Are you the only vegan at the cookout? I know how that feels.
As of today, I’ve been vegan for almost 4 years (Oct. 2015) and my family still doesn’t know how I’m surviving. I swear my mom thinks I eat cardboard and ice as my only form of nutrition. Despite my constant attempts to lure my family to the bright side with vegan cookies and good vibes, they still refuse to try a vegan lifestyle even for a week. Some people just don’t want to do it and don’t see the value in removing animal products from one’s diet.
Imagine this: you’re the only vegan at the cookout and there’s no options for you. People constantly tell you that you are extreme or ridiculous for not eating animal products. Perhaps everyone in your circle eats animal products in some form and they constantly taunt and harass you about taking one little bite of their fried chicken or BLT sandwich. It’s not fair to you but the pressure is real. How can you stay vegan when no one else around you is? Here’s what I’ve done to stay committed to a vegan lifestyle despite the voices around me that have discouraged my journey.
Cook a delicious vegan meal and invite people over
Almost every week, I’m invited to some family or friend dinner. And guess what? 95% of the time, there’s no vegan options. I got to the point where I decided if people were unwilling to go to a vegan restaurant, then people would just have to come to me. I would invite close friends and family to a potluck or small dinner where I would cook one or two vegan meals. Usually an entree and a side. I would encourage guests to bring a vegan dish to share. A lot of my friends and family liked the challenge and would often bring something interesting like vegan cornbread or raw cheezcake.
This changed the dynamic with my friends and family. When I invited them to eat dinner with me in my apartment, they were more willing to compromise than when I was invited out to dinner or sharing a meal at their houses. It helped ease the burden of being “the only one” who doesn’t eat animal products at gatherings.
Connect with online and in-person vegan communities
When Afro Feminista Vegan first started, I would host monthly meetups at vegan restaurants where vegans from all over would gather, eat and connect. I travel a lot these days so I haven’t been able to continue to host meetups in this way. However, there are a ton of Vegfests, meetups and other gatherings where vegans of all walks of life gather to celebrate a cruelty-free lifestyle.
When I cannot connect with vegans in real life, I get SO much life from following vegan instagrammers and connecting with them on their food and lifestyle choices. Sometimes your town or city doesn’t have the vegan vibes need but the internet, tho. It will connect you to the right ones.
Some of my favorite vegan instagrammers to follow are:
Encourage a Friend or Family Member to Take a 7 Day Vegan Challenge With You
Here’s a secret: when people start a vegan lifestyle, they tend to enjoy the benefits of it; if they never start, they don’t know what they’re missing. Now, I am actively working on converting my mom to a vegan lifestyle as a we speak. She’s tried the Keto diet and a series of other unsustainable diets but she always complains about wanting to lose weight. I’ve asked her a dozen times to try a 7 day vegan challenge with me but she refuses. I’m not giving up so fast.
When a non-vegan is approached to take a 7 day vegan challenge, there’s often a hesitancy but stick with it. You plant the idea and sometimes that simple invitation can become a real possibility. When you invite people to join you on your vegan journey, often times that invitation is a huge step towards them choosing a healthier lifestyle and you seeking the support you need. If you have a friend who can join you for 7 days, you can have a lot of fun creating meals together, trying out new restaurants and keeping each other accountable. Not only is it motivating for your friend or family member to see you thriving on a vegan diet, but it also helps you to feel supported and not so alone on your journey.
Treat yourself to a vegan dinner date once a week
There’s nothing like treating yourself to a delicious vegan meal once in a while. I’m not saying go everyday but if you are feeling devoid of support on your vegan journey, it’s always encouraging to see a group of people who are also enjoying a vegan meal. For me, just being in proximity to people who enjoy eating vegan food is enough to recharge me and keep me motivated.
Sometimes when I feel energized, I’ll go and talk to someone at a nearby table or in line about what they are eating or about to eat. This social connection recharges me (if you couldn't tell, I’m an extrovert). It also encourages me to try their food suggestions or be happy about their choice. If you want to feel supported on your journey, be sure to surround yourself with people who are on a similar journey or value eating a vegan meal just like you do.
Buy cool vegan merch to pump you up
If you don’t know by now, Afro Feminista Vegan has a ton of merch designed to pump you up and feel a sense of pride in being vegan. Sometimes buying a nice vegan shirt or item can encourage you to stay committed to the lifestyle.
One of the most popular vegan products I have in the shop is the Black Educated Feminist and Vegan t-shirt. A lot of people like this piece because it’s bold, simple, and unapologetic. The three words that sum up my attitude towards my vegan lifestyle. Sometimes a little retail therapy can do your spirit well. Go buy something vegan and prideful to rekindle your love for veganism.
Reflect on why you started your vegan journey and reestablish your reasons
It’s always good to reflect on why you’re pursuing a certain direction in your life. When it comes to being vegan, there are plenty of people who don’t understand why you chose that path and it can sometimes weaken your confidence and cause you to question why you’re still pursing a vegan lifestyle. Sit back, relax, and reflect on why you became vegan.
For me, I decided when I was young that I wanted to live until I was 100 years old. My grandmother is 99 years old now and will be turning 100 this July. She is such an influential part of why I became vegan. When I went vegan, I wanted to live a long and healthy life with less pain and more energy. I did my research and found that a vegan lifestyle can help extend someone’s life expectancy and allow them live a full life. Choosing a vegan lifestyle was easy for me, I had my goal in mind.
I encourage you to reflect on these questions: What is your primary motivation for being vegan? Are you still dedicated to that goal? How can you reestablish the importance of that goal in your life and stay committed to the lifestyle? Once you reestablish your reasons for going vegan and keep those at the forefront of your mind, it will be easy to dismiss any haters or naysayers who wish to derail you from your vegan journey.
Have a Veganniversary Party
My vegan anniversary is October 15th, 2015. Every year, I treat myself to a vegan meal, go buy some vegan nail polish, do my hair with lovely vegan products, and go out with friends to enjoy a night of fun. I make sure it’s a self-care event as well as a celebration for achieving another year of cruelty-free living.
Perhaps you want to throw a party and invite friends over. Have every guest bring a vegan dish or offer a vegan gift. Perhaps you can make an intention circle and everyone can create an intention to treat their body, the environment and the animals better. There are so many ways you can celebrate this important day. Be sure to celebrate your greatest accomplishment: your commitment to reducing your impact on the animals and planet as well as your ability to treat your body with the utmost kindness and love.
To me, being vegan is a celebration not a death-sentence. Celebrate everyday but especially on your veganniversary.
Read funny vegan memes
Take out your phone and go onto Instagram. Put in the search engine #funnyveganmemes and see what comes up. I promise you’ll be laughing for days. There are some clever vegans out there that have taken their time to create witty, informative and hilarious vegan memes for your entertainment. When I’m feeling alone on my vegan journey, I always find a funny vegan meme to cheer me up. Often times the memes will touch on societal issues that plague people in our communities and how a vegan lifestyle is a good solution to those issues. Other times, a meme might provide you with helpful nutrition information that strengthens your reasons to stay vegan. I like the vegan memes that offer clapbacks to common criticisms of veganism. All of these memes give me SO much life and help me stay motivated to continue a vegan lifestyle.
Accept that not everyone is going to be into veganism and move on
At the end of the day, we know that not everyone will become vegan or understand why you chose this lifestyle. Instead of looking for approval from people, how about you accept that not everyone will understand or agree but you still deserve to live your best life. This mentality shift has helped me from the moment I became vegan to now.
I was always looking for approval from my family, friends and romantic partners. I wanted them to justify my lifestyle and pat me on the head. But in reality, they lived very different lives than my own and had different challenges. Some of my friends and family were genuinely too busy or broke to buy healthy vegan food. For them, fast food and meat were the most convenient and economical options. I understand that and that’s why I extend empathy to them. However, that’s their life. I am living your own life with my own goals and challenges.
Just because others in your life are not on your same path or don’t agree doesn’t mean you should stop working towards bettering yourself by staying vegan. Respect where people are but always find the intrinsic motivation to stay vegan within yourself and stay committed for your own reasons. Untangle yourself from the approval or disapproval of others and focus on how you can be the best version of yourself. When you make that mental shift, it won’t matter if you’re the only vegan in the world; you’ll know why you’re on this journey and you still committed to staying vegan.
I hope this article helped you on your journey. If you have been struggling to stay vegan or find that you need some extra support, be sure to check out our Vegan Do It Program. It’s designed to help you start and sustain a healthy vegan lifestyle by providing webinars, coaching, educational materials and so much more. I’m here to support you on your vegan journey and help you stay motivated to achieve your goals. For more information on my private coaching, click here. If you want someone to cook you a healthy vegan meal, read more about my vegan chef services here. Be well and good luck on your vegan journey.