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Zoologist Jordi Casamitjana, the author of the book “Ethical Vegan”, explores the different emotions vegans go through during their veganisation process.

I am no longer a young man.

Years have given me a perspective that I didn’t have when I was younger. When I was born, I cried my soul out. The air I was breathing for the first time seemed unbearable, and out of my mother’s belly, everything looked scary. Now, one of my favourite words is equanimity (calmness, composure, evenness of mind especially under stress). I try to take it easy now. I look at things in a much more controlled way. My emotions no longer dominate me as they did in the past when they often caused me more harm than good. 

Well, that is what I am aiming at, anyway. I am not quite there, yet. Occasionally, I do fall into emotional traps that require some effort to escape from. I do get triggered from time to time, especially in the face of cruelty to animals and animal abuse. And uncertainty still causes me some anxiety.

We all can remember occasions where we felt strong emotions — and in some cases how they seem to take over us and dominate us for quite some time. We, vegans, are not an exception. In fact, I would dare to say that becoming vegan is a particularly emotional experience which makes us distinctly emotional people. In the process of becoming vegan, we feel many emotions, and while manifesting our veganism we communicate many emotions to others. I am sure that if I say that the life of a vegan is an emotional roller-coaster many would not disagree with such an assessment.

Perhaps non-vegans would be more respectful of our philosophy, lifestyle and beliefs if they understood how emotional the whole thing is for us. So, I thought I would explore the different types of emotions we experience and write about them.

How many human emotions there are?

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An emotion is a conscious mental reaction subjectively experienced as a strong feeling usually directed toward a specific object, and typically accompanied by physiological and behavioural changes in the body. All animals have them at one degree or another because emotions are behavioural traits that have evolved in sentient beings to coordinate adequate responses to environmental changes. If animals only reacted to individual stimuli separately, they may not be able to behave effectively as they may receive many stimuli at the same time, each suggesting a different response — sometimes contradictory to each other. 

Therefore, evolution favoured for the brain to set “moods” that coordinated all the responses toward a common goal. And when animals evolved into social species, the most effective response from a society was to coordinate the response of everyone, which require some sort of communication between individuals to set a social “mood”. Emotions in social species, or in species which require several individuals to behave in a coordinated way (like in parent-offspring tandems or reproductive pairs), have also become forms of communication that not only alert the group about the changes in the environment, but also inform it about the internal moods of each individual, and therefore the likelihood of certain behaviours to appear. All primates are either social or create bonding pairs, so they need to be able to communicate their emotions to each other. And we, humans, are just another primate who, like many of them, communicate them via facial expressions, body language, and vocalisations.

There have been many classifications of human emotions over the years. Aristotle wrote one in the 4th century BCE in his book “Rhetoric”:

  • Anger, the opposite of calmness 
  • Friendship 
  • Fear, the opposite of courage 
  • Shame, the opposite of confidence 
  • Kindness, the opposite of cruelty 
  • Pity 
  • Indignation 
  • Envy, jealousy 
  • Love 

Charles Darwin created his classification in his 1872 book “The Expressions of the Emotions in Man and Animals”: 

  • Suffering and weeping
  • Low spirits, anxiety, grief, dejection, despair
  • Joy, high spirits, love, tender feelings, devotion
  • Reflection, meditation, ill-temper, sulkiness, determination
  • Hatred and anger
  • Disdain, contempt, disgust, guilt, pride, helplessness, patience, affirmation and negation
  • Surprise, astonishment, fear, horror
  • Self-attention, shame, shyness, modesty, blushing

In a 2017 study by the University of California, Berkeley, titled “Self-report captures 27 distinct categories of emotion bridged by continuous gradients,” many more types of emotions were identified. Using statistical models to analyse the responses of more than 800 people to over 2,000 emotionally evocative video clips, researchers identified 27 distinct categories of emotion and created a multidimensional map to show how they are connected. Dacher Keltner, a UC Berkeley psychology professor and one of the authors of the study, said the following: “We found that 27 distinct dimensions, not six, were necessary to account for the way hundreds of people reliably reported feeling in response to each video…there are smooth gradients of emotion between, say, awe and peacefulness, horror and sadness, and amusement and adoration.” These are the 27 they found:

  1. Admiration
  2. Adoration
  3. Aesthetic Appreciation
  4. Amusement
  5. Anger
  6. Anxiety
  7. Awe
  8. Awkwardness
  9. Boredom
  10. Calmness
  11. Confusion
  12. Craving
  13. Disgust
  14. Empathetic pain
  15. Entrancement
  16. Excitement
  17. Fear
  18. Horror
  19. Interest
  20. Joy
  21. Nostalgia
  22. Relief
  23. Romance
  24. Sadness
  25. Satisfaction
  26. Sexual desire
  27. Surprise

If you are decades into your veganisation process, you probably have felt most of these. I will try to recall them all through my experience in becoming vegan and see if I can place them into the description of an average vegan journey of a hypothetic generic vegan.  

The Pre-vegan Phase

Cute boy looking up in awe. Portrait with sunlight haze.

The process of veganisation may begin very earlier in life. Any piece of information that you accumulate that tells you that animals are sentient beings like you, that animals can suffer like you, that animal exploitation makes animals suffer, and that people can live a fulfilling life by distancing themselves from animal exploitation, is part of that process. And each piece of significant information you get may create some memorable emotions in you.

In my case, I am originally from Catalonia, and I grew up in the 1960s (yes, I am a boomer) when Catalans were oppressed by the Spanish fascist General Franco. So, when I was a child, I often felt fear when I was in the streets, as I was afraid of the oppressive grissos (the “grey people”, as we called the Spanish police because of their uniforms), but also of many thugs that used to violently bully me. That moved me closer to non-human animals, and away from people, which seeded my veganism journey. In a way, I felt some of the oppression that other animals feel, and I remembered the fear of it when I began empathising with other animals.

Empathy (the ability to understand and share the feelings of another) is a very important concept for vegans as it allows us to feel what other animals feel. But most of the people in our societies have been desensitised by the indoctrination of carnism, so they may begin to lose such empathy over time. But when we remember the feelings we had, and we can “see” other animals as just different versions of ourselves, we may be able to re-engage such lost empathy. In a way, this is what veganisation does. So, at one point in our pre-vegan stages, we may see an animal being exploited and, by remembering the fear we have experienced ourselves, we may be able to empathise with such an animal and feel a bit of that fear too. And if the animal is in pain, we can also feel it with what is known as empathetic pain. Those emotions of fear and pain by proxy, which reveal to us that non-human animals “are just like us”, may be the first emotions that set off our journey towards veganism.

Another key emotion that I experienced when I was still in my pre-vegan phase was awe. My feelings about humans and animals led me to become a zoologist, as such a profession would allow me to spend more time with the latter. But the more time I spend observing them, the more awe I experienced. Now I was no longer seeing them as “just like us”, but in many respects, I was seeing them as much “better than us.” I was amazed by how much faster (i.e. a cheetah), further (i.e. an arctic tern), higher (i.e. an eagle) and deeper (i.e. a sperm whale) they could travel than us — without the need of any technological aids. How much more they could perceive than us (subtle smells, infra-red light, polarise light, magnetic fields, ultra-sounds). How much better they can collaborate with each other (i.e. ants, termites, or bees). How much better they can survive catastrophic events (i.e. tardigrades, cockroaches, or rats). And even how much cleverer they are than us, in particular about dealing with the world and its inhabitants (i.e. whales, elephants, or beavers). On occasions, that feeling will be milder and less overwhelming, becoming a simple aesthetic appreciation of all forms of life. And as happened to me hundreds of times when I was studying social wasps as part of my research as a zoologist, the emotion of entrancement can sometimes overtake you and leave you transfixed losing all sense of time. I still feel the emotion of awe every day that I go to my local park and I see a crow looking for food, a fox avoiding trouble, a blue tit building a nest, or a squirrel finding a buried nut. I still feel entranced by observing the shenanigans insects are up to. And I still feel the rush of aesthetic appreciation every time I watch a flower.  

In their pre-vegan phases, vegans may have felt the fear and pain the animals experience, and may have learnt that the idea of human superiority is based on a lie. But they continued to use animal products because they seemed unable to break from their carnist indoctrination. This contradiction causes two common emotions. The first one is confusion. We tried to justify why we still needed to use animal products by rationalising such use, but every time we came across any of the good arguments vegans use in their outreach, we felt confused. We didn’t understand how they could live without the products we thought are necessary for survival and happiness…and yet, we saw vegans that looked healthy and happy, and they had been vegan for a long time. This is what happened to me when I started working at the Monkey Sanctuary in Looe, Cornwall, and I met — and lived with — my first vegans in the flesh. 

The second emotion is guilt. The more we saw content vegans living a normal life and looking healthy, and also saw exploited animals suffering fear and pain, we felt guilty that we decided to ignore that suffering for convenience. With time, the initial confusion went away as our sub-conscience had learnt how the vegan lifestyle works (and how feasible it is). We no longer had any excuse not to be vegan, yet we relied on our cognitive dissonance to be able to continue using animal products. But, deep down, the sense of guilt for relying on a “defect” of our personalities built up. Ultimately, we realised cruelty had become a hidden part of our lives for which we were still responsible. 

At one point, this guilt may reach a critical level, and eventually push people to make the final step and become vegan. In my case, this happened in January 2002, on an island in the North Sea. Around that time I was working for the Born Free Foundation trying to help captive wild animals, but I was still consuming meat, dairy, leather and other animal products, which made no sense. I felt more and more guilty about it until, eventually, I decided to spend 23 days in isolation trying to resolve the conflict. On that island, I confronted all my ridiculous rationalisations, and in the process, I wrote a novel about my guilt titled “The Demons’ Trial (which I published years later under the pen name J.C. Costa). I returned from the island as an ethical vegan.

The Rooky-vegan Phase

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The first week after one has decided to adopt the philosophy of veganism carries many emotions, both positive and negative. One of the first is excitement. Relieved from the heavy weight of your guilt you had the courage to throw away, you feel terribly excited with the prospect of a guilt-free life where things will make much more sense, and you will discover many new things. Every time you discard one animal product from your kitchen or wardrove the excitement increases. You feel energised, you feel empowered, you feel under control. You know there are vegans out there who have been happy vegans for decades, so you are looking forward to it. Every step you take to cleanse your body and life from animal products feels great.

But then you need to replace everything with vegan versions, and you realise that you still don’t know enough about veganism to know how to get them. You look around, and you just see animal products. Where is all the vegan stuff? These days, it is far easier to find them than it was during my first week as a vegan in Brighton, but depending on where you live, it may still be difficult for some. Especially when you go back to work and realise that you only have an hour’s break for lunch and have not a clue where you will find vegan food that you like. A new emotion begins building up in that situation: anxiety. When you do get something vegan, you may find that you don’t like it, so you may start thinking you made a mistake, and your future as a vegan may end up being miserable. And what if you cannot make it? What if you fail? And if nobody is helping you, if you are the “only vegan in the village”, this emotion may become helplessness. In my case, one of my problems was that I was very addicted to cheese (physically addicted, as it contains casein, a protein that causes addiction in mammals to encourage babies to stay close to their nursing mothers), and when I tried the vegan versions in the early 2000s (much worse than those we can find today), I did not like them at all. My unfulfilled addition had created some anxiety, but it did not last for long.

The next emotion we may experience during the first weeks of abstaining from animal products is craving. Our bodies and minds are still trying to figure out what we are doing. You had accustomed them to periodically receiving particular types of foods and chemicals (with particular smells, colours and textures), and now that you stopped, your body and mind “think” you have forgotten them. So, they remind you that you have been giving them all this animal stuff for years, and you should carry on or they “fear” they will not be able to function properly for you. And they tell you this information by creating the emotion of cravings for particular foods you had become addicted to. That is when you will feel very attracted to the vegan burgers, cheeses, sausages, and chick*n nuggets which taste and feel exactly like the food you used to eat.

But after a while, when you resist such cravings and continue to provide to your body and mind the new vegan nutrients in exploitation-free forms, they will get it (alternatively, if you confuse them by going halfway, as when becoming vegetarian instead of vegan, they may not). Your body and mind will understand then that the feeding paradigm has changed, and they must switch to new physiological routines and stop sending you cravings. For me, it took me about a month to stop seeing cheese as food — in fact, after that month, I could not believe that those clay-looking smelly yellow squares were edible objects.

If you chose to eat a well-balanced vegan diet with little processed food rather than just fake versions of carnist food, the body may quickly realise that the novel items you are providing are what is better “designed” to use. Your body may remember its frugivorous nature and become much more efficient in absorbing nutrients and reducing inflammation (in my case, common episodes of anaemia for low-iron absorption never returned after I became vegan). This may provide the new vegans with a boost of energy and physical well-being — unless they had some underlying physical or mental problems, that is. If all goes well, a new emotion may emerge: relief. You now feel that all those negative emotions (confusion, guilt, anxiety, and cravings) are gone, and you feel very healthy,  physically, mentally, and spiritually. You can now breathe. And when that state carries on and is constantly reinforced with positive feedback from your healthier body and mind, your new emotion is high spirits. You know the veganism philosophy is the right one. You feel it in your bones now. 

The Junior-vegan Phase

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Once every aspect of your mind and body has adapted to your new vegan paradigm, everything has become routine so your veganism does no longer feel like a task, but your natural state of being.  You can now feel free to explore all its dimensions. You begin joining vegan social clubs, go to vegan fairs, and gradually integrate yourself into the vegan community (in my case, I joined the London vegan meetup group and attended many events). At first, you may feel shyness, as many vegans you meet may have been vegan for a long time, and you may kind of feel “not worthy” enough to befriend them. But you soon will meet more vegans like you and develop a strong bond with some of them (especially if you are discovering the world of veganism together). Often, you may feel the emotion of friendship, which is nice and fulfilling (most of my friends are vegan now). 

But something else happens when you spend some time in the vegan community and begin frequenting vegan echo chambers. You get more and more vegan-related information sent to you (by your new vegan friends or by clever social media algorithms) and some of it starts to affect your emotions. You may often be exposed to graphic images of animal exploitation and cruelty. In the past, you might have ignored them — or you might have looked away — but the new you, somehow, feels that it is your duty to wear witness to them. And they cause you strong emotions. At first, you may feel pity for the animal victims you see, but your attention may turn to the perpetrators of the abuse, and your emotions will switch to anger. How is it possible that people could be both so cruel and so blind to the suffering of animals? They must be bad people. They must be evil people. Such a strong negative emotion will make you forget that, in the past, you might have done similar things — or at the very least tolerate others doing them for you — and it will unsettle you for a long time. You may still have a feeling of guilt for your behaviour before becoming vegan — and you may try to suppress it.

You may feel that you need to do something to let that anger out. For instance, join an animal rights protest and release your anger by shouting slogans. Or participating in direct action disruptions or having heated discussions with non-vegans. But these things may not work for you. They may create hostile reactions that inflame your anger, rather than extinguish it. You may become an angry vegan dominated by ill-temper and stay like that for some time.

Other people would react differently to those graphic images of animal exploitation they are now regularly exposed to. For some, the emotion they will create is horror. They will not think that what they see is the action of some deviant people, but they will realise the magnitude of the problem and how common it is. It will feel that it is the entire system that is cruel, not a handful of people, and that would feel horrible because you feel hopeless. You know that vegans are still a very small minority of the population, so you don’t know whether we will be able to stop all those horrible industries that seem to have all the power in the world to do what they want. 

After the horror, when you let yourself calm down, sadness may follow. You may find different ways to express it. You may feel like weeping and letting it all out physically (as it happened to me often after I did undercover investigations on animal abuse, such as in bullfighting or zoos). Or you may prefer to join a vigil where you can share your sadness with your vegan colleagues while you say goodbye to animals on their way to their death in slaughterhouses. But if you don’t have enough support from friends and family, if they laugh at you or make your life more difficult by disrespecting your choices or constantly arguing with you, that sadness may become long-lasting. It may become sulkiness and low spirits. You may become a sad vegan, withdrawn, not wanting to argue with anyone, wanting to move away from people and be left alone.

If you only hang out with the same type of vegan you are, you may end up falling into a vicious circle where anger fuels more anger, or sadness fuels more sadness. But if you are lucky, you may be able to explore different dimensions of veganism and see different ways to approach things. If that is the case, after a period of either anger or sadness — and perhaps due to acclimatisation and desensitisation too — junior vegans may step out of these two negative emotions, and begin to find a better way to deal with everything. They may be able to separate their activism time from their leisure time (as happened to me when I started attending vegan boardgamers meetings). They may be able to avoid being triggered by images or arguments (as I have been doing by purging my social media “friends” who more often post the triggers that affect me the most — such as conspiracy theories, anti-science statements or casual racist remarks). They may learn about different ways to be an activist, different strategic approaches, and different sub-groups within veganism they like. They may be able to find a better fit for them (researching and writing is what works for me now). A better way to express what they feel (vegan outreach in the streets did that for a while in my case). A better way to use their time. 

And they may have met, in real life or virtually, experience vegans from whom to learn how to deal with the emotional pressures of being a vegan. Interest in what they have to say may lead to some of them becoming “guru-like” figures, teachers of some sort. And an emotion of admiration may grow for them (in some cases, if there are spiritual underpinnings and an appropriate tradition to back them up, this emotion may even become devotion). 

With time — and with age also — junior vegans may mature and master a new emotion: confidence.  They are now over the turbulent times, and they think they got the hang of it. Determination to stay vegan for life would no longer feel over-reaching. Now they truly know they can. These vegans are learning fast to be functioning vegans in a carnist world. They may no longer blindly follow their “gurus” (some of whom may now have fallen “from grace”) but have found a way to learn from them about their good and bad choices. They are now discovering a personal way to be the vegans they want to be. They have tried several forms of activism, and now they are beginning to discover which is best for them — or they learnt that they are not the activist type, anyway. 

Their new confidence makes them look wiser and more attractive to others. This may have both negative and positive effects. New long-term relationships may be created with other vegans, with all the emotions they may bring (self-attention, blushing, romance, sexual desire, or love), which can build their confidence even more. But, on the other side, they may start looking down on other vegans that have not got their act together yet. They may begin to look at other types of vegans different to theirs as if they were wrong vegans. They may find themselves spending more time telling other vegans that they are either not vegan or not vegan enough, rather than fighting animal exploitation and exposing animal cruelty. Disdain and contempt for the “wrong type of vegan” may be emotions that may appear at this stage, and those who cannot control them and take over their lives may become “anti-vegan vegans” who disagree with everyone else that does not manifest their veganism exactly as they do.  

The Experienced-Vegans Phase

Being constantly veganised for a decade or more from the time of self-identification as an ethical vegan would normally make an experienced vegan from a junior vegan — some may take longer or shorter than that, depending on how intense their veganisation process was. Experienced vegans no longer suffer logistical difficulties caused by their veganism, as they have found a way to deal with everything. If they are lucky, they can even live in complete vegan bubbles of their making — depending on where they work and with whom they live. They can even have their own veganic gardens where they grow their own food (as I do), as they are now starting to move away from the fake meats and cheeses and enjoy more the healthy bonanza of little processed vegetables, grains, fruits, nuts, algae, and mushrooms (as I definitively do, although vegan sausages still linger on in my dishes). At this stage, when they see anyone eating an animal they feel disgust, and they start feeling this not only when seeing the bits of the animal still distinguishable, but when they know they are there but have now been smashed to hide their origin. And they also feel the same emotion of disgust when they see someone riding a horse, wearing a jacket with a fur trim, or sharing a holiday photo posing by a chimp in a zoo.

In this phase, they may feel they have already seen it all, that there is nothing else to learn, and that the way they chose to be vegan is not going to change. Their only regret could be not having become vegan earlier, but apart from that, they may feel on top of their game. They may have even become the “gurus” of others by now. If you have reached this phase, you may find that, while trapped in a comfortable routine where you don’t seem to need to learn anymore, boredom may become a common emotion.

But then, out of the blue, it will happen. Junior vegans may challenge your behaviour or choices, and you realise that they might be right. For instance, someone points out to you that a product that you have been using for years is not suitable for vegans after all (I remember when I learnt about migratory beekeeping). Or they may show you how speciesist one of your choices might have been (food given to companion animals springs to mind). Or they explain to you that some of your behaviour is misogynistic or racist and therefore you are contravening the philosophy of veganism. This will, naturally, cause you astonishment and incredulity, but when you discover that this is true, the awkwardness will come. Later, especially if those who challenged you did not do it very tactfully, you may feel shame. You should have known better. You should have checked things more. You are an experienced vegan, for goodness’ sake! Sometimes you will have a good excuse for the mistake. For instance, you claim that you had been misinformed. With the information you had at the time, any vegan would have made the same choice. And if someone was responsible for misinforming you, you will feel indignation (this is what I felt when I learnt that the pension fund I was auto-enrolled by the animal protection organisation that employed me was investing in companies that experiment on animals).

After a while of being “caught” doing the un-vegan thing (without you knowing it was), you may learn that your veganisation process has not ended after all. You learn that every day you can become a better vegan than the day before. This is when you have become a true-experienced vegan. Now, when somebody corrects your behaviour, you may still feel the emotion of surprise, but not astonishment and shame anymore, because you know these things happen. You thank whoever helped you to improve, and you move on. Satisfaction with your estate of improving veganism will be a common emotion you will experience if you have been lucky enough to prevent any of the negative emotions that used to dominate your junior years to spill over to your seniority. 

But if you have not, if you are still an angry, a sad, or a contemptuous vegan, and if you add to that all the tribulations that age and time will inevitably bring to us all, you may take a turn for the worse. You may look at everything from a disapproving dark cloud. You may be upset because you disagree about the direction the vegan movement is taking (I feel this way sometimes about the plant-based revolution). You may be bothered by many tactics in activism that you don’t think will work (activist Jake Conroy often expresses this feeling). You may be worried because you see younger generations not taking veganism as seriously as you think they should take it (I am thinking now about young vegans happily eating at traditional big chain meat restaurants). You may feel despair about how things are going (meat consumption continues to grow). You may feel dejection for the lack of progress (vegans are still a minority of any population). You may become a cranky vegan, and when you look at those who made you angry and still do what they used to do with impunity, you may discover that such anger has now become hatred (I felt I had to fight against this unwelcoming creeping emotion when I was involved in prosecuting illegal hunters for several years). 

Time is relentless, so, at one point, you are also likely to feel grief for all the friends and close ones who you had enough time to lose. And if you had rescued companion animals living with you, when they go you will experience a kind of grief only those who shared their lives with them know. 

When you look at the excitement of the new vegans who enter veganism (through any of its five gateways) and think they have everything figured out, you may feel envy for the bliss of their naivety. You may even feel jealousy for all the attention younger in-experienced vegans are getting while nobody seems to listen to you anymore. But if time is relentless, it’s also the best medicine, because nothing is permanent. 

The Lifelong-Vegan Phase

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For those who have become senior people (60+) and have spent more than three-quarters of their adult lives as ethical vegans, I think it would be fair to give them the title of “lifelong vegans” even if they still have time before they go and did not grow up as vegans. As veganism is a philosophy rather than a behaviour that can be imitated — or directed by others — I think only counting from the time one is mature enough to adopt a philosophy is appropriate. For me to qualify, I should live for more than 100 years (which I don’t think I have the genes for) and still be vegan for the rest of my days (which would not be a problem, assuming that when I am unable to look after myself properly those who look after me will respect my veganism — fingers crossed!). So, I don’t’ know how it would feel to be a lifelong vegan.

However, I can imagine it.  With years of experience and having seen how veganism has evolved through generations, I think it would be easier to feel the emotion of calmness.  There may be plenty of opportunities to feel contemplative and engage in stages of reflection (even meditation if one has learnt those ways) when everything can be seen with perspective and fairness. Constant affirmation of the status of ethical vegan, together with absolute negation towards any form of violence, hatred and harm toward anyone, could achieve a permanent dynamic balanced in an equanimous ying-yang way. With expectations better managed, the sense of disappointment that may be common in the previous phase may disappear. The memory of how hard it was to be vegan in the past will make value more any of the advances of the present, no matter how small. 

There will not be any trace of guilt anymore because all those years actively trying to avoid harming anyone would have erased them. By then, if they have been lucky, lifelong vegans would have met a wider and more diverse range of vegans with their unique ideas and approaches that would help them realise the importance of all steps toward the vegan world. 

They would have now fully explored all the five dimensions of veganism (animals, the environment, social justice, spirituality, and health), and the manifestation of their philosophy would be richer and multi-layered (for instance, without abandoning any animal, they may now feel comfortable being described as eco-vegans and they may now have finally embraced the intersectional approach). That would make them more tolerant and inclusive, more respectful of differences of opinion. They may be more careful with the language they used and have more ways to explain veganism to a wider and more diverse audience (which will no longer be limited by a short vocabulary or overused taglines). Decades of avoiding harming anything that can be harmed ought to have that effect on people.

The relics of their carnist indoctrination may be minimal by then. If they could avoid them, they would no longer eat fake meats or any food that replicates the colours, shapes, and tastes of animal exploitation (and this rejection may contribute to their longevity). Helped by age and the wisdom it brings, patience may become their dominant emotion, and although pride may be felt when thinking about how long they have been vegan, modesty would kick in as they would become increasingly aware of our insignificance in the universe and the transient nature of everything. 

On occasions, there may be nostalgia popping up, but I think — or better, I hope — it is experienced with tender feelings or even amusement. In other words, knowing how little have they contributed to animal suffering — and how small their blood footprint now is — lifelong vegans may become, finally, content vegans. 

But most of all, what I hope will happen to us when we reach that stage in our vegan journey, is that kindness will permeate all over, and the joy of having been able to help is the most transcendent emotion of our later days. The world may not be vegan when we go, but perhaps we can begin to feel its sweet smell from the distance and rejoice from its anticipated becoming. 

I will never know what all the emotions of lifelong vegans are, but I do know one thing. We, vegans, are emotional beings capable to experience the entire array of emotions humans have at their disposal. And I know this because we, vegans, are just humans. 

We are like everyone else because we are everyone.

Or, at least, in the end, we will be.