This is a broad subject, but not as broad as Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson’s shoulders, and so I deem it manageable.
Friendships are the essence of life, said someone some time ago.
Friendships are difficult as f*ck, said I, every day of my life.
Without the whole plant-based label they are difficult enough but I like a challenge and so, on top of the daily struggle, I decided to blanket my self with another layer of topics for disagreement. Being vegan.
Don’t get me wrong my current friends are the people that support my views and have the patients of parliament members for sitting through many of my lectures on the topic, which I am most grateful for. But along my path, there have been individuals, friends and not, that have questioned my choice, and rather than showing support, they showed utter disagreement. In such instances, I found that we learn the most about our selves; we either recognise our strength and stand for what we believe or the opposite and conform to the easiest option, giving in.
I definitely have had moments of feeling like a complete outsider, and have contemplated whether I’d better suit a group of friends who wear hemp and sandals whilst hugging trees all day, many of times. However, each time I reminded my self that what I’m doing makes me feel good, is good for the planet, and inspires people, even if its only a couple; it is so easy to zoom in to only the negatives and be completely blind for the constructive aspects of the lifestyle and forget that what your doing is, well, simply amazing!
I think the most common misconception of living plant-based is having to make sacrifices and that, my friends, is all lies. Food sacrifices, clothing sacrifices, friendship, and recreational sacrifices; this is the way people view living as a vegan as, but it is not sacrifices that are being made, rather steps towards a better you and world.
It’s crucial to be proud of what you stand for, and through your pride spread your seeds of knowledge onto others (in a non-annoying way) else, rather than strengthening your friendship, you will provoke your friends and create unnecessary tension, trust me I’ve been there. But it’s thanks to these mistakes that I have learned how to be in harmony with people who I want in my life but are not vegan. So I guess the moral is, be flexible.
The biggest lesson of them all has been to always be prepared. Nights out, friend gatherings, dinners, and get-togethers all require a step-by-step plan and preparation for the worst-case scenarios. A solid plan can take you a long way in life, and it is the same in the case of food; if I am going to a friend’s house I will always bring snacks and dinner/breakfast options if necessary, this lifts a weight off of their shoulders as they have less to worry about, and off of mine as I know I’m A) not being annoying, and B) I wont go hungry. If its dinner or going out I scan over the menus on trusty google and make sure that the eatery has a vegan option available, this leads me nicely onto my final point; if there is no chance, in one trillion years that you will be provided with a plant-based meal because you’re going to a caveman-steak-eating-and-shouting hideout then simply ask your friends to choose another location! Don’t be afraid to alter plans and be open about your reasons, remember that there are plenty of restaurants to be discovered, and so encourage your friends to travel across them with you.
My vegan lifestyle choice shouldn’t prevent me from social opportunities, in fact it does the reverse; I always take my wisdom wherever I go, and often find a way to drop in my beliefs about the earth and being vegan because through this I might persuade one person, but that’s always one person closer to a more ethical earth. I don’t deprive my self of my life, even if I feel worried about certain ‘non-vegan’ situations, because life is the reason I have chosen this lifestyle.