Veganism can mean something different to everyone. It is a massive umbrella term and beneath it you can find various subcategories like you would within a music genre. However, there are simple fundamental agreements that unite us as a group of people. My opinion might change over time, but in this post I would like to explain to you what veganism means to me at this very moment.
Consuming no animal products
Veganism means not consuming animal products or any of their by-products. This means not eating animal flesh, honey, gelatin, animal secretions like milk, eggs etc. It means not wearing leather, wool or silk. It means not using cosmetic products that have animal ingredients. For cosmetics specifically I like to extend it to being cruelty free if possible, meaning that the specific product shouldn’t be tested on animals either.
There is no such thing as a perfect vegan
There is not such thing as being a perfect vegan. For example, once in a while you might come across a situation where you unknowingly consumed something that wasn’t vegan. This could be something like honey that sneaked into a salad dressing in a restaurant or something as simple as a person telling you the food they are offering you is vegan, but actually isn’t. And in my opinion, this should be regarded as being okay. It is not a mistake. Being vegan means that now that you DO know, you will not consume it again.
There are reasonable limits
There are reasonable limits to how much you are able to do. Or how much you are willing to do. And that is for you to choose, and you alone. Do what you are comfortable with doing. Leave other people alone and let them make their own decisions as to how far they would like to take it.
Veganism is about making conscious decisions on a day to day basis that reduce the harm done onto animals. No human can live on this planet and cause absolutely no harm to animals. A hard pill to swallow, I know.
Lead through example
When faced with situation where you are a vegan in a group of non-vegan individuals, I believe that it is your opportunity to show how easy it can be to be vegan and how happy it makes you and to kindly spread little bits of information. You should never underestimate the power of planting a seed. At the same time, you should also not underestimate the power of the backfire effect. Do not overwhelm people with gruesome information and facts, rather show them the delicious food you are eating. Share with them. Lead through example. Be the change.
Not being an asshole
Don’t be that asshole stereotypical vegan that makes non-vegans feel judged for their way of living. Who are you to judge anyone about anything anyways?
If you are asked a question about veganism, answer in a polite and informative manner. If you feel like the rest of the audience doesn’t want to hear about it, ask to continue the conversation at a later point in time.
When with other vegans, it’s about not calling other vegans out for “doing it wrong” because that is not a thing. If by the odd chance you see another vegan consuming something non-vegan, they probably do not realise it. Let them know in the kindest way when they are alone.
Being vegan to me means that you are trying your hardest to reduce the amount of harm that is caused to animals by the human way of living. Being compassionate towards the animals and our fellow humans. But whether you do what you do for the animals, for the planet, for the humans or for your health, just do what you can do. You don’t even have to put a label on it.
I leave you with my favourite quote:
“Don’t do nothing just because you can’t do everything.”
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