10 Ways to Keep from being an Obnoxious Vegan. ~ Kate Bartolotta & Waylon Lewis

Via elephant journal
on Jan 31, 2012
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Two Newbie Intimidated, Imperfect Vegans: the One Month Update.


The joke goes like this:

“How do you know if someone’s vegan?”

“Oh, don’t worry–they’ll tell you.”

Kate says:

One month–wow! It’s been kind of uneventful lately. I went out to lunch the other day with amazing ele blogger and Flying Yogini, Nancy Alder. As I sat waiting in the little eco-grocer/cafe, doodling in my Moleskine about this post, sipping my Chia Kombucha, I thought…this isn’t really so hard. But, I could easily become a walking cliché.

You know, one of those vegans.

Waylon here: so, Kate and I decided to try and come up with 10 ways we’re trying to avoid being preachy and superior and obnoxious and generally turning everyone off from veganism:

Ten ways to keep from being an obnoxious vegan:

Kate’s Five:

1. Don’t ask, don’t tell. 90% of the time, people aren’t really interested in hearing what you do or don’t eat. Don’t try to work veganism into every conversation. If it comes up organically, and the person seems genuinely interested, go for it.

2. Keep your balance. Yes, I love my swiss chard/chia/blueberry/avocado smoothies. I loooove all of Caley Alyssa’s vegan recipes! But I also sometimes just make nachos with Daiya cheese & (non-GMO) corn chips. Maybe even two days in a row for lunch. Just like with any other part of life, nobody’s perfect. Who’d want to be anyway? Boring!

3. Stop extolling the virtues of Daiya cheese. Note to self: people are rolling their eyes at you. Enough already! (But it’s soooo good! Ok. I’ll try to chill with the constant Daiya love.)

4. When you go out to eat, be polite to your server. Personally, I don’t like being high maintenance in restaurants (or anywhere for that matter.) But I also don’t want to get sick from something with gluten in it, and I don’t want any animal products. I also would like more than a bowl of lettuce. So, I ask questions. I flatter. I flirt. I smile–a lot. And I tip. A lot. I’ve been a server and bartender. Most of the good ones want you to have a great time and a wonderful meal. They also want to be treated with respect no matter what your food issues are. So, if your requests and questions are elaborate, be extra nice.

5. Don’t comment on other people’s food choices. Seriously. Stop it. It’s no fun when people ask questions that make you feel like a weirdo. There are so many different reasons people choose to eat what they eat. But the important point here? What they choose to eat and why–none of your business! I don’t like facing the Spanish Inquisition over my breakfast, I’m not going to do it to anyone else either.

Waylon’s Five:

6. Wow, Kate’s really at it. Don’t think I’ve even found Daiya at my grocery store. I’d say never to “contemplate others,” as Buddhists say. Don’t prejudge others for murdering meat needlessly for their pleasure! Remember…we all have our blind spots, including yours truly, and it’s all about education. No one’s a bad person, and don’t lecture or condescend or treat them as such.

7. Like Kate said, be nice when you go out. Be humble. Make fun of yourself when ordering. I do need to say “I’m vegan,” because I don’t want animal stuff in my food, including butter, milk, eggs, which I’ve found is everywhere. But don’t “act vegan.”

8. Remember veganism is about compassion, not aggression. Simple.

9. If you find yourself getting aggro, talking about veganism, shut up. You’re not doing the cause any favors.

10. Remember that if you’re eating processed gmos in plastic bags and you shop Amazon instead of your local bookshop and you drive a car or eat foods with palm oil…you’re far, far from perfect. Never consider yourself better than anyone else. Delight in going vegan. Be an example. Meditate. Exercise. Take your dog for lonnnng walks. Be a good family member and citizen. That’s how we’ll make veganism look attractive.




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37 Responses to “10 Ways to Keep from being an Obnoxious Vegan. ~ Kate Bartolotta & Waylon Lewis”

  1. karlsaliter says:

    Nice list. My roommate Sweeney hated it when I talked about factory farming,
    and loved it when I made the kind hippie food and shared it. Simple, yet basic.

  2. Lorin says:

    Good rules for most diets, actually!

    Posted to Elephant Food on Facebook and Twitter.

    Lorin Arnold
    Blogger at The VeganAsana
    Associate Editor for Elephant Food
    Editor for Elephant Family

  3. AhimsaYogi says:

    very well said guys! And congrats on 1 month in!

  4. And on point #7 — if you're a jerk, they can tamper with your food :))

  5. You lived with the Sweeney??

    You're a legend.

  6. tatumann says:

    Love this post. "Remember veganism is about compassion, not aggression. Simple." The gentle reminder that compassion extends beyond animals to those crazy two legged creatures we call people. 🙂 Although, these days, my dogs prefer short walks, but they're getting old. Psyched for you both on the journey, 30 days with no animal products is a big deal. Celebrate… I appreciate the updates on overcoming challenges, but would also love to hear how you're both feeling.

  7. Yes! Compassion for everybody otherwise what's the point. In last week's update I mentioned how amazing I feel. Even though my Celiac is well managed (gluten free) I pretty much always had at least a little bit of a stomach ache. Now? Gone! So thrilled!

  8. […] leave you with a nice little quote I found on Elephant Journal by Waylon Lewis on being vegan: “Remember that if you’re eating processed gmos in plastic bags and you shop […]

  9. cit1 says:

    This is an appropriate article and good reminder to remain humble and polite in our individual lifestyles of choice, kudos elephantjournal!

  10. tatumann says:

    Oh! Awesome. I think I missed last week's update then. But that's great to hear!

  11. Yeah, I figure just managing myself is a big enough project. No need to "contemplate others" as Waylon says.

  12. True! Thanks Lorin!

  13. ahahah! I never did as a server/bartender, but I've seen it done. Yuck.

  14. elephantjournal says:

    It's been pretty easy, if a little boring—I don't really know how to cook and haven't made the time, so I eat super simply and healthfully. Eating out has been easy, for the most part, though giving up croissants and garlic fries and a few other faves has sucked. But not as much as the dairy industry sucks right now, so no biggie.

  15. agurvey says:

    Nice job, you two. I love your list, too! Nicely done.

  16. lek says:

    That is great advice. 🙂

  17. and remember until you have been vegan for at least a few months you don't really know what your body will do with it…so be very gentle about it until you know for sure 🙂 It really isn't for everyone so we have to be respectful — eating your words (or your attitude) is the worst meal 🙂

    I can't emphasize enough the nice to servers part — I just start with "I'm going to be sort of a pain in the ass I'll try to be as much fun as possible to make up for it" it's disarming, honest and appreciated. I have also spent a LOT of time working in the industry and the only true PITA's are the one's who don't realize it.

  18. jenifer says:

    I agree with ARCreated Wellness.

    I was vegan for 5-6 years (I don’t keep track of time well), and it was great until the last year. Then it was terrible. Very, very terrible. I went back to ovo-lacto, but that wasn’t great either. Went paleo, and doing well a year in. We’ll see how I am in another 5-6 years.

    The way I see it, all of these things are great, but they may not work forever. And, yes, I was doing things “right” — haven’t eat boxed/processed foods on a regular basis in over 12 years. 🙂 I rule. LOL

  19. elephantjournal says:

    Yah, I'm pretty close with most of the restaurants I go to, try and go to local farm-to-table indie places, so they've really surprised me by being happy to try and accommodate, it's been fine. I hate being a pain and ordering "off menu," but on the other hand when we become vegan we fast realize how few options are free of dairy/meat, which I've learned are unfortunately the same thing (dairy industry equals dead male chicks, dairy cows create veal market).

    PS: I was veggie for 9 years previous, so don't anticipate feeling bad 'cause I'm not eating butter, cheese…neither is that good for me. If anything I'm taking more supplements and thinking more about food and cooking now that I was, when it was somewhat easier to just cruise along.

  20. cit1 says:

    You should compile a list of the farm-to-table indie places in Boulder which you like.. unless you already have one ;P

  21. elephantjournal says:

    This may not be totalllly current but http://www.elephantjournal.com/2011/06/top-10-thi

  22. Very well said! Specially #4 and #10! Although when I went on vacation it was really really hard to find something to eat, something to be sure there's no animal protein on it. But it's good that people start to look more at their heath and consider more and more to cut the meat. I have two friends that followed my example and went on raw food and I only knew when they had 3 months of raw food already! They were "silent", polite, not proud or considering superior to others.

  23. cit1 says:

    Awesome compilation! Thanks!

  24. karlsaliter says:

    This is ancient history, but the Rawvolution review we talked about last week is done, and hey, the author commented!
    I love that. http://www.elephantjournal.com/2012/02/rawvolutio
    Waylon, you kitchen chicken, don't think of it as "cooking", maybe that will help.
    "Fix up" or "prepare" a few things. Start with the soups, they rock.

  25. Very good article. I think that some vegans have trouble with people in general. If you like animals more than people then that is a big issue. So keep that in mind when talking to people. Jesus said about people in general: "you look for slivers in other's eyes when you have logs in your own eyes." So it is better to be inner directed.

    As far as being perfect, that state is possible. It is easy to tell when you are perfect. You will feel perfect peace, endless love and infinite happiness all of the time. That is your true nature. That is your true self. How you treat other's depends on this saying– "Misery loves commpany."

  26. Enjoyed reading this. I often find people quizzing me and putting me on the spot for my food choices. “Where do you get your protein?” “Is that healthy?” I’ll try to be gentle in my replies.

  27. This is how I am in real life. I don't just offer that I am vegan. I wait until people ask me about it. And then I try to make it as easy and attractive as possible. I am never ashamed or compromise my values, and I try to be as low maint. as possible.

  28. Shira Charis says:

    Great list, but everything in moderation…which to me means sometimes the obno shows a little. Being openly vegan (and showing that you LOVE IT) allows others to see that it is not “so hard”. Being healthy, happy, courteous and showing it is good!
    -vegan 18 months

  29. elephantjournal says:

    Staci Savage Oh how appropriate. Literally just a bit ago I passed a car-with a sweet looking girl in the front seat, with a huuge bumper sticker going accross her bumper that said "I AM VEGAN AND GREEN I CHANGE THE WORLD" (or maybe it should've said: "My choices effect the world". Questionably, stating our views loud and proud, may not the best way to go about sharing that. I feel it h as the tendency to solicit more anger and defensiveness, then it does inspire one to actually change the way we live. Hm…:)
    28 minutes ago · LikeUnlike
    John Jordan-Cascade Wow…finally this critical issue is finally being addressed in the media: the problem of annoying vegans. Whew, I was wondering when our culture would get to that. Next up: sarcastic people who annoy us!

  30. […] the comments on our last update, several commenters reminded us that we are still in the baby newbie stages of all this vegan […]

  31. Lisa says:

    Very well said and as a former restaurant slave I love #4. I have found lots of (most) vegans to be angry, about the food industry, factory farming, corporate such and such, as well we all should be, but to me, veganism is not about harboring anger but rather sweet ahimsa… and as such I still have yet to tell or try to explain to my in-laws that I am vegan out of sheer they're my in-laws and I want them to like me. They so go out of their way to make vegetarian things for me that I appreciate that and let it be, so I have some awesome hormone filled biscuits and gravy every so often, what can I say…

  32. Doug says:

    Great list. #8 is a great reminder – so many of us are vegan because we want to live more compassionately!

    That said, let's not forget that anger, when harnessed correctly, is a fuel for moving forward. I do get pissed off that we have an arbitrary standard around slaughtering baby cows and chicks for food — and if they were cute puppies and seals instead of cows and chicks it would be a different story. Sometimes, that is motivating too.