Living a different lifestyle than the majority of those around you doesn’t seem like that big of a deal most of the time. At least, not until you want to share the same meal with someone, or discuss moral values. Being what seems to be one of the only plant-based individuals living in Highlands County at the moment, I am often reminded of the fact that I don’t share the same lifestyle as a majority of the people who are close to me.

While this might seem a little sad, it really makes you appreciate the times you can share things with others. Weather it be a meal that is identical (rather than a vegan and non-vegan version of the same thing) or conversations involving the importance of plant-based living, all forms of relatable activity are appreciated.

I’ve recently been coming across more individuals who are interested in trying out my vegan foods and discussing topics related to veganism. Since most people often decline these types of interactions purely for the fact that they are unsure of veganism, it’s refreshing to find people who are open to the ideas.

In fact, sharing plant-based living and ideas is something that really makes me feel comfortable around others. Maybe it’s knowing that I don’t have to filter my thoughts as much for fear of being offensive. Or, it could be the idea that we are able to commiserate and even have discussions on these ideals.

Furthermore, when other people express interest in my lifestyle it makes me feel included and useful. I like to help others and if all I can do is answer their questions on veganism, I’ll do it. When I’m approached with questions, some of which I’ve been answering for nearly three years, I always try my best to be informative.

Various people in my life have come to me with interesting facts they have learned on veganism, and sometimes they’ll even bring me treats and goodies. Others have sought me out to tell me of changes they’ve made in their diet and how they’re feeling afterwards. It’s nice that even though most of these people are not vegan or even vegetarian, this lifestyle can bring us together.

Sharing information with others about my lifestyle is somewhat of a slippery slope. It is often a sensitive topic that can be extremely polarizing. I’ve found that letting others come to you is sometimes a more effective way of discussing. This gives others the opportunity to learn about veganism at their own pace, rather than making them feel forced into conversation.

Living in Highlands County as a vegan is something I’ve had to adapt to. Not only did I have to figure out what foods were not animal byproducts, but I had to learn to navigate various social situations. Luckily, I’ve had the support system I needed to maintain and even thrive within this lifestyle. Through shared conversations, debates, discussions and meals, my non-vegan, vegan support system is steadily growing.

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