For the last month, I had a wee bitty poll on my blog here. It was poorly constructed, and meant only as a jumping-off point for a discussion of "knowledge" of veganism. The "sample" is absolutely in no way, shape or form, representative of a known population. I don't know who answered the question ("How long have you known about veganism?") but I strongly suspect that the 40 people who took the 6.5 seconds to answer are probably some of my Facebook friends. MAYBE -- just maybe -- a stray Twitter user saw my tweet about my poll and wandered over here to answer it. But honestly, I doubt that. Whatevah -- thanks to all who answered!
Acknowledging first that the poll was not much and that the sample is not statistically representative, I'll still share the "results": 30% claimed to have known about veganism for so long that they can't remember when they didn't know; another 52% claimed to have known for six or more years; and 7% said they'd heard of veganism in the last 1-5 years; another 7% in the past year; and only 2% claimed no knowledge.
I'll skip the discussion of how the question could have been better written as well as the obvious problem of the "sample" (i.e., my friends) being one that probably already knew of veganism from, if nothing else, my previous writings (and I'm sure from other, better sources as well).
I asked the question because I wondered if people felt veganism was "new" or "old." Judging by my "data," veganism is not a new idea. That got me thinking...while my obsession with veganism is very new (7 months); my initial introduction to veganism goes back at least 15 years.
At that time, the only vegan I knew was the daughter of a colleague of my husband's, and she was a very odd young woman, and that's putting it charitably. (She never made eye contact with people; she had a hard time holding "normal" conversations; she dressed all in black; she seemed depressed and completely obsessed with food...you get the picture.) Although I was experimenting with vegetarianism and macrobiotics then, the idea of consistently giving up dairy and forgoing wool and leather and honey and silk? Well -- that just seemed more than a little crazy. And for reasons that remain fuzzy, the whole animal rights angle was not part of my introduction to veganism; it may not have even been part of her reason for being a vegan.
So, frankly, I basically "forgot" about veganism until this year; and in the meantime, I've had three kids, finished a masters degree and a Ph.D., moved several times, struggled with a kid with ADHD, helped my Mom through colon cancer and watched my Aunt die of breast cancer, watched my husband launch a pretty great career -- in other words, I've had other crap to think about. Forgive me if obsessing over veganism, the environment and animal rights was not foremost on my mind for quite awhile.
My life is now a whole lot more settled AND I've met some vegans that I would actually describe as "normal." WHO introduces you to a new idea as well as WHEN that idea comes into your life are two powerful factors in determining whether the idea finds fertile ground in your brain. I don't think, back in the early 90s, when I was still reeling from the deaths of my Dad and brother and working on my first master's degree, that meeting a vegan who dressed all in black and spoke in whispers was likely to convert me to her cause. Just sayin'.
When you think about how long you've known about veganism and the reasons you have for being or not being a vegan, take some time to think about how and when you heard about the issue and how that -- more than the actual "facts" that vegans ususally spew about animal rights and health -- may have affected your choice. And maybe if you are a vegan, you can be more aware of how you might come across to those non-vegans in your midst. And if you're not a vegan, you might now believe me that we're not all witches in covens wearing black pleather and chanting mantras.
We're actually lighting soy candles, debating wool use, and re-tweeting posts about needy dogs while making bean balls, quinoa, and tofu ricotta. We call ourselves "normal". :)
- My interests include veganism and vegetarianism, health, ethics, politics and culture, media, and the environment. I have three kids; I teach college part-time, study piano and attempt to garden. I knit. I blog on just about anything, but many posts are related to my somewhat pathetic quest to eat better, be more mindful of the environment, and be a more responsible news consumer. Sometimes I write about parenting, but, like so many Mommy bloggers, my kids have recently told me not to. :) Thanks for reading.