Though its not the easiest, it is possible to be a vegan island amongst a sea of omnis, veggies, and everything in between. Over the years I have met a handful of amazing vegan friends, but for the most part (of my daily life) I am surrounded by carnis. No I don't work at a Carnival, I mean carnivores. Its difficult to sometimes feel like I am completely understood, or respected by people who don't adhere to the same set of moral codes that I do, which can be frustrating. But in my experience, I find that surrounding myself with people across a wide variety of backgrounds, interests, and experiences is extremely fulfilling. There is a lot to learn from investigating The Unknown, and a lot to share with others who haven't been exposed to the reality of just a regular old vegan (yes we eat, yes we can even be chubby too, no we aren't all hippies with dreads, no we're not all pasty rich white goth kids, yes we can eat chocolate- milk-free dark chocolate etc...).
Though most of my friends unfortunately are not vegan, they are open-minded enough to ask me questions about my lifestyles and choices and genuinely hear me out when I respond. Many of my non-vegan friends have come to me with hopes to try the vegan lifestyle, and many have followed through with their desires for healthier, compassionate living. It feels good to see the people I care about take with them a part of my philosophy and put it to use in their own lives. Its a powerful feeling of happiness, and gives me hope for change and progress on a grander level. I've also enjoyed sharing vegan recipes and desserts with several friends who are not vegan but love the goodies I share with them. Every little step towards sharing a compassionate lifestyle counts. Being vegan to me is a process, and takes time to evolve. There is always something new to learn and share with others.
I am proud to say that several of my family members over the years have become more and more veggie and vegan-conscious in their food and consumer choices. Though I'm sure that my being the only vegan in our family has impacted them to question their actions and purchases, I also give them credit to search for their own sense of right/wrong in the world, question and follow through on their moral obligations, political choices, environmental consciousness, compassion, and consumerism. We can make a difference.
Being surrounded by fellow vegans is a luxury that I bask in the glory of whenever possible; however, the reality is that preaching to the choir can make beautiful music, but can also feel isolating. I make friends based on key components of: Honesty, Genuineness, Creativity, Humor, Compassion, Kindness, Intelligence and Fun. Many people who are not vegan still possess many of these traits that I admire. It would be great to have all vegan friends, but I know that the struggles I face in being the minority amongst meat-eaters can help dispel prejudices, and open them up to accepting the vegan lifestyle as something that might actually be appealing to them too. The more of a difference we can make to decrease the animals' suffering, and the world's environmental destruction the better.