What can I say? I AM a perfectionist and my house is near spotless. I have a set schedule that I perform every day and to deviate from that schedule is to bring the forces of chaos toppling down upon me. Yes, I am a perfectionist. I do not try to be perfect, but I feel as though I must be perfect. At one point, I even concocted this elaborate story to explain why I was perfect -- the gist of it was that I was actually an alien from another planet, kidnapped at birth and swapped for a baby from the planet Arianis. That baby was the baby that performed all of my supposed mistakes. In my imagination, it would be a certain day in which I would return and take my rightful place in my family. When I was fifteen, that day was my sixteenth birthday. When I was seventeen, it was my eighteenth birthday. I kept sliding the day back and back because I am, invariably, imperfect. The last and final time I tried to be perfect was on my wedding day. I was so certain that I could do it. The only problem was that I told myself I had to be in bed by midnight. Since it was the night before my wedding, though, my friends wanted to throw me a bachelorette party. Because of my insistence on being in bed at midnight, that experience was one that I lost. Instead of the wild party intended, my friends and I instead went out to get ice cream. I was unable to be "perfect" for very long on my wedding day, though. About an hour before my wedding, I said a curse word. It was then I knew that I was not, nor could I ever be, perfect.
When I first tried to become vegan, I wanted to be the "perfect vegan." I know now that there is no such thing, but that did not stop me from trying. On June 5th, I decided to become vegan. It was a spur of the moment decision. My husband and I went out and bought a bunch of vegetables. I ended up throwing many of them away because I did not know how to prepare them. (I ate kale raw on a sandwich!) In addition to these vegetables, I bought some veggie cheese. I did not even think to check the ingredients, assuming that the "No Dairy" label was correct. However, that cheese had casein in it, which I later found out is not vegan. Even though I was upset by this, I was determined to finish it off anyway because no one else in my family would eat it and I couldn't afford to simply throw it out.
My next big mistake was in the purchase of soy burgers. On VegSource, someone had mentioned Amy's burgers, so I went to my health food store and purchased a box. I carefully read the ingredients, but somehow honey slipped by me. Once again I decided to eat them, but I was somewhat lucky. It was around the fourth of July when I bought them and we grilled them in the place of burgers and my family ate them and I instead had a vegan Boca burger.
About a month into my veganism, I was certain that I had most of the stuff down. I knew what hummus, baba ganoush, and tahini were. I had tried several vegan recipes of my nonvegan favorites, such as Shepherd's Pie. I had discovered which brands of vegan burgers, soymilk, "butter," and "ice cream" I preferred. I had even gotten rid of most of the meat in my house, save a can of salmon. My husband also confided in me that I MIGHT be able to convince him to go lacto-ovo vegetarian. Then came the political issues. I had to make a decision about things such as sugar, Boca burgers, and Cliff bars. I read the arguments on both sides, realizing that both had valid arguments. I felt like pulling my hair out because those whom I considered "perfect vegans" were against what I would have decided about the issues given my own devices.
To top off these moral dilemmas, I soon found that my house had a fly and beetle infestation. Being deathly afraid of bugs, my first reaction was to scream in terror, point, and shout at my husband to "kill it! kill it!" I posted my problem on VegSource and was offered many solutions. I tried them all. I tried catching the tiny flies in a cup and releasing them. This failed miserably. Every time I caught one and released it out my door, three more would fly back in. It was the same issue if I had used a net. I even purchased one of those ultrasonic devices that were supposed to repel flies. I looked for the ion emitters that I was told would repel flies, but could not find one. I finally had to admit to myself that I was not a perfect vegan and that I never would be. I came to a decision on what to do about the flies, as well as where I stood on the other issues. I decided that as I was not exploiting the flies for some sort of a profit, I was not being unvegan in my own mind when I swatted them. In my solution, I used no chemicals that were tested on animals. I did not cause them a slow, agonizing death.
Perhaps my choice was not the "vegan choice," but to me it was. In addition to protecting my own sanity, I helped my pets by eliminating potential disease carriers. I also helped other animals by not allowing disease carriers to contaminate my food, thus causing my family or me to require medicine. It may not have been the "right" choice for other vegans, but it was for me. Also, I decided that I would buy products that were directly vegan, such as Luna and Cliff bars. I also believe that there is nothing unvegan about purchasing vegan products from a company whose parent company is nonvegan, such as Boca burgers. To me, it encourages the manufacturers of these products to produce more vegan products and less unvegan ones. I believe that when the bigger issues of meat, clothing, and testing are eliminated, then the smaller issues of bone-filtered sugar will be eliminated.
Issues like these have caused me to realize that there is no perfect vegan. It is as mythological as a unicorn or a dragon. As much as people think they are a "perfect vegan," it is my opinion that unless they live in nature in perfect harmony with the life around them, they are just as connected to the taint of evil as those of us vegans who realize we are not perfect. I am one of those who realizes, finally, that I am not perfect and that perfectionism is a useless goal. Instead, people should protest the larger evils in life and let the little things fall out in time.
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