This post is a response to an anonymous comment made to one of my posts, which accused me of being fake because I say I’m vegan yet I use/consume animal products.
I don’t want this to be my defense of my veganism, but alas, I suppose that’s what it’s going to be.
First I’d just like to say that becoming vegan has been a process. I didn’t eliminate all animal products overnight, and as I’ve gained more awareness about certain things, I’ve tried to align my choices to match my awareness. I try to only eat and consume animal free foods and cruelty-free products to the best of my ability and feel that I do a pretty good job. Do I eat butter? No. Eggs, meat, milk, cheese? No, no, no, and no. Am I for treating all beings with compassion and respect? Yes. Am I against animal cruelty? Yes. Do I think it’s wrong to create life only to kill it. Yes. For me, this is vegan enough. I don’t know what other label to use, so there it is.
I’ve said this before. I hate labels. I’m hesitant to label myself anything. But alas, we cannot avoid labels. I suppose it’s our desire to create order that is the chaos of living.
I think people are turned off from embracing vegetarianism or veganism because there seems to be an element of perfectionism to it. Like if you decide you’re vegetarian, and you happen to eat meat or twice does this no longer make you vegetarian?
This problem doesn’t just exist for vegetarians or vegans. What if you’re Democrat and vote for several Republican candidates over a period of time? What if you’re Catholic but you never attend Mass? Do you still call yourself Catholic?
This has been something I’ve thought a lot about as I’ve been intensely nauseated and all of the old foods I used to eat have been unpalatable (an understatement!). The other morning, for example, determined to finally eat something healthy, I ate two bites of watermelon and felt like I was going to throw up (which was on top of the usual nausea). I can’t eat more than a few bites of oatmeal. I find it revolting. And the mere thought of any vegetables (except for tomatoes, which luckily, I actually can tolerate) and most all fruits (except for berries…interesting, huh?) makes me want to vomit. A Krispy Kreme donut and a diet Pepsi, on the other hand, one day, seemed to do the trick and soothed my stomach like nothing else. I have to say though that this was just one moment in time. There’s never much predictability in the foods that I can tolerate and the foods that actually make me feel temporarily better. But the pattern remains the basically same–processed, refined foods tend to be much more approachable than foods that are unrefined & whole. Sadly, pretty much anything healthy.
Unless you’ve gone through this yourself, you can’t understand what it’s like to wake up day after day and have to deal with this gut-wrenching nausea that doesn’t let up. Out of what I’ve deemed is necessity, I’ve made the choice to eat some non-vegan foods. I haven’t enjoyed it, or liked the that I have eaten these foods. In fact I hate the way that I’m eating right now (it’s safe to say I pretty much don’t enjoy any food right now), and wish I could tolerate a big salad or nice bean soup. So, does this mean I am no longer vegan? Should I rename my blog? I feel comfortable still calling myself vegan because in a week or two, if the stars align, I will be past all of this morning sickness and nausea and be back to my old vegan self. Because I miss cooking. I miss eating the colorful, vibrant foods I used to eat. I miss feeling good about my food choices. The fact is, I feel, more than anything, having strayed off the vegan path for a few weeks, I have further strengthened my resolve to be vegan. Like an Amish youth who has completed rumspringa, the rite of passage in which they experience what “the world” has to offer for a year and decides to return to the Amish flock, I have decided with firm resolve, that I’m meant to be vegan.
I know for some, I will never be “vegan enough.” I don’t understand why there has to be judgment about this, and why others bother themselves about whether or not others are enough of this or enough of that to be worthy of a certain label. Fact is, I believe in the basic principle of compassion, which is at the heart of what I understand to be what it means to be vegan. I want to live this principle because it expands to other areas of my life and I feel like living in a compassionate manner helps me to live with greater awareness and purpose.
I’m sorry if I’ve let any of you down. I’m sorry if you don’t think I’m vegan enough to call myself vegan. But in my mind, being vegan isn’t about perfectionism or abiding by a number of do’s and don’ts, a list of rules that if always abide by, you’re cool enough to be in the vegan club. This exclusiveness is part of the reason why veganism has in the past, struggled gaining much traction.
Being vegan, to me, means doing and living the best you can in a healthful, compassionate, and aware fashion. I say let’s do away with the judgement and criticism and embrace being compassionately optimistic.