With as much as it troubles me to say it, we all know it: There can be some pretty mean folks within the vegan community. I've met more than one person who prided themselves on being a "vegan elitist" who publically shamed other vegans in online forums for their choices. I've visited this forum, and a lot of this is bashing celebrities who give up the vegan lifestyle for whatever reason, which truly is none of our business, and, seemingly as often as they can, linking to the pages of other vegans and criticizing them so harshly for things that, again, are none of their business.
I don't have to tell you how so many people feel about the vegan community, and the assumptions that they make about us as a group. Some folks just know that every vegan is sanctimonious and hung up in the smallest details of what makes a real vegan and what constitutes a person to ridicule and castigate. One such instance that I saw ruthlessly tore a woman apart for having a companion animal. Another generated much vitriol because a vegan gave their chicken's eggs to someone else. I'm of course not interested in getting into whether either of those things are "okay" or make or break someone's veganism. My point more or less rests on, well, how very unkind such behavior is and can be, and isn't our entire cause rooted in kindness?
As vegans, we loathe the horrifying treatment our fellow creatures suffer at the hands of human beings. We loathe the way that we treat our planet, and fear the repercussions of our actions. We want to be good and kind and to spread a message of loving kindness throughout this world and the universe. How come, then, it sometimes becomes so difficult to do so?
I won't claim to be perfect, either. I've had moments of disgust where a friend tells me that they just don't care about animal suffering, because it doesn't stack up higher than how much they enjoy the taste of flesh. I know that veganism would probably save my grandfather from much of his health maladies, and probably some spiritual ones, too, but he holds steadfast to the way he wants to live his life, which is not for me to decide for him. Veganism is a personal choice, it is a conscious decision, and it is one borne of kindness and love. How can we so often forget to apply this logic to other people, as well?
I think it's time we all carefully considered our attitudes toward other vegans, vegetarians, omnivores, and everyone in between. We can encourage, but we should never shame. These are perfectly different concepts. One is inspirational, where one is designed to hurt, and we cannot hope to change the world by spreading negative vibes. Our message of love, kindness, and goodwill to all should be one that catches on to others joyfully. How we represent veganism as its ambassadors makes all the difference in the world.