Now even within lifestyle trends like veganism there are so-called subcultures that deserve some explanation and discussion. Many people who decide to transition to a vegan niet do so because of ethical reasons. The majority of vegans choose to abstain from using any animal product because they don’t want to contribute to animal suffering. This is a noble motive and I applaud that. However, when ethics are the prime motivator for such a change, the aspect of health is often left in the shadows. People that abstain from eating animals only because they don’t think it’s the right thing to do are often misinformed about how to adapt their dietary choices, get wholesome nutrition from other sources and just plain get in enough calories. All they do is cut out the meat, fish, eggs, dairy, and don’t bother looking for an alternative. This is one of the reasons why the term ‘vegan’ has gotten such a bad reputation; vegans are viewed as people trying to save the animals while neglecting themselves. While, like I said, their primary motive may be a noble and respectable one, I personally don’t think it should be the only one.
When choosing to cut out animal products, in my opinion, there should be a healthy balance between respect for the animals and respect for yourself. The one can’t exist without the other. Respect for animals implies respect for all life, which also includes yourself. A logical yet often forgotten conclusion. Taking care of your own body and mind by choosing nutritious food will in turn make you healthier, clearer, more open to opportunities and therefore a better saver of animals. It’s a shame that the commonly accepted image of a vegan is one of a weak, tired, skinny and socially akward person. It shouldn’t be this way ! If people want to show the world that the vegan lifestyle is the way to go they should irradiate energy, liveliness and also, as the famous vegan strongman Patrik Baboumian said, have strength without victims. When you tell people you’re a vegan and they notice that you’re the opposite of the commonly accepted image they will be shocked, in disbelief and might even reconsider their own dietary choices.
Just like there are people who adopt a vegan diet because of ethical reasons without thinking about their own health, it’s often the other way around as well. This is often seen in the social media where vegans do everything they can to eat healthily, get in shape and get other people to do the same but pay little to no attention to the ethical aspect behind their lifestyle choice. Veganism can surely grow into a media cult, where being a vegan is considered hip rather than loving and respectful. Many vegan bloggers, for example, use their energy and time to criticize others for not thinking the same way, and even other vegans are often targeted with criticism and judgment. This turns the cruelty-free philosophy, which is pure at its core, into a raging public debate about who’s the healthiest and most ‘respectful’ towards life. A hypocritical way of acting, it seems to me.
Approaching and adopting a vegan diet should be done relying on both motives. Health for yourself as well as health for all other forms of life go hand in hand and can only persevere and be sustainable if the ego is thrown out of the window and the lifestyle becomes an act of love and respect in itself, instead of a war between people that is anything but cruelty-free. Of course, a new lifestyle takes time to take shape, so if your primary concern is your own health and don’t necessarily bother about the animals, go ahead, inform yourself, look how you’re feeling and sooner or later the cruelty-free aspect of it will come to play a bigger and bigger role in your choice. Likewise, if saving the animals is all you care about, let your actions be motivated by that and see how taking care of your own health by choosing whole foods will eventually make you feel better and make you a better promoter of a plant-based lifestyle in the end. Inevitably, the one factor will enhance the other, ensuring a base for new habits and lifestyle choices that are both respectable and durable.