A handy guide to being friends with vegans
This one is for my pals out there who take part in a lifestyle that I find objectionable, a lifestyle that is built upon meat and dairy consumption, animal abuse, and the exploitation of bodies that aren’t ours to use. How can you be a meat and dairy eater and still keep your vegan friends?
Okay, phew. I just had to get that out of the way. Let’s get the ball rolling here.
So, you’re a meat and dairy eater. You respect veganism enough, however, to be reading my ramblings, and considering my points and advice. I can work with that, and if we ever sat down together for a vegan certified beer, hell, I bet I could convince you to make the change yourself! But that’s neither here nor there. What I want to let you in on is the best way to be friends with a vegan, and hey, if it seems like this is just another way to ask you to open your mind and consider joining our kickass ranks… you’ve caught me. Maybe you have a friend or relative who recently went vegan, and you’re trying to figure their moral out without being too obtrusive. Maybe you met a cute guy last week who doesn’t allow animal products into his life, and you’re looking to get to know him a little better. Most likely, this just popped up on your Facebook feed because Jennifer from high school shared it, and Jennifer is a vegan, and you’re asking yourself, “how did I get this far into a blog post about veganism, and why am I friends with Jennifer anyways? It’s been nine years, and things got weird when we went to prom together.” Allow me to show you the ways of being friends with a vegan, because we’re a pretty cool bunch.
Learn how to cook something vegan, or let your friend cook a vegan dish for you. This is an excellent way to expose yourself to the idea that, hey, vegans eat way more than salads for dinner! It’s also an opportunity to explore cuisines from other cultures, discover that the best kinds of cheese come from nuts and not cow nipples, and learn what the fuck aquafaba is in all of its gooey glory. Ever heard of seitan or nutritional yeast? You will now, and you’ll find that your munching options will spread out exponentially when you get past the nasty stuff typically found in an American diet. Think of all the possibilities!
Educate yourself on exactly what veganism is, and why it’s such an important choice for an individual to make. Conversations will be all the more interesting if you enter them with at least a little knowledge. Impress your vegan cousin by explaining some of your thoughts on why The Sexual Politics of Meat is such a great cornerstone to vegan feminism. If you can stomach it (and I don’t blame you if you can’t, but give it a shot) try watching Earthlings, or at the very least, Cowspiracy. There’s no way to have a lively debate or conversation with a vegan if you’re stuck at “but what if plants have feelings” and drabble on about protein intake. Trust me, your company will be more welcome if you and your vegan friend can talk about more than the run of the mill “to vegan or not to vegan” bullshittery that we usually have to put off. Make yourself the cool cousin, and for god’s sake, learn the difference between Gary Yourofsky and Gary Francione. Might I suggest a peek around the latter Gary’s blog? Exploring abolitionist theory is a great place to start when learning the ins and outs of animal rights theory past the basics.
Don’t be an asshole. Seriously, don’t even bother keeping a vegan pal around if you’re going to be a bully. While debate is important for individual vegan growth, maybe it’s important to worry a little less about being the biggest, baddest Devil’s advocate, and consider listening to your vegan friends a little closer. Seriously, we love to talk, and when we’re asking questions about our ethics in earnest, it says a lot about the status of a friendship and makes us feel valued. Veganism really does matter, and is an important way to ensure an ethical life is lived, so keep an open mind and heart.
Go vegan, obviously! Okay, so I tricked you, but perhaps you saw this one coming. I’m really not all that sneaky. See, as far as I’m concerned, following my above advice is going to result in your newfound veganism. The best vegans are usually made from other vegans and intelligent discussion. Making small, grassroots efforts to creatively communicate with friends and peers and empowering them to make a change is an excellent ways to tip the scales in favor of veganism. Be a badass friend and give veganism a shot- for life!