Last month, I was at a conference where I had to repeatedly introduce myself, my blog and the fact that, I was vegan. That last part wasn’t really necessary, but a few times during the day, I found myself at a table with food, and it was hard to avoid sharing that piece of data about me. “Stranger: Did you try that chicken salad? It’s amazing! Me: Oh yeah, that looks delicious, but sorry, I can’t eat that, I’m vegan”.
Largely that statement goes unnoticed, most times it receives an understanding nod, but sometimes it invites follow-up questions, which I’m more than happy to answer.
There are so many reasons why people chose a vegan lifestyle – animal cruelty, greenhouse gases, shiny hair and glowing skin (really?!?!), etc being the chief of them. And while I cannot justify or reason for others, I can speak for myself. Please understand, that I am NOT promoting veganism as the only solution to climate change, nor as the healthiest lifestyle, nor am I telling you how to live your life – I would never presume to tell anyone how to live. But these are the reasons for me making the biggest change in my life and I came to these conclusions after a lot of research.
I identify myself as a ‘liberal vegan’.
No, that doesn’t mean I’m a liberal, comma, vegan. Well, I am liberal and I am vegan. But ‘liberal vegan’ is a term unto itself. What’s that, you ask?
I’m a liberal vegan because I am not against the concept of eating meat, oh no, not even a little. Life consuming life is the natural order of things and that’s the way Nature maintains her balance. Balance is everything: flora and fauna working together as one entity. The animals consume trees and grass, preventing them from overtaking the world. We, the humans hunt them for sustenance, while keeping their populations in check. When we die, our bodies are returned to the Earth, where trees and grass grow over our graves, which in turn become food for the beasts. The circle of life is a beauty to behold. I deeply respect hunters who understand and respect its sanctity. If you’re a Ron Swanson, I’m your Leslie Knope.
And that was how it was until we stepped in and destroyed the balance, breaking the circle to make life more comfortable for us.
Until about 50 years ago, most homes had a chicken coop in their backyard. If they could afford it, they even had a cow! And no one stood in line and got a bucket of wings with a side of ranch just because it’s was Friday. They put in the work into growing their own food: mucked the stables, drew water from the well for the animals to drink and bathe, spent sleepless nights when one of them got sick, and defended the creatures against wild predators. When the time eventually came, they knew the price of wringing a neck, plucking the feathers or skinning a beast to make a delicious roast for dinner.
And because of the time and effort that went into rearing these creatures, milk, cheese and meat weren’t an everyday thing unless you were in the upper 1%, economically. In an average household, it was only reserved for special occasions.
Overtime, we began outsourcing the difficult parts of animal husbandry to large corporations and turned our backs on the larger moral questions that come with it. Today, we drive up to the local supermarket, walk over to the meat section, pick up a clean, sterile package of chicken, pork, what-have-you and check-out. That’s the extent of our contact with the butchered beast. Children now are mortified when they see a Youtube video of an animal slaughtered. It sickens us to our stomachs to face the truth – meat comes from animals.
While I LOVE that social progression has blurred status lines so that we all (well, mostly!) have access to basic human needs, and technological advancements make it possible for us to eat mangoes in the winter, we’ve made a terrible mistake when it comes to dairy and meat farming. By mass producing livestock, we’ve cheapened something that should otherwise have a very high price on it.
We are in a global crisis today, because we’ve all collectively forgotten the price of taking a sentient life for sustenance. We’ve abused our position on top of the food chain and desecrated the circle of life.
Humans and livestock consist of 96% of all animal life on this planet today. There are only 4% of animals in the wild, and soon there might be none [source]. We have subconsciously altered biodiversity and decided which species get to live and which don’t, solely based on whether or not they are directly useful to us.
I’m a liberal vegan because I don’t want you to stop eating meat.
I just want you to associate a bigger number on each pound or gallon than the price tag represents (a dozen eggs cost less than $1 while a head of organic cauliflower costs $3.49 when the ecological footprint of creating either is the inverse of their costs). When you do that, you’ll stop eating so much of it. It’ll bring down the livestock methane emissions. The lands occupied by giant animal farms can be turned into urban food forests. Consuming locally grown food will bring down carbon emissions of having to transport your food from far away. It will give the planet time to heal from the damage we’ve inflicted in our ignorance.
We are a species of 7.7 billion people and counting. The rules of today cannot be the same as the rules 50 years ago, when we were a smaller world of 3 billion. [source] Sidenote: YES, we procreated 4.7 billion humans in 50 years. A topic for another day.
Ask questions. Copious questions. Make changes accordingly. We live in an age of digitally pooled information. It’s not that hard to pull up reputable statistics. Don’t want to give up meat fully? That’s perfectly OK. Simply start by reducing your weekly consumption. Reducetarianism and Flexitarian diets are a real thing [source]. I speak for the entire planet when I say that Every little bit helps.
I’m a liberal vegan because I truly believe that in a perfect world, no one HAS to be vegan.
Yours in liberalism,
Thank you for reading my perspective. This is a space where we talk, so I WANT to hear from you!
Are you a ‘Liberal Vegan’? If so, can I hear a ‘hell yeah’ below?
And if you’re not a vegan (yet), can I beg you to leave a comment about what you hate most about vegans? If we’re the problem stopping you from eating more plants, I want to help fix it.
Vernon Sanders says
I mean no disrespect, and I think it’s something many of us (myself included) forget about in our own bubbles, but I disagree with your statement “…that social progression has blurred status lines so that we all (well, mostly!) have access to basic human needs…” I work in the wealthiest city in my country, and live across the bay from it. Homelessness abounds on both sides. A literal shantytown was just torn down because it posed a fire hazard as it was situated under the train tracks of one of our major public transit system, and homeless encampments abound. Only the wealthiest can afford to buy homes. People commute hours a day for $20 usd an hour, because it’s the only way they can afford rent on an apartment housing more people that it was ever supposed to, while they find themselves serving people who often bring in 6 times as much who lack respect for them as people because of the work they do. Healthful food is often out of reach, especially if you include the labor involved in preparing it. In my country, people frequently start GoFundMe pages to cover medical expenses that they cannot afford in spite of the fact that we are the wealthiest country in the world. The list goes on. I wish those status lines were much more blurred, that there was less wage disparity, greater access to healthcare including healthy food, access to affordable housing, etc. but it’s not how it is where I live, or in many other parts of the world
Tina Dawson says
The things you mentioned are things that deserve their own separate article, and I thank you from the bottom of my heart for engaging in my perspective. I was born and raised in India (we have 4 times the population of the US living in 1/3rd of the landmass) and the impression of America that I had while I was still living in India has changed completely since I moved here. I know now that things aren’t as dandy as TV shows and movies make it out to be. My statement (and the fact that I added ‘well, mostly!’) definitely took into account the issues you brought up. While your statistics is more localized to the US, mine accounted for global statistics (Global poverty rate drops to record low 10%: World Bank, Sep 2018). Global statistics and percentages might say that India is no longer the poorest country in the world, but when I go back home, I know that I will be welcomed by hoardes of families living on the streets just the same. Issues of status are almost always subjective on the socio-economic ladder, but at the end of the day, all we can do is figure out how it interconnects in the web of global problems, and how we can collectively be a part of the solution.
Hell yeah! I’m vegan, or after this I’ll say I’m Liberal Vegan. Because as you I don’t care about others people eat, actually I do not respect every vegan “philosophy”, I search and research about and if I agree then I apply to my vegan lifestyle, if I’m not agree I just do it in my way. What I’m saying is I eat honey, but I always buy the honey from little farmers market or small family owe brand. Bees need to produce honey to live, and when you buy honey from small farmers market or family owe brand, the honey taste totally different, the way how the care the bees is totally different, the way how the produce the honey is different is more “family-friendly”.
Tina Dawson says
Heyooo Liberal Vegan! I’m so pleased to meet you and thank you for lending me your voice. I’d love to include honey in my diet, but I don’t have a source near me that harvests ethically (without smoking the bees, manipulating the queen, etc) and works towards supporting the local bee populations. I have a friend who’s been vegan almost all her life and she feels the same way about honey. I wish one day to have my own hive – but first I’m working on filling my backyard with wild flowers to feed the bees. This world needs more bees.