I have always been someone who was mostly comfortable with my identity. Self awareness is something I pride myself on and understand that I am indeed a work in progress, and that is just fine. My struggle has been with people’s assumptions about me based on the fact that I am a vegan. I see them popping me into their little box of understanding and attempting to leave me there all the while I fight to get out of that box and so on the tug of war continues. I decided to pen this blog because I guess there may be others that go through this and I would love to hear your views or stories or just help people gain understanding.
How I fit into your comfortable definition…
Well firstly, I am not a strict vegan as people often state. I am just a vegan. A vegan is someone who doesn’t consume, wear, use or support the use or exploitation of animals for our needs. So, by being a vegan, you are already in the strict parameters. If you don’t fit into at least those, then you are a vegetarian or other.
My food pantry and refrigerator is full of “weird” fake cheeses and mock meats. I can whip up sour cream from tofu and other herbs and spices and I can make a convincing cheesecake with a similar method. Now, I put weird up their in it’s little inverted commas because that might be weird to you meat eaters but I think the use of animals for food of any description is way beyond my understanding. I mean eating part of the reproductive cycle of a chicken is a bit strange don’t you think. Don’t get me started on what you go through to get pate! No, people, there is nothing to fear from the humble vegetable and fruit is just plain delightful and unoffensive.
My bathroom cabinet is filled with products that are chemical free, made from nature and in recycled or sustainable packaging. Most importantly they aren’t tested on animals. Do I do this because I am vegan? Not entirely. I do this because I am not an asshole and try if at all possible to live with kindness and compassion for the planet and its inhabitants.
My clothes are wool and silk free and I do own some hemp. Hemp is soft to wear and I wear it for the same reasons above.
How I may not fit in your little box or any other compartment…
I don’t have dreadlocks, hair wraps, facial piercings or any other adornment that might assist you in your judgments. I easily blend in with the rest of society.
My political alignments are not with anyone at the moment. I think the main parties aren’t really representing anyone anymore and the greens are not exactly green.
I don’t support PETA or any other organisation that readily uses bullying, intimidation and ridicule to push a message based on peace and compassion. In fact I am disgusted with them most of the time.
I will continue to educate those that want to know about being vegan but I am never the one to introduce the topics, especially at the dinner table. I hate when people isolate me and use me to hide the fact that I mostly just represent something foreign to them and it makes them uncomfortable. Better to tear me down with judgement than to turn that mirror inwards. Don’t get me wrong. I regularly write petitions and send them out regarding welfare, and conservation issues and lobby in my own ways. I don’t protest in the streets anymore because I find it too aggressive and just think there’s other ways to connect and get your point across.
I don’t hate you for not being vegan. I recognise we are all at different stages and have different belief systems. This works for me and is between me and the animals. I have friends who eat meat and my long term partner does. It starts with basic respect for each other as human beings and our right to make our own choices. Don’t misunderstand though that cruelty for the sake of cruelty is unacceptable and you holding your meat eating up as a badge of honour is a joke. I obviously don’t agree with it but I just fight it in other ways and it isn’t my right to attack another for their beliefs. Will I try and change the worlds view for I feel its misguided?…for sure…do I believe there is no future for meat eating if we want to save our planet? Yep.. The contributions it makes to climate change through habitat destruction, water shortages and methane production is a fact, an indisputable and scientific fact. Then there’s the grain produced to feed these animals in place of feeding the starving masses in the world. Now that’s straight up callous!
Finally, I will finish with this. I am a scientist. A very proud scientist. I share my beliefs with many greats who regardless of what I feel in my head and heart is right, make me feel less alone in a`world where we don’t yet dominate but in my lifetime I continue to hope that one day we will. There are plenty of peer reviewed papers supporting the vegan lifestyle from not only an environmental perspective but from a health perspective too.