The Game Changers — Should Vegans Lead by Example Instead of Advocacy?

Seek Value
3 min readAug 20, 2023

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Novak playing Tennis with vegan background
Grand Slam record holder and Vegan, Novak Djokovic

Many have advised me, “Lead by example and stay silent.”

Yet, if setting an example were wholly effective, I wouldn’t continually face comments about nutrient deficiencies, especially when vegans are topping charts in sports like Tennis and breaking records in weightlifting. What would it take for society to acknowledge this? Would reaching the top rank make a difference in changing perceptions?

Consider the Tarahumara, the humble vegetarian runners invited to the U.S. to participate in a grueling 100-mile mountain race. They didn’t just participate — they dominated. And their choice of footwear? Repurposed tire scraps.

Food pyramid for tarahumara runners
The diet of the Tarahumara Ultra Running Legends

Yet, despite these feats, misconceptions about veganism persist. Many will go to great lengths to rationalize their dietary choices, even if it implies supporting animal cruelty. Perhaps the unease isn’t with vegans but with confronting one’s own choices. There might be an inherent fear in acknowledging the ethical implications of their diets. It’s no wonder then that the stereotype of the “preachy vegan” becomes an easy target, a defense mechanism born from fear and the instinct for self-preservation.

Why Meat Eaters remember every Preachy Vegan, but don’t remember Preachy Meat Eaters

Being an example is powerful, but often it is not enough to change ingrained beliefs and biases. Every movement for positive change has had its vocal advocates, as well as its silent exemplars. Novak Djokovic and the Tarahumara serve as living testaments to the potential of veganism and vegetarianism. Yet, as we’ve seen throughout history, leading by example is sometimes met with denial or resistance, especially when it challenges the status quo or widespread beliefs.

While simply “being” might inspire some, others need the context, the facts, the stories, and the conversations to fully grasp the implications of their choices. It’s not always about trying to change minds on the spot, but planting the seeds for later reflection.

Perhaps the key is a balance between living our truths and speaking them. Some will be inspired by seeing a vegan athlete breaking records; others might be more impacted by understanding the ethical implications of their diet. In the face of adversity and criticism, it’s important to remember that every major movement, from civil rights to environmentalism, faced skeptics and naysayers. But with persistence, passion, and a commitment to both being and speaking our truth, we can move the needle towards a more compassionate world.

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