Living as a vegan in Northwest Indiana, it was a bit of a shock to see the huge crowd that showed up for last weekend’s annual VeganMania event in Chicago.
While I am aware that not everyone there was vegan, it was still encouraging to see so many supportive, if not just curious people enjoying all the great food and strolling by the various vegan and health-related vendors.
There is clearly a growing interest in plant-based eating as more people realize the potential for losing weight and reigning in diabetes and high levels of cholesterol, blood pressure and blood sugars. There is also a growing awareness of the meat industry’s impact on the environment and the obvious suffering of the animals.
I bumped into a few people I know, including folks from my past and some new friends, who I have met recently as a result of this blog and the new local group Vegan Heart.
It was just so refreshing being among so many others, who don’t think it’s bizarre or beyond comprehension to give up the consumption or other use of all animal products. So nice being among “my people.”
That is not to say that all vegans are alike. Far from it, as was noted by one panelist, who said this discovery came as a surprise when she became vegan.
Her observation caught my ear because I too have been surprised by some of the in-fighting among vegans.
I was aware that some people are vegans for health reasons, while others are more driven by their concern about animals and/or the health of the planet. What surprised me is all the fighting over how best to deliver the vegan message to others.
Some believe it is an injustice to the animals to accept gradual change among individuals and/or food companies, while others are willing to laud any changes made in the right direction knowing that a radical shift in thinking will not happen overnight.
Some believe wholeheartedly in direct action, which includes disrupting restaurants and stores that serve meat. Others prefer to take the more quiet approach of using the example of their lives to influence others.
I personally feel there is a place for all these approaches and more to meet people where they are on their journey. Find your point of access and join us.