So you live amongst non-vegans? In many ways, we all do, but the issue becomes much more challenging if you all happen to be under the same roof. Maybe you live with your parents and you’re the only person in the family who has decided to change your diet and lifestyle; perhaps you live with a boyfriend or girlfriend, husband or wife who doesn’t share the same enthusiasm you have about living cruelty-free, or maybe you share an apartment with roommates that are all die-hard meat eaters? Life can’t be easy being the odd one out, but it doesn’t have to be a constant battle either. Here are a few tips you can use for surviving as a vegan in a non-vegan household:
1. Be clear and headstrong!
Make sure that you’ve taken the time to explain your vegan lifestyle choice and why it is important to you. The better understanding everyone you live with has about why you are vegan, the less chances they will inadvertently put you in awkward situations concerning food, gifts, and other household items. You don’t have to preach about veganism all day, but the clearer you are about your choices, the more respect you are likely to get back from them. Of course, you may have a pesky sibling, relative or roommate that may just not get it; you just have to work harder with them and take everything they say with a grain of salt. If you can’t deal with annoying comments and have a sense of humor about it, you’re going to make your life as a vegan infinitely more challenging than it actually is!
2. Know your vegan facts
This should be a given, but you should know your basic facts about veganism. The more you know, the more you may be able to help others you live with understand that you’re not some animal-loving freak or experimenting with a fad diet. You don’t have to be a nutrition expert or be able to recite a laundry list of non-vegan ingredients and products, but you should be able to answer the basic questions like “how do you get enough protein?” “How do get calcium?” “What CAN you eat?” “What shoes can you wear?” etc. Arm yourself with some useful facts about veganism, such as the environmental impacts of animal agriculture or the health dangers of animal products and of course, information about the treatment and use of animals. People may think veganism does not makes sense for them as a lifestyle choice, but who can argue with cold hard facts?
3. Lay down some ground rules
Living under the same roof often means sharing things, ranging from a refrigerator to utensils, bathrooms and other living spaces. Depending on your living situation of course (whether you are a dependent or financial contributing to the household), you may want to encourage others you live with to buy vegan versions of shared household items, such as cleaning supplies, toothpaste, etc. When it comes to sharing utensils, it is a personal choice at the end of the day. If practical, you may want to use separate utensils; alternatively, you can just establish some clear rules that everything should be thoroughly washed right after it is used so that it can be reused by anyone else in the home. If you buy common groceries for the home, make sure that you make a list of product names for vegan milks, butters, cheeses, breads and other pantry and refrigerated items that you may need on a regular basis. The idea should be to make everything you need absolutely clear and transparent to others, so that they don’t have to go out of their way to figure out what you may or may not be able to eat or use. Further, if you live with non-vegans and want them to be accommodating and accepting of your lifestyle, you have to remember to reciprocate that attitude. This means, not being critical of them when they choose to cook animal products or buy other non-vegan items for their personal use. You can disagree with people, but be respectful!
4. Share the vegan love
If you don’t already know how to cook, learn! Good vegan food is undoubtedly the most powerful weapon vegans have in their arsenal against the most skeptical non-vegans. Granted, you may have to make some extra effort to keep this up, but trust us, it will be worth it in the long run. Surprise the non-vegans in your household with some vegan waffles or pancakes for breakfast. Bake some vegan cupcakes and muffins every now and then. Better yet, pick one night of the week (or every two weeks) where you can cook an entire vegan meal for everyone in your home. This way, you will not only be able to get them to appreciate some great tasting vegan food, but may also encourage them to try making it themselves. Delicious vegan food says much more about veganism than the biggest “Go Vegan” banner in the world.
5. Be a beacon of vegan positivity
Going vegan is a step that isn’t taken lightly by most people. Veganism is after all a way to challenge the status quo, to go against everything we’ve been told and everything people have blindly done for centuries. It is about waking up to the realization that there’s an alternate way to exist on this planet, one that does not involve contributing to the use and murder of billions of innocent living beings. It’s easy to feel a sense of despair over the helplessness of the situation, especially because most people don’t share your views. However, the more vegans you encounter, the more you will realize that most of us are all incredibly positive people. Perhaps it’s because we have a clearer outlook towards life in general, or it may have something to do with all the delicious and nutritious food we get to eat every day. Whatever, it is, you have to remember that every vegan is an ambassador for everything veganism stands for. You can’t expect others to take you or your lifestyle choices seriously if you are apologetic or overtly aggressive about it. Just be positive, hold your head up high and share some of the vegan awesomeness!