Vegetarians, vegans, and raw vegans often ask why people are hostile toward their dietary choices. At the same time, many of us argue with people who do not share our dietary choices, and try to convince others that they are wrong to eat the way they do.
Recently I answered a questions about this on Yahoo Answers (answers.yahoo.com). The person posting suggested that “superior attitudes” create hostility on the part of others, and reminded me that our beliefs are not universal, and others are not obliged to agree with you.
This poster has taken the time to give us all something that is very important to understand, so I am cross-posting here the answer that I posted on Yahoo Answers (which, incidentally, the poster chose as the best answer)
Here is what I said:
“I personally feel that lifestyle choice, be it diet, religion, music identification, or whatever, should be a personal choice.
Unfortunately, many people seem to think that their choices should be the choices of all (shades of dictatorship, according to me).
Do we want people to tell us what religion to have? I don’t think so.
Do we want people to tell us what gender to prefer, or what position to use? I hope not.
Do we like people blasting music we don’t like at us? I doubt it.
So, why should any of us criticise what anyone else wants to eat?
If vegetarians, vegans, or raw vegans choose to eat the way they eat, it should be their right, and people who do not adhere to those kinds of diets should leave them alone.
At the same time, new converts to vegetarianism, veganism, or raw veganism should make every effort to avoid missionizing (as should people who have been sucked into MLM schemes)
Unfortunately, we are dealing with humans. Humans tend to like to feel superiority, and many get the idea that showing others the superior thing they have found makes them superior.
We are all blessed with our ability to make choices. We can find polite ways to fend off missionary approaches. “Thank you, but I’m not interested” is a bit blunt. “That’s interesting, but let’s talk about something else” is another option, still blunt. You can also listen to the missionary and then say “thank you” and go on about your business.
Many vegetarians/vegans/raw vegans get tired of meat eaters telling them that they are missing this or that. Some meat-eaters are mean to vegetarians, vegans, and/or raw vegans.
Speaking out against meat-eaters can be a defense mechanism.
Regardless, we should all strive to avoid missionizing other people who are not interested in our passion.”
I will add to this that I was raised Baptist, which is an evangelical Christian denomination. As a youngster, I never had any trouble with that, because everyone around me was some variety of Christian. When I took off to foreign parts, I found myself faced with a very unusual situation – people wanted to know about my religion, and, suddenly, I found myself explaining something that I had never thought much about – duh! belief is belief! I had to examine some things within myself. Because of who *I* am, I had to examine my ability to tell people about something which I deeply believe, which might fly in the face of everything they know. This was a very difficult thing for me, because I had come to believe that other religions can be good, too.
I have since come to terms with my multi-culti open-mindedness, as it regards religion. My religion is the best for me. My religion is intensely personal (if I tell my pastor everything I believe, he might become seriously concerned, but I don’t need to tell him all of that, as long as what I fundamentally believe leads me to attend the church where he preaches. (I think that there are probably a lot of people who feel this way, who follow the old Clinton rule of “don’t ask/don’t tell) Since I am also a confirmed Roman Catholic (don’t ask), once I did go to a priest and tell him I believed in this and that, and was pleasantly surprised when he said that, as long as I did not say that he had said so, I could still be a card-carrying Catholic)
How does this side-track relate to raw veganism/ veganism / vegetarianism?
In our lives, we are going to meet people who say they agree with us; and we are going to meet people who say they like what we are saying, but they are not going to do it; and we are going to meet people who think what we do is ridiculous.
The easiest way to live a raw vegan lifestyle is to keep it to ourselves, and simply find others who agree with us, and hang out with them, and share our beliefs and recipes with them (I know, it sounds a lot like church, but that is the way humans do!)
I actually survived as a raw vegan for more than 20 years before I found other people who ate the way I do. I ate the way I did because that seemed reasonable to me, but I did not know that there were others near me who ate that way, and I did not worry it. I did not try to get converts, I just ate the way I did, and when I went to potluck dinners, I took food I was accustomed to making, without making a hullabaloo. Most people called my food salad, and some people asked me about it. When they asked, I told them. I did not try to convert them ( did not really know that there were other people like me, so I was the only one, i.e., the weirdo). I still do the same way.
When I am on vacation with my parents each year, I make dinner two or three times that week. If they like it, my mom will ask me for the recipe. My parents do what they do. They are old enough to have the right to do as they wish. If they adopt some of my ways, cool.
This is my way of missionizing. If people come to your house, you treat them (feed them) as you would treat any person in your household. If that is attractive to them, they will ask you about it.
This works for me in my evangelical requirement to witness to other people. I live my life, and if people ask me about it, then I invite them to my church. I show them who I am, and I let them ask, and I let them decide. Yes, people do convert sometimes. They do so because they see something that looks good to t hem, not because I hit them over the head with a hammer.