via these platforms such as a YouTube creator called Jennell her is displayed below I recommend giving it a watch if anything said resonates with you.
A few final thoughts..
If you truly are interested in adapting a vegan lifestyle, bear in mind that it’s your own personal journey and you should not be worried about conforming to standards that have been set via social media and potentially borderline ‘snobby’ vegans more caught up in their social media profiles rather than the true cause. Take your time to re learn certain things such how to cook on a vegan diet, which was of the best discoveries of mine when becoming Vegan, it’s amazing what you can do with just veg! I shall leave you with a few of my favourite Instagram pages which are amazing for quick, simple yet extremely delicious recipes!
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Pumpkin Alfredo by @simplyquinoa. Follow the video using these measurements (where it says half milk, it means the cashew milk that you make in the beginning): 1/2 cup raw cashews 2 cups hot water 2 tablespoons olive oil 3 garlic cloves, minced Salt & pepper to taste 1/4 teaspoon ground sage(optional) 1 cup pumpkin puree 1/2 cup nutritional yeast 1 lb gluten-free pasta (your choice!) #veganrecipes #veganfood #veganrecipe #foodvideo #foodvideos #recipevideo #recipevideos #recetasveganas #pastarecipe #veganpasta #recetassaludables #receitasveganas #pastarecipes #veganmeals #veganfood #vegandinner #veganmeal