It is a sad certainty: the planet is suffering and soon we will, too, if we keep watching the world pass us by. It is widely known now that the only way for individuals to help reverse the damage done to our planet is to adjust our diets and drastically reduce the consumption of meat and dairy products. A change that has become an absolute necessity and is not a mere lifestyle-choice anymore.
Yet, it seems as though most people still stick to the same diet they have known for years. For many, becoming vegan is highly undesirable. No wonder. Despite passionate vegans advocating for the opposite, veganism does come with certain restrictions and limitation, and, as a result, effort.
This is where two problems arise: not everyone is equally insightful and understanding when it comes to pressing issues like animal rights and climate change to start with, and not everyone is willing to change eating habits overnight. Or even at all, for that matter.
“But how is it ever going to change, then?” Glad you asked! I want to propose two approaches to go about this problem.
Proposal number one goes out to the vegan community. Stop glorifying being a vegan, and, most of all, stop being so unbearably smug about it. No doubt, it is amazing that you manage to live without meat and dairy, and please be assured that no one is trying to take that achievement away from you. It does not give you the right, however, to look down on others. Making such a strong distinction between vegans and meat-eaters creates a divide and causes hostility, that makes it impossible to learn from each other, which is fatal. Shaming others into becoming vegan does not mend the problem we are facing. Much rather, people successfully living on a plant-based diet should try and help educate others, who have not tasted the fruit of wisdom yet. How about suggesting vegan products you can easily swap with dairy ones? Do you know vegan meat that tastes confusingly authentic? Great, tell your meat-loving friend about it! Be active, explain and talk about vegan substitutes and most importantly, stay factual. Aggressive phrases like "Not your mother, not your milk!" will only resonate with people who already share this mindset and do not make you a missionary.
Approach two aims at non-vegans and people consuming meat. Admittedly, it is difficult to break habits, but in light of the climate crisis, it is also ignorant and selfish. It is crucial to understand that this is not a personal decision anymore because our diet choices will have an impact on the biodiversity and eventually us humans. It is not about whether you feel sorry for animals or not, or whether you think a plant-based diet is good for your digestion. Drastically put, life as we know it is at stake, and future generations are dependent on the decisions we make today, which is why developing a sense of responsibility is paramount. Wholistic veganism is a great way to help reversing climate change, but – and this is important – you do not have to become entirely vegan. Do you drink a lot of milk in coffee, tea, etc? Try out oat milk and check if it really must be dairy milk. There is a vast range of vegan products available at supermarkets, a lot of which are not expensive or artificially-tasting at all. Have a look for yourself and find out which products you may be able to swap permanently. Small changes like this make a big difference.
The term veganism is problematic when used in the context of climate change. Though the vegan movement functions as a community for like-minded people, it also excludes people, who try but do not want to be vegan in every aspect of their lives, which creates tensions between vegans and non-vegans. Saving the planet should be a goal shared by everyone, but presenting full veganism as the only way to achieve it will only trigger rejection with non-vegans – the group of people who make up the majority of the world's population. Incredibly, it is possible to follow a plant-based diet for most of the time and still have meat occasionally. It is time to welcome to the chat meat-eating veganism: meganism.
all of us