Easy is Hard!

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Welcome to another week of tips and tricks for vegan survival in a meaty world!

OK, “survival” sounded a little bleak, I admit, but I’m working on new tag lines. The point is, being vegan is hard work, and that’s what I wanted to focus on in the new site – making veganism suck less. As they say, admitting there’s a problem is step one, but the rest is really just a matter of facing the challenges we have head on and coming up with easy solutions.

That’s what Staying Vegan is about, and in these newsletters I get to dig a little deeper – well, not deeper, exactly, but in a different direction, since we can communicate by email in a way that’s different than leaving a comment. Maybe not better, maybe not worse, but different. I always love to hear your thoughts on these things, so please feel free to get in touch.

And this week I was thinking about what else is hard about being vegan, and then I was reading a business magazine (natch) and boom, it just popped out in front of me…

Easy is Hard

So I was reading the latest issue of Inc (April 2010) and there was a profile of a salesman named John “Grizz” Deal. Here’s the money quote:

Later, outside the Hotel, I spot Deal huddled against a building, dragging heavily on a cigarette. In the meeting, and in his conversations with me, he has seemed constitutionally laid back, focused, and confident. But in this unguarded moment, he seems anxious and distracted. It won’t be the first time I see him this way… It occurs to me that making selling look easy is a lot of work for Grizz Deal.

One of the common threads you’ll see, if you look back at the articles and newsletters we’ve posted over the past while, is that above all else when dealing with meat eaters, you need to make veganism look easy. If something looks like a lot of work, most people won’t even consider trying it themselves, and they’re a lot more likely to think you’re a freak of nature for what you’re doing.

But just like with sales, making veganism look easy is a lot of work (which makes sense, if you think of it, since that’s a kind of sales in itself.) Look at the tips I posted last week for dining at an omnivore restaurant for just one example. That’s a lot of thinking ahead and problem management to make it look like dining out is a simple thing (and I believe it is simple once you get the hang of it, but obviously it’s nowhere near as simple as it is for someone who doesn’t care what’s on the menu, and simple definitely doesn’t mean effortless.)

I think it’s really important to recognize that making veganism look easy and effortless – which is equal parts activism/outreach and making your social life easier – is an incredible amount of work sometime.

We all have the capacity to do an incredible amount of work, probably more than most of us actually do on any given day, but the key at any level of effort is to have the proper amount of recovery time. Without recovery, the body can’t renew, and no matter how else you prepare and deal with your challenges, you’re going to get run down or burn out eventually.

There’s a great book on recovery (and other topics,) which I think I’ve mentioned before, called The Power of Full Engagement.

That’s an affiliate link, which means I get paid if you buy the book through that, but let me save you ten bucks: recovery doesn’t have to take a long time, but you do need to be completely removed from the activity you’re trying to recover from. Don’t think about it, don’t be around it, don’t have visual reminders nearby. Like the book title suggests, when you’re engaged in a task, be fully engaged, but when you’re resting, be fully resting.

So when it comes to making veganism look easy, when you’re around meat eaters, be fully engaged in making things seem simple and problem-free. But remember to take breaks! Ideally every hour or so, get away from your meat-eating colleagues. “Hide” in the bathroom if you have to. It’s better if you can hang out with a few other vegans, either in person or online, so you can connect and recharge together, but be fully disengaged from the task of making things look easy, even if it’s just for a few minutes. Think about what you’re going to make for dinner, or something you saw on TV, or hey, even about some article on Staying Vegan, but don’t stress out over the next Big Issue you’re going to have to cope with around your omnivorous friends.

I really believe that one of the best things we can do as vegans is to make things look as effortless as possible, both for outreach and for how we’re perceived by our peers, but let’s acknowledge that it can be a lot of work, and plan some breaks accordingly.

And by the way, I don’t think of making things look easy as lying or any other kind of deception: it’s just living a little bit in the future, where things really will be this easy. In the meantime, you have to make a few adjustments to the “how” in order to get the “what” that you want, which in this case is an effortless, achievable, and vibrant vegan life in all situations, even around a (steadily decreasing) meat-eating population.


Once again, thanks for reading, responding, and reacting. We’ve got lots to do but there’s no reason we can’t have a little fun along the way, and I really appreciate all the emails as well as the comments on the posts at Staying Vegan.

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This newsletter goes out (almost) every Monday afternoon, see you next week!


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