Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Veganism is hard!

Of all the reasons not to go vegan, this is the one I hear the most. Now I’m not completely convinced that everyone who says it’s hard has ever tried it (or has ever really given it a chance), but I’m assuming they assume it is. I also think a lot of folks equate veganism with extremism and view vegans as uncompromising purists.

To some we’re seen as a special breed of humans with almost supernatural powers of self-control; strange beings who constantly deny ourselves all the good things in life and take pleasure in trying to make other people feel guilty all the time.

Not true. The vegans I know (including myself) lead rich and rewarding lives. They’re as normal (or abnormal) as anyone else and they enjoy and do many of the same things you do. They also respect life - all life - and have devoted themselves to peace, which just so happens to begin with what (or who) you put in your mouth.

And it’s not about trying to make people feel guilty; it’s about trying to make people feel something, anything! Because if they feel something for the animals, a connection, pity, something, maybe they’ll stop eating them.

Personally, I’ve never considered veganism hard and I’ve been vegan for 10 years now. I make almost all my own meals and when I do eat out, I go to places that have vegan selections. I’ve also found that most restaurants are willing to prepare your food the way you want it; all you have to do is ask (try ordering a vegan pizza in a restaurant and see how many people comment on how delicious it looks).

Instead of eating meat and other animal products, I enjoy a wide variety of plant-based foods I never dreamed of trying before becoming vegan. Chana masala (aka chick peas in a curry sauce) is now one of my favourite homemade dishes, although prior to going vegan I wouldn’t touch chick peas with a ten-foot pole. Oh how I’ve grown!

I don’t feel like I’m missing out on anything or depriving myself but I feel good knowing that my diet isn’t contributing to the suffering of others. Veganism isn’t about depriving yourself of things, but it does provide you with an opportunity to expand your food choices as well as your circle of compassion.

I also have no desire to use or wear anything that resulted in animals being tortured and killed, nor do I wish to see animals confined (zoos and marine parks) or abused (circuses and rodeos) for human amusement (the other part of veganism). Once I knew the truth about how these animals are made to suffer there was no going back.

But let’s say for a minute that veganism is hard (but not impossible). So what? A lot of things are hard, like waking up early for work, going to school, doing the dishes, cleaning your room, dealing with your mother-in-law, obeying the speed limit, telling the truth, being faithful to your partner and helping others. Did I miss anything?

My point is there are things that a) we need to do to survive and get by in the world, and b) we should be doing because they make us better human beings and the world a better place. Sometimes it’s hard to do the right thing but it doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t do the right thing. And going vegan is the right thing. Not just for me or a select few but for everyone who believes in kindness, compassion and the golden rule.

Veganism is a commitment to peace and a stand against the exploitation of those who are weaker than us. Excluding animal products from your life is not the end of the world, but it might just be the beginning of the end to all the violence and unnecessary suffering in the world.


Kelsey said...

Could NOT have said it better myself! and believe me, I've tried. :) I can't count how many times I've heard "Woah, vegan? I couldn't do that. That's just too extreme for me". It drives me nuts! I've been a vegan for a year now (yes, I'm a newby, but I'm here for life!) and I honestly think it's the best decision I've ever made. The only thing hard about being a vegan is putting up with all the crap you get from omnivores. But I can deal with that, because I know that most of the time it's just because I'm making them feel uncomfortable about their own habits. Well done, and great blog!

Daniel K. Vegan said...

Congrats on your becoming vegan! I like quoting Obi Wan Kenobi at times like this: "You've taken your first step into a larger world."
The thing about omnis is, although it's frustrating to listen to their "crap", we need to remember that we were once as they are now.
Patience, tolerance and respectful "nudging" might inspire them to go vegan too.
Like it or not, we're role models now. Everything we say and do will be judged by omnis as the actions of not Kelsey and Dan, but as vegans. With veganism comes great responsibility. But don't forget to have fun with it. Life is about being happy too. Bye for now!

Kelsey said...

Yes, I agree, that patience and respect are essential (although it can be hard sometimes) when you're talking to omnis. But the crap I was talking about was from the people who call me a "tree-hugging fag". Seriously? What is up with all the rage? I don't really get that. But still, all worth it in the end, of course.
Haha, and wise words, but I don't remember Obi Wan saying that. was it in one of the newer films? :)


Daniel K. Vegan said...

I've been called a lot worse. Don't sweat it. And the quote is from Star Wars: A New Hope.