20 September, 2007

But it's so hard!

This is actually what I hear from a lot of people; they'd go vegan but it's so hard! And I, myself, went around for a while telling people, "I am the only vegan you will ever meet who says that veganism is easy." (Sigh. This was before I met any other vegans, though.) These days, I just say, "Nah man, veganism is ridiculously easy. Just ask any vegan!"

And it's true! The hard part is in the first two or three days, when you still have your omnivorous habits, and it gets to dinnertime and suddenly you're looking at the stove wishing you could have mac'n'pus or a slab of a cow's/pig's/chicken's/fish's body. That, as far as the materials goes, is really the only thing that's hard about veganism: it's the But what am I supposed to eat?! mentality.

I understand that. The emotional comfort of eating animal products is what really drives us to do it - and addiction is included in that - 'cause really, let's face it: plain meat and cheese tastes like dirt. (I'm talking no salt either, you know, the way true carnivores and omnivores like it.) The thing is, we associate animal products with family situations; for me, everything was easy - but once I got this twinge the time I went to Germany for wurst. It was completely bewildering - but I realised it wasn't because I was a bad vegan: it was because I was feeling lonely and isolated, and because my dad and Oma (German for "grandmother") had me grow up with that, I associated that with love, family, being included. (This was easily cured by remembering that there was someone killed to make the wurst, not a something.) And if any of you reading don't have some of the same feelings (love, family, friends, togetherness, comfort) about one animal product or another - barring those of you who were raised vegan - I'll eat my hat.

The thing is though, that was momentary, and other than that I have had not a thought, twinge, or pang of wistfulness towards animal products. I mean, come on - I have more than enough yummy vegan foods to snack on, even without plant milks, nice creams, fake meats, etc. (all of which I rarely if ever eat anymore). And more than that, I have an ethical backbone - I can't, I won't, I refuse to eat any animal product simply because that would be a. hurting animals and b. reinforcing, even if only to myself, that animals do not deserve to have their right to their bodies respected (which they do!).

And you want to know the truly hard part? It's dealing with all the people who know nothing about veganism and who don't want to know. They're the ones that really piss me off - they're the ones telling me, through both word and action, that they simply can't be bothered. And when you're part of the oppressing group, I think it's your duty to learn about your privilege, and then - this is key - to actively fight against it. You are obligated. It wasn't their fault they got born into the right body - and you're the one with the power: they can't force you to not engage in your privilege, the privilege which hurts them economically, emotionally, mentally, sexually, physically, whatever - so you have to make the conscious choice to not do that.

So what you're really saying when you say, "But it's so hard!" is a few things:

1. You want to remain safe in your idea that veganism is impossible so you can continue your physical/psychological addictions with animal products,
2. You want to believe that you are doing as much as you possibly can so you don't have to incriminate yourself for not doing more, and
3. You don't want to really, truly care about animals so much that you'll be forced by your own conscience to make "sacrifices" for them.

But the thing is, the first ("it's impossible") isn't true, the second is inevitable (you must, at one point, realise that you're doing something, yes, wrong), and the third ("sacrifices") is empowering and not at all deprivation.

So why not take the jump? I mean it. Why not? Simply saying "we're all at a different point on the path" doesn't work if you know about what goes on and you choose to ignore that so you can continue your physical/psychological addictions to animal products - frankly, though you must keep in mind that I am a very, erm, bold person, I'd say that doing something you know is wrong does indeed make you a bad person. And I mean, you want to be a good person, right? At least, I hope so (if not, I can safely assume that you're in your teens).

Here's another thing to think about: while I don't advocate selflessness by any means, I do think that there comes a point where we integrate thinking about the needs and wants of others into our hourly, daily, weekly, etc. plans - and that is when we become an adult. We become adults when we abandon egocentrism - the focus on the self to the exclusion or near-exclusion of all others - and instead retreat into a happy mixture of taking care of ourselves and considering (and, yes, changing our plans to respect) the preferences of others. "Others" includes animals, since they definitely have preferences - at the bare minimum, the wish to avoid pain, suffering and death, and usually the want for, if not friendship, then companionship.

So it comes down to: are you ready to be an adult? Because veganism is the result of looking at our relationship with animals and realising that we need to respect their wishes, even if it causes minor inconveniences to us.

I'm not fully an adult yet, but hell, I'm on my way.


  1. I don't think it's fair to outright call someone a bad person for not being a vegan. I don't think articles like this do very much for the cause. I really think softer wording would do more.

  2. I would agree with the comment above me, if it wasn't for the fact that deep down that is really how we feel.

    So not saying it doesn't change it. We do believe that eating animal products is wrong.

    Wrong doing person = Good person? I don't think so :-/

    It might not be polite to say so, but there are ways to say it and not be rude. Still, truth hurts.

  3. I love intelligent people!!!!!!! :)