Okay, if you just rolled your eyes, I deserved that. Finding community is easier said than done. We say “find community” as if it’s is the easiest thing in the world when it can be daunting for many of us depending on where we live, our schedules, our social inclination, and all kinds of extenuating circumstances. I want to acknowledge that it’s not as simple as opening your front door, yelling out, “Hello, vegan community, I want to be friends!” and finding instant and gratifying social connections for yourself. That said, developing friendships with people who share your values is vitally important to your well-being and placing a priority on finding community, whatever this might look like, is also vitally important to building a healthy foundation in which your veganism can flourish. Very often when I talk to people who are no longer vegan, they describe having felt isolated, ostracized, “different” and without support as key reasons why they quit. Not having our needs for support and understanding met can easily lead people to the path of least resistance, which is adopting the status quo and giving up veganism. Don’t let it happen.
While nothing can quite replace in-person bonding, online communities can serve an important role in feeling heard and enjoying camaraderie. Social media offers ample opportunities for interacting with other vegans, from large international Facebook pages to more local ones. Ideally, though, you would also interact with vegans in your own community. Whether through dine-outs or getting involved in activism – which was how I first met the supportive crew of wise mentors and fellow newcomers I still count among my friends today – one-on-one get-togethers or bustling potlucks, finding a supportive, in-person community is critical to making an awkward and lonely transitional period easier and just encouraging wellness. Even as a longtime vegan, I will say that while my practice is firmly rooted, community is still of utmost priority to me and I treat it as such. Speaking of a social network, I’ve recently learned about the very popular Vegan Amino, a free app for both Android and iPhone, that helps you to connect with the larger community through sharing questions, recipes, tips, and camaraderie with vegans around the world. Definitely worth checking out!
We are a social species and even introverts need to feel emotional connection, bonding, intimacy and understanding. Build a strong foundation for your veganism by having your needs for community met. If what you are looking for doesn’t exist, summon up your courage and start something. Creating a group on Facebook is a great place to start. Determine what you want to create: Is it a monthly potluck? Is it an activist group? Is it a meetup? Is it a broad vegan community group? This will be your smoke signal to your community. I am guessing that before too long, you will hear from others who have been waiting for just what you’ve started. This article might be a good place to start.