I recently saw a meme on Facebook featuring the face of a shocked man that read, "That moment you realize all your vegan friends live in your computer."

I found it funny because there is some truth to it.

While I do know of a few other vegans outside of Facebook, there is a stronger sense of community and commitment to the cause among those I meet on social media. I guess that is because the ones who do speak out, and are active, are using Facebook and other forms of social media as one, or even their preferred platforms.

When I first gave up meat in the mid 1980s, I would have to travel to Chicago to meet up with other vegetarians to demonstrate, speak out and find community. Today, I just sign on to Facebook.

Social media provides me with an easy way to stay on top of all that is vegan, which is no easy feat considering how quickly the movement is growing. Food, clothing and other types of manufacturers are releasing new vegan products all the time and many of them pop up on my Facebook timeline with reviews by fellow vegans.

Search Facebook for pages such as Vegan.com, Vegan Outreach and The Humane League, and local groups including Northwest Indiana Vegans, Vegans of Michiana, Chicago Vegans, Indianapolis Vegetarian and Vegan Meetup Group, and the Indiana Animal Rights Alliance.

Before going down to Noblesville, Indiana, last weekend for a concert, I posted a request on the Indianapolis Vegetarian and Vegan group for restaurant ideas. The responses began arriving immediately and before long I had a long list of vegan-friendly eateries from which to choose.

There are a few downsides to social media, including the common squabbles among users, especially when a Facebook Troll chimes in with the intention of disrupting a conversation or seeking attention.

There are also the graphic images and videos of animal abuse (much of it perfectly legal and quite common), which never fails to shock me and get my blood boiling. I quickly scroll by most of those images, wholeheartedly buying into the belief that going vegan absolves one from having to continue witnessing those horrors.

When the realities of all sorts of animal abuse and every day life get too much, I need only check in on Facebook with Esther the Wonder Pig for some much-needed relief. I highly recommend "liking" that page.

I encourage anyone considering going vegan or already vegan to join in the online communities and conversations. Your friends may be on the computer, but they are still friends.

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