You may be a committed vegan, but do you have all bases covered? Besides eating animal products, here are five more things vegans shouldn't do and a few things to try instead.
Don't shame omnivores
You shouldn't go around bashing meat-eaters.
It's a lost cause. They feel as strongly about their lifestyle as you do about yours. They also have an entire society and a lifetime of miseducation backing their views. Attacking their lifestyle usually starts a debate, and they'll label you as another pushy vegan just for stating facts.
All the omnivore shaming is also bad press for our community. Every heated exchange between omnivores and vegans closes people to the idea of veganism. Now, when another vegan with a gentler approach begins a conversation in the future, the meat-eater will be too guarded to appreciate the message.
And -- with all due respect -- didn't you eat meat a few years ago? Many current vegans are former omnivores, so it's hypocritical to shame others for eating the way most of us were taught to eat. Everyone is on the path toward understanding just like you were. Have some patience.
Instead: Be more relatable. Try saving the animal welfare conversation for later and start with the personal benefits of veganism.
Talk about the state of the environment, personal health, or another way our government is misleading society. She may not care about animal welfare, but her ears may perk after knowing a vegan diet is a celebrity weight loss trend.
Once you've gotten their attention with a vegan topic they care about, slowly bring the conversation to animal welfare and the harms of eating meat. They'll be much more receptive.
Don't eat junk
This one's for the junk food vegans.
Being open to eating anything "as long as no animals were harmed" doesn't make you a better vegan. What good will you be in the fight for animal rights if your health is poor?
Junk food veganism is not the way to go. Besides the obvious health issues, do you think corporations like Nabisco actually care about animals? Accidentally vegan options work when you're in a pinch and there's nothing else to eat, but they shouldn't be staples.
Instead: Sautee some veggies. Invest in a juicer. Eat at least one small salad a day. Soy meats and Daiya cheeses are great for quelling cravings, but they don't have to be in every meal.
You can still eat your junk a few times a week, but the majority of your diet should be healthy. If you're committed to junk food veganism, buy from vegan-owned businesses that make products for our community -- not corporations taking advantage of a buying trend.
Don't overlook your wardrobe
This one's for the health food vegans.
A vegan diet is great, but veganism doesn't stop there. It takes the same dead animal to make a sirloin steak as it does your leather coat, so we shouldn't buy from clothing manufacturers who exploit animals.
Health is one of the many byproducts of veganism, but the movement was founded for animal rights and not human health. Vegans shouldn't support clothes made from animals, products tested on animals, and institutions that use animals for entertainment.
Instead: Start removing fur, wool, silk, leather, and down from your wardrobe. It's not something you have to do all at once, but at least make the commitment to stop supporting certain brands. While you're at it, start researching cruelty-free cosmetics and see if your favorites are tested on animals.
For many, altering your wardrobe and skincare routine is too much to ask. Start using terms like "strict vegetarian" or "plant-based" instead of calling yourself vegan, and open yourself up to buying vegan-friendly products whenever possible.
Don't focus on one issue
The beauty of the vegan community is our awareness of wrongdoing. Make sure you extend that awareness to other areas besides animal rights.
Think about what other issues your veganism may compromise. Is it a poor environmental practice to ship produce from overseas when you can bike to a farmer's market? Was the vegan leather jacket you bought sewn by a 12-year-old in Vietnam? Did you show more compassion for Cecil the lion than the local killing of your own species?
Instead: Stay aware of platforms outside of animal rights. It can be a lot to keep track of, but try not to forget other important issues in your quest for animal rights.
Don't entertain bacon trolls
Internet trolls show up specifically to cause confusion. Instead of ignore it, there's always someone who falls into their trap and gives them the argument they were looking for.
Don't engage them. It feeds their ego and perpetuates poor behavior. Even people who aren't necessarily trolls but express negative views of veganism online don't deserve your time of day.
Instead: Match every negative comment with something positive.
Wish trolls health and happiness. They probably need it.
Send kudos to other members of the thread for their commitment to veganism. Thank the owners of the website or social media page for all that they do. Show trolls you're too busy being supportive to entertain negativity.
Are these five things too much to ask? Go to the comments to share which ones you already practice and anything you think could be added to the list.