A funny situation happened to me a while ago when ordering sandwich at a popular sandwich chain. At the counter, I specified that I wanted my sandwich to be “no cheese, no meat, vegan,” (or something to this effect, I don’t remember my exact words). When I received the sandwich, I was a bit surprised that it didn’t have any dressing in it. It turned out the person taking the order understood “no meat, no cheese, (no) vinegar.” Obviously he was not familiar with the word “vegan” and thought I said “vinegar.”

Truth is, even though the vegan movement seems to be growing faster than ever, there is still not enough information out there (online and in the traditional media) about veganism–and all the positive ethical, health, and environmental implications–that would make it easy for people to come across it often enough, just by just random browsing the internet, so it gets registered.

By random browsing, I mean they don’t search for “vegan recipes,” or “vegan lifestyle,” because that means they are already aware, probably already vegan, or on their way to becoming vegan.

I mean, they are simply searching for recipes, information about nutrition, weight loss, health tips, browsing the news, or planning their next family vacation and trying to decide whether to go on a snorkeling trip or to SeaWorld.

We need the word “vegan” to be in the vocabulary that’s understood by everyone, and not just that. I’ve met many educated people, who didn’t even know how to pronounce the word “vegan” properly, which to me is a sign that they just haven’t heard it often enough — or perhaps (worse yet) ever.

For that we, as the vegan community, must STEP UP OUR GAME and start acting like we really mean it when we say that we want the whole world to go vegan.

We need not just to become more OUTSPOKEN, but also more STRATEGIC about how we deliver the message, whom we target, and what tools and techniques we use.

It also means venturing out from our world of vegan meetups, vegan Facebook groups and potlucks. In order to grow the movement, we must reach out to new people and stop preaching to the choir.

I know that becoming an effective advocate for animals is not easy. It’s tricky to keep the balance between being outspoken and heard by those around you, and being tactful and not turning people off.

Truth is, the stereotype of an angry vegan is so strong, that it affects many people’s ability to speak out. Some are so afraid of being preachy to the point of not telling anyone in their nearest environment about their deepest beliefs, like a woman who didn’t tell her husband she became vegetarian, until three years later he finally asked her during dinner why she was not eating any meat. (1[i]

Wow, really?

Even though the woman in question is a vegetarian, not vegan, I know that many vegans share that attitude.

In the article, she says she lives by the words of Mahatma Gandhi: “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” and then goes on to explain “nowhere in this quote — or in any of the teachings of the great masters, saints, and mystics — do they say to make changes in yourself and then set about to change all the people around you! (…). I strongly believe that we effect change in ourselves and the world — not by making those around us feel bad for their choices or by preaching our beliefs to them — but by earnestly living our lives as authentically as we can and allowing others to do the same.”

I disagree.

While there are many people who will not change no matter what you do, and making people feel bad should not be on our agenda; being silent and flying under the radar to the point that even your closest family doesn’t know what you are up to should not be our priority.

If we just go around waiting for people to ask us about “Why are you ordering just a salad?” or “Why veganism is amazing?” we may have to wait a long time.

Truth is there are many people out there TODAY, right this minute, surfing the internet, searching for information, who are READY to hear this message, but are not hearing it.

And they will not hear it if all of us, vegans, keep our mouths shut and wait for the world to notice.

I know, because just three years ago, I was still one of them (you can read more about my story and why I’m creating this program in this post).

Now, I understand that it is hard for many of us express such views in public. I’m a rather shy and introverted person myself, and I don’t like to attract attention to myself, especially hostile criticism, awkward questions, and various sneer remarks which I often face when people find out I’m vegan.

I also know first-hand that the harshest critics may be those that are closest to us. I find that I’m often more effective with people I barely know, than with my closest relatives, friends, and acquaintances.

I shouldn’t feel bad, though. Even accomplished vegan authors and speakers have a hard time speaking openly about this topic because of the potential backlash.

For example, at some point, when I became more interested in the climate crisis and environmental destruction that we humans are causing at this planet, I came across the book “Comfortably Unaware.” I remember reading it, and coming to the last chapter entitled “Not-To-Read-Chapter” with a subtitle in tiny print “A closer look at the animals.”

Here is what the author, Dr. Richard Oppenlander, says (emphasis mine):

“Of course the title of this chapter is facetious; this chapter desperately needs to be read. Ad this is why: although I have presented the impact our current food choices have on global depletion, it would not be right to exclude the reality of animal management. Why? Because it is real. Similar to global depletion, the manner in which we treat animals raised for food is ‘out of sight, out of mind.’ Please understand: this book is not about animal rights, although that is a very noble concern. It is about truth, so some mention of the way animals raised for food are treated behind the scenes is in order. I do not want to expound heavily on this topic, however, because, frankly, you might not view the entire contents of this book properly otherwise. Animal rights has inappropriately become a stigma in some venues. The vast majority of humans would rather not hear about their food origins, particularly if it involves inhumane treatment, torture, abominable living conditions, or the pain and suffering of living things. It is much easier to simply turn the other way.”

The possibility of backlash and criticism is very real. It happens to vegans every day.

However, it mustn’t stop us doing what we know is right: spreading the vegan message.

There is a delicate balance between passive approaches, and aggressive approaches. I believe compassionate, sincere, but also ASSERTIVE and STRATEGIC approaches are the answer.

That is another reason to consider starting your own community ONLINE.

Being active online allows us to expand our reach exponentially.

Just think about it: you can reach like-minded people no matter where they are in the world, get to know them, let them get to know you, provide them with real value, and talk to them about veganism–all that by building an ethical online business.

Even though many of us may cringe at the concept of using business strategies, marketing and selling when it comes to ethics and compassion – however, there is no reason why we cannot –and in fact we MUST– learn the techniques and strategies that exist today and apply them to promoting the ethical vegan lifestyle.

Let’s make the change happen together–sooner, rather than later!

Joanna Slodownik
Vegan Online Success Coach

PS. I’m currently putting together a series of ebooks, courses and coaching products that are designed to help vegan bloggers, authors, activists, coaches, entrepreneurs, business owners, or just individuals with a passion for spreading the vegan message, who want to create a bigger impact fast – to help them take their online presence to the next level.

I welcome any comments, questions and suggestions that you may have that will make this program as helpful and impactful as possible.

Sign up for the Vegan Online Success newsletter HERE to receive more details and notifications.



Joanna Slodownik is a Vegan Success Coach on a mission to help vegans (you!) leverage the power of online technology and business building strategies to stop playing small and take our online presence, activism, and profits to the next level, to reach the tipping point faster.

I strongly believe that by building a MASSIVE PLATFORM online for positive change (and and making money in the process)–including creating websites, exploding social media presence, publishing ebooks, creating information products, ecourses, newsletters, webinars, podcasts, and membership sites; as well as using various business building strategies–list building, joint ventures, mastermind groups, and other; so that we can create more LEVERAGE, reach more people faster, build more MOMENTUM, and start taking our MESSAGE out to the world in a BIG WAY to make a bigger difference for the animals, while living the ethical lifestyle that we desire.

[i] http://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-14982/why-i-didnt-tell-my-husband-i-was-vegetarian.html