Vegans: Finding Community
How to Connect with Other Vegans
It seems that in our fast-paced, complex world, it is increasingly difficult to connect with others in a meaningful way.
Many of us feel more distant from family and friends than we would like. If it is challenging to maintain relationships we already have in our lives, it is even more difficult to create new networks of friends.
But, as a vegan, you may feel motivated to find other vegans for friendship, support, or romantic involvement. We are social creatures, and many of us want to be a part of a group or feel like we're not alone, particularly when we've chosen an unusual lifestyle.
Using the Internet to Find Online Communities
One good thing about today's technology is that it makes it pretty easy to connect with others, at least on a virtual level. There are plenty of message boards and social networking sites that cater to vegans.
Happy Cow has an extensive list of online vegan groups.
What Has Your Experience Been?
If you are vegan, have you been able to find vegan communities?
Finding vegan and vegetarian friends in your area
Seeing other humans face-to-face is more difficult than connecting online, but it is extremely rewarding. It's great to have "real" discussions in person while sharing delicious vegan food!
Check out Vegan Meetup to find out if there's a group near you. If there isn't, you can start one through their website!
Learn if there is an active vegan, vegetarian, animal rights, or even an environmental group in your area. If there is, find out if they have regular meetings for their members to socialize. If they don't, you could offer to organize a vegan potluck for interested members of the group. (Potlucks are a pretty easy, straightforward way to start, though you could certainly coordinate other activities as well.)
Another fairly simple strategy to meet vegans in your area is to ask the manager of your local health food store, vegan/vegetarian restaurant, or public library if you can put up a small poster to advertise your group. You may also want to advertise in a local newspaper or on craigslist.
If you think you can get a better response, you could create a group that is for both vegans and vegetarians. Make sure you are clear about whether all food must be vegan, or if food must simply be clearly labeled so participants know if it's vegan or vegetarian (or is gluten-free, nut-free, etc.)
Vegan World Network has more advice for how you might start your own vegan group.
Creating or finding vegan communities can be hard work.
But building a supportive network is important and well worth the effort!
It Takes Time and Effort to Create Community
I've learned quite a few things by participating in and coordinating various groups. The most important thing is that you may need to be very persistent in your efforts.
It's not uncommon for people to say they're really interested in joining a group but then not show up at events.
Remember that this is most likely a reflection of how busy everyone is and that perhaps it can feel intimidating for some folks to get out and meet new people, so don't take it as a personal insult.
Do your best to figure out what other people are looking for in a vegan group and work with them in order to make it more likely that they will come to an event and hopefully become active members of your group.
Give it time and keep trying.
When my older son was a newborn, I co-founded a vegan playgroup. We had a handful of parents who expressed interest in the group, but for nearly a year it was really just the two families getting together, with one or two other families occasionally dropping by.
After a while, though, things started to change. The playgroup grew to five "regular" families who came to most get-togethers plus several more who attended a bit less frequently but still with regularity.
If you are interested in participating in a group that is already established, I suggest you go to several of their events, even if you aren't terribly impressed with your first experience. Assuming different people show up to different events (and the events themselves may be different), you'll get a much better feel for whether or not being a member of this group is something you'll enjoy after you've gone a few times.
There are many vegan products available to take the place of ones made with animal products. Look for vegan personal care and cleaning products, as well as faux leather clothing.
The Vegan Dating Scene
It can be difficult to meet that "special someone" under any circumstances, but if you are particularly interested in having a partner who shares your vegan commitment, things can really get tough!
Again, I encourage you to persevere even if things don't seem immediately promising. It can take a number of tries to find someone you want to date regularly!
The Bottom Line
Whether you find your vegan community online or in person or both, it is important to know you are a part of group, have support, and have resources for ideas and information.
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