Sunday, May 01, 2011

My Beef with Vegans...

What...you're surprised that I have beef with Vegans?
Well on the whole I actually don't... But militant, angry Vegans...I certainly do!

I can relate to them, having been a militant and occasionally angry vegetarian in my teenage years, but I guess with age I have become more pragmatic, and infinitely less angry.
My beef with Vegans is essentially the same beef I have with anyone who is an extremist. My simple premise is that if you are an extremist in your views you will inevitably paint yourself as a hypocrite at some stage.

Take Veganism for example. I consider the reduction in meat consumption and the reduction in egg and dairy intake to be an important part of reducing our impact on the planet, and it is for that reason that I eat a primarily (almost entirely) Vegan diet. But many Vegans are so militant about their views that unless you are the perfect Vegan you are considered part of the problem, not part of the solution. I see this strikingly when Vegetarians are criticized by Vegans.
Aren't we all part of the same team here?
Are you really as perfect as you claim?
My view conversely is that if you are making an effort to reduce your impact on the planet and are doing it in real and practicable ways you are making yourself part of the solution.

You are only a hypocrite when you preach something and then act counter to that argument.
There are several things I have run across recently that are examples of these hypocrisies.

For example many militant Vegans that I know have dogs. Dogs eat meat, and so if the dog is being fed a healthy and appropriate diet then the Vegan dog owner will be buying meat to feed it. Now I understand the dog needs to eat meat to be healthy, and that it would be cruel to feed it a Vegan diet - and that is something I am absolutely not suggesting as an alternative. My point is that the Vegan does not need to own a dog. Dogs are a luxury item in terms of pure resource usage.
I love dogs, I have had dogs and will again in the future - so I have no issue at all with keeping dogs, I am simply making a comparison based upon the 'choice' argument as a rationale for Veganism when confronted with arguments about natural eating patterns, essential nutrients and taste. They (militant Vegans) say that is a choice to eat meat (and thereby kill animals) and that if the choice can be made to limit killing then it should be taken.
If this is your rationale does this not also apply to forsaking your enjoyment of owning dogs to reduce collateral killing and resource use?

I have also had the experience of being somewhat berated by Vegans for my (very) occasional consumption of meat or eggs. Some of these very Vegans are very into their own particular brand of fashion and have a lot of clothes, accessories and many pairs of Vegan shoes.
The hypocrisy in this example is that having all those 'things' and in particular shoes surely provides for collateral damage to the environment which has an effect on the wellbeing of animals. Sure they are Vegan, but they are created from petrochemicals that require a lot of resources to extract, that result in pollution and cause environmental damage.

A final beef is with Vegans who use fly-spray or otherwise kill insects. I simply do not kill insects. I can't remember ever having killed insects. I don't see the point. They can't hurt me and so I simply leave them alone and they in the main do the same with me.
It has come to the point where if I am bitten by a mosquito I simply let her drink her fill and then fly away - knowing that she won't bother anyone else for a while. She gets a meal and I feel good about having been able to feed another being for the night! (Simply being aware of our aversion to mosquitos is a great exercise in mindfulness too BTW.)
When a Vegan uses fly-spray and in one fell swoop kills dozens, perhaps hundreds of insects I just don't get how they could then judge someone else.

The greatest change we can make in my humble opinion is to over time become more aware of the effects of our actions and try to reduce our environmental impact and the impact that we have on the lives of sentient beings. And a way that we can begin to do this is to commit to a more simple life of joyous experience instead of being focused on having things, and labeling ourselves with limiting definitions.

Cliff's next book Time Rich Cash Optional (an unconventional guide to happiness) will be available in May! Order links and info at www.timerichcashoptional.com