Earlier this week I shared a blog post entitled, “How Vegan Are You?” in my Becoming Vegan series. In this post I asked people who are considering becoming vegan to think about how far they want to take their vegan lifestyle. Will they be vegan only in their diet, or will they attempt to be vegan in all aspects of their life? I felt, and still feel, that this was a valid question to pose because not everyone who considers becoming vegan thinks to ask themselves this question.
At first, I received some friendly comments and was really glad to see some good discussion going on. But things changed very quickly, and many of the 65 comments I received on this post were not civil discussion, but rather vitriol, bullying and vegan fundamentalism.
It’s absolutely clear to me that the people who chose to visit my blog and say the disrespectful things they did are not regular readers, and have no interest in the type of content I create unless I write something with which they disagree. When it comes to being vegan, they have a black and white perspective and do not allow for thoughtful conversation and debate.
This is not the type of environment I have worked so hard to create. Novel Eats has been a labor of love for the last two years, and I created it out of a need to express my creativity and to have a place to share my love of cooking and baking. Another reason why I created it was to prove that foods prepared without animal products of any kind can be just as delicious, satisfying and decadent as what most people out there consider to be the “real” thing. Because of this, my audience is not exclusively vegan or vegetarian and this is something of which I am very proud, because I do not care to entice only vegans to my table. There’s more than one way to prepare a dish, and there are many wonderful recipes that don’t depend upon animal-sourced ingredients.
As my regular readers know, this is a foodie blog through and through. I’ve rarely posted something that has absolutely nothing to do with food, so it seems that I struck a negative chord when I asked if anyone was going to go out and buy shoes or makeup that had not been made with the aid of animals or animal products. I also admitted that I haven’t explicitly gone down that road yet. Yes, I use many products that would be considered vegan, but I do not read the labels seeking out the “This product has not been tested on animals” phrase or the words “leather” or “silk”. When I thoughtfully buy non-food products, to me there is an even bigger issue at stake – the entire planet: humans, animals, plants, the ozone layer, etc. If anything, I am philosophically more of a “save the earth” kind of person rather than “save the animals”. Because of this I think that it’s possible that I am, by default, a vegan in most aspects of my life.
Many of the comments I received on my question of “how vegan are you?” were saying that veganism is an all or nothing thing. Either you are or you aren’t, and it would seem that you especially aren’t if the intent is not in line with fundamental veganism. Nearly everyone, even some of the friendlier crowd, felt that if you became vegan for any other reason other than to benefit animals, then you just are not vegan.
Of course, since I have considered myself to be vegan for the last four years, I disagree with this. Does this mean that I am against the protection of animals? Absolutely not. The commercial food industry is incredibly irresponsible when it comes to animal production. I am extraordinarily disturbed by it on many levels, however because I have never eaten meat except for by accident, I do not have the experience to know what it means or feels like to choose to give up meat because of these inhumane practices. I also am not entirely sure where I stand on sustainable meat production – i.e. the Polyface Farms of the world. On one hand I think that these types of farms should be applauded, but on the other I am still saddened by the deaths of animals for human consumption.
This Becoming Vegan series, which is primarily focused on eating a vegan diet, is not meant to be the sole resource or crash course for new vegans – this is why in one of my earlier posts I shared several wonderful vegan food websites. I have also strongly encouraged anyone considering an alternate diet or lifestyle to research it thoroughly, and to first and foremost make sure that they are not compromising their health. I also have said time and again that I believe that diplomacy is better than self-righteous behavior. When I started down this path four years ago, I had to figure out all this vegan culinary stuff for myself. It is my hope that I am able to give someone the resources I wish I had when I began my own vegan journey.
Perhaps at some point I will go into more detail about the reasons why I chose to eat a diet sans animal products and have chosen to call myself “vegan”, but I do not feel that now is the time. It’s not that I don’t want to share it, but I think that there are more appropriate times to tell the story rather than to use these personal details in a defensive way against those who would not be convinced of my point of view anyway.
Although this has been draining for me in so many ways, in the end I have come to the realization that the people who this negatively impacts the most are my regular readers and the people who do value the tips and advice that I share. To you who fall into this category, I sincerely apologize for this diversion.