18 September, 2007

You're so brave!

It's inevitable that this one comes up at some point during the discussion. In fact, I'd say it's one of the most common misperceptions about being or going vegan: that it requires this great amount of will power, or that you're doing something difficult or self-sacrificing. I would like to address this issue, because I find it to be problematic.

  1. First and foremost, it's not hard to do. With the amount of food available to me, for the asking, I'd hardly call what I'm doing difficult. In fact, seemingly by magic, food turns up at the grocery store all ready for me to buy. I rarely have to worry about spoiled food (unless I left it in the fridge too long), nor do I have to walk a few kilometres to access my food. It's right there at the nearest store, and Steve has a car that can get us to that store and back. We're not living in my grandfather's time, where there was no refrigeration, and food had to be purchased daily—at the market which is five kilometres away—or the family would starve. Not only did he have a family of seven to feed (himself, wife, five children), he also had to go to his work and cook the food himself as well. I don't live in a developing nation, where such things as regular access to food is a big deal. This is hardly a difficult lifestyle here, folks. Let's keep things in perspective, hmm?
  2. Secondly, it's not hard to cook the food either. Again, I point to the fact that I live in a country where I have a gadget to do pretty close to anything I want done. I have a food processor to chop, slice and mince my vegetables, leaves, herbs, and beans to exactly the size I want. I have a bread maker to make fresh loaves of bread whenever I want them. The yeast that I use is premeasured into little packages that are perfect for one loaf of bread. I've got both a single burner gas stove, and a four burner electric stove. My oven works very efficiently. My blender can do a number on some oil, acid, and herbs for salad dressings. I have a crock pot, where I can dump dried beans, and come out with cooked at the end of a work day. I never have to babysit the programmable little dream. Again, not that hard, people. I remember my mother spending all that time with her knife, her cutting board, and pots and pans just to get a meal on the table.
  3. Furthermore, since when is living according to your principles considered hard? When I was a Hindu, nobody thought me "brave" or "heroic" for avoiding cow's flesh; it was simply assumed that since it's my morals, it's normal for me to follow it. Similarly, my Jewish, Muslim, and Christian friends don't get equal praise for following their respective religions; for them, it's merely their way of life. If you can accept a Muslim person's avoiding pig's flesh, why is it so hard to understand that I'm doing the same when I avoid the products of all animals? Sure, Muslims don't need pig's flesh to live, but neither do I need the products of torture to live a fulfilling life. Is there some part of this I'm missing here?
  4. Willpower. If you know me, you know very well that I lack it utterly and completely. It's not a question of willpower. It's a question of knowing what I know, and being unable to un-know.
What I'm trying to get at with all of this is that I'm not this saint for following what I know to be right. I'm not a martyr, I'm not making huge sacrifices, and what I'm doing is certainly not difficult. I appreciate the sentiment, because it shows that people to recognise that I'm doing something important by holding true to my values. That being said, it's certainly not hard!