The vegan club evidently has a strict “all or nothing” policy and since I do not fall into this “all” category I am evidently not vegan. At all. Not even an inkling. Assolutamente niente. At least not as far as some vegans are concerned. For some odd reason I had it in my head that people who care about the earth, about animal cruelty, etc, you know – vegan people, were kind, considerate, understanding, and accepting. For it seems to me they were/ are people who have seen the larger picture and thus live in somewhat of an, I dare say it, enlightened state. Now don’t get me wrong. I never thought they were all miniature Buddhas running around smiling at everyone, but at least smiling a little. And I never thought them to be so critical and exacting a demographic as a few of its members are now pointed out to me to be.
There’s this nice vegan lady in New York City who likes to cook and blog about it. I read her blog quite often (as you should too as she does a damn fine job). Well lately she’s taken to posting some “how-to” sort of posts for people interested in/ currently making the transition to the big V who need some help and encouragement. Which is splendid because some people are frightened at first as they think their whole gastronomic world is coming to a screeching halt. Well, the other day she posted a “How Vegan Are You?” post which simply discussed some of the not blatantly obvious un-vegan items, such as white sugar, honey, shoes, etc. Ok. Fine. So at the end of the post she asks “How vegan are you?” and invites you to comment. I commented. A couple other people commented. I went to sleep. Went to school the next day. And just after dinner I retook my seat in front of my PC and thought I’d go have a look-see and find out what other people had to say. &*^$((@%($()#) Evidently during the interim from when I placed my comment and coming back again she received a whole rash of comments, mainly between a couple people, that weren’t exactly of the peaceful disposition I thought vegans would, in general, have; at least in regard to veganism and others interested in it.
These comments were rude, chiding, spiteful, mean, and quite frankly unacceptable. It’s one thing to voice your opinion, as everyone is entitled to one, but it’s a whole other ball of wax to open fire on someone, especially one of your own.
I’m not typing this all out to point fingers or get the last word. I’m typing this because this sort of elitist “all or nothing” attitude towards veganism is likely something that scares people away from it. While it would be grand if we all just stopped eating meat one day, it would at least make a difference if lots of people just cut some of it out of their diet. You know, a penny saved is a penny earned sort of thing – a steak not eaten is a cow that’s alive and water and grain that’s not being wasted and kids in remote countries that get to eat now… We shouldn’t all get carried away with trivial issues like one’s definition of veganism versus another, or one’s reasons for living vegan are better than somebody else’s, or that you shouldn’t label yourself a vegan if you happen to have one piece of clothing in your apartment that wasn’t made in an animal friendly fashion.
When I decided to be a vegan it was on a whim. It was because I’d been playing around with the idea of vegetarianism and stinking Google posted a PETA ad on my screen one day that I happened to click on. Two words for you: factory farming. Yuck! So I changed my lifestyle, for the most part. I didn’t go into veganism with an all or nothing attitude and I still don’t see it that way. I don’t think anything is ever black and white and certainly not something that has such a profound impact on your life and its quality. To each their own is all I think anyone can ask for something such as this.
So, if you’re out there and you’re considering hugging a cow versus cutting one, don’t feel like you have to do it all at once. Don’t feel like you have to follow a strict code of conduct. Do what you feel is right for your life and your values. And ignore those inconsiderate nincompoops who tell you it’s their way or the highway; they don’t represent the whole of the vegan community.