Be or Not to Be...Tolerant
In my dealings with friends over the years, I have
noticed that I am always more tolerant in accepting
their nonvegan lifestyle than they are in accepting
my veganism. I am sure I am not alone in this observation.
It puzzles me when "friends" ask you why you are vegan
and then try to crush your responses, one by one, in
what appears to be a self-defense tactic. They'll say
"plants are alive, too"; "cows, pigs and chickens are
supposed to be food"; "we have been meat-eaters for
thousands of years"; then of course there's always,
"where do you get your iron, protein, calcium?" You'd
think that if these people were truly my friends, they
would not try to find some way to discredit my life
choices. So, the question remains, how tolerant should
we be of such "friends"?
I will admit that I have severed myself from a few
people over the years. These are people that persistently
tried to start arguments with me about veganism and
animal rights. Slowly, I broke the bond with these types,
because friends should not be irritating and confrontational.
Keep in mind that I never attacked their meat-eating
or eco-destructive ways (even though I detested these
characteristics). I believe in leading by example so
I never shouted "murderer!" at them when they bit into
their burger. Instead, I would bring vegan food to parties
or offer advice on how to recycle. But oddly enough,
they would say rude things to me practically every time
I ate something. So I decided that these are not friends.
In this type of relationship, more tolerance on my behalf
was not necessary because they showed no tolerance or
respect toward me.
I do have many friends who aren't vegan (coworkers,
old friends from high school, and my boyfriend). These
people at least show tolerance toward the unfamiliar
ideas of veganism. For these folks, I will offer tolerance
because they will try my food, ask me honest questions,
and listen to the answers. Ideally, I'd love for these
people to turn towards compassion for all beings, even
though it is unlikely that they will ever do so. Sometimes
I just accept the fact that vegans are a minority.
Tolerance levels, like all things, are different for
every individual. I have found my own level of tolerance
in dealing with nonvegan friends. I know when to call
it quits; I know when to give something time. All vegans
must find their own level of tolerance in dealing with
e x t e s s a y -
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