As a long-ish term vegan, I think I am past the ‘all or nothing’ attitude that so many young/new vegans (including myself) have at the beginning. You know, when you think YOU are going to be the one to change the world with YOUR vegan message.
Now, two years in, I’d like to think veganism for me has become less about ME and more about the movement as a whole, and the greater picture. Someone today asked me if, when going to a restaurant that offers a vegan-friendly option, technically it means that by default you’d still be consuming some level of animal by-product due to traces and the preparation environment. The answer is yes. This then simply becomes a personal choice.
You could cut your social life and never eat out unless it’s a fully vegan place. Even then, what about socializing to non-vegans? It is so important to socialize to non-vegans, answering questions is the core principle of promoting any social change and raising awareness.
DON’T harass the waiter about miniscule animal ingredients. You may be asking, “Are there any monoglycerides in the hamburger bun?” but what your waiter and your friends are actually hearing is “Being vegan is hard. Oh, and vegans are annoying as hell.”
DO take one for the team. Sure, the possibly animal-derived “xyz” in that hamburger bun may be gross, but you’re sending the message to your friends that being vegan is hard, meaning that you’re actually hurting animals instead of helping them on this one. Remember: Being vegan isn’t about purity—it’s about reducing animal suffering. – Source
You could become a ‘fussy’ eater and request oil change for the fryer before your food is prepared and other measures for preparing your meal. This, however, makes veganism look unnecessarily ‘complicated’ and ‘unattractive’ to those looking to begin a vegan lifestyle and businesses that are working to include vegan options in their menus. For the growth of the movement, we should welcome big restaurant chains offering vegan options and as vegans occasionally we can be ordering these to show the demand of such meal options, therefore, encouraging more and more vegan-friendly menus and cultivating the growth of the vegan economy. I strictly stand by the fact that every time I make a purchase it’s like giving away my vote or consent by raising the demand of vegan-friendly options I am telling the businesses that this is something I care for and am interested in. When I first went vegan two years ago for me to access soy cheese (free from cheese), I had to either go to a specialty store like Holland&Barret or go to a massive Tesco half an hour away on the tube. Now even the small Tesco’s carry at least one option of dairy free cheese. This, of course, is due to the growth of allergy intolerance and vegan communities. Shops see this and they want to capitalize on this. For once such form of capitalization makes me happy.
So, yes, be vegan, go eat out and have a social life. :) Here’s an awesome article by PETA on vegan dining out at chain restaurants.
Now don’t get us wrong: We aren’t saying that you shouldn’t try to eliminate all nonvegan ingredients from your diet. What we are saying is that the impression you make with your outreach should be just as important as your personal purity. – Source
Of course, as a vegan, you want to eliminate animals by-products from your diet and lifestyle, but there is no need for ‘psycho grass eaters’. Drilling yourself or new vegans about micro nutrients that you or they have never heard before or that are almost non-existent in a product is not counterproductive, makes veganism look more like a chore and less like a lifestyle change they want to take on. Edyn Jacks (I absolutely love her, I think she’s one of the sweetest people I’ve seen on YouTube especially in the vegan community) talks about it in her vegan videos all the time, the vegan community can be extremely judgemental and this by no means benefits the community. As vegans, we should focus on the bigger picture – reducing unnecessary, uncalled for and brutal suffering. A fully raw vegan that lives off of the sunshine, bananas, and watermelon is no better or truer vegan than one that eats vegan Quorn for every meal. If you want to find out if something is vegan simply check the ingredients list or use apps like ‘is this vegan’, but there is simply no point in complicating your life or being judgemental vegan. Educate people around you in a friendly rather than aggressive manner. Remember, people make mistake, I’ve bought things that have not been vegan before some of these mistakes were pointed out by others and it’s okay.
“The goal of sticking to a vegetarian or vegan diet is to help animals and reduce suffering; this is done by choosing a bean burrito or a veggie burger over chicken flesh, or choosing tofu scramble over eggs, not by refusing to eat an otherwise vegan food because it has 0.001 grams of monoglycerides that may possibly be animal-derived.” – Source
My point is, no matter the type of vegan you are or your level of expertise or the length of your ‘vegan life’, be kind to other vegans and be kind to those around you. Let’s bring this community together rather than tear apart!