What to Do if You’re Bullied for Being Vegan

Bullying is a huge issue these days. We often hear that someone is being teased, physically threatened, or worse at school. I remember my middle school days all too well. Students were made fun of for how they looked, dressed, or spoke; for their interests; and for anything else their classmates could think of! Now that I’m older, it upsets me to think that students still have to go through this. Why can’t people just be nice? 

Something we don’t often talk about, though, is when kids are bullied for being vegan. It’s so sad that people with the kindest intentions are picked on and even rejected because of their beliefs. This type of bullying has become so normalized that sometimes even teachers take part in it. 💔 While we may not be able to stop bullying overnight, we here at peta2 have put together the following list of tips on how to deal with it—just in case you find yourself in a similar situation: 

Recognize why they’re bullying you. People bully vegans for two main reasons: They don’t understand why anyone would want to stop eating animals (and it’s easier to mock something they don’t understand than it is to face it), and they know their current lifestyle choices contribute to sentient beings’ suffering and would rather be in denial. Think about it: If they didn’t feel guilty, why would it bother them so much? 🤔 #truthhurts 

Let them know that you don’t expect them to change. While it would be WONDERFUL if everyone in the world ditched animal-derived products, it’s unlikely that this will happen anytime soon. Remind your peers that even though you choose to live a certain way, you don’t expect them to make the same choice. People are less likely to get defensive if they don’t feel threatened. 

Don’t be afraid to be real. While you can’t expect everyone to change instantly, you should expect your friends to RESPECT your beliefs. A true friend is someone who understands that you have certain values—and if something is important to you, the people who care about you shouldn’t make fun of it, period. You can simply tell your friends, “Hey, this is my life, and I’m not expecting you to change yours. But please respect what’s important to me.” 

Remember that your values belong to YOU. Don’t ever let anyone make you feel that what you believe in is silly or pointless. You have the right to your own beliefs, just like anyone else. In reality, there will ALWAYS be someone who disagrees with you. If it’s not about being vegan, it’ll be about politics, religion, etc. Some people love to debate and argue, but that doesn’t mean that what you’re doing is wrong. You’re making a difference every day through your kind choices, and while you may not be able to meet all the animals you help save, you’re sparing them almost unimaginable suffering. If they could thank you, they would. 💗

Show them the benefits of your lifestyle. Lots of times, people don’t want to hear—or don’t even care—about the suffering animals endure. It’s the whole “out of sight, out of mind” thing. During conversations, casually mention the benefits of going vegan, like clearer skin, better health, less B.O., less gas (lol), helping the planet, etc. But don’t try to fight fire with fire. Rather than running around screaming at people for what they’re not doing, kill them with kindness and show them how happy you are as a vegan.

Plant a seed. Cook delicious vegan dishes, host documentary movie nights, and invite your friends to fun vegan events. Basically, show them little by little how fun your lifestyle can be. One time, a friend I hadn’t spoken to in many years sent me a DM on Instagram asking for help going vegan after seeing my posts about my love for animals and all the mouth-watering foods vegans can choose from. So you just never know! 

Seek support. Unfortunately, there are times when things just go too far. If you find yourself in a situation that makes you feel uncomfortable or threatened in any way, tell your parents, a teacher, a school counselor, a youth leader, or any other trusted adult. You are NOT alone, and there are people who want to help you. 

Join a community of like-minded folks. It’s unlikely that all your friends are into animal rights, but it definitely helps to have some who are. It makes a world of difference to have that extra support. Join (or start) a campus club, participate in meetups, follow online forums, fellow vegans online, and join peta2 to start making tons of vegan friends. 

Now share this post to help others along the way!

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