For many, veganism is like one of those religious cults. Where, as you “progress,” you gain higher and higher levels of clarity, or stature, or sumsuchshit.
Anyway, I have seen this very same attitude apply to vegans.
“I am not totally vegan, I wear Goodwill wool.”
“I am not totally vegan, I just can’t give up cheese.”
“I am 100% vegan.”
All of these are false.
I am, but.
Veganism today seems like an all or nothing endeavor. You either are or you are not. So, under these pretenses, if you are vegan, but still eat cheese/wear wool/drive a Jeep you are not vegan.
For me, veganism is not a black and white proposition. To me, it is a set of values we can all strive for…yet they are really, honestly, impossible to attain.
It is NOT a club where everyone compares their virtuousness to one another, and claim to one up each other based, often, on the level of sacrifices one makes.
I read an article on Facebook about how “true” vegans are against the Beyond Burger. Their argument claims that true vegans should not eat them simply because they “simulate and appear too much like real meat.” Let that sink in for a minute. We should be collectively shamed to consume a vegan product on the premise it is too similar to the non-vegan version. It is purely mad.
True Veganism is Unreachable
I think it is safe to say that veganism is primarily an answer to a pretty cruel and messed up animal rights issue in our society. Of course there are other reasons, but I will focus on animal rights for now.
It could be said that a “true” vegan (as in a 100% vegan) would cause zero impact to animals.
Right off the bat, that means no transportation other than walking. Which, as I think about it, probably kills quite a few insects and members of animalia. Just the other day I heard the accidental, yet unmistakeable crunch of a snail under my shoe. I felt terrible.
So, as long as you don’t move you are fine.
But what about where you spend your stationary time? In a home? Probably not. That home was put there and replaced natural growth. Grass, shrubs, trees, and other habitats were destroyed for that home. Let’s not even talk about clothing and food which relies on a pretty extensive network of ex-habitat and pollution.
So let’s assume you end up barefoot in the jungle, living off the land. Well, if you clear any type of space for yourself you are back to impacting animals. Even if you simply climbed a tree to live, you would be inadvertently killing or at best, displacing bugs and mosses, and animals.
So as long as you moved from the modern world, ended up “au naturale” in a jungle somewhere, not moving, and somehow living in natural underbrush without possibly impacting any other being, then yes, you would be 100% vegan.
And why am I making such an absurd metaphor here?
Because these are the details that make us all realize that “true” 100% veganism – aka ZERO impact to the animal kingdom – is unattainable.
And, perhaps even more important is this. Once we know that 100% is unreachable, we realize it is, in fact a gradient. And, that gradient allows people to determine their own level of veganism.
If you try really hard to be vegan, but on a road trip had to pull off at Burger King for a Morningstar veggie burger (with egg whites), guess what? You can still be a vegan.
If your own personal goal is to have an minimal an impact to animals and you cannot find a hiking boot that works, and find a leather variant, guess what? You can still be vegan.
These are true because for me, veganism is not a status symbol. It is a journey of little decisions that are stitched together to form a lifestyle. And, sometimes those decisions tip the other way. And that is OK.
Lynched by the Community?
Nothing really proved my point as much as the lambasting I received in the Portland Vegans Facebook group when I announced my new Vegan Gun Club. Apparently, according to the rules of veganism established by Lord Vegan, guns and veganism are exclusive. You cannot be vegan and still own/shoot paper and steel.
Well, my first outing of that very gun club proved otherwise. We had a massive turnout, good food, and great fellow vegan company.
And I know my opinions here are not going to be agreed on by all the vegans. And that is OK too. They can continue to beat themselves up over fake meats, stockholders of vegan corporations, and wether they can shop at Safeway and eat at Taco Bell.
I have guns to shoot and Jeeps to offroad.