Do You Judge People by a Label?

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Reading Time: 7 minutes
“No one likes a reformed _____.”

This is one of my go-to statements for teaching Compassion.

It doesn’t matter what your soapbox is… fill in that blank with reformed “alcoholic, drug addict, sinner, omnivore,” so on—in the spiritual realm, it’s called Spiritual Egotism.

When we embark on a new lifestyle, we want to share our successes and path with others. We want people to join us in our new lifestyle. We want to help our tribe find success as we did. We want to convert them from their old life to a better one.

Even if the intent is well meaning, it’s an immediate turn-off, even for those who already share your ideals. This is what they hear: “I’m better than those not following this path.” We see this mentality in “health” DIEts: gluten, soy, carbs, coffee, and an endless list of foods are all evil. It’s what I detest about MLM’s—the image you represent the only reputable company; only you speak the truth.

This mentality leaves you no room for error, growth, or learning. That’s a dangerous place to live, my friend.

I believe you should share your successes and educate people on living healthier and happier. (It’s certainly my calling!) But learn to present yourself properly. No one likes “preaching.”


We want to convert awaken them from their old life to a better one.

Changing that one word gives the conversation lightness and tolerance.

Your job is never to convert someone—you awaken them to damaging habits if it’s your area of expertise. And only if they are engaged in learning more.


Your job may just be to listen to them and sit in silence. As painful as that is, sometimes it’s the help they need you to provide.

Complacence or Compassion?

I’ve had many conversations with others in the plant-based realm who assume others misconstrue their silence for complacence or acceptance. “If they aren’t overly vocal about their animal rights stance, they accept animal abuse.”

This can’t be further from the truth.

There’s a time and a place for sharing your message. Not everyone is open to your message—there’s an art in reading people and meeting them where they are. We’ve lost this skill with the advent of social media. Frankly, your lifestyle is no one’s business until they ask for your input. Actions speak louder than words.


Live by example, not by preaching.


My heart breaks for friends who feel they’re viewed as tolerating animal abuse. We do Good deeds even in silence. I share my journey of being a “reformed omnivore and unaware consumer” with others: in my early 20s, I was politically charged and very vocal about my opinions. No one listened. I finally lost interest in sharing and became silent until they asked questions. I saw gradual changes in their behaviors and my influence as a result… I understood why. They were now open and curious.

Thinking my friends don’t do enough because they’re silent in media threads and conversations comes from the shadow of Ego. We don’t need recognition to make a difference. We need to take action in our own lives. Let human curiosity be the cue for you to vocalize your position.

Megalomania?

A friend pointed out “their silence was misconstrued as acceptance by one of their other vegan friends.” After reading multiple comments from their friend, I know the scenario all too well. I’ve seen it from extremists on various topics. Though I may not always agree with various political stances, I enjoy reading and learning. I love studying how others present information, getting to know them through their writing, and observing how others respond. But there’s always that Ego living in judgement. We all recognize it…

Here’s a clip of an UNcompassionate message shared with me. I’ll explain why this is an ineffective attitude. Sometimes what NOT TO DO is as valuable as what TO DO.


Veganism is “becoming a thing” because it actually means something significant.

Being vegan means embracing a lifestyle of consciousness and connectedness: vegans seem to have a much better understanding of animals, nutrition, agriculture, environment, and Earth. Of course, I’ve mostly interacted with only the “engaged” vegans who are sharing the message of joy, freedom, and health that are the natural consequences of being vegan, so maybe my “sample” is skewed. But, I’ve met hundreds of such individuals—we often set aside all political, social, economic, and other cultural differences in order to work harmoniously to spread the vegan love.

From 1993 until 2009, I was an ignorant (as in: uneducated about the cruelty required for dairy, eggs, and honey, as well as all the vegan “lifestyle” issues, even animal-testing) “vegetarian” and I honestly don’t remember ever meeting another vegetarian. Since becoming “vegan” in 2009, I’ve made friends I will cherish for the rest of my life—just by joining efforts to share the vegan message.


This entire clip enrages me. It’s the very mentality most people detest about reformed leaders. The book clipping is erroneous—many ancient cultures are vegetarian most of the time, not vegan, and not all the time. “With a motivation of compassion rather than healthy or purity… especially in the world’s spiritual traditions.” Vegans don’t hold a higher place in heaven over others; vegetarians are also motivated by compassion, health, and purity. Many spiritual practices aren’t vegetarian at all: Muslim, Jewish, Christian, Shamanism, for starters. Do we honestly believe they’re not as spiritual as us, because they consume animal flesh? Jesus wasn’t a vegetarian; is he less pious than a vegan?

Issues with the Reformed One

  • Veganism is “becoming a thing” because it actually means something significant. An obtuse assumption. It’s a trend for many… I’ve met plenty of vegans who know little to nothing about what the lifestyle entails. I’ve seen vegans post pictures of themselves at zoos and aquariums, wearing leather sandals, using beeswax, and wool sweaters. Eating less meat means something significant, even if you don’t fall into a category of vegetarianism. There are many other social movements that mean something significant—and they’re NOT vegan. 
  • Vegans seem to have a much better understanding of animals, nutrition, agriculture, environment, and Earth. Absolutely untrue, narrow-minded, and unkind. Just because an individual eats animal products does not mean they don’t understand animals, nutrition, agriculture, environment, and Earth. I work with people who hunt seasonally and while my stomach turns at the topic, these people understand animals better than I ever imagined. They’ve taught me about migration and mating patterns, animal habits, and behaviours. Being vegan doesn’t mean you know a lick about agriculture. Many permaculturists do more to save the planet than most vegans ever will… and they consume the beings they cohabitate with and use their eggs and honey.
    I can promise you through a decade of teaching, EVERYONE is confused about nutrition, regardless of their dietary choices. If you understand the Earth as a whole, you also understand it’s not possible nor ethical to believe the planet should be vegan or vegetarian. The world is a diverse; not everyone has access to Whole Foods or Trader Joes, nor can they afford it. There are a lot of factors involved in helping the planet—avoiding animal agriculture is only one aspect.
  • But, I’ve met hundreds of such individuals—we often set aside all political, social, economic, and other cultural differences in order to work harmoniously to spread the vegan love. This post itself does NOT harmoniously spread the message of vegan love! It implies that being vegan is the only way to unify humans. Ironically, it is the antithesis of harmony and further divides us. It seems unless you’re vegan, your political and social views don’t matter to this individual. Well… Hitler was a vegetarian—should we accept his political and social views because he didn’t eat animals?
  • From 1993 until 2009, I was an ignorant (as in: uneducated about the cruelty required for dairy, eggs, and honey, as well as all the vegan “lifestyle” issues, even animal-testing) “vegetarian” and I honestly don’t remember ever meeting another vegetarian. Let me assure you, vegetarians are not “ignorant.” Just because this individual was “an ignorant” vegetarian doesn’t mean they all are. Nor does calling anyone ignorant help your cause. There are a million reasons why people still consume flesh, eggs, and milk products. Maybe they get eggs from a “happy farm,” or drink the milk of the cows they raise. Upbringing, taste preferences, lack of cooking ability, funds, location, and the addictive components in cow’s milk can keep people hooked in a world of animal abuse.
    Here in rural Maine, chickens are seen roaming the yards of 1 in 10 houses and are regularly held and loved by their humans right on the front lawn. Eggs are sold at their houses and are how these families add extra income in an area lacking in an excess of disposable income. Honeybee hives are hidden in trees, tucked away from human disturbances, harvested once a year.
    Even living on Long Island, I knew farmers who properly cared for their bees and harvested honey only when the bees were fed. Even if you think it’s wrong to “steal eggs and honey,” can we not agree these are much better options for a vegetarian than an egg-laying factory farm or Sue Bee honey? Should we condemn these choices simply over a label?
  • Since becoming “vegan” in 2009, I’ve made friends I will cherish for the rest of my life—just by joining efforts to share the vegan message. Implying you never met another vegetarian for 16 years but met a lot of vegans once you went vegan is just a poor reasoning. Too many factors are involved; being vegan isn’t some magical bond  vegetarians never experience. Go to India (for starters) and see how many vegetarians you meet.

When I became a vegetarian in 1994, I swore off any product or food that directly resulted in the death of an animal. That means I bought cruelty-free products and boycotted companies who tested on animals. I never wore leather, wool, or silk again and never consumed animal flesh. I learned which cheeses to avoid, as some contain rennet. Many vegetarians do the same… I think that makes them pretty aware of animal rights issues. I also think they’re doing something significant to help the planet.

I know vegans who eventually consumed eggs and some dairy… do we condemn them or show gratitude for the difference they’re still making? I’ve also known vegans who wore leather—humans are creatures of hypocrisy and habit, not ignorance.


EVERY meatless meal/day/week makes a difference, even if you don’t abstain on a regular basis.

The concept that it’s all or nothing and you don’t make a difference unless you sacrifice it all is naive.

For those of you sitting in silence while you live a plant-based life, I applaud you. For those of you who give up animal products for one meal, a day, or more, I applaud you. You’re making a BIG difference. The world will never be the Utopia we claim to want. Humans and our environments are extremely diverse and are ever-changing.

Speak with Compassion only when prompted. Choose your words wisely.

P.S. If you want to know more about the Meatless Monday campaign and the difference you make by omitting animal products from your plate for just one day, you can learn about it here.

Further research links:

What are your thoughts?

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