*The Dutch translation for this story can be found here.
One of the things I’ve been thinking about lately is vegan friends. I participated in a group discussion for this issue of VEGAN Magazine on veganism and masculinity, and one of the other participants said, or at least I recall them saying, they consciously chose to hang out with other vegans. I don’t really hang out with other vegans on purpose, and don’t really feel the need to.
When I became vegan, my best friend did as well, but since his family wasn’t on-board he couldn’t maintain the diet. However, he, just like a couple that I regularly hang out with, are accommodating and eat little meat and dairy as it is. I spend most of my time with my partner who is also vegan and my accommodating friends. And I’m comfortable with accommodation, but it’s not the same as having friends that are vegans, is it? This is why people befriend other vegans, so why don’t I search out this commonality we call veganism in friendship? Rather, why don’t I want to go beyond accommodation, why am I satisfied with it? These are the things I’ve been wondering.
To figure this thing out, let’s consider why I do want to befriend a vegan I met a few months ago. She grew up about an hour from me—I rarely ever meet people from Ohio in the Netherlands—let alone vegans, and her politics also match mine, which includes feminism, anti-racism and being pro-Black. She’s pretty chill, too.
Taking a step back, I think it’s the entire critical approach she takes towards oppressions in general, extending her view beyond veganism. For me, it’s important that veganism sits among other forms of resistance, among them anti-white supremacy, and this is especially crucial for me as a Black person. Of course we aren’t friends with someone, in most instances, because they are vegan, or because they are a member of any single movement, like Black Lives Matter, for example, but thinking about the way these different groups and movements fit into our friendship constellations is important. Taking time to consider how much weight we give the various movements we associate ourselves with is important because it can guide whom we choose to befriend. Having said that, pro-Blackness and pro-feminism, which could be termed my “core interests,” clearly have more weight than veganism.
My potential new vegan friend shares the above core interests with my non-vegan friends, whom I’ve had for years, which provides continuity. Maybe this continuity is the reason why I don’t seek out more vegans: I don’t have more vegan friends because I didn’t have vegan friends. Veganism wasn’t a part of my identity then, so it couldn’t “carry over” to making new friends. However, one thing that did “carry over” from my friends who aren’t vegan but accommodating is they all care about animal welfare and animal agriculture’s negative effect on the environment, even if they choose to combat these things by consuming less animals products instead of cutting them out entirely.