Vegans In Stride…

Standard

…and not strident!

Marcel is a close friend of mine who is vegan sympathetic, but still eats seafood. The rest of the time, he is on a plant-based vegan diet and has been for years. He is one of the healthiest people that I know. This week we got together and he had an observation that I thought was worth sharing with my vegan readers, so I asked him if we could get together and have a chat about it. He said yes!

First a little bit about my friend (that’s not him above, but it could be!) Marcel has been an independent business man for the bulk of his career. He has owned businesses from investment companies to fiber optic networks to performing art studios. Marcel was a vegetarian for two years back in the early nineties and was raised by forward thinking people who had many friends who were vegetarians. He still believes that vegans and vegetarians are forward thinking people!

Marcel what were your early perceptions about vegetarians? As a kid my parents friends that were vegetarians were always so healthy and compassionate. They were inherently kind people! I enjoyed spending time with them. Would they bring food over? YES! They would always bring food that was always different and exotic. It would smell delicious and it would be tasty.  I remember it being such an adventure!

So obviously your early experiences were positive?! Do you think that this helped influence your later decision to go vegetarian and now, I almost consider you a vegan since you don’t eat animals with four legs or dairy? Yes, absolutely. I think that people in general have a fear of vegetarianism and veganism. I was raised without that fear, so it’s an easy crossover for me and I know that it should be an easy crossover for anyone. I truly believe that. A vegan meal is every bit a “comfort food” than those meals that come to mind when that phrase is used. Furthermore, its simply good for the planet! There’s a greater good involved in being a vegan. I agree!

We got together today to talk about something that’s been on your mind, and mine as well, about how to best communicate and relay the beneficial message of adopting a plant-strong vegan diet, so let’s talk about that. Yes, one thing that I’ve noticed about the vegan/vegetarian crowd is that there is a kindred spirit and passion behind the cause. Conversely I have noticed that at times that crowd can be strident in their message. Yes, but don’t you think that’s because we, myself included, feel this is such an urgent cause and message on behalf of the animals and our earth? No doubt and I agree with that! I understand it. It resonates with me, but I am afraid that it can be a turnoff when a stance is taken that can oftentimes put even a sympathetic ear on the defensive. I liken it to the powerful tool of guilt and Catholicism. I say that with a satirical note, but it’s true when someone starts talking about animals dying and the planet perishing. This can be off putting because lord knows the average person doesn’t want any animal to die. I have to interject here, Marcel, because if they don’t want any animal to die then why are they eating them? What makes one animal a pet and others a meal? How do you make this distinction? Well, that’s my point, for people to understand this equation it’s about assimilating all the issues that are involved with these types of choices. I think that for the majority of people out there the greater point is to help them move in a direction of a plant-strong diet, which for most is a long process, but a very worthy cause not just for their health but for the planet and for the animals. I agree with you on that!

Great Question!

How do you think vegans/vegetarians can best help “move the needle on the meter” in the right direction? To me, the best educators are those that embrace the equation versus getting up on a soapbox. What I mean by that is they enthusiastically communicate their joy about being a vegan. For example, they give anecdotes about how it has changed their life for the better. Frankly, there’s nothing more fun than sharing a great new meal or recipe! It’s true that factory farms are horrific and every bit a part of the discussion, but I believe that it shouldn’t be used in the form of guilt. It’s a sad and terrible story, but it doesn’t need to be the overwhelming theme. I agree, but I do think that people need to be made aware of these horrors that are happening on a daily basis, so that people can make informed choices. For a lot of people they need to be confronted with the reality of factory farming and it’s horrors, not to forget the use of GMO’s (genetically modified organisms) plus all the other things that are found in most meat, like hormones, pesticides and antibiotics. That’s all true and it’s very important information, but I think that in the initial stages of going towards a decidedly more plant-based diet that people can be overwhelmed and turned off. 

Enthusiastic Mercy For Animals Volunteers

 

I think that’s true. I think it’s important not to turn people off to your cause. I have an interesting story that demonstrates kind of what you’re talking about. One day I was picking up dog food and got talking to the store clerk. I let her know that I am a plant-based vegan and shared my enthusiasm for the film “Forks Over Knives” – which you know, I talk to everybody and their mother about – [laughter] – and she told me that she is thankful that I’m keeping my dog on appropriate food for canines since her experience with dogs on a vegan diet has been concerning. She said, to your point, she had a very strident vegan customer come in who she said was “looking for a fight” when she told her the reason they didn’t carry vegan dog food. The store clerk was relieved to talk to me and open to a vegan diet since she’s almost a vegetarian, but this woman left her with a bad taste in her mouth because she was so militant and off putting. She shared that her husband has the beginnings of gout, so I told her about my friend Brian and how he’s cured himself with a vegan diet. She promised to go home and read my interview with him and later watch “Forks Over Knives”. I think she was more open because she appreciated how you approached the subject with more tact. That’s one thing I appreciate about you and your passion for a plant-based diet. I personally feel much more welcomed and included versus being told what to do. It’s an adventure versus someone else’s “law”. Thanks, this reminds me, two of my close friends have been vegetarians for years, even when I was not. Still, they never made me feel wrong or that I was making bad choices. Although, I knew they were making better choices when we’d go out to eat together. They didn’t even have to say anything. I just knew. I think that even without words you can be effective and help create positive change and transformation by leading by good example. Exactly, after all, how one eats is very personal…but it does affect the planet [I interject]. How one eats is a personal choice, but I’m very excited about all the information that is coming out about a plant-based diet because I know one can eat locally and globally make the world a better place. The bottom line is that plant-based diets are good for the earth from a person’s health to the eco system… and we should be concerned about that! Exactly, it’s such a positive message when delivered properly and more people would convert to a plant-based vegan diet when you emphasize the positives with timely references to the really awful side of factory farming and its devastating effects on the planet, but do so without the guilt. 

Thank you, Marcel! I really appreciate your thoughts and input because I think we sometimes forget how we come across to others. I personally would rather turn someone on to a plant-based vegan diet as opposed to turning them off. 
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About urbanveganchic

I'm an urban chic woman, who is passionate about educating others about the benefits of a whole foods, plant-based vegan diet, cancer prevention & survival, as well as art & life. I love adventures and travel. As an artist and a teacher, I care deeply about healthy living, being a conscious steward of our planet, and being kind & respectful towards animals. Learning about a vegan plant-based diet has been like discovering a new country and falling in love with it, so if I sound like I'm enamored you now know why! As a world traveler, I truly wish I had discovered this beautiful new country twenty years ago! Better late than never, as they say, cause there's no going back now! Born and raised in Scandinavia. Proud owner of a tripod cat & a foxy little pup. Speak four languages...some better than others. Working on the fifth one. We are all either part of the problem or the solution! Health & Happiness to you! ~UrbanVeganChic

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