By Daria Zeoli, Guest Contributor

From the first piece I wrote in 2015, Vegan in a Non-Vegan World, my worldview has been increasingly exasperated and pessimistic. I haven’t had a meaningful exchange with another, live in-person vegan in almost two years. I haven’t been to a farm sanctuary for some one-on-one time with the animals and I haven’t been to Johnstown, PA for Vegetarian Summerfest in 3 years.

“I respect your life choices…”

“I’m entitled to my opinion…”

All this non-vegan world stuff is really wearing me thin. I am angry.

I cannot take you seriously if you tell me you don’t “believe everything [you] read” when I tell you that raising animals for food is the single greatest human-caused source of destruction to our environment.

I cannot take you seriously if you tell me humans are natural carnivores.

I cannot take you seriously if you tell me adequate protein can’t be had from a plant-based diet.

I cannot take you seriously when you tell me to sign a petition about hunting when you just ate at McDonald’s.

I cannot take you seriously because your denial and hypocrisy is very serious. It’s seriously causing immense pain to human and non-human animals, as well as the planet.

I am angry at this systematic brainwashing that has been going on for generations. I am angry that I understand how easy it is to refuse to believe and to turn a blind eye from what is happening to the animals, to our planet, and to us.

I am angry at myself. I’m no better than you, so don’t assume I think otherwise. As someone who believes in doing as little harm as possible, I am not practicing what I preach. I’m angry at all of us and I’m not harnessing that anger for a better use. Some would say that karmically, I’m harming the universe. And that means that I’m a vegan hypocrite.

I worked very hard to come to a space where I was independent, where I was living on my own terms, where I was living authentically. That has changed. I am living with others now, under the pull of too much stuff, under the pull of too little willpower, and I cannot get up. I’m drowning under a sea of plastic bags and bottled water, trying to ignore someone else’s meatballs in the freezer and cold cuts in the fridge. I eat out with others as they cut up their chicken’s eggs or bite into a strip of pig’s bacon or a cow’s hamburger and I block it out because I can’t sit at that table and acknowledge how much suffering has gone into those meals. I try to hold a conversation about methane and cow waste and am told to stop because I’m too impassioned to deal with.

It’s said that we shouldn’t spend our time preaching to the choir, but what good is it to preach to those who simply don’t agree? I can accept – or try to accept – that not everyone will share my ethics. But when even scientific facts fall on deaf ears, it all feels so hopeless.

I share this all with you because I want to be honest. I want to tell you what it is like being vegan – at least for a thirtysomething introvert in northern New Jersey – because if you have experienced similar, it’s important that you know you are not alone.

Life is a series of peaks and valleys. You don’t have the wherewithal to recognize this as you’re riding a particular wave, but it’s something to remember when you’re on a decline. There will be an uphill swing to this whole journey, and if you do the work of recognizing where you are, you can move on from it more quickly.

Can you relate? How do you move up when you’re on the decline? Let’s discuss the way through!

Photo: joshjanssen