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Are Vegans Too Picky?
I've been vegan (well, "strict vegetarian") for several months and really
feel good about my decision. However, whenever I refuse a cookie or a piece
of cake because it has eggs or dairy products in it, my friends and family
tell me to "stop being so uptight and strict" about what I eat. Am I being
too unreasonable? Do vegans occasionally "indulge" and eat desserts with
dairy products in them? Lately I feel that my diet is a major inconvenience
to others, and I don't know what to do. If I don't eat meat or dairy
directly but occasionally eat foods that have dairy in them, am I still
vegan? Is it right to refuse a dessert just because it has a smidgen of egg
in it, or am I just being picky beyond belief as my nonvegan friends tell me
I am and as I'm feeling more and more lately?
Veganism is a choice, not an obligation. This is why it is important that
people who become vegan do so voluntarily and with enthusiasm and joy.
Otherwise, their veganism will become a chore to maintain, and they easily
could be swayed by the nonvegans in their life who grumble that veganism is
irritating and difficult.
Vegans follow a consistent ethical practice, so, no, vegans don't "bend the
rules" in order to eat desserts or other foods that contain dairy products
or eggs, even if it's "just a smidgen." Vegan values are not contingent on
being easy. Any ethic that counters mainstream habits is going to take some
effort to implement. Consequently, those who do not share our point of view
may be unsympathetic or even antagonistic. They may think that veganism
threatens their lifestyle, and if they can coax or tempt us away from it,
they will feel more secure.
Veganism is less about being "picky" and more about being "selective" and
"discriminating." If we perpetually make exceptions to our convictions, how
committed could we be and how credible would we appear to others? Few people
would take us seriously if our actions contradict our words. Furthermore, it
would be confusing to friends and family if we compromise one time and
refuse to another. Once the door has been opened, who determines when a
"smidgen" becomes too much? What would be the difference between eating "a
little" and eating "a lot," and where would we draw the line? Veganism is an
ongoing commitment, not something to dabble with only when we can restrain
ourselves or when it is convenient.
The longer you are vegan, the more accepting others will be of it and the
easier it will be for you to deal with other people's frustration and
intolerance. Becoming vegan is as much an adjustment for our family and
friends as it is for us. They must learn how to be more flexible and
accommodating, without asking us to sacrifice our principles on their
behalf. In turn, we must resolve to be more patient and understanding as
they determine how to navigate around our newfound ideals.
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