Not all vegans are born equal
If I had the choice to sit around a dinner table with a bunch of vegans or with a bunch of meat-eaters, I would choose to dine with the former, among my like-minded countrymen. It makes sense. I feel more comfortable when I don’t have to constantly defend my aberrant eating habits and my apparent snub of ingrained food culture, however blind it actually is to reality. Yet, I sometimes wonder if when the conversation turns to “Why are we vegan?”, the answer can only be accurate if the question is modified to “Why are you vegan?”
A conscientious member of society may attain veganism in various ways. S/he may also define veganism in ways that are divergent from the way I define it. How then can we truly raise a glass to being vegan if we don’t even share the same motivations or even the same definition? Take, for example, honey, wine, sugar, silk, wool, margarine. You’d be surprised how these few products are on some vegans’ “no-no” list and other vegans’ “ok” list. For me, it boils down to the fact that being “vegan” does not need to be exactly defined in order to understand why someone identifies as vegan. Choosing a vegan diet or lifestyle does not have to be explained by the illuminating journey one took to reach that virtuous destination. It doesn’t have to be branded as a hypocrisy or imperfect. What matters is that we are there… somewhere, trying to make a difference based on what we consume. We are deciding as a whole not to support factory farming, animal suffering, the exploitation of animals, the destruction of our environment, and generally aligning our moral values with how we eat and where we want to spend our dollar. Being vegan is making a choice–whether conscious or not–to boycott cruelty. Consuming factory farm products is making a choice–whether conscious or not–to support cruelty. It doesn’t matter whether we define vegan by the clothes we wear or the honey we don’t buy; what matters most is that whatever it is that we call “vegan” or “vegetarian” is a step in the right direction. I’ve met vegans before who say that they are vegan solely for health reasons and they don’t think much about or care much for the animals. As much as I find that appalling and somewhat naive, I at least find solace the fact that even if they don’t admit it or know it, they are supporting my cause too, the vegan cause. The one that says that animals are lives, that they are more than just commodities or dollar signs. They have feelings. They breathe. They yearn for life. A real life. And they feel pain, and god knows they suffer. However you may define it for yourself and whatever motivations you may have, join me in becoming “vegan” and help end the denial that is our imperfect, unsustainable, gluttonous and cruel industry of “farming”.
If you haven’t yet, please read “Eating Animals“, by Jonathan Safran Foer. His words put mine to shame. If only we all could be this persuasive.