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Olivia’s Blog: What is normal anyway?

The sun is out and it is confession time. I am a geek.

I adore fantasy fiction and the words Lord of the Rings Extended Edition fill me with immense joy. Ten years ago this would have been utterly uncool but the word geek has been reclaimed. Geek chic is ingrained in our society and thick rimmed glasses, ankle swingers and even social awkwardness are now accepted in a way in which they weren’t ten years ago. In fact, they are not just accepted, but people are actively seeking to attain the ‘geek look’.

Society has transformed the stigma towards geeks.

It is very easy, with a growing and immersive community of vegans, to forget how vegans are viewed by some non-vegans. This weekend I attended Latitude festival and was reminded of the negativity that still, in 2017, surrounds veganism.

I have never been to Latitude and was completely unaware that there is a tradition of dyeing sheep a different colour each year. To my horror, I was greeted by pink sheep this year. I could not hide my disgust that these animals had been subjected to this for a few selfies. When I explained my feelings to a friend of a friend they were surprised and said: “I wouldn’t have guessed you were vegan. You look so normal.”

I was so shocked that I couldn’t think of anything to say at all in response and my mind went blank (a real rarity for me). I don’t know if it was anger or shock

That one sentence, that one word, reminded me that there is still a very real stigma around what being a vegan is and that means that our work is just beginning. Yes, we are growing in number and yes, we are saving countless lives by refusing to sacrifice animals for our lifestyles. But, we need to make sure we are fighting the negative connotations and myths surrounding veganism. I’m not suggesting that we all become homogenised robots but it’s time to bring vegan into vogue. We need to reclaim the word vegan to represent our welcoming, broad community and the amazing work that we all do to stop animal cruelty in its many forms.

I’ve thought of my response to that friend of a friend: If normal means killing animals, exploiting them and subjecting them to pain, I don’t want to be normal.

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