I’ve been feeling like I need to shift some things to prepare for exams and to just deal with the sense that things have been stagnating.
I’m keeping it a realistic list with a narrow time frame, so that I can actually accomplish it #pragmatism. Also, most of it is things I’ve been trying but I haven’t written down.
Alright, essentially I want to be a good student, vegan, well-informed, and have fun. I like this!
So, I’ve obviously had to deal with a number of questions about choosing to go vegan recently. I decided the solution was this elaborate manifesto on FB. Copied below, partially for your amusement and partially if I have to remove it on FB I will have a copy.
I know a number of people have expressed curiosity in my recent choice to attempt veganism. I haven’t been the most receptive to these inquiries, which I realized was largely due to one early negative reaction that has coloured how I have responded to other people (I’ve taken to being somewhat irrationally defensive). This has admittedly been unfair of me and I apologize to those of you who have been on the receiving end of this. I’m making an effort to overcome the natural defensiveness from the the negative reaction that I received. I’ve also remembered an important lesson from politics: the more you avoid talking about something, the bigger of a deal it becomes. So, I figured it was time to write a manifesto, because that’s what communists do…
But before I begin, I want to set some ground rules. This post is to explain why *I* have chosen veganism. I’m not trying to convince anyone that they should and I don’t want people to try to convince me that I shouldn’t. I ask that you be respectful and I will return the favour. I think food ethics are a personal choice and attempting to impose them on anyone is problematic.
The picture of the Doctor is meant to be lighthearted, don’t jump to the conclusion that non-vegans are uncool - I’m not trying to convey that - especially as Whoites would recall the 11th Doctor enjoys fish sticks and custard (yes, I’m a geek).
Also note that these are my early days and allow for the reality that I’m a dynamic person and am not wedding myself the analysis laid out below. I’m merely setting it down to satiate the people’s curiosity.
First of all, I’ve been (ovo-lacto) vegetarian since I was 13 years old, so veganism is a natural progression - it’s not like it has come out of the blue. I chose vegetarianism for various reasons and my reasons have shifted and changed throughout my life. Initially, it was because I felt healthier when I gave up meat - the impetus was a month long trip to India during which I was completely vegetarian. I think everyone’s body is different and mine responded better to a vegetarian diet.
Over time, I’ve come to the conclusion that I don’t feel comfortable with current agriculture practices. I’m also just generally not comfortable with using animals to meet my material needs (clothing/food). But, again, I emphasize this is a personal position and you are free to have whatever relationship with the agriculture industry and with animals that you choose.
The impetus for considering veganism was somone bringing to my attention how the dairy industry parallels a number of the same concerns that I have for the meat industry. This has led me to really critically evaluate the roots of my vegetarianism and consider the type of relationship that I want to have with animals. Particularly, I’m finding that I don’t feel comfortable with the appropriation of reproductive organs of cows. I emphasize again that this is a personal position and I don’t judge/expect/want you to have the same stance as I do. Moreover, I have some serious issues with lactose intolerance. So these two simultaenously fit nicely with the decision to eliminate dairy from my diet. Thus far, it’s been quite good as I have not had any unpleasant stomach aches.
With regards to eggs, I’ve never really been comfortable with them. I’ve given them up at various points during my vegetarianism. I’ve never been big on eating them, but have partaken in a number of baked goods that contain them. To me, it feels natural that to extend some of the above analysis to eggs and choose to remove them from my diet as well.
The decision to become vegan has also re-ignited my commitment to various social justice issues. I’ve found law school to sometimes drain my values and suck me into the corporate system. Since choosing veganism, I’ve found myself more motivated and empowered to exercise my values. To those who wonder what values, I’m thinking of: feminism, socialism, environmentalism, and a general commitment to wanting to change society to be more equitable and sustainble. I think veganism is an exercise that both challenges the system but works within it in ways that make me feel pretty excited and energized. Once again, I emphasize that veganism is an expression of social justice *for me* but that doesn’t mean that I think it’s the only or best way to exercise social justice.
Why Aspiring Vegan?
I’ve gradually come to the conclusion that a flexible moral code is the most realistic approach for me. I feel like it acknowledges that I have to allow space for dealing with the multiple different situations that come about on a case-by-case basis rather than being too rigid. I’ve also realized that I need to be realistic about what is available to me and sometimes I may have to eat things that I would not normally because of circumstances. I’m doing this on a case-by-case basis and so far there has only been two situations where I was out of time, hungry, and the only available food was vegetarian and it was likely going to be thrown away if I didn’t eat it. This is a fairly narrow construction, but it was what I feel comfortable with.
So why not just call myself vegetarian? I think because that’s not what I’m aiming for, I’m making a concerted effort to be vegan. Moreover, I’ve altered my lifestyle in a number ways from what it was when I was vegetarian, so I feel like that label doesn’t adequately capture my aims. Furthermore, I feel like I have a right to choose what label to ascribe to myself and I hope that you can be respectful of this decision.
What about humane meat?
I think it is your prerogative to choose sustainable, humanely raised, grain/grass-fed animals - sometimes referred to as the “traditional” way. It’s not for me. I just point out that realistically, raising animals in the “traditional” way would not meet current meat demands, particularly as these demands are growing globally. I think the humane treatment of animals would entail reducing the overall consumption. In this way, people like me who abstain from the demand altogether would be useful to help in this goal. That being said, I do think any sorts of better regulations and treatment of animals is a step forward, especially if we move away from factory farming.
What about your health?/Will you get enough nutrients?
I’ve always found it fascinating how curious some people are about my nutrition/health upon finding out I’m vegetarian. I think those people should devote more time to being concerned about all the people, especially children, who are malnourished because of the unequal economic relations in our society that make it difficult to attain adequate food.
That being said, I have never had nutrition issues with being vegetarian and I’ve spoken to my doctor about my decision to go vegan and he has no concerns. So I appreciate the concern, but I’m doing fine :). In fact, I’m doing better with regards to calcium because the vegan diet circumvents my lactose intolerance.
What will you eat?
This is a ludicrous question. I love food and the decision to become vegan has led me to make more efforts to cook a diverse number of foods. Trust me, I have tonnes to eat and you will be subjected to endless pictures of my vegan food (FYI: you can block my picture posts if they annoy you, FB allows for that, so I feel like that gives me a license to post as much as I desire).
Alright, I feel like I’ve set up a general framework and pre-emptively answered a few questions. I will just conclude with saying that I appreciate your curiosity and I particularly appreciate all the support that I have received. I also have to credit to the idea of “aspiring vegan” to a friend of mine, she captured it perfectly so I’m using her terminology.
Keep in mind my earlier point, I don’t want a debate about my decision to go vegan, I’m merely saving myself having to repeatedly say the same story. I am willing to answer questions and I’m definitely up for being helpful if you are considering veganism or if you have similarly taken the plunge (as I’ve noticed a few of you mention recently).
I’m also too lazy to back and edit this, so I apologize for the inevitable grammatical/spelling errors.