How do you know who is vegan at a party?

Punchline: Don’t worry, they will tell you.

Sometimes I feel that I’m a man (person) without a country: I love vegan cuisine, I read (raw) vegan recipes and blog sites all of the time, I actively look for vegan alternatives and substitutes in recipes, I agree that the meat and dairy industry are major contributors to climate change and do not ensure animal or worker welfare…and most days, I do not want to talk to other people about being or not being a vegan.

There is no one reason for this discomfort, it arises from several sources of discomfort.  I often joke that it’s because I dislike vegans, but a) this isn’t true and b) that’s no coherent reason for not talking about being vegan.  Let’s turn our attention to the first question: what is veganism?

Human evolution (if you choose to recognize it) tells a story of a groups of homonids who subsisted primarily on plant matter and sometimes seeds, eggs and insects and gradually introduced calorie-saturated meat into their diet, which helped create a mechanism for humans to develop the sophisticated brain we possess today.  Currently, much of the meat, dairy and eggs eaten in this country is raised in CAFOs (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations).  I see veganism as a reaction to a bad system; meat is produced in an efficient yet troubling structure with externalities that veganism recognizes and attempts to remedy or combat.  Sound reasonable?  Yes?  Good.

I will also add that veganism is not a self-imposed, masochistic deprivation, as I think it tends to be perceived.  Nor is it a sadistic plot to force-feed anyone lettuce all day (which this dick thinks eating healthy entails).  It’s a rejection of food and actions that are deemed harmful to themselves, others (including animals), and the environment, and embracing those that are not harmful.

My main problem with veganism is context.  Jargon, slogans and buzzwords are not explanations for why someone is or should be a vegan.  The idea that meat is bad is too simple an explanation for the choice to be vegan, and not necessarily true, either.  Meat is murder.  Yes, technically it is…as is stepping on an insect.  As is killing whales and other marine mammals for food and blubber, which some Inuit communities have been doing for a long time in a responsible manner.  If you really cared about_______, you’d stop eating/buying/using______).  I dislike these statements because they assume that there is willing disdain for the planet or other people from the consumer (Fuck you, Earth!).   Animals are our friends.  No.  Please leave this phrase alone.

**(These are all statements I’ve heard from actual vegans at some point in my life)**

There are, of course, reasonable, coherent explanations for becoming vegan or vegetarian.  Medical science has shown that a plant-based diet with a limited amount of animal protein is optimal for human health.  Lactose intolerance, high cholesterol, and diabetes are real health issues that can be helped by removing animal products from your diet.  CAFOs are a major contributor to global warming and ecosystem pollution.

I have considered becoming vegan several times in my life, but have not transitioned to this day.  Why not?  Because I like the eggs that I get from the farmer’s market and my grocery co-op.  Because much of the food I make is already vegan.  Because I’m cognisant of my health and make sure that I eat well and exercise.  Because I don’t like people freaking out that they might invite me over for dinner and I will be offended by their use of cheese or butter.  Because I don’t like to proselytize.  Because I’m tired of telling people that I don’t support PETA and that PETA doesn’t have the right to condemn someone who eats a grilled cheese or use eggs from a neighbor’s chicken.  Because finding solutions like nutritionally-poor school lunches, poverty, and climate change requires more than just going vegan.  Because purchasing power doesn’t equate to social change.  Because while I can see ditching fish in the future, once in a while I like a slice of pizza from the corner place down the street from me.  Because I don’t want people thinking I look down on them for not being a vegan.  Because I’m not ready yet.

Some things are inexcusable, like the torture of animals and eating fast food hamburgers multiple times a week.  Some things are reasonable approaches to a healthier diet, like taking time to walk each day and substituting meat with other options a few times a week.  My point here is that I’m really not trying to bash veganism; I’m trying to illuminate that becoming a vegan is not an end-all solution the issues related to meat production, but it’s a step in that direction.

I thought that this article was a thoughtful and honest account for what you might expect to happen when you become a vegan.  Please read and share with others.