Ruth is from Wales and has lived abroad for nearly 10 years, she enjoys her vegan lifestyle, loves animals and hopes to inspire others along the way. Her new blog is up and running at http://ruthculbreth.wordpress.com
About a month ago I decided to create a survey to ask vegans some questions so I could try and find out two main things:
1. Is there only a particular type of person that will become a vegan?
2. Has religion-or lack of-anything to do with it?
Then I went a little crazy and found out so many other things that I decided to split the answers into separate blog posts (clever me).
Q1: What does veganism mean to you?
Personally, I never really think of myself as vegan, I just think of myself as a person trying to do the best they can with what they know.
Have you heard the joke about being able to spot a vegan because they will surely tell you? Yeah well, I don’t volunteer it to anyone, well except for writing it all over my blog and social media of course 😉
Don’t get me wrong, people know I am a vegan, but I don’t converse much about it because I fear that as soon as I do an automatic wall goes up and I become isolated and a source of awkwardness. If people ask me to my face then I will never lie, but I find it hard to introduce the topic, so that joke is just another excuse to demonise vegans and make us look like something we are not.
When I read through the survey answers of these questions I found out a little about Donald Watson, the Vegan Society founder. A man who coined the term ‘Vegan’, taking it from the beginning and the end of ‘Vegetarian’, since a vegan usually starts as a vegetarian and then takes it to its logical conclusion.
He was a peaceful British man who saw the beauty and possibility in Veganism: ‘It would be the greatest revolution ever known’.
WHAT DOES VEGAN MEAN?
All of the answers I received for this question were full of peace and passion which is, of course, the backbone of veganism: we oppose violence by definition. Yet the answers did vary.
‘Veganism is my life’, was one answer, and another one said that being vegan is not a religion or an obsession but simply a choice between using animals and not, comparable to choosing to live in the city or the country.
Both cannot be argued with (by me at least.) When one becomes a vegan one is not obsessed with being different, but life automatically becomes different: Where can I eat? What shall I wear? What toothpaste can I use? Where can I buy lipstick? Do my friends like me anymore?
Realising that other vegans exist and wade in the same pool as me really helped me think with clarity. I especially recognised the main answer to this question being that vegans live without worry of purposely exploiting animals and causing them pain.
As vegans we make mistakes, it isn’t about being perfect but actually the realisation that none of us are. If I eat or use something later realising that it wasn’t vegan, I do not chastise myself or beat my head against a wall, I just add it to the list of never-again products.
I remember being pounced upon when I ate something which I later found out had dairy in it. The fact that the ‘pouncer’ took great delight in my failing was both hurtful and ridiculous: If I eat an animal product accidentally should I then quit being a vegan and eat steaks to my hearts content? It makes no sense and sincerely very few anti-vegan arguments do. The basic point that underlines all the answers was the determination to end a personal responsibility towards the abuse of animals. Realising, also, that the environment around belongs to animals as well as humans and the destruction of it can be slowed down by a vegan diet.
These are all words used in the argument for a vegan lifestyle (not a diet). Veganism is a revolutionary idea that can literally change the world as we know it. It is an effort to be better and more compassionate and I as I strive to be prouder of my label, I will continue to accept my failed perfection. Well… my cats still love me for it anyway 😉
*Thank you to all those who helped with the survey*