I know for many of you parents raising vegan kids, back-to-school season brings up some fret about being in the minority. Maybe being vegan has you feeling a bit alone or worried about your kid being left out at birthday parties and classroom holiday meals? You are probably fatigued by the "People for Eating Tasty Animals" joke and maybe you often feel like you’re the only ones in your social circle who care about animals.
Well, I will not have you feeling this way! Let’s bring all those feelings to an asphalt-burning halt, case closed, right this minute because I have something important for you and your kids to know that will change the way you feel.
This is me laying a virtual hand on your shoulder and telling you exactly that your dedication to veg life —even if you feel alone in your commitment — makes you a power player in the vegan movement.
In his 1962 work Diffusion of Innovations, Everett Rogers explores how, why, and at what rate new ideas and technology spread through cultures. Rogers features a famous bell-curve graph illustrating the way in which he believes successive groups of consumers adopt new technology in relation to market-share saturation level. “Innovators” are on the left, a miniscule 2.5% of the consumer population. Then come “Early Adopters” at 13.5%. The “Early Majority” and "Late Majority" follow at 34% each, making up the middle of the bell curve. Finally, on the far right, are the “Laggards” at 16%.
Innovators are infatuated with new ideas and core-driven to bring about advances. Small in numbers, they are brave and daring, the adventurous few who challenge others to see, think, and behave in a new ways. Early Adopters immediately see the value and potential of innovative ideas and advances. Empowered and intuitive, they participate in bringing about change. Their commitment remains undeterred by the common obstacles such as inconvenience or expense that often accompany the introduction of new ideas and technologies.
The “Early” and “Late” Majorities are respectively less and less comfortable with new ideas, influenced by practicality and habit over innovation. For these two groups, change requires ease, affordability, and wide social proof. These groups need others to go before them in order to change their ways. As for the “Laggards,” they refuse to adopt new ideas and technologies until there is no longer a choice.
See where I’m going?
Today, veganism is just being introduced to the mainstream. In fact, at this moment, we are aligned with Rogers' numbers for “Innovators” with vegans making up about 2% of the U.S. population. Depending on how long you’ve been vegan, you are either an innovator or an early adopter — and that means the vegan movement doesn’t become mainstream without you.
You have more influence than you know. Whether the teachers, students, or parents who surround you know it or not, you are normalizing veganism in your community — its existence, its definition, its feasibility, and its “face.” Your purchases influence other families, your school, and the marketplace making vegan products more affordable and available.
You and your kids are POWER PLAYERS IN THE GAME, ya hear?
It may be a quiet and sometimes lonesome battle you all are waging, but you are inherently cutting away, subverting, and undermining the meat and dairy industry every step of the way. Don’t you go changing! Go tell your kids that what others do or say doesn’t matter — what does matter is being the kind of people you want to be. Remind them who they are and what they value.
Without exception, the rights we’ve attained throughout history have come from the bottom up, not the top down. So if you or your kids are toeing the line alone, just keep showing up. Wear those vegan T-shirts, keep bringing your favorite snack to the party, share your knowledge, and wave your green juice around like it’s the best thing that has ever happened to you (and your community!) because your choices are a flag and you are a leader.