Well, it’s happened again, another vegan blogger bites the dust. Carol at Vegan Evolution wrote a “Farewell But Not Really Goodbye!” post a few weeks ago where she said she was going to stop blogging because:
First off I’ve struggled with staying vegan recently. I won’t go into the whys and wherefores (it would sound an awful lot like excuses) but the fact is that while I still eat vegan food quite a lot and I still love to follow all the vegan blogs on my feed, I just can’t seem to commit 100% to veganism. So it seems hypocritical of me to have a blog about vegan food when I’m not eating vegan all the time or even most of the time.
Veganism is a “lifestyle” that eschews animal products and the reasons for doing that are not only subjective but not important as long as you are adhering to the practice. But with the ubiquity of such products in our everyday lives what does that mean? Where is the line that determines what or who is vegan? It’s a question that plagues vegans and causes a clash every now and then between them.
With so much focus on the elimination of animal products vegans tend to get obsessive about researching every items in the lives to make sure they are up to vegan code. The group Vegan Outreach tries to stem the effects of this quest for purity in their philosophy of veganism as “merely a tool to reduce suffering” but more on that later.
Veganism has built-in a propensity to strive for purity and if it doesn’t then what is it worth anyways? Vegans practicing near the threshold can get tangled up in the politics of it all and ostracized by other vegans. They may still care for animals, believe in animal rights and all that but if they dare eat a slice of cheese pizza they are no longer deemed worthy of the vegan title. Ideas don’t matter; it’s in the actions. If you transgress the vegan code, you’re out.
Vegans can regale you with stories of “animal rights” activists who tend to care about a specify animal issue while not being vegan themselves. They may advocate for pet animals but drink milk or protest at a fur demonstration but wear leather shoes. They gnash their teeth at such hypocrites but who isn’t a hypocrite in some way? I can probably find a dozen way you are right now just by reading this on a computer screen.
It doesn’t even have to be a direct challenge by another vegan though. A group that depends upon an adherence to praxis as a definition can’t very well be blamed for shunning transgressors. It is inherent to the very definition of veganism. Sure the qualifier of “as far as is possible and practical” was added to the definition by the Vegan Society but that won’t stop people from leaving veganism because they don’t feel worthy. And that is what happened with poor Carol at Vegan Evolution. When I followed up with a comment to clarify why she was vegan in the first place she explained:
… it is purely for animal rights reasons. It sickens me how humans believe that animals are merely ‘things’ to do with as they please.
So her reasons are ethical but because she couldn’t live up to the label she felt like a “fraud” and THAT is a textbook illustration of one of my issues with veganism. It automatically puts people on the defense when they were never really given the choice in the first place. When they do make an attempt they struggle to be worthy of their peers.
It looks like Carol is back though but what if vegans took this and the many other similar stories to heart and changed their approach? Can a person still care about animals and *gasp* eat or use them? Veganism needs to adapt or get selected against. We’re seeing that happen with the health vegans and now even with the ethical vegans. The dusty old dogma has been handed down leaflet by leaflet into a tired old mythology and justified like so many young earth creationists. I’d say the title of Carol’s blog is quite apropos.