Taking into account this cultural context, becoming vegan does require us to step outside of the current paradigm. Becoming vegan means renouncing one’s personal stake in the most widespread and socially accepted injustice of our time, and to do this, we have to be willing to see nonhuman slavery for what it is. That kind of honesty requires some candid reflection, and as a result, it’s possible that some new vegans will experience a sense of alienation from others, including one’s own family and friends, and possibly even society as a whole.
I believe it is this experience that often leads vegans to question their resolve, and in some cases, even go back on their commitment to nonviolence, in favor of greater assimilation within society. Because of the intense social pressure against vegan living, I think it’s extremely important that people who are moved by the values of veganism be clear from the outset as to which is more important to them: living according to their own highest ideals, or being easily accepted by a larger social group that does not share those ideals? To a growing number of people, there is no question which matters more, but to many, it can make the difference between maintaining one’s commitment and ‘falling off the wagon’.
But this does not need to be the case. Rather than seeking acceptance by abandoning the practical application of one’s moral principles, there are ways to find the sense of community we all need, by reaching out to other people who share our ideals.
As our collective awareness and understanding about the intrinsic rights of animals grows, the vegan community is expanding all over the world. In many urban locations, there are groups who meet for potlucks and social events, especially on occasions such as Thanksgiving, when many are seeking an alternative to traditional gatherings which focus on the consumption of animal parts. Even for those who don’t live near a city, the growing popularity of online venues is making it increasingly easy to reach others who have rejected their social conditioning in favor of a gentler, more peaceful way of life.