After reading the Happy Herbivore claim that she’s no longer vegan, I feel compelled to comment. The post has made big waves in the veg community so it’s time I chime in.
For the past five-plus years that I’ve been “vegan (and the decades previously as a lacto-ovo vegetarian) I’ve been told, repeatedly, like the Happy Herbivore was told, that I’m not vegan enough. But I’ve also been told, repeatedly, that I’m too strict (yes, even as a lacto-ovo vegetarian I was told that). And I’ve also been told, repeatedly, that I’m awesome.
It’s true. It’s all true. *Blushes* It’s true, I swear. I say this because it helps put things into perspective. I’m sure the Happy Herbivore has heard these comments too. Anyone who puts themselves out there with their heart on their sleeve – be it on a blog, messageboard, or in real life – will receive comments. Some are nasty but many are nice. The Happy Herbivore chose to focus on some of the nasty comments, which made her unhappy and according to her bizarre logic, unvegan.
Do what you feel in your heart to be right. You’ll be criticized anyway.
~ Eleanor Roosevelt
On the count of “not vegan enough” I’m guilty as charged. For example, I once made a forum post admitting that I buy original plain Oreos sometimes yet I still call myself vegan. Big mistake. There were many people who disagreed with me and some even said I shouldn’t call myself vegan if I buy Oreos since the sugar in Oreos may or may not be vegan. I explained my rationale and many other messageboard posters agreed with me and didn’t think unsourced sugar was a big deal.
The Happy Herbivore asks, “Is veganism some cool club that I’m not worthy to get into?” Yes. It’s a cool club. But no, I AM worthy. We’re ALL worthy. Anyone can join our cool vegan club. Come on in and join!
So I’m not going to trash my “vegan club membership” and refuse to have a conversation about a vegan issue. I’m keeping my vegan-card. I’m wearing my vegan badge with pride, it’s the heart on my sleeve.
I’m sure the ‘vegan police’ who say Oreos aren’t vegan will jump up hooting and hollering annoyed that I’ve decided to keep my vegan title, but the rest of us will see how ridiculous they are. Some of us might even theorize that many of the ‘vegan police’ aren’t even vegan. They’re probably anti-vegan moles!
Because most vegan advocates know that if you continue down the road of worrying about trivial issues like the sugar in original Oreos then there’s a good chance you are hurting the cause, not helping it. At the very least, harping on wannabe vegans for eating nonvegan sugar is unproductive. It won’t actually help any animals.
“As plant-based eaters, we are a minority. We need to stick together and support each other. We need to spend our time helping others eat more plants and fewer animals.”
That is where I agree with the Happy Herbivore. And that’s why I’m sticking with the vegans who support me. That’s why I’m not giving up or making excuses. That’s why I won’t blame others for my own choices.
To the vegan police: I will not blame you for my choices. If I slip up and eat something that is nonvegan, I will NOT say you made me do it. You didn’t. I will say I made a mistake. Or I will explain why I think it’s ethically acceptable to eat it. I will not reject veganism; I will not badmouth vegans.
We may disagree on issues like unsourced sugar and whether or not PETA is a force for good. But I am smart, I am capable, and I make up my own mind. I will NOT suggest that anyone’s opinions on issues I consider to be trivial (like sugar) could dissuade me from eating compassionately in all other areas. We can disagree but I will NOT say “you have made me eat more animal products.” Because I’m not spiteful like that. I won’t hurt animals to spite mean vegans. I hope you won’t either.
The power to save animals by going vegan is mine, yours… all of ours. This is our power and it is not something the so-called ‘vegan police’ – or any other haters – can take away from us. No one can “make someone eat more animal products” unless they physically force them the way farmers force feed foie gras ducks.
So use that power and help others use that power. Don’t pretend anyone can take that power away from you. And don’t wave it around like a prize that you may or may not award depending on how well-behaved the so-called ‘vegan police’ are today on Facebook. There are more important things to do than whine about haters. You have lives to save! As Jasmin Singer wrote once in a controversial vegan blog post:
“We just don’t have time — the animals don’t have time — for us to prioritize inadequately. In the time it took you to read this blog entry, 17,160 chickens were killed in the United States. It’s up to each of us, truly.”