Every once in a while, scanning the internet goings-on during my lunch break, I'll spy something that good time management skills should lead me to ignore. Shamelessly lacking in good time management skills, however, I'll all-too-often spare that something a bit of my attention and every once in a while, that something will leave me feeling as if I've just been injected with a double-shot of espresso, its ridiculousness so incredibly jarring. Reading "How Vegan Are You?" on the Novel Eats blog was one such moment. The "About" section should have given it away, when the blog's writer Samantha states (with my emphasis in bold type):
"I’ve been 98.9% vegan for about four years. I’m not a fanatic vegan so I will eat vegetarian from time to time, but I do prefer this diet over any other I’ve been on in my life because I feel great and the food is still fantastic."The thing is that in what this self-described vegan presents as an instalment in her "Becoming Vegan" series, she promotes being everything but vegan. Furthermore, she repeatedly mocks and/or dismisses people who are actually vegan as being akin to religious fanatics. Some quotes that reflect her confusion about veganism in general:
Every vegan has a different goal or purpose for their diet and lifestyle. They don’t all put the same weight or importance on their diet or the products that they use, so it is sometimes challenging for two vegans to agree with what is really vegan. [...] For example, one vegan may continue to use honey, while the other vegan may only use agave nectar.And then:
[O]ne may wear leather shoes, and the other may only choose to wear pleather or hemp.And concerning her own "veganism", she writes:
I admit that I haven’t gone beyond food much yet. [...] One reason for this is that many natural and vegan products, including cosmetic and cleaning supplies, are extraordinarily expensive. I do purchase products like these from time to time, however until the monetary prices come down, it will be hard for me to be willing to fork over the money for them on a consistent basis.She ends her post with by counseling new vegans on how to go about becoming vegan:
Ask yourself if you plan on only being a dietary vegan or if you are going to let this spread to your clothes and hygiene products, too.Then for what she calls "long-time vegans", she asks:
[H]ow far does your vegan lifestyle go? Does it stop at food and not extend into your shampoo, makeup and shoes? Or are you striving to be 100% in every aspect of your life? Additionally, do you encounter this type of situation where another vegan doesn’t think you’re really vegan or vice versa?When I read her post earlier yesterday before others chimed in to point out Samantha's moral inconsistencies and sloppy misrepresentations of veganism, most of the comments seemed to have been left by fairly sympathetic and like-minded readers. It was in her response to one of these comments that her disassociation and compartmentalizing became most apparent. She wrote the following in response to something or other: "It drives me nuts when even vegetarians say that they eat fish. Then you’re not a vegetarian! It’s not like they grow fish on trees." Uh, yeah.
So, what is veganism? Veganism isn't about sometimes choosing to exploit animals for your taste-buds, your vanity or to accommodate your budget. Veganism isn't just about "diet". If you consume animal products, you're not vegan. It's a simple definition and if you stick to it, it does not make you a "fanatic" or a nitpicker--it makes you consistent and unequivocal in your eschewing involvement in the exploitation of nonhuman animals.
Angel Flinn recently wrote an essay that beautifully and accurately describes the vegan ideal; if you're looking for inspiration, it's as good a place as any to start. If you take the interests of nonhuman animals seriously at all today, on World Vegetarian Day, please go vegan. (Just please don't follow Novel Eats blogger Samantha's lead on how to purportedly go about doing so.)