Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Purity (Continued)

I'm jumping onto Tami's last post here, because I think it is extremely important!

As Tami referenced, PETA states:

"PETA wants to show people that veganism is easy and mainstream because that’s what is best for animals. Sadly, some people already perceive vegans as “extreme,” “radical,” and “difficult.” Instead of squabbling about some almost nonexistent ingredient, in public situations we should be positive and not pretend that even “pure” vegan food doesn’t come with its quota of rat hairs allowed by law, isn’t processed using electricity that destroys habitat, isn’t delivered in gas-fueled vehicles, and so on. Everything that we eat involves some degree of animal suffering; our goal is to vigorously reduce that suffering. Frankly, some not-quite-vegan food is more vegan than the streets and tires we drive on, the houses we live in, the petroleum products we use, and many other animal-based products that we unwittingly consume on a daily basis." 

I've mentioned my tendency to have a very all-or-nothing, no-gray-zone approach to life. I constantly work to develop balance, and my conversion to veganism was no exception. I am not sure if other people struggle with fear of the slippery-slope, but I sure did. I was so concerned (and still sometimes am) that once I let one little thing slip, it's easy to let other, bigger things slip. Then would I still be vegan???  Luckily had the support to overcome the fear! 

When I read this on the PETA site, I was super angry. I felt they were selling-out, accepting cruelty because it was just too hard to be 'pure', and that they didn't feel the animals were worth it. I felt that they were teaching people that veganism was optional with every bite, rather than promoting it  fully as a  lifestyle. 
When we first became vegan, I did so to eradicate suffering of animals. So, that meant getting all animal products out of our diet, right? L-cysteine in the burger buns? No thanks. Amylase? Hmmm, small chance is might be from a pig, so no. Calcium lactate? Vegan, but sounds like lactose so I'll pass. Anything that I wasn't sure about, I wouldn't eat. I actually kept the VRG Food Ingredient list in my car, just so I could be sure at any time. 

Not eating this stuff was not wholly terrible because we got rid of all the processed crap we were eating. But, to be vegan and raise vegan kids in a normal, mainstream world, is difficult enough. And it drove non-vegans around me crazy, and in retrospect, totally turned them off to veganism. I didn't even realize there could be a middle ground until my two very best, very vegan, friends called me the "Vegan Nazi". Hold up, wwwhhhhhaaa?? Me? It's funny to me now, but I was absolutely shocked that they thought this! And it made me rethink everything. Thank gosh for good friends! 

Luckily, I can admit when I'm wrong. And damn was I wrong!  It's taken a lot of work to get to a point where I am comfortable with my decisions, feel I can sustain the lifestyle, and am confident in my ability to justify my decisions - even if it's only to myself and to teach my kids. 

So now, I've embraced the PETA philosophy above. As a vegan, my goal is to lessen suffering of animals in animal agriculture. I can do this by not participating in supporting it with my money or my mouth. I do the best I can. I can also educate others, and encourage them to lessen their consumption of animals. And I can only do this if I haven't driven them all off by being a Vegan Nazi! 


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