One of the biggest questions I get, and I think many vegans get is "What's the hardest part about being vegan?" I think many of them assume that we'll answer something along the lines of "cheese" or "bacon", but for me, those answers are on the other end of the spectrum.
One of the hardest parts, for me, is the constant ridicule from others. The constant cold-hearted, selfish, defensive remarks from people who haven't connected to the same level of cognition as us.
Whenever I see comments like the classic "mmmmmmmm... Bacon!" on my page, I don't see sizzling, fat-dripping "food" on a skillet. I see pigs being tortured, stomped on and killed. I see a victim that wants to live... All for someone's taste buds.
The images, the videos, the self-witnessed footage I've come across are, at times, haunting. They're depressing. They're something I don't ever want to see, yet I'm aware that closing my eyes to protect myself would prevent me from continuing to learn, so I continue to watch.
So, to answer the question, "What's the hardest part?", I'd say it's educating myself enough to know what goes on while having some sort of balancing act to learn to respond to these types of people in a loving & compassionate way. Believe me, when I see some of the comments on my page, I want to just yell a giant, "FUCK YOU!" to these guys! Not only does this create a wall that basically prevents any sort of exchange of ideas, but it also stamps the label "Crazy Vegan" on my forehead. (Just to clarify, I know I'm crazy; but that happened LONG before I was vegan.. LOL)
So, how do we respond to these people? Many would say, "Just ignore it". In most situations, I would agree. However, in this circumstance, there are hundreds of thousands of innocent victims, and something I say may impact these poor babies, in or against their favor. So, how do we respond in a way that's loving, understanding, but also informative enough to get the point across? And, when is it time to walk away and use our energy somewhere that's more efficient?
One of the most effective ways I've learned to talk to people is by using what's known as the Socratic Method. It's basically a form of argumentative dialogue between individuals, based on questioning rather than telling. I became familiar with this strategy when I was volunteering at an Anonymous for the Voiceless CUBE here in San Diego. A friend of mine, Karl Kyler walked me through the process and showed me an example.
Basically, if you ask people enough questions about their bad choices, they end up in a position where they contradict themselves, therefore weakening their argument. The reason this works so well with veganism is because, deep down in every human being, I believe there's some level of empathy and compassion that just takes a little work to bring to the surface. Most people don't want to hurt or kill any creatures. Most people aren't born wanting to harm others. These are traits we've either learned over the years due to stressful environments we've been through in our lives, or as survival traits in extreme situations.
Regardless of what people would do if they were faced with the option to kill a pig for bacon, or eat the plate of rice and beans next to it, there's a major disconnect that happens when people buy their meat in a heart shaped slab from the counter at the supermarket. This is known as cognitive dissonance. It's the "I love animals" statement whilst eating bacon. They may truly believe they "love" animals. I know I did.
Anyway, we've gotten a bit off track.
The hardest part about being vegan, is constantly hearing the same hateful words, regardless of what I say. It's constantly seeing the tortured corpses of innocent babies, every time I go to a grocery store. It's feeling overwhelmed by the amount of selfishness and ignorance of the world, just because "it tastes good". It's feeling like a grain of sand on an entire beach coast. It's taking all of these things into consideration while also being bombarded by terrifying videos of INSANE animal cruelty on social media. It's being told I'm doing too much by non-vegans, while hearing the vegans say I'm not doing enough. It's the internal struggle of balancing how much I can personally witness before I break, while also seeing enough to educate others. It's going to work and being around people who think it's funny to make fun of my choice to not contribute to these horrendous industries.
If you can relate, please comment. I'd love to hear some of your struggles with being vegan, and how you've learned to combat them over time. Any inappropriate comments will be deleted.