I've been there - the only vegan in the village (as it were).
Let me tell you, it's no fun not knowing anyone who shares your ethics or beliefs when it comes to the ways society exploits and abuses animals.
So when I finally made some vegan friends, it was a revelation. Suddenly, I could hang out with people who really understood the way I felt about so many important issues.
After getting to know more and more vegans, here are just five of the reasons why I think they are awesome.
Being compassionate is a cornerstone of veganism.
And you have to be able to empathize with others and put yourself in their position to truly understand the horrors of factory farming - not to mention the systematic use and abuse of animals outside of that complex.
I have yet to meet a vegan who doesn't, on some level, share these two qualities.
For some years before I was vegan, I was vaguely aware of how awful animal agriculture must be (I mean, when you are literally killing someone, by definition, that is cruel).
But I didn't properly engage with the information - I let it drift around me, and instead I chose to fight for other animal cause that didn't really require me to change my lifestyle.
I would write to my MP about wild animals in circuses - and get angry about fox hunting to anyone who'd listen.
It wasn't until a vegan pointed out the savage reality about the dairy industry that I couldn't keep my eyes closed any longer.
I'm always impressed with vegans who learn so much about these industries which are so distressing - especially some of the amazing younger people who are driving this movement forward.
No one can sympathize about a tough meal time with omnis like a non-vegan.
When you've had a bad day, maybe seen some tough footage, or witnessed animal abuse, the best person to speak to is often another vegan.
They generally know how you feel, because they have experienced the same thing - and they will be able build you back up, and let you know you're not alone.
Ok, this may seem like a sweeping statement...
But there is something about turning your back on society's norms that screams intelligence to me.
Big Ag works so hard to try and convince you that eggs are free range, that killing is 'humane', and that dairy cows are 'happy'.
If you're able to see through those lies - I think it's fair to say you have a brain in your head.
The abuse thrown at vegans ranges from gentle ribbing to relentless cruelty.
Doing something that deviates from the norm takes some guts - and means you are going to face scrutiny and questioning in many social situations.
It's especially inspiring to speak to vegans who've been engaged in the lifestyle for decades - if you've been eschewing animal products for up to 50 years, it's safe to say you're a pioneer.
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