Gasp! Am I ending my veganism?!
No, of course not. Why should I stop being the most compassionate person I can? I am however giving validity to the imperfection that this lifestyle has humbled me to realize.
Point blank: there is no perfection, but that does not mean we should not try to minimize suffering when I can.
Yesterday my friend, who is slowly learning about veganism and dipping her toe in this wonderful lifestyle asked an important question. She said her relatives do not feel comfortable with her being a passionate activist, so what is the point?
I get that. When I first learned about all the suffering and exploitation subjected to non-human beings, I wanted to scream it from the roof tops. I looked for so many ways to be a crusader for animal rights. I pictured myself leading a picket revolt or chaining myself to the entrance to the Bronx zoo. I pictured myself cooking gourmet dinners for myself and friends. I also saw them being “enlightened” toward the suffering of animals and would automatically assume this lifestyle too. It was a no-brainer to me.
Fast forward a couple months, and I was re-enlightened. No, I have led no crusades, I still eat many sandwiches (although my hummus making skills and use of vegan cheese are expanding everyday!) and the friend mentioned above is the first who has seriously considered converting to veganism. I have often asked myself, what is the point? I look at the bigger picture of the world and still see McDonalds, steak dinners and “where do you get your protein?”
I have learned to break it down to a micro-level. Have I converted anyone? Not to my immediate knowledge. However, I know that my co-workers to choose meatless options more often when I am there doing it too. I have told them I am not (outwardly) ever going to judge them and they are always free to eat what they choose. They also are more likely to ask my questions when my lifestyle patterns seem a good option. I have had great conversations with my co-workers respect my choices as I respect theirs.
They also like that I am human, which brings me full circle to the title of this post (that didn’t take long…) I do not like throwing food away when there are starving people just outside our doors. Therefore if there is extra food I try to take what I can, eat it myself or share it with the people who live in my house. This sometimes can mean I do not know what it in everything I eat. No, I do not choose the mac and cheese and assume that because there is no label it is fair game. I do not eat with blinders on. However, I have been known to take one of our entrees and open it and take the potatoes or the veggies out and eat that while discarding the meat portion of it. Sure, maybe the meat or cheese touched the veggies, but since we would throw it out anyway, I consider this inline with my vegan values and not being wasteful.
I also will always accept a gift or a taste of something I’m not one hundred percent sure is vegan. For example, there was a melted chocolate bar my co-worker found last week that we could not sell, so three of us split it. He offered it to my friend and I and we accepted without looking at the label. Was it vegan? Probably not but the guy was being nice and it would have gotten thrown away. This happened last night when my boss made her “special coffee drink” with hot cocoa mix, soy milk and raspberry syrup. She offered me a sip before saying “I don’t think it’s vegan”. I responded with, “That’s ok, you offered and it’s a nice gesture, I’ll try it.”
To me that is being thankful of both her friendship and the gift. I think that being vegan but also a relatable human being is important for the cause. I don’t want to isolate myself as some “holier than thou” person. I want veganism to look manageable so more people try it.
What are your thoughts on this?
Do you take gifts (within reason) that might not be vegan but are a nice gesture?