Today is a classic Friday – seemingly not much to do, but then at the last minute everything goes a million miles an hour and you wish it had kicked off much earlier!…
However today did afford some idle pondering time on what it means to be Vegan and this was catalysed by the toothbrushes that I received declaring themselves Vegan.
*** WARNING : contains idle thoughts and conjecture and hypothetical/rhetorical questions…all of which need more thought and I would welcome your input”…***
Obviously the first port of call with this, to the man in the street, is with food and the eschewing of dairy, meat etc…and this seems to be the perceived limit of the vegan ethos.
But no, there’s a wider scope to be explored here; clothes and other products which similarly fall under this definition from the Vegan Society..
“Veganism is a way of living which seeks to exclude, as far as is possible and practicable, all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose.”
Now, in my head for the last 12 days I have thought that I was living as a Vegan (albeit a teetotal one, to add hepatic insult to culinary injury) but its seems that I have been falling somewhat short of the mark…
Yes, I’ve got leather shoes and a belt and that never really dawned on me that they would have to go if I where to embrace this 100%, no questions asked. But do you really have to sign up to something entirely to make a difference or to start to make a difference or change.Also there’s the “silent” animal products in cosmetics and medicines which need considering…
That’s before we even get onto the palm oil debate, which in itself begs the question; how many steps removed from cruelty do you have to be before it is “allowed”?…Is it cruel to use leather that’s a bi-product of the meat industry?…The animal is dead and the leather may end up rotting away, surely gaining some tangible benefit is better that outright waste?
Its only through a bit of reading and thought that it became abundantly clear why honey isnt vegan…not an insurmountable task, I grant you – but one that many refuse to consider doing! It’s a learning curve full stop, unfortunately many vegan blogs and discussion groups come down very hard on “new” vegans almost in a “one strike and you are out” approach which I don’t think helps anyone achieve anything!
Even before Veganuary, overt food choices aside, I tried to ensure that I reduced my carbon footprint, recycled, minimised my plastic usage, not use products that were harmful or tested on animals etc…and I though that I was doing almost as much as I could – but I see that in the eyes of the vegan society, that I am not doing nearly enough…
But I think that the knowledge and exposure to this way of thinking has had its desired effect. Its communication, knowledge, understanding and learning which brings about wide sweeping changes in behaviour. It really is a “hearts & minds” issue in order to effect a sustained and stable change and I cant deny that already after 12 days that I’m spending a lot of time reflecting on my own choices and behaviours in the light of veganism.
I’m glad to report that the above thoughts and realisations haven’t got me huddled in a foetal position in the kitchen sucking on a gluten free rice cake – quite the opposite; I have more understanding and knowledge about the aims and goals of Veganism, where the hidden traps are and most importantly WHY, I should be mindful of it as a movement and this has equipped me to make better informed and educated choices going forwards.
Life isn’t black and white. We cant operate and single entity, untouched or unaffected by the decisions or behaviours of others. We can only forge our route the best we can, in the hope that even if just one other person is doing that, then the world will slowly become better for the majority, which will in turn convince more people to evaluate their life choices and consider changes they could make.
What happens at the end of the month?…off on a hunting safari whilst chomping down on an Endangered Snow Leopard Sandwich? – No, I don’t think so…but all in all going forwards, I’m taking the Vegan ethos as a guide…not as a restrictive strict doctrine to live/die by – but rather a series of signposts and choice points to help me be, and continue to develop, as a better person in relation to my and our place in the world.