Conflict occurs in our daily lives and it’s inevitable. I’ve been thinking lately of the question of the “kind” of vegan I am because of a recent conflict in our supper club. I’ve also been busy editing my first novel and haven’t been writing for this blog, which made me think ”What kind of vegan am I for not trying to spread a message of compassion every chance I get?” Then I watched a movie that touched on the differences between the abolitionist vegan movement and the welfare vegan movement. Again, I thought of the differences and similarities to these types of approaches.
I think that vegans are some of the most well-spoken and passionate people I’ve ever met; but we’re surprisingly human and deal with conflict in our own distinctive ways just like nonvegans. We show our differences in many ways, too. Some people don’t like to discuss their beliefs in a public forum while others can’t help but talk about how removing dairy products has helped tremendously in their quest for optimal health (ok, I’m guilty of that). Some people spend a lot of time in the kitchen perfecting healthy recipes while others grab the most convenient food to eat at most meals. Some people start food groups to help themselves and others to transition to veganism, while some people go it alone and do just fine. Sometimes, the infighting I see and hear in the larger vegan community makes me think we have so much farther to go to having the society that I think most of us wish we could have in our lifetimes.
As humans, we oftentimes have the desire to criticize others who choose a different path on this journey. I know as a co-founder of this blog and our supper club, I have a certain path that I’ve followed and I have a lot of stories about my transition from carnivore to vegan. We all have our own stories and our own ways of living this life, and we sometimes forget that other people have their own stories. I try to see all points of view because I think our collective goal is to become the most compassionate beings possible. Whether that means you need the support of a group or believe abolitionism is the only logical way to make things happen, more power to you. Remembering other people’s stories can go a long way in moving to a more compassionate place in your life–and their stories can positively influence others.
So the next time you get upset that someone isn’t doing it right and think “What kind of vegan are you?!” stop yourself for just a minute and think of what else you could do to be the most compassionate person possible. Listening to your friend, or coworker, or acquaintance and accepting their differences with love and compassion may help you define what kind of vegan, and person, you are–and we can never have too many compassionate storytellers in this movement. Besides, what kind of vegan would you be if you don’t show compassion to people, too?