Veganism As a Sect?

For my first blog post, I would like to touch on something that has recently crossed my mind: What similarities are there between veganism and religion?

I was inspired by Rehana Sara‘s video on non-vegan loved ones. I understand the feelings she describes in the video, but I am somewhat worried that this indicates parallels to people who are overly religious.

About a decade ago I was more religious than now, and even though I was never the typical Muslim, inside of me there was this wish for those very close to me to become Muslim as well. I felt that I should inspire them by leading with a positive example, and, even though I have always held progressive views on most issues, I kind of felt that I would like those close to me to become Muslim “to be on the safe side.”

Now, obviously, veganism is different in the sense that we want this for the good of the animals, not necessarily that of our friends and family. The reason we want them to become vegan is that this will have a good impact on the world. However, if we are absolutely honest with ourselves doesn’t it somehow also have something to do with feeling inadequate ourselves for having non-vegan friends? How can I love someone who doesn’t care about animals enough to become vegan? (How can I love someone who doesn’t love God enough to become Muslim/Christian/etc.?) Is one of the issues seeing our own limitations as humans? Realizing that we cannot change everyone? Or is it the firm conviction that we are right, and anyone who does not follow the same path is doomed?

How many issues are there about which people have such strong feelings? Do bodybuilders have an issue with their non-bodybuilder friends? Do musicians wish that all their friends and family would finally start playing an instrument? It seems the desire for other people to follow our own beliefs is restricted to the fields of religion and, to a degree, politics.

With that comes the next parallel which is missionary work. As vegans we want to be a good example for non-vegans. Look how great it is to be vegan, I am healthy, I am happy, I feel and look better than ever before – you should try it! Again, the reason (the wellbeing of millions of animals) is, obviously, a lot different, but isn’t there a parallel to people who have “found” religion and are now “saved?”

How can we be vegan, try to inspire others to go vegan, and still love our friends and family unconditionally?