Recently one of the blogs, Animal Rights, I follow regularly posted a piece entitled Applesauce and Boiled Pigs (the author is adept both at writing and title creating). She often writes essays that are both funny and painful and this one included content that is smile making and also sad and also dismaying.
I responded with a comment that included the phrase "stranger in a strange land". Science fiction affectionados will recognize the phrase as one used by Robert Heinlein to title one of his most well known books. One that I read way back when I was fairly young and deeply immersed in the reading of science fiction. The book, by the way, centers around a character who, as an outsider, challenges many well-accepted social mores (and eventually gets murdered for his trouble).
What I was trying to wrestle with in my comment was the fact that veganism and the realizations of truths that drive someone to live life as a vegan carry a rather heavy price. Not the least of which is that taking this path is going to place one outside (and not just a little bit outside) of the mainstream way of living of most all of the human cultures on the planet. Culture and her footsoldiers (all those who practice particular ways of seeing things and doing things) do not suffer change gladly. This is a truth most everyone who has protested or resisted or even avoided participation in the murderous mayhem that is accepted as "reality" knows well.
It doesn't matter that veganism extends and places into practice behaviors and ways of feeling and thinking that are generally considered good or desirable...such as compassion, kindness, respect for others, etc. None of this matters to the cultural behemoth. What stirs resistance is change...it doesn't matter that the change is positive or that the change can only be considered good or beneficial...what matters to the culture is that it is different. Period.
If you step out of "being normal" be prepared to discover that human animals are generally not all these wonderous things we've been told that they are. Being frightened of applesauce doesn't say much for intelligence or rationality or wisdom or insight. Be prepared to discover a number to things that are painful about human behavior. Daniel Quinn addressed this phenomenon in his book Ishmael (more in this previous post). He does a great job of exploring this difficult topic.
Be prepared to learn too, if you haven't already, that: "Animals are no where near as different from humans as we’ve been taught..." (source). There's sort of a balance here...as we move toward giving up delusions of "specialness" and "uniqueness" we discover that we live in a world where special and unique doesn't just apply to one type of animal but to all animals. We find we have many more and varied beings that are enjoyable and admirable and that enrich us for knowing them.
Becoming a stranger in a strange land can be painful and disorienting and difficult to endure. But it also can make the world much bigger and more phenomenal than we ever thought it could be. I've met wise rabbits and sassy donkeys and silly ducks...and if I had continued to live in ways that included being threatened by applesauce...I would have been blind to the uniqueness of each of those beings.
Being a stranger in a strange land doesn't mean there aren't other humans there with you either. If you've opted for the strange stranger path (veganism) be sure to be kind to the other human strangers you encounter. You know it's a tough road because you're on it...it's tough for them too...so encouragement, acceptance and appreciation are always beneficial. Being vegan means living a life of kindness to strangers...those strangers being all the other animals that you will never meet that were spared harm because of your veganism...remember to be kind to the human strangers too.
One final thought. If at all possible, get involved with a rescue and/or sanctuary, not only to help them...but to help yourself. By that I mean I think it is nourishing (that's the best word I can think of) to spend lots of time around other types of beings. Especially beings that are safe from harm by humans.
Rescues and sanctuaries (vegan ones) are the closest thing there is to a vegan world that we have right now.
Being involved with a place like that lets you get a taste of what we're all struggling to achieve. It can be a transformative experience. And, if there isn't a vegan rescue or sanctuary near you...maybe you can get involved with one that isn't and begin the process of changing it. I think most of us spend way too much time around other humans and not nearly enough time around unhuman Earthlings...especially other Earthlings who are safe and who are given the respect and acceptance that they deserve. They blossom...and hanging out with blossoming beings is pretty nifty.