An occasional series in which ordinary people
talk about living a plant-based life
Our latest contributor is social media campaigner John Oberg, who believes a vegan world is inevitable but requires skilful effort to spread the word
Tell us a little about yourself…
I’m a 31-year-old living just outside Washington DC, focusing on making the world a better place for animals by utilising the power of social media.
You’re vegan now; were you vegetarian before?
I have been vegan for nine-and-a-half years. I was vegetarian for 10 months before going vegan. Most vegans transition into veganism, which I think is often the best approach. This way, the change isn’t so sudden and drastic that you just throw in the towel.
What led to that?
I initially had a conversation with someone who said to me, “If you love animals so much, maybe you shouldn’t eat them.” The thought stuck with me, and I went vegetarian on principle. I intended to go vegan, and was easing my way towards it, slowly cutting out dairy and eggs. Then I watched the documentary Earthlings and went vegan immediately.
Do you see yourself ever going back to being an omnivore?
I will never eat meat, dairy, or eggs again. Going vegan was the best choice I’ve ever made. I haven’t second-guessed the decision once in nearly a decade of being vegan.
Do you consciously think about where you get your protein, etc, from?
I track my protein intake because I am a powerlifter and want to make sure I am able to properly build strength. But for most people, tracking your protein intake is not necessary. It’s practically impossible to be protein-deficient. Plants have protein!
Do you mix with many other vegans – does your lifestyle mean that you come into contact with people of a similar outlook regularly?
I try to stay out of the “vegan bubble”. It’s important for vegans to maintain contact with people who don’t think like them. This way, we don’t lose our ability to influence others. If we only associate with other vegans that seems like a huge missed opportunity to reach the general public. It also makes us lose touch in understanding how others think and feel. In order to best influence, we need to know this.
Do you seek out vegan groups and forums online?
When I first went vegan in 2009, I found some local vegan groups in Phoenix, Arizona (where I was living at the time) through the website Meetup. Having a community made my transition into veganism and launch into activism much smoother than it otherwise would have been.
Are you involved in any form of activism?
I use social media as my main form of activism. By utilising the tools at our disposal, we can make a massive difference.
How do you feel about the vegan jokes… you know, that vegans can’t go five minutes without mentioning the fact or they explode?
I think vegans need to have a sense of humour. Even if people are poking fun at us, have fun with it and you’ll find that people will be much more open to our message. If we act sullen and grumpy all the time, nobody is going to want to be like us.
How do you think we best ‘convert’ omnivores to a plant-based lifestyle? And do you actively try to do this?
We can get people to eat more plant-based foods by hitting people with the ‘why’ and then the ‘how’. My specialty is the ‘why’. Why should people stop eating animals? Many others specialise in the ‘how’, with resources like recipes, meal ideas, etc. Some of my favourite websites to direct people to are Veganuary and ChooseVeg.
Are you positive about the future of veganism?
As I’ve said in the past, a vegan world is inevitable. How quickly we get there, however, depends entirely on how effective vegan activists choose to be in their messaging and approach.
If you are interested in sharing your thoughts in our Everyday Vegans slot, please get in touch and we’ll let you know what to do.