"Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs." - Step 12

I have great admiration for the straight forward wisdom of the 12 steps Of Alcoholics Anonymous and know it would be of great value to most, if not all people, whether they identify as an addict or not.

One of the key principals of the program, as I understand it, is sharing what it has given to you as a way of continuing to grow more deeply.

It occurred to me recently that this 12th step wisdom applies to vegans as well.

Making a decision to stop consuming and using animal products, and avoiding all forms of animal exploitation, is a great step. The benefits are profound for the individual, animals and the planet.

But there is so much more to be gained and offered by taking the further step of sharing your decision with others.

Some choose to hit the pavement and join protests, while others prefer less aggressive approaches of talking to family and friends, donating to animal rights organizations, hosting vegan meals, and/or simply sharing vegan-related posts on Facebook.

I have found it best to use whatever skills you have to get the word out and start a conversation around the issue. Expect to be laughed at, criticized and verbally attacked. You will find that people are pretty protective of their eating habits and don't want to hear anything that makes them uncomfortable about their culinary decisions.

If you are reading this on Facebook, take a look at the comment section below the post and you may see a few examples of the types of comments to which I am referring.

It may not be easy to speak out in any form, but it really is vital. I have learned that there are many people ready to explore veganism and hearing from others can be just what they need to make the change. You may also be introducing the idea to someone for the first time.

Speaking out also puts you in contact with other vegans, which is a great resource for tips, recipes, questions and overall support.

Oh yeah, one last tip. When someone responds to you with the now-stale joke: "How do you know if someone is vegan? Don't worry, they will tell you." Just smile and reply with a simple, "Yup."