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THE VEGAN STIGMA: Why vegans may be considered a marginalized population

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Just because vegan ethics are morally driven and not driven by an organized religion, they should not be discarded as unworthy of people's respect and attention. Our spiritual and ethical beliefs can be just as powerful as organized religion.

KATHERINE COMPITUS: Vegan psychology focuses on the specific psychological needs and stressors of people who identify as vegan, including the psychological effects of the stigmatization of vegan people. For clarification, a person who is vegan does not consume nor use any animal products. Vegans, in general, try to stay away from anything that uses, abuses, or oppresses other animals in order to benefit humans. Often, this includes a plant-based diet and a focus on sustainable practices such as forgoing wool or leather products and instead using alternative materials…

People often have stereotypical ideas about what a vegan looks like and how a vegan should act… They picture of a “vegan” is of “a young, white woman, a hippie, with great skin who is middle-to-upper class but she is always feeling angry”… Despite public perception, it can be incredibly difficult to be vegan in a society that marginalizes ethical, rather than religious, belief systems such as veganism… People who identify as vegan are often severely stigmatized and may find themselves rejected by mainstream society… Many people are using the term “plant-based” in order to reduce the stigma of the word “vegan”…

About the myth of the “angry vegan”… There definitely are some extremist and angry vegans. This is a small subset of people… They see injustice in the world and are trying to be strong advocates for change… The vast majority of vegans promote compassion to all, including other humans, rather than anger. In our modern society, we have learned to not stereotype large groups of people by the actions of a few and yet we continue to judge vegans who just want to enjoy their lentil-based shepherd’s pie in peace, based on the behavior of a few extremists…

In his book ‘Good Without God: What a Billion Nonreligious People Do Believe’, Greg M. Epstein, Humanist Chaplain at Harvard University, wrote, “Those of us who don’t want to worship an invisible being or spend our days fretting about punishment in Hades do want to be able to share what we hold dear with our families and the broader world, and we want to be understood and appreciated for who we are”… Just because vegan ethics are morally driven and not driven by an organized religion, they should not be discarded as unworthy of our respect and attention…

As Epstein writes, our spiritual and ethical beliefs can be just as powerful as organized religion. Even vegans have our spiritual leaders, such as author and advocate Gene Bauer (Farm Sanctuary), Dr. Dean Ornish, Dr. Campbell (The China Study) and Dr. Esselstyn (Forks Over Knives), Dr. Greger (How Not To Die). Vegan (plant-based) eating, as described in Forks Over Knives, is such an established health-based treatment option that the award-winning documentary based on the book has its own channel on the televisions at Montefiore Hospital in New York City. We know that plant-based eating is healthy and works. So, it seems that the problem that we have is with the images that the word “vegan” conjures up, rather than the habit of plant-based eating itself…

Most vegans are ruled and run by their desire for compassion and kindness. We want there to be less suffering in the world. If you encounter a vegan that is rude, please understand that they are usually not angry at you personally, but rather frustrated at a world where our compassion is seen as inconvenient and our kindness as a burden. If only more people would take the time to know us, perhaps there would be less of a conflict. SOURCE…

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