In spite of the fact that the vegan movement continues to grow around the world, there are times when being the only vegan in the room, at the table or in the workplace can feel quite lonely. I think most of us have squirmed a bit surrounded by non vegans who are discussing their latest meat based dish and wondered when and if we should speak up. While the answer to that question is certainly blog worthy, I want to focus this one on something else. I want to celebrate my virtual vegan community.
The Local Community and Beyond
Since becoming a vegan, these are the vegans in my local community that I have met: my husband, my son and daughter, a housekeeper at the hospital where I work. Hmmm. Yes, that’s it. However, if I start to count the vegans in my day to day life, encouraging me, challenging me and being a sounding board for any issue I come up against, my network stretches across the globe. It crosses time zones and age groups and socioeconomic situations. Our shared values and commitment to veganism is our bridge to each other and we travel it often, sharing much more than the things that brought us together in the first place. I care about, and rely on, people I may never meet face to face — and that to me is a beautiful and life enriching thing.
Community on the Road
Recently Greg and I were traveling to Florida for our vacation and had the opportunity to meet someone we had been following on Instagram for some time. We met for a vegan brunch at Ethos Vegan Kitchen. The three of us sat for two hours and chatted like old friends. (We only got up to leave because we were afraid they were going to bring us lunch menus!) Were it not for our social media connection, we most likely would never have crossed each others’ paths. Nikki lives in the Orlando, Florida area and is using social media to grow a group known as Orlando Vegans, creating a virtual and physical community. She is an amazing woman doing amazing things and we both really enjoyed getting to know her better.
The Best of Social Media
There are plenty of naysayers when it comes to social media. They will tell you that Facebook friends and Instagram followers aren’t really friends or followers at all. They say that the relationships never go beyond selfies and pictures of food and pets or children. I confess, I love those selfies, the plates of food and pictures of cute or mischevious kids and pets. I love them because the are the snapshots of people who make a difference in my life.
So my point? If you are feeling alone or isolated as a vegan, reach out. You will connect with some amazing people from all over who are happy to reach back. The sense of community is wonderful and can really carry you through the times when you feel discouraged or frustrated being the vegan in a non-vegan environment. And who knows, someday you may get the opportunity to meet in person and do a selfie.
Greg, Nikki, and Georgia at Ethos Vegan Kitchen. Making virtual community into physical community