We’re pretty lucky, we rarely encounter any hostility towards our veganism, but that’s not true for everyone, especially on social media. On the face of it, the hostility makes no sense. Why should anyone be bothered by what you eat and be upset about the animal welfare and evironmental benefits of veganism? But probe a little deeper and it starts to make sense.

Perhaps the biggest issue is that veganism is a moral stance. Even if you’re not remotely preachy about your veganism, you are taking a moral stand against the consumption of animal products, so even before you open your mouth, you are judging others. It’s hardly surprising that they don’t like it! Perhaps for some it reminds them of an uncomfortable truth they’d rather forget about. Do they have companion animals, claim to be an animal lover and yet eat meat? Do they say they care about the environment and yet eat unsustainably?

Vegans are endlessly accused of forcing their views upon others. I don’t feel that I do that, and I don’t know any other vegans who do, but still the accusation persists. The problem I think is that eating is a social activity. We do it publically alongside both friends and strangers, and if you’re in an omni restaurant you’ll usually be obliged to talk about your veganism to make sure you get food you can eat. Before you even get to the restaurant, you might need to persuade everyone to go somewhere you’ll be able to eat, and likely people will ask you about your veganism. None of this is about forcing your views on others, you’re just dealing with the tedious practicalities of being vegan in an omni world, but it’s not difficult to see how others might see things differently.

It’s easy to get drawn into conversations about veganism with omnis. We’ve already seen how difficult it is to avoid talking about what you’re eating and it’s an obvious conversation starter. It can stem from genuine curiosity or be an hostile attempt to criticise your lifestyle. Those conversations can be very problematic. Firstly as a vegan you probably know much more about veganism than an omni person, so your arguments will be more powerful. Secondly, to put it bluntly, vegans are right. It’s not hard to see how that sort of discussion ends badly, and often, afterwards, you’ll see the omni who started the conversation grumbling to other omnis about how annoying you are. My approach to this is to talk to people who seem genuinely curious, but just make a joke of the whole thing to the hostile. But really I’d sooner just eat my dinner in peace.

Veganism also flies in the face of many people’s inbuilt conservatism. Not everyone is like this of course, but many people dislike change, and veganism represents a challenge to what they have considered to be “normal” throughout their lives. This has nothing to do with ethics or logic – the same people will be hostile to any other social change.

As individuals and as a business we do our best to avoid confrontation, simply because we think it’s counterproductive. It would be great to be able to tell people all about veganism, for a light bulb to appear above their heads and for them never to consume animal products again. Alas it doesn’t work like that. We don’t want to stir up anti-vegan sentiment but instead send out a positive message about delicious food everyone can enjoy. Mostly that works for us, illustrated by the number of omni customers we have who just want something nice to eat, or maybe want to cut down on their consumption of animal products. But try as we might, I’m sure we’re endlessly irritating to some omnis. I guess we’ll just have to live with that for now, but I’m really looking forward to the day when veganism is normal and doesn’t need to be talked about.