As you may know, I’ve been vegan since late 2012. Since then, I’ve noticed a division among vegans. There is an expectation among vegans that to be vegan you must be a ‘perfect’ vegan. What if I told you that the perfect vegan doesn’t exist?
I’ve given this a lot of thought since 2012, and I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s not about being perfect. It’s actually about being conscious; a conscious vegan making conscious choices about being vegan.
Perfect veganism has the ability to divide
Humans have a natural knack to judge others. We have a reaction to judge because we see what another person does, and we make a conclusion from the observation based on our values. One person’s veganism may not look the same as yours and your veganism may not look the same as mine. Sometimes, veganism isn’t as black and white as we might think. We may know vegans who eat honey. We may know a vegan who rides their horse. We may even know a vegan who is a part-time vegan and still eats meat or dairy once a week. Then, we may judge these people and get caught in a cycle of anger and frustration. It’s at this point when our focus diverts more towards ourselves and away from the beings we want to save. So, what can we do to ensure we are in service to all (human and non-human animals) while still being as vegan as possible?
A conscious vegan can control what is controllable
When I decided to go vegan, it was a conscious decision. However, it wasn’t an immediate one. I immediately removed meat and eggs from my diet, but I was still consuming dairy. It took me a good six months to remove anything non-vegan from my diet, from my wardrobe and every-day activities. In the end, fear was holding me back and I now regret how long this new vegan journey took at the time. Despite the time it took me, a consciousness was there from the beginning.
According to Psychology Today, the average person can make 35,000 conscious decisions in one day. If you think about it, we make decisions about things such as:
- What we’ll eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner
- What we want to wear
- What we want to buy
- How and where we want to travel
That means we can make a lot of conscious decisions that can benefit animals for the better. We can control what we want to put in our bodies. We can control what we wear. We can control where we want to travel and we can control which experiences we want to partake in. We can also control our behaviours. We can choose to catch a spider in our house into a container and set him or her free in the garden. We can choose to wear a natural insect repellent instead of killing insects with a bug-spray. We can choose to pat a cat or dog instead of kicking one. We can also choose to say no to animal rides and amusement parks. We can choose to donate our money to or volunteer at an animal rescue shelter instead.
Sadly, some decisions can’t be made by us…
Recently, I had a chat with my yoga teacher about veganism. He pointed out that there are some decisions that are out of our hands. When I buy my fresh fruit and vegetables, how did they arrive into my supermarket? Were they driven there by truck? If so, did that truck hit and kill a kangaroo along the way? Did that same truck collide into bugs flying into its path, killing them instantly? Were animals killed in the process as a result of growing and harvesting those fruit and veggies? In the context of the perfect vegan, there’s food for thought in these points.
As much as I don’t want my actions to hurt animals, ultimately some of them do (unintentionally). And this is out of my control. Instead, we do the best we can from a conscious perspective. Being conscious is the most effective way to ensure that our decisions can add up to save as many animals as possible.
In the end, all lives are precious and we can start by focusing on others.
In my time being vegan, I have also learned one final thing. We can all do our best to be the most conscious vegans possible. This is a daily practice that requires smart, conscious choices that are for the sake of all lives. If we decide to only put ourselves at the centre of our decisions, then what’s the point of being a conscious vegan? Being a conscious vegan requires a conscious choice first – to put the welfare and protection of animals at the centre of our decision-making. Then, the rest of our decision-making comes easily. We can then put some more of that ‘black and white’ back into our lives. We live our lives in a more purposeful way and we can assure ourselves that we’re saving as many lives as what’s individually possible. There’s no better way to live a vegan life than that, in my opinion anyway.