I’ve been vegan for awhile now– happily subsisting on various vegan-related diets from raw to junk food all in the name of cruelty-free goodness! Despite trying to stay connected in the community, in recent months I’ve been moving more online with my vegan kula* fix (which is easier with the new tiny adorable person in tow). But, with moving online with my veganism, I have been seeing the other side of “plants only” which is that nasty “meat eaters are evil; you’re not vegan if ___” militant attitude that I’ve heard so much about but somehow never experienced. So after 5 or 6 years of eschewing animal products, I’ve been informed in about 2 weeks that I’m not really a vegan or I’m abusing the word vegan for my stupid cleanse, etc.
Excuse me militant vegans, but please go pleasure yourself with vegetables.
There are people legitimately interested in making radical change to their life or incorporating elements of that change into their lives. If you introduce them to the concept of veganism and call it “going vegan”– whether those people do this for the long term or not or for a week or the rest of their lives is irrelevant. If you decide to go vegan but keep your old leather goods or use things that you didn’t know were vegan or are expensive to replace (like felt for crafts, condoms, mattresses, pillows, etc) then does that make your change any less valuable? Does the fact that you choose to focus your future purchases on getting cruelty-free vegan things while keeping that which you’ve already purchased mean that you’re not vegan simply because you don’t throw everything away and start over?
If you tell people they might as well stop being vegan if they don’t throw out their mattress, then they might just not even bother. Personally, I didn’t even know that mattresses weren’t vegan until about a month ago (5 years later and at least 2 new mattresses for various people in my house that I could have laid down the vegan law and said BUY THIS YOU PEOPLE AROUND ME). Which makes me a shitty vegan or not a vegan at all if you ask the militant vegans answering all matter of question around the blogosphere.
Nope. Sorry. Not having it.
I feel like judging people for not making radical vegan changes and knowing about every vegan detail is unacceptable and definitely not “cruelty-free.” Animals are important but so are people. Sure people are abundant in their privileged decision making over animals, but that doesn’t take away from embracing an overall attitude of compassion so the people running this earth into the ground can make real change. The animals can’t change things– we’ve made sure of that. So by turning off potential animal activists because of dogmatic hogwash (two animal-based compound words– woo!), you’re actually harming the animal rights cause more deeply. It’s very important to consider that a family struggling to make ends meet that’s willing to embrace a vegan diet should be encouraged to do so even if they keep their leather work boots and wool beanies. I suppose the answer is “well we don’t want you anyway” or “they can do that but not call themselves vegan.”
No. If someone is primarily vegan especially in diet, they should be able to feel confident in identifying as vegan and not have to feel guilty and stay in the “cruelty-free-like-a-vegan” corner.
You have to also ask yourself whether or not it’s more important to you to reduce your impact on the earth, or to be vegan. While I hold veganism very dear to my heart (it also supports my heart health– yay!), I don’t want to contribute to an overly consumptive state of being. I want to reduce, reuse, and recycle whenever possible and moreover I want to completely exit the consumer pool altogether (much easier said than done). It’s simply ridiculous to say that buying new *vegan* things is better than just using your old non-vegan-death-and-misery things. If you have the money, if you have the desire to change your belongings into a more compassionate vegan state, by all means DO IT! But if you don’t, you definitely don’t need someone telling you that you’re not doing enough because you’re choosing a different route of compassion. As you progress down the vegan path, you will make more humane and ethical choices and by doing this, you’re making a meaningful impact on the earth.
So the point is– do what you can, with what you have at this very moment.
You aren’t “less” vegan (if you’re actually going vegan) because you’re still wearing your Doc Marten boots from 10 years ago (because those things f’reals last forever). You’re not “less” vegan because your mattress has wool or animal laced latex in it. You’re just doing the best you can with what you have! Why should you feel bad for making a huge effort toward better decisions with the earth, animals, and even humans in mind? You shouldn’t. I’m not trying to say that we should forget that there are many problematic animal by-products in seemingly everything. I am saying that you have to do the best you can to live ethically in your budget. Adhering to ethics should not come at the expense of the environment. And if you’re really struggling and emotionally suffering, is it any more compassionate to continue feeling terribly or to just “give in” and do what you can?
Because if you’re going crazy trying to sustain a diet or lifestyle but can’t afford it, can’t figure it out, or feel strained to impress the vegan police, then you are not going to be an effective activist. I would rather someone work actively to liberate animals wearing a leather jacket than to buy vegan clothing and blog about what a hypocrite that liberator is. But for the record, if you’re turning to petrol based vegan alternatives, you’re not making less of an impact on the earth anyway. Petrol is arguably worse than animal products because it’s a by-product of the leading industry causing industrialism to proliferate in a fashion that is rife with cruelty and disgusting abuses of human ability.
I know… bad vegan talking about animal products like they’re not evil.
I maintain, however, that making a change is a laudable accomplishment that should not be minimized by your inability to make the full transition into a radical change happen overnight. Especially when that radical change affects literally all parts of your life.
*kula is a word for community