|Penelope Cruz for PETA's anti-fur campaign.|
Ever since I found out I was lactose intolerant in late 2011, I've heavily considered going complete vegan. But I'm not going to lie, it's hard. As I did more research, veganism isn't just about what you consume, it's also about what you wear. No leather, wool or fur. Fur has always been a given and I would never, ever wear fur. The fur industry is incredibly cruel and horrific, mostly because these innocent, cute, furry creatures are being brutalized for one thing: fashion. Not consumption or "survival", but fashion. I love fashion, I truly do. But I wouldn't be caught dead wearing fur. As PETA so famously put "I'd Rather Go Naked Than Wear Fur". If someone told me "Put on this mink coat or walk outside naked", I'd proudly strut my stuff sans-clothes. It's that simple.
Anyway, veganism isn't simply about what you consume. Many hardcore vegans will say that even if you follow a vegan diet, but still purchase leather goods, you're not a vegan. I don't know how I feel about that. I completely understand where leather comes from. It's part of the meat industry.
Anyone else who does this same research into veganism will learn this aspect of veganism: it's a lifestyle to most vegans, not just diet. And to be honest, it's really daunting thinking about giving up leather shoes or wool coats in the winter.
Upon further research, most vegans seem to agree that if you bought animal products prior to becoming a vegan, it is ok to continue to use those products until they are worn out and need replacing. That sounds good enough to me. I could probably live with that.
But let's face it: the vast majority of Americans are not going to consume a vegan diet, let alone the complete lifestyle. To be honest, I am perfectly ok with someone giving up meat and dairy and calling themselves vegan than having them too scared to commit to the lifestyle and say "Screw it!" and still eat meat.
Let me be clear, this is 100% about the animals. It's not about fancy labels or being in some elite club. Some vegans are way too elitist.
I read an article recently on Carpe Vegan about being "veganish". People who are vegan most of the time.
It's a very interesting concept. Vegans accepting people who are vegan, say, 90% of the time because they want those people on their side for the fight against animal cruelty. And lets face it, no one is perfect. Choosing to become a vegan or even a vegetarian can take time. Eliminating animal products one at a time over the course of months or even years (in my case, it took me over two years to get rid of seafood from my diet). However, I personally do not feel you can call yourself a vegan if you still consume turkey on Thanksgiving and ham on Christmas or if you have eggs for brunch once a month. But if you make a concious effort to maintain a vegan diet on a regular basis, then yes, you can call yourself veganish. Let's be honest, eating turkey on Thanksgiving isn't even vegetarian, let alone vegan. And if you've gone that far to eliminate meat out of your diet, then you probably already know the horrors of the turkey industry.By using the term veganish, we are asking people to join and ascribe to the ideal of veganism even when they fall short, which for most folks is an inevitability of life and part of the process of being human.
I think I prescribe to a very much "Live And Let Live" mentality. My husband eats meat (though he has given up pork, yay for the little pigs!) and while I do give him a hard time every now and then, eating meat or not eating meat is a very personal choice. I do, however, feel that everyone should educate themselves on the meat industry. If someone asks me why I don't eat meat, I'll gladly tell them, but it's generally not something I volunteer at a party or social gathering unless asked because it immediately puts meat-eaters on the defensive when I bring up the cruelties of factory farms. This is another great quote from the Carpe Vegan article I referenced above:
Using the term veganish is a very simple and shorthand way for someone to express broader support for the concise concept of veganism while also keeping it intentionally humble, low-key, and less in your face. Most people don’t like to argue with friends, family, co-workers and the such regarding these kind of matters. Saying you are veganish (even if you are a strict vegan) can put people more at ease and less on the defensive because you are admitting right up front you are not perfect and that you fall short for one reason or another of an ideal you respect... and I’ve found it quite effective as a way to disarm people up front a bit more.In general, I'm ok with the term veganish. I'd probably even use it to describe myself. I avoid dairy as much as possible, but I'm only human and chocolate cake is a weakness and sometimes you have to realize life is too short. Would I consume animal flesh? Absolutely not. Would I have a piece of cheese pizza in an act of desperation? Probably. Am I a vegan? I'd say 85% of the time. So yes, I guess I am veganish. And that's ok with me, because I'm doing my best not to contribute to animal suffering.