Posted by: conradvisionquest | April 2, 2010

The Sasquatch Vegan

“The perfect is the enemy of the good.” ~Voltaire

The “perfect vegan” is like the myth of the Sasquatch.  You think you know what one looks like, and imagine how one might behave, but has anyone actually ever really seen one?  In speaking with a friend over the weekend and reading a comment by one of my lovely subscribers, I realized I wanted to talk about the myth of the “perfect vegan.”

The elusive Sasquatch Vegan on the hunt for hummus and Vegenaise.

First, let’s define the word “vegan.”  Apparently, the definition itself is up for debate.  There are many definitions for veganism, but I like the one used by the British Vegan Society, whose founder, Donald Watson, coined the term “vegan” back in 1944. It goes like this:

Veganism is way of living which seeks to exclude — as far as is possible and practical — all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose; and by extension, promotes the development and use of animal-free alternatives for the benefit of humans, animals and the environment.

The important phrase for me in this definition is “as far as is possible and practical.”  Of course, it would be fantastic if more people were interested in becoming vegan (for the animals, too!), but it’s sad to know that some may be turned off to it simply because they can’t give up cheese, or chocolate, or whatever is the ONE thing you think you can’t give up.  Well, then do everything you can but give up that one thing.  That certainly is better than not doing anything.  It’s not all or nothing.  Do what you can do and be proud of that.  I certainly didn’t change my diet in one day. Like fellow blogger Christine at the Vegan Girl Next Door says, “Baby steps are nothing to be ashamed of…awareness is the first step.”

While we’re at it, let’s talk about this notion of “giving up.”  If you change your perspective a little, eating vegan is not about “giving up” or something that’s “hard.”  Why not take away the negative spin, and instead say “My love for food and animals can now co-exist!” and “I am eating so much more healthful than ever before!” and “Look at all these vegetables and fruits I am eating that I never knew existed!”  and “I am not contributing to animal suffering! YAY!”  And I am finding I haven’t had to “give up” anything.  These days, there are animal free alternatives to everything.  Finding what works in your diet may take a little digging, but for me it has been worth the effort.

Over the weekend I visited a friend of mine.  She had expressed some interest in going vegetarian and we were talking about eating vegan.  She asked, “What about fish, would that be ok?”  This is why I think the labels are getting in the way of people trying to improve their lifestyles and diets.  We talked about why I went vegan, but her motivations for considering it may be different, and ultimately whatever she does is “okay” as long as she feels good about it.

Now let’s talk about “the perfect vegan.”  This person would have to stop driving cars and using bicycles, because most tires and roads have animal by-products in them.   What about food items that contain “trace” amounts of milk?  What about refined sugar, which has no animal products in it, but uses bone char in the refinement process?  Is wearing leather that you purchased from a second-hand store ok?  Did you know that most contact lenses and solutions contain animal by-products? And what about honey?  How far do you take it?

These are all questions that are discussed and debated among vegans and vegetarians.  This is where the phrase “as far as is possible and practical” comes in.  There is no right or wrong answer.  Do what feels right for you and what you will be able to sustain.  To me, just the fact that people are interested in veganism and thinking about what they are eating and purchasing is wonderful!  Of course, some would argue that these decisions don’t just involve you or me, they involve the animals, who don’t have a voice or a choice.  That’s where it gets sticky.  That’s another post for another day.

I don’t like to label myself as a “vegan” per se.  I continue to wear the leather items I purchased before changing my diet and plan to use them until they wear out.  I continue to drive my car that has tires on the road (ahh!).   I’m still finishing up the bread crumbs that contain eggs that I bought before veganizing my diet.  Some would argue that I’m not vegan.  Others would say I’m a “passive vegan” just for holding the views I am expressing in this post. (please hold while I sift through all these labels) Let’s just say I love animals, and I want to do everything in my power that’s “possible and practical” to avoid contributing to animal cruelty.  Part of that is not scaring away potential vegans with strict rules and impossible ideals (I’d rather lure you in with delicious recipes! I’m sneaky like that.) I do the best I can and when I master that, I’ll do a little more.

Don’t let the (unattainable) ideal of perfection scare you away from doing something (anything!) that’s good.

Check out this quote noted by Jamie from Save the Kales.  You’ll get all goosebumpy.

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Responses

  1. Once again, I love it, and could not have said it better myself!

    • thanks, cathy!
      ~w

  2. Awesome post! I have to say I often forget this & scare my friends with the idea of ‘giving up’ cheese &c, forgetting that they might want to make more baby steps than I did.
    This is Amelia from the Casual Art of Procrastination, by the way, & the new website is the travelling vegan one I’m trying to make look pretty at the moment!
    Would you be interested in writing a guest post or article on veganism &/or travelling vegan?
    Amelia

    • hey, Amelia! thanks for stopping by and commenting… i would love to guest post! i will send you an email…
      ~w

  3. Once again, another great post!! I will definitely be passing this along to my friends. I think that too many people focus on what they are giving up with going vegan rather than what they are gaining. I think that blogs like yours (and hopefully mine) will show people that veganism opens up a new world of food and culture that is very exciting!!

    • thanks for the comment, and compliment! this post was inspired by YOU! i know you feel special 😉 it is my hope to help dispell all the false myths and show that this is an abundant, healthful, and happy way to live!
      ~w
      ps, please post your blog link here so others reading the comments can check it out!

  4. Great post. (Personally, I would call you vegan!)

    Whenever I hear someone talking about reducing their animal intake at all, I want to give them a big hug for the animals. I think it’s important for vegans to be inclusive and encouraging. Cutting back from 7 days of meat per week to 6 makes as much of a difference as cutting back from 1 to none.

    • i agree… thanks for the comment!
      ~w

  5. Fantastic! This is one of the best blogs I’ve read in a long time.

    • thanks so much, sean!
      ~w

      • No problem. You’re quite welcome.

  6. I love your blog, so very, very much. This is exactly what sits on my mind so often. It feels like you took all those thoughts that flutter around my brain and put them up on the good ol’ interweb. Thank you for the smile that is now proudly on my face. ^_^

    • wow, that’s so kind of you to say, Gwen! now I have a smile on my face! you just made my day…
      ~w

  7. […] is in real life, but she was the first person to comment on my blog and I really like hers. I love this post on why no vegan is […]

  8. I truly appreciate you including me in this post. I have done all I can to put forth ideas that are welcoming, not condemning. I live my life in the “do the best you can” rule, as it applies to all things, my lifestyle choices included. This was a wonderful post, thank you for being so eloquent.

    • now that’s the first time someone has put me in the same sentence as the word “eloquent.” i do declare, i am blushing.

      ~w

  9. […] When we point fingers at each other and judge people within our own fight – a fight based on love, positivity and compassion for animals, the earth and people – we miss the whole point. Let’s remember to support one another, educate and help each other out. No one knows everything, and no one is perfect. Let our desires to make a difference unify us, and let us respect each other enough to focus our energy into making progressive and positive actions. Great article on the same topic: By Wendy […]

  10. […] When we point fingers at each other and judge people within our own fight – a fight based on love, positivity and compassion for animals, the earth and people – we miss the whole point. Let’s remember to support one another, educate and help each other out. No one knows everything, and no one is perfect. Let our desires to make a difference unify us, and let us respect each other enough to focus our energy into making progressive and positive actions. Great article on the same topic […]


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