Why I’m Still Vegan (not for reasons you’d think)

If you have been keeping up with the vegan community (because who needs “Keeping Up With the Kardashians”, right?), you probably have known that quite a lot of influential vegans from social media announced their retraction from veganism. Some of these explanations were very much to heart and some were much more absonant. Many followers of these former vegans responded with backlash and criticisms–again, many were valid and others were fallacious. However, several vegan influencers took this crisis and created social media posts listing reasons why they are still vegan. I thought I’d do the same, except mine is a little different.

Now, I can go on a rampage about how important veganism is for health, for the environment, and for the well-being of animals. But the truth of a matter is, no matter how many times we can regurgitate those purposes behind veganism, re-living the past of what was far too compelling does not always help. This is because we as human beings change every minute and every second, as do our mindsets and perception. Unless we are directly impacted by these issues imposed from animal agriculture, then their significance may not ring as true. Having said that, the reduction of animal suffering, pollution, carbon footprint, deforestation, resource limits, and medical issues that arise from excessive consumption of animal products are still critical. However, all of those motives seem to be tossed out the window once somebody suffers “health problems” (quoted because it’s been used far too widely that the phrase alone sounds contrived).

INCREASING CONSUMER DEMAND OF PLANT-BASED PRODUCTS

Imagine this: a meat alternative that is finally free of gluten and soy, two of the most common and critical allergens as defined by the FDA. We have Beyond Meat products (made with pea protein!), but the more competition integrated into the equation, the lower the prices and the higher the distribution will be. Same goes with vegan dairy alternatives when it comes to nut, soy, and wheat allergies. So far with milk, we have rice milk, pea milk, coconut milk, hemp milk, flax milk, quinoa milk, and even potato milk (yes, it exists)! Why not expand this branch to other dairy products such as butter and cheese, both of which are mostly based from soy, almonds, cashews, coconut, and/or palm oil?

With the growth of vegan businesses and vegan-friendly products in the marketplace, supporting them will only positively reinforce the demand for companies and retail facilities to sell more and diversify of these options–better yet, actually take them seriously so that these alternatives are safer, of more optimal quality, and that the legal regulations of certain products (specifically food) do not necessitate animal testing and provide cruelty free substitutions. For many, it can be an arduous challenge to find a pair of vegan leather boots, bottle of sunscreen, or makeup product that fits the same quality. It is ultimately an economics formula–increase the demand and the supply will increase along with it!

REDUCING THE INDUSTRIAL EXPLOITATION OF SENTIENT ANIMALS AND LIMITED ENVIRONMENTAL RESOURCES

Tying back to supporting plant-based, vegan, and cruelty free companies who do practice ethical business practices when it comes to other animals and the environment, the more these companies profit, the less demand there will be for their counterparts who still utilize animal and environmental cruelty. Simply to put it, we live in a broken world with an amalgamation of unjust societies with faulty systems. How I see veganism contributing to this situation is just ensuring the world is a little less broken. The more normalized veganism becomes, the less necessity there is to take advantage of other animals and the planet. Continuing to use and eat animal products opposes this endeavor and I just see no reason to partake in that.

DEBUNKING VEGANISM AS A MEANS OF PERFECTION

But what if somebody makes a mistake and purchases a bag with an animal-based lining or eats a meal with a hidden animal product? Or even yet, what if someone decides to pick meat off a plate during a family style dinner or polish off a non-vegan meal that their friend cannot finish? Then that person is just plant-based, right? Well, here’s the deal: does one or even two actions that don’t fit within one’s ethical compass completely negate all of the previous efforts to make positive changes? Would you truly believe that to be true?

Truthfully, I have far fewer incentives to not be vegan. Yes, sometimes being vegan can be a little inconvenient when it comes to making purchasing choices. Because we don’t always remember or we don’t all know what sneaky animal derivatives there are in everything, fellow vegans like to harp on each other for that. Thus, many associate veganism with such negative connotations, even so extensively that most of the former vegans mention that they no longer want to affiliate themselves with that label. But since when did veganism solely become a label? To me, veganism is simply a philosophy that comes with its own set of lifestyle practices. The Vegan Society defines veganism incredibly well as shown:

Veganism is a way of living which seeks to exclude, as far as is possible and practicable, all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose.

The Vegan Society

Here are the key words that most vegans overlook with this statement: possible and practicable. Theoretically, it is possible to eradicate all forms of animal exploitation. In reality, is it really? From accidentally stepping on bugs to deforestation for crop growth, there will always be some form of amensalism. It’s unfortunately a harsh slap in the face from reality we all have to accept or at least be willing to deal with. As someone who is openly devoted to this philosophy, I want to further articulate that veganism is not about perfection, but about practicality.

On another note, I find it incredibly funny how there are actually resources out there titled “How to Become a Vegan” or “Tips on How to Go Vegan” as if there is a step-by-step formula that can be followed. If veganism is a philosophy, you cannot just walk in the same footsteps without truly believing that you’re on the right path. You need to mentally, emotionally, and spiritually resonate with veganism to identify as a vegan. Utilize the research, tools, and personal experimentation all you want, but if veganism still doesn’t provide that intrinsic motivation or resonance no matter how long or hard you try, then you will not sustain the life choices that come with the philosophy.

NORMALIZING VEGANISM TO THE MASSES

Not all vegans are financially privileged granola hippies who eat nothing but green juice and avocados, nor are they all slaughterhouse invaders, nor are they all moon cycle law-of-attraction manifestation spirits who live in wooden huts in the middle of nature and spend their days running on the beach or the forest. Vegans can also be university students. Vegans can have a nine-to-five. Not all vegans are wealthy. We have vegans who are cops, politicians, makeup artists, lawyers, doctors, registered dietitians, nurses, engineers, scientists, dancers, fashion designers, musicians, hairdressers, chefs, podcast hosts, authors, and so much more. Some vegans are pro-science, pro-GMO, and pro-vax. And guess what? We crave sushi, hamburgers, grilled cheese, instant noodles, ice cream, donuts, iced coffee, and pizza as much as the average person. Shocker!

Utilizing veganism as a means of being unique is wonderful, but it becomes an issue if you pull out your vegan card to isolate yourself and make excuses to not step out of your comfort zone. It’s equally as unfair if you use anecdotal evidence to not support veganism just because you may have encountered a bad apple once or twice. Additionally, there’s no reason to view veganism as an “us vs. them” situation. Non-vegan is not synonymous to anti-vegan. Leading by example, showcasing how veganism truly delights you and motivates you to get out of bed every morning, will induce positive changes in other people.

RESTORING WHAT IT TRULY MEANS TO BE A VEGAN

Duplicate of The Vegan Society’s definition of veganism because, honestly, people seem to forget every now and then:

Veganism is a way of living which seeks to exclude, as far as is possible and practicable, all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose.

The Vegan Society

Stop tying veganism to Whole Foods.

Stop tying veganism to dieting.

Stop tying veganism to woo-woo.

Stop tying veganism to wealth.

Stop tying veganism to physical weakness.

Stop tying veganism to political ideals.

Stop tying veganism to lacking protein.

Stop tying veganism to fasting and juice cleansing.

Stop tying veganism to perfection.

Stop tying veganism to a religion.

Stop tying veganism to anything that has nothing to do with veganism.

And there, my loves, are all the reasons why I am still vegan!


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