I do have some vegan friends, but the majority of vegans I come across are online.
The mad, weird online world.
I joined some vegan groups three years ago for advice and to feel like I wasn't alone. I rarely comment in these groups (actually, I don't think I ever have) but every now and then I enjoy having a nosy.
Sadly, most of the time, I see debates.
Horrible, mean, negative debates attacking someone because they did something "not vegan." People commonly use these groups to ask questions, advice, health concerns or anything of that nature. Tell you what though - do not come here and expect support (sadly).
A post I read this morning was attacking a girl who wrote in asking about non-leather riding equipment - saddles, bridles, etc. I thought nothing of this post, until I read the horrible responses to her question and noticed the girl could no longer be clicked on.
She was no longer a member of the vegan group.
And, I do not bloody blame her. The comments were awful. Just awful. It made me disgusted to call myself a vegan. People attacked her, some simply, some not. One wrote simply: "is this a joke?" and that was the tamest.
Some called her names, many posted in dictionary definitions of vegansim, some had the gall to talk about her horses like they were these poor victims and didn't she realize what she was subjecting them to?
The gist being: you cannot call yourself a vegan if you ride a horse.
Are you fucking serious?
Okay - I want to put this out there right away: if this is what it takes to be a "vegan" - attacking others, acting like the authority on all-things-vegan, shooting others down because they "aren't doing it right", then I don't want to be associated with the word anymore. This is the behavior that fuels people's correct assumptions that vegans care more about animals than other people!
This girl rides horses. She is a vegan so obviously loves animals! If she owns horses and rides them occasionally, why is that your issue or problem? She's not running a riding school, renting her horse out for seven dollars an hour and running it into the ground for her own profits! She's not operating the horse-drawn carriage system in New York City! She's not the guy from Black Beauty!
Leave her alone.
I understand "vegan" means to live without exploiting animals. But surely, in 2014, there are bigger issues than one vegan girl who owns a horse?
I have no interest in participating with a group of people who are prepared to ATTACK someone who is already a vegan because they have a different opinion one one of the many sub-topics within veganism.
"Vegan" shouldn't be a broad term and that's what upsets a lot these days. It should be a black and white dictionary definition that every "vegan" abides by ... but that just isn't going to happen. That doesn't apply to ANY movement these days, especially when the level of pain, destruction and exploitation of animals is so vast and all-encompassing. When I went vegan, I thought I was a purest and that was all that mattered, but three-years later, I naturally chilled out and realized the world is a difficult place to navigate and I can only do THE BEST I CAN.
That attitude actually makes it easier and less stressful to be a vegan. You do it because you want to and because it's natural, not because you're trying to be perfect.
It's difficult to be 100% vegan. If you want to eat out with friends and be social, if you want to visit relatives, if you want to buy clothing in second-hand shops, if you want to keep pets, if you want to go on holiday, hey, if you want to even buy vegetables, it's hard to be 100% vegan. But - if you're heart is in the right place and you're doing the best you can, does that mean you're not allowed to call yourself a vegan?
TRUE STORY: I had a favorite drink at my regular coffee shop for the first year after going vegan. And after AN ENTIRE YEAR of drinking this thing made on soy milk, the Barista told me there was milk powder in the cocoa they used. AFTER A YEAR of making me soy drinks. Why didn't they mention that before?! So, even though I was a pure vegan in my heart and soul, ate completely vegan, felt completely vegan, etc, does this hilarious story mean I wasn't a vegan that entire year?
Of course not! And if you think I couldn't call myself a vegan because I accidentally drank a quarter teaspoon of milk powder a few times a week, you're ridiculous.
Okay - let's get into these sub-topics! The topics that divide vegans!
Sub-Topics I am NOT Okay With
You are not vegan if you eat fish. Simple.
You are not vegan if you eat eggs. If you have hens in your back yard and you choose to eat their eggs, I do not judge you at all. If you eat a vegan diet apart from the eggs from your own back yard, I do not judge you. But I think it's fair to say you aren't a vegan. Is that fair?
You are not a vegan if you wear dead animal skin on your body. Simple. If you buy "recycled second hand blah blah" leather... I guess this is a grey area... but in my mind - I don't want to be SEEN wearing leather. I don't want any of my actions to look like I support this. Faux fur? I think any true vegan would rather vomit than be seen in anything resembling faux fur. Even if no animal was harmed - it still looks like an animal.
4) Pet Food
OOOOOH This is a tough one.....
Do you give your cat or dog other animals to eat? Sorry.... I'm not in favor of this. There are PLENTY of vegan pet food options now... so please use them. I understand that dogs are carnivores... I'm not debating that at all. They are. But they also can be incredibly healthy on vegan pet food now being made. In this day and age - how can we be vegan and against animal cruelty and then buy the SHIT that is sold in dog food tins? Nah, not okay.
Sub-Topics I Don't Care About But Other Vegans are Nazi About
Some vegans eat honey. Get over it. I don't eat honey, but I'm sick of all the judgement. Chill the fuck out.
2) Horse Riding
This is from this morning.... If you own horses, love animals, eat a vegan diet and decide to ride your own horses... I don't understand how this is evil or wrong? If you love your horse and give them treats and cuddle them and feel like you have a relationship... how is that evil to the horse? In this day and age we HAVE PETS. For fucks sake.
3) Hospitality Free Food
I work in hospitality and I see the WASTE. No part of me wants to eat meat or dairy (ew) but if there was a vegan at my work that wanted to eat a flapjack before it goes in the bin - I don't see how that's an issue. It's literally going in the bin. Do they call these people "Freegans"?
4) Relatives That Don't Get It
Visiting relatives that cook for you - I understand not wanting to make a huge fuss. "Vegetarian" seems fine, but "Vegan" still blows minds. If I tunred up at an Aunt's house and they presented me a with Vegetarian Quiche - I would die. Quiche is my worst nightmare. But, I understand this is a grey area for some vegans. You don't want to be any trouble. A tip - offer to cook! This works for me every time.
The point I'm trying to make is that everyone is DIFFERENT and has their own opinion. I understand that super purest vegans must find it hard to understand how a "vegan" could eat cheese for a special occasion, or have a slice of a friends birthday cake or even ride a horse! But what is the most important thing? In my opinion - it's making veganism an APPEALING life choice.
Do not go around making veganism look like this impossible bench-mark no one can reach. It's not going to work. "Vegan" in an ideal world would mean zero animal exploitation, but, as the carnivores are so quick to remind us, that is nearly impossible these days. Animals are hurt. Animals are killed. Animals are killed making grains! Animals are killed so our houses can be built. It's sad, but true.
We do the best we can and show people how much UNNECESSARY suffering happens these days. Eating a vegan diet (or a 99% vegan diet!) is the easiest way to minimize that suffering. It's not about focusing on every minimal thing, it's looking at the BIG picture. That's why veganism makes sense - it is about LOGIC, the future, sustainability, practicality, BIG PICTURE.
If a vegan girl wants to ride her horse, fucking let her! Don't tell her she can't be a vegan because she does this!
It's not like our club is bursting at the seams! We need members, yo.
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