The Compassionate Home Project – Vegan Values in Action
I have an idea I’m working on that I would like to share with you all: the Compassionate Home Project.
The Compassionate Home project is about empowering you to live vegan in the place where you have the most control: your home.
What is a Compassionate Home?
A compassionate home is a safe haven from violence towards every living creature. The inhabitants of a compassionate home strive to practice non-violence towards all in thought, word and deed. A compassionate home does not serve the bodies or secretions of animals as food.
Combatting the greatest threat to veganism: recidivism
One of the greatest dangers to veganism is recidivism – people who give up being vegan. And ex-vegans cite social exclusion as their #1 reason for returning to an omnivorous diet. Even current vegans say sticking out from the crowd is the hardest part of being vegan.
Today I did a search for “the compassionate home” on Amazon and Google. The number 1 search result? Hospice care. In our world today, compassion is reserved for the dying. Obviously caregivers need to be compassionate. But shouldn’t every home be a compassionate home? For some reason, our culture associates compassion with death, but compassion is really about life.
A compassionate home should not be a place you go to die, it should be a place you live. By cultivating an environment of compassion, you are not only making the world better for animals, you are positively influencing the overall culture in a small but significant way.
Excluding others, vs. inviting them in
Hospitality is one of the most effective means of outreach available to vegans. But I’m not aware of any vegan groups that have chosen to make hospitality a core aspect of their vegan outreach.
What the vegan movement today needs is a means of keeping vegans involved in the community, while preventing burnout.
Many vegans have signed DxE’s liberation pledge, which asks vegans to publicly refuse to sit down where animals are being eaten.
While I completely support the sentiment behind this pledge, it is not practical for many. As a business person, there are many situations where you would simply have to refuse event invitations. As someone who regularly attends fundraisers, Chamber of Commerce dinners, etc., I can tell you that while you can ensure your own meal is vegan, there is no way to ensure your table is vegan unless you have bought all the tickets for that table yourself.
When vegans turn down dinner invitations and social activities, they are really hurting themselves. Choosing not to participate in an activity is only effective if you have the critical mass to effectively boycott an event. And it’s hard to have an impact if people can’t see you being vegan in your everyday life! Social isolation is one of the most difficult things for any human to bear.
Things have to be sustainable, not just achievable.
Certainly anyone can stop attending social events and exclude people from their circle of friends who aren’t supportive, but is that sustainable for most people? In reality, people will start avoiding you, and you will start avoiding them. In reality, even though this protects you from the harsh realities of animal exploitation, it has minimal impact on the surrounding culture.
My family doesn’t support the idea of a compassionate home. What can I do?
Even if the rest of your family isn’t vegan, you stand a considerably better chance of creating a vegan home than you do almost any other form of outreach.
Of course, this isn’t going to work for everyone. I understand that if you’re still a kid living at home, you probably don’t have control over what your parents buy and serve in their home. But even if you aren’t able to create a fully compassionate home, you can at least share your feelings with the people you live with. Ask them to have compassion for YOU and see what the results are. You might be surprised.
These things are usually a process. I veganized my own home – beginning with meat – and slowly helped the rest of my family to stop buying other animal products (cheese and eggs were the last to go).
The process I would suggest for transitioning to a compassionate home is as follows:
- No meat in the home. First, ask your family or roommates not to bring meat into your shared living space. Explain that you want to live in a place free from violence. They are free to eat whatever they’d like in the outside world (obviously you have no control over that) but you would like to create a safe, compassionate space in your own home. If your significant other feels like they can’t live without eating animals, they can do so when dining out.
- No animal products in the home. I’d suggest encouraging a slow phasing out of other animal products as well. This will take a bit longer – hidden animal ingredients are harder to uncover, and it’s important to give you and your friends or family time to find alternatives to items containing eggs and dairy.
- No leftovers containing animal products in the home. If someone eats animal foods while they’re out, they need to finish them at the restaurant (you can start with meat, and see if you can help them to expand from there).
- When you are entertaining people in your home, you can let them know in advance that you keep a compassionate home. This is not that different from people protecting family members with food allergies from danger by, for example, not allowing products with peanuts in their homes. Explain that you don’t eat animals or their byproducts, and that you strive to have a peaceful home.
Some final thoughts on the Compassionate Home
By cultivating an environment of compassion, you are not only making the world better for animals, you are positively influencing the overall culture in a small but significant way. Vegans can make their homes a place of education and information, but also a refuge from the carnism of the outside world. We have it in our power to influence those closest to us, and I truly believe that a more compassionate world starts at home.
Of course, not all vegans are going to be able to have fully vegan homes. You may live with non-vegan family or roommates. But there are still small things you can do to help change the atmosphere of your home and help to make it a more compassionate place.
I think it’s also very important to have a discussion with your friends or loved ones about why this matters to you. At worst, they will laugh at you (which will definitely tell you a bit about the relationship!), but you also might be pleasantly surprised.
Finally, even if your family and friends aren’t willing to stop eating meat in the home, I think it’s important to tell them that you will no longer be preparing meat. I’m always a little surprised to hear vegans and vegetarians tell me that they prepare animal flesh for their loved ones. I’ve never yet met someone who wasn’t bothered by this. And that’s okay! It’s okay to be honest with yourself and your loved ones. Let them know that this deeply bothers you and you find it deeply upsetting. Also, keep in mind some of the key guidelines for discussing sensitive subjects with others: talk about how it makes YOU FEEL, rather than attacking them. You are much more likely to have a positive result, and even highly antagonistic people have a hard time telling people how they ought to feel!
I hope this is helpful. Please let me know if you have any more ideas for this project! I would really like to see the compassionate home become part of every vegans strategy for outreach.
Thanks for watching,
I’d like to give special thanks to everyone who has chosen to support ModVegan on Patreon, especially Artelio, Richard, Genevieve and Jess for their generous donations!