Veganism. What is it, you may say? I imagine your mind instantaneously filled with a thousand and one preconceptions and conjured up images of a woman wearing a tie-dye t-shirt waving a placard frantically with ‘meat is murder’ on it. Or, someone who derives pleasure from condemning meat eaters with a Nazi-esque fervour. Well, you may not be far wrong!

With Thanksgiving having just passed, and festivities on the horizon, is it not the perfect time to raise people’s awareness and awaken people’s consciences and truly question if compassion exists in the world?

As you sit down with your family and stare admiringly at the dead animal on the table, remember you’re eating a creature that was confined in a cage too full to move freely. If you feel a twang of sympathy for the adverts that pull on the heartstrings, telling you about the homeless dogs, don’t forget that your ‘treat’ that is burning in the oven was once a living animal. The difference being, that these harmless creatures existed only for cruel routines of ‘production or execution’. So, whilst you chow down on that fleshy plate full, the vegans of the world will be enjoying nature’s whole foods, with a clear conscience. Knowing that the food we Instagram has caused no living being any pain is such a good feeling. But of course, you must enviously watch us bask in our moral superiority, from your place of moral inferiority for your crimes: animal murder.

Ok, so this is the extreme. Not all vegans will shout you down and accuse you of abhorrent crimes, although some with such extreme views most definitely will. We must acknowledge these loud and outspoken vegans who ultimately cause the misconceptions to develop. Their glares and their snide remarks towards a friend tucking into to a meat-filled-kebab on a drunken night out, and their expressions of disapproval toward a vegetarian eating a meat-free cheese omelette embarrass many in the vegan community, ultimately putting us to shame. They are the minority who overshadow the vast majority of us who just want to live as we please, without having to face such offensive abuse because of false prejudices.

On a daily basis, I see memes ridiculing vegans, for ‘drinking a fish’s home’, or ‘being the cause of deforestation’. I hear comments about how boring a life just eating lettuce must be, and how a vegan will definitely have a huge protein deficit and never be able to make those all-important #gains.

Yesterday, my best friend asked me how on earth would I have a Christmas dinner? ‘Christmas veg’ was the suggestion that she gave while drowning in sarcasm. The idea of a Christmas dinner is just that, though: an idea, a concept – something up for interpretation. With a constantly increasing number of vegans, the meat-free alternatives available are finally starting to reflect this growth. Not only are there vegetarian options, but mainstream supermarkets are now starting to stock vegan alternatives in their aisles. It is also becoming more widely accepted and acknowledged in the more refined culinary world, with a growing number of restaurants offering vegan options on their menus. What does this mean? No more restrictions to just lettuce or broccoli à la carte. Little do you know, that you probably eat the same food as I on a regular basis; curries, pizzas, pasta… the possibilities are opening up to us, and I can’t begin to describe the relief that is washing over a whole community of vegans.

Image result for vegan pasta

Essentially, that is what being a vegan has the potential to build: a community. A group of like-minded people living in accordance with the same morals, sharing jokes, stories, recipes and new concoctions. Their experiences like anyone’s, are always more enjoyable when shared among people, among friends. Using social media is a particularly easy, convenient and eye-opening way to connect with other people. The use of the hashtag ‘veganism’, and many other variations is becoming more and more common across all media platforms. It is not forced upon the rest of the world like many people have the expectation it is. Although we must, as often is the case, exclude the media who thrive on promoting and reporting on the latest celebrity to be on a vegan diet.

Unfortunately, the stereotype that has developed has left many vegans feeling outcast and odd. But I can assure you the silent majority of vegans are not ‘odd’, we merely eat a few different foods to you. Why don’t you try and experience veganism before criticising and ridiculing? You might not even notice the difference.