It's safe to say that veganism has surpassed the 'it's just a fad' status and, thanks to campaigns such a Veganuary, it's all over your news feeds and pub chat like never before.
Newcomers are taking up the practice of knocking animal products on the head each year, high on a new-found sense of morality and positivity. But veganism has a PR problem. So much so that, as a vegan myself, I want to crawl into a hole whenever the subject is brought up.
Now, that doesn't mean this is going to be an anti-vegan hit (sorry, folks). If anything, this is hopefully going to feature some suggestions to other vegans on how vegans can address the issue that some people believe we are coming from the same gang as Flat Earthers and Freemasons.
Every city centre has at least one fanatic, who stands outside Morrisons, day in, day out, screaming about how we're all going to burn in Hell for not using a coaster, or that the Earth is actually a Mini Cheddar, or something equally as disturbing.
When was the last time you saw one of these street corner intellects and thought: 'I could really do with this moral guidance'? Probably never, right? Well, that's how people are starting to see us vegans. As fanatics and odd balls. I'm sick of it.
So, how did this happen? Casting my mind back over just the past few weeks, I've seen stories/videos about vegans storming restaurants to berate and disrupt unsuspecting diners with the uncomfortable facts regarding the origins of their Sunday roasts. I've read about vegans sending death threats to farmers. I've seen vegan activists branding anyone who drinks milk as 'cow rapists'. I've watched vegans become collectively offended to the point of hysteria over a picture of a police station's breakfasts. And this is just the past few weeks.
What impact do these stories have on the general public? How do the largely non-vegan population feel when they read about a student threatening to smash Ronald McDonald's face in on Twitter?
I'm thinking - and I'm willing to be proven wrong on this one - it might just be that it creates the idea that we're from the summer of 1969 and our important message is being lost.
When you pop your head above the moral parapet, with all the greatest of intentions, people have every right to question you, to make jokes and to challenge you. Because of that, it's important to control your responses, stick to the facts and wait until you're asked about the subject.
If you start grilling someone who's just started tucking into a Big Whopper, you're probably not going to get very far. People's automatic response is to be defensive - and probably pretty pissed off.
Over the past six years of being a vegan, I've had more success in calmly answering people's questions, trying to take the jokes on the chin and not screaming in people's faces. So can we chill please? For our own sakes. Cheers, LADs.
Featured Image Credit: PA