When I first went vegan, I knew zero vegans. I lived in a small city with a bunch of fast-food restaurants and a Dunkin' Donuts on every corner. None of my family and friends at the time were vegan. In fact, many people didn’t even know what the word meant. Regardless of the lack of support I had, I wasn’t changing my mind, because this felt right in every single way. And when something feels right, follow it no matter what the odds of success appear to be at the time.
Fast forward to a few years later, and now I live in New York City. Many of my friends are vegan or are supportive of this lifestyle. I recognize how fortunate I am and it does make it easier, but even if you don’t live in a major city or know any vegans yet, it’s still possible to happily be vegan without support around you.
1. Know that if you’re vegan, the universe is bound to lead you to other vegans.
I can’t stress this enough: like attracts like. It took time, but now I keep meeting people and forming genuine friendships with other vegans. You never know where you'll be when you meet another vegan in your area. Keep an open mind and believe that you’ll find vegan friends regardless of where you live, and you will!
2. Don’t preach the lifestyle to those not living it.
Been there, done that. You have to know that you can never ever make someone go vegan, so I’d advise not even trying. All you can do is live your beliefs, and if someone else is interested, she'll ask you questions. I learned a lot when one of my non-vegan friends said to me, “I know this other vegan who is always telling me why I should be vegan. But you never do that and I've learned so much by how you live and eat. I'm curious now.” It all comes back to leading by example.
3. Accept that some people might not fit in your life anymore.
If you're vegan, chances are you have strong ethical beliefs, which can bring up other people’s insecurities and ugly sides. Unfortunately, having that negative energy around might drag you down. Life is too short to choose to be around people who aren't supportive of you. Wish them well and let them out of your life. Kinder and more accepting people are right around the corner.
4, Take a trip to a vegan-friendly city or restaurant.
Just by spending some time in an area that’s vegan friendly will boost your spirits and make you feel less isolated. As a vegan, nothing makes me feel more at home and happy then when I discover a new vegan area, restaurant, business etc. Seek out a vegan business or plan a trip to a vegan friendly city to stay inspired and connected to people who believe what you believe.
5. Never feel embarrassed. Own and be proud of your decision!
This is the most important one. Never ever ever feel embarrassed or left out because you are vegan. I have so much love for vegans and I know how hard it is to live this way in a world that isn’t vegan friendly (yet!). Statistics vary, but it seems that only about 2-3% of people in the world are vegan. That means you are part of a small but fast-growing way of living. Own your beliefs and be proud that you’ve chosen this lifestyle. Compassion, kindness, conscious living: they're nothing to be shy about! By being confident and owning who you are, you never know who you'll inspire to do the same.