Note: the paradoxes of being vegan that I discuss in this and subsequent posts are my own personal observations, and not necessarily universally applicable to all vegans
- Being vegan is easy
- Being vegan is hard
Being vegan is easy. It really is. In fact, it's probably never been easier to be vegan what with all the resources readily available today. There are countless vegan products on the shelves, cookbooks galore, and a lot more awareness of veganism in general. Most people will know what you're referring to when you say you're a vegan, and while it may sting a little to hear veganism being parodied on TV, it means that veganism is becoming mainstream enough to be made fun of. And that's not necessarily a bad thing because it also means that veganism can no longer be ignored. I imagine that for those who've been vegan for decades or more, support was a lot harder to get back then. Now, even if you don't personally know a single other vegan, you can join all kinds of groups and networks, read vegan blogs until you're blue in the face, get whatever information you need, and really feel that you're part of an expanding and worthwhile community. Like I said, it's easy being vegan.
But, the opposite is true as well. No matter how easy it is to be vegan, it's damn hard too. Being vegan automatically means you're part of a minority that others view as radical and that brings its own challenges. Having been involved with other social justice movements over the years, I can tell you that supporting women's rights, gay rights, and disability rights does not evoke the same amount of hostility and suspicion that supporting animal rights does. Not surprising I guess because using animals is practically viewed as an inalienable right by most, and since almost everyone consumes animal products, you're going to get a lot of defensiveness if not downright anger. And because animal exploitation is big business, this anger is not only personal, but societal as well. Animal use is profitable, and when you attempt to stop this, you're stepping on big corporate toes as well. Add to that the common assumptions and stereotypes veganism evokes, the misconceptions (but where do you get your protein, we need to eat animals to stay healthy, blah blah blah), and the sometimes having to be a bit more resourceful in getting your food supplies, yeah, being vegan can be hard.
Luckily though, most vegans are pretty smart (and empathetic), and more than capable of dealing with two opposing truths in trying to create a better world.