The Vegan Community Needs More Teachers and Sales People

Here it is 3:30 PM in the afternoon, with me still in my pajamas, debilitated by my current bout of depression. The thing keeping me going today is a statement I heard Bob Barker make in a video, something to the effect of, “If you feel defeated, you can’t help anyone.”

I have to admit, prior to being vegan or even vegetarian, I didn’t know many others in the community, but the ones I did know were kind and compassionate, yearning to teach and spread their love to save mankind. This is why I never understood why people feared vegans or had such a negative point of view of the community. I never came across any of the feared militant types until after becoming vegan, and even more after starting this blog.

In the first few months of writing the blog I was told I wasn’t vegan because I used chocolate in a recipe. This had me so confused. My chocolate didn’t have bone char sugar or dairy. After exchanging banter with my accuser, I found out that it was because animals were killed in the farming of chocolate.

What? As a compassionate vegan I have to eliminate foods where animals are harmed in the farming. Being a perfectionist and super hard on myself this gave me an instant anxiety attack. In my teens I worked on a vegetable farm for the summer in Germany, where I quickly learned that animals were killed constantly by tractor tires and blades. It was inevitable, unless everything was done by hand. I also know that most farmers with nut orchards have to kill squirrels to protect their crops. Knowing this, if I eat nuts, does that also make me not vegan?

Working 50 hours a week there is no way I could possibly maintain a garden to provide for my family and unless I could do that, it was impossible to guarantee that there were no animals harmed, so therefore, I could never be completely vegan. According to many, if you are not completely vegan, you are not vegan at all, so this created quite a dilemma. In this community that I so wanted to be a part of, I was already an outsider.

Later, I also found out that coconuts are not vegan because they use monkey’s as slaves to pick said coconuts. Oh yeah, and bananas, sugar and soy also aren’t vegan because their crops are killing animals and the planet in general. When you really get down to it, is there anything we have done as humans that have not endangered animals or our planet? Most of the housing tracts took over some animals’ environment, the roads we commute on, whether by bus, car, bike, or foot, covered some animals’ home. Lets not even get into the planes or boats we travel on to visit far away lands, or the invasive species we transfer to these other lands without even knowing. My head hurts just thinking about. In general, humans are the worst things that every happened to this planet.

Last month, while planning our little vegans birthday, I reached out to our friends on Facebook for ideas on food. Little did I know, this would lead to a war about palm oil, because someone mentioned Earth Balance, which would lead to people telling others that they weren’t vegan if they used Earth Balance or any palm oil, even if it was from a sustainable source, because they felt the idea of sustainable palm oil was a fallacy. Unfortunately, this is not the only time I have witnessed such behavior on vegan sites.

This is where the need for teachers come in. Okay, play along with me in this hypothetical situation for a moment:

You are a student working towards a degree in a field you are passionate about. A field that you have dedicated your entire life to and you can’t imagine where your life would be if you don’t make it. On one of the papers you turn in, you wrote something that your professor did not agree with and instead of doing their job and discussing it with you in private or gently trying to show you and the others in your class how your theory was misguided, they yell at you in front of your peers and tell you that due to the fact that you didn’t have the same information, you are never going to make it in the field. Point blank, no discussion.

When we are trying to educate in this fashion, no matter how important the lesson is, it is lost. Vegans in general are compassionate. They have made huge changes to their life, in order to save animals. They are already going against the norm and take no issue with making a stand. They deserve more respect than for someone else to come tell them they are not vegan. If they were presented with the information and told, “Hey, I can’t support Earth Balance, why don’t you check this out and see why.” Maybe then they would not feel attacked and want to learn, and maybe even join the fight.

When we decide, that we as individuals are the ones who pick and choose who is vegan, it makes us seem like we are an elite group, trying to weed out those not worthy. I personally did not become vegan or start this blog for that reason. I want to spread the word, sell vegan-ism to save the animals and planet, continue to learn, and to teach people along the way on how to be the best vegan possible and never tell them they aren’t good enough. Where is the compassion in that?

Enough of my rant. I would love if we could educate each other on palm oil, being as it seems to be a topic tearing apart our community. I have watched Green, searched Google for information about Palm Oil Deforestation, and Sustainable Palm Oil. I also found this blog post from Eating Consciously, Palm Oil is Vegan, for a different perspective.  Please share any information you have, I for one want to be educated.

Oh, and if your head doesn’t hurt too bad, check out the Top 10 Ways Man is Destroying the Environment, where you will learn by simply having children we are killing things.

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22 Responses to The Vegan Community Needs More Teachers and Sales People

  1. Rhea Parsons says:

    Amen! Vegans should support each other, not attack each other. We need to be a united force for the animals. Being vegan is not a contest. No one wins a 1st Place ribbon or gold medal. The only win is in helping to create a compassionate, non-violent world, for us and for the animals.

    I hope you feel better! If you ever need an ear, I’m here.

    • I will be fine, thanks. 🙂 I just have a difficult time shutting my brain off sometimes. Glad you appreciated the post. Sometime I wonder how we can possibly teach others to be kind to animals, when we as vegans can’t even set an example by being kind to each other!

  2. Aileen Rankin says:

    I love your blog thank you

  3. Richa says:

    I agree with Rhea. Sometimes all the passion gets misdirected and we forget about compassion to each other and the reason for the choice in the first place. We all need to help each other out.
    Thanks for the post Steffi.

  4. Ellison Darling says:

    As a vegetarian, I never faced the scorn that I’ve faced from other vegans as a vegan. As a vegetarian, the only thing I really had to deal with were the comments about how I just wasn’t serious enough about _______ (the environment, my health, animal welfare, etc) to be vegan or that I was vegetarian for the “wrong” reasons. As a vegan, it feels like every culinary decision I make is suddenly up for debate. It makes me wary that I’m going to end up coming off like that to other people eventually. All that makes me really appreciate this post. If everyone faced veganism like you, Rhea up there ^, or my friend Elizabeth, then I think there would be fewer people afraid of adopting this lifestyle.

    • I think there are many that approach it this way, but aren’t the combative type. I also understand that when humans get passionate about something, emotions take over and they feel like they need to fight to get their message across. Unfortunately though, their passion sometimes make the person receiving the mention feel like they are being bullied. I wish they would use the same energy to go after those really harming the animals. Thanks for reading! 🙂

  5. Em says:

    Great post! I totally agree with you that we need to stop acting like we are the gate-keepers to an elite society. I’ve been vegan for two years now and every once in a while I learn that some product I am using contains some obscure animal-derived ingredient or is not ethically/sustainably sourced. When this happens I don’t look back and think, “I was never a vegan after all.” I just stop buying that product, let the other vegans in my life know about it, and move on. Being vegan isn’t about perfection; it’s about reducing our impact on animals and the planet and compassionately helping others to do the same. Thanks again and I hope your feeling better!

    • Glad you enjoyed it and understood! It has been very comforting to know I am not the only one that has felt this. Thanks to all the comments I will try to not to be so hard on myself.

  6. Holly Newton says:

    Great post! I went vegan almost 2 years ago after being vegetarian for 25 years. When I went vegan, I made the decision not to be one of “those”vegans. “Those” vegans being the ones that make omnivores roll their eyes when they hear you are vegan, obviously having encountered some militant vegan that left a bad taste and , of course led to the belief that all vegans are that way. The in-fighting in vegan groups is amazing! Whether your lifestyle is for health, environmental, or compassion reasons, the end result is helping the planet and as many of the creatures (including people) on it as much as possible. I got a sticker from Food Fight that says, “Vegan means I’m trying to suck less”, which is really my take on my veganism…I don’t believe I am better than anybody who is on their own journey and I certainly am not perfect on my journey. I learn from mistakes, research to try to avoid mistakes, and do my best not to judge others.

  7. veganperks says:

    Very nice! I totally agree! I always found it odd that we are supposed to be compassionate beings and yet some of us get down right nasty to others for choices they make. Every one has the right to make their own choices. No matter what that choice is. I wish we could all be happy for one another in that we are just trying to make a positive impact. Even if someone is just vegan to feel better, to help animals, the planet or all the above, doing a little is better than doing nothing at all. If we as a community just keep being positive and helping spread the word then we are doing a great service to all. We all make mistakes along the way in this journey (can I get a hand for the mother-in-law who was so proud she cooked a dish with soy cheese only to look at the package after I ate is and found out it had Casein in it.:-) No biggie. I know my heart is in the right place. Thanks for sharing and letting me share! 🙂

  8. I was lucky. My veganism came through an epiphany and if you ever had one you know the profound affect it has. Still, having “seen the light” and as a teacher for more than 40 years it’s painful for me to witness the choices that we make in the darkness. It’s exhausting changing the world. Isn’t it? I’m not sure what you say that “everyone’s intentions are good and come from a place of love.” I’m not sure about that as I have seen all too often that people being people frequently have “agendas” which come from a place of ignorance, arrogance and ego. So, even if someone is vegan, or vegetarian, or compassionate we are all human and suffer from the “human conditions.” After 35 years of being veg I frequently bite my tongue. My sometimes attitude is” if you don’t pay me for my advise I won’t give it.” This has helped me be less depressed.

    BTW: I made your Red Lentil Chickpea Stew last night. I didn’t have red lentils and couldn’t make the jalapeño topping, but it was GREAT! Thanks for that.

  9. Katherine says:

    I just found your blog, wonderful post thank you for sharing!!

  10. prettyleodia says:

    Hi! Somehow I ended up reading your article and I love it!!! It came across at the perfect time! I have been feeling the same way about the vegan community and for the past few days I have been feeling down. I don’t know anyone else (personally) that is vegan or vegetarian. I’m the only “veggie” in my family so of course I would love to meet more vegans. But I am so afraid that they will judge me for not being vegan enough and spout off their rants about it. I avoid vegan forums because of the reasons you mentioned in your article.
    Thank you for posting it! I don’t feel so alone anymore!

    • I have learned through writing this blog that no matter how much I do or how hard I try, there will be someone waiting to tell me I’m not good enough. I am comfortable in my own skin and know I am doing the best I possibly can. Most likely the individuals that look to pounce are dealing with their own insecurities. We can never please everyone!

  11. Pingback: A Year in the Life of Don’t Fear the Vegan: 2013 | Don't Fear the Vegan

  12. Pingback: Baked Coconut Crusted French Toasts. Vegan Refined Oil-free Recipe - Vegan Richa

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