My mum has announced that she will eat less meat. She now has two meatless meals a day. It's a big step for someone who - as much as she respects and supports my lifestyle choice - never wanted to try any of my food, dismissing it as something "for vegans only".
She came to visit me last week and surprisingly, agreed to eat vegan for four days. I took her to vegan restaurants, cooked my best dishes for her and bought all my favourite vegan snacks. After returning home, she admitted she felt better after the food I gave her and even measured her blood pressure, just to find it had improved.
When I was a teenager, I used to attack her for eating animals, upsetting both of us, and I used to refuse to help her carry shopping if there were animal products in the bag. I used to write 'meat is murder' everywhere and shout at people at demonstrations without once thinking that this behaviour is actually putting them off veganism. I was harming something I love the most.
A recent survey suggests a quarter of people would be put off going vegetarian/vegan because of the aggressive or lecturing attitude of some vegans. Veganism is a lifestyle choice people make for very important reasons, which make them fully aware of all the injustice and cruelty in the way humans treat animals.
Many of us, myself included, have dedicated our lives to sharing information about its benefits to everyone, which could mean that sometimes the anger and upset we feel inside of us is perceived as aggression towards those who don't follow the vegan lifestyle.
But we must remember that most of us have not been vegan from birth and we can relate to the reasons why people still consume and use animals. The majority of vegans are compassionate, brave, kind individuals who want to inspire others to live their lives more ethically, and it is unfair to dismiss this passion by calling them preachy or judgemental.
Nobody chooses to simply stop eating animals without a reason; vegans carefully research what happens in the meat, dairy and egg industries and make an informed decision not to support them.
The change of heart my mum has had proves that we can only get the vegan message out to people if we empathise with them, are patient and, most importantly, kind. We must accept (but not respect) the fact that some people eat animals but work hard to change it by showing them how amazing veganism is and talking to them about it.
I am so glad my 'angry vegan' stage is over and that I can educate people about veganism in a more reasonable and effective way. I now prefer to give out vegan food to show people how delicious it is and have meaningful conversations with them about my reasons for choosing this lifestyle. But how many vegans out there are still in that angry stage, without realising their actions harm the movement?
Let's be angry. We have more than one reason to be angry at a world where animals are treated as commodities and exploited at any given chance. But let's not be angry at those who are part of this vicious system and instead work hard to open their hearts to animal suffering.Suggest a correction