I practice Ethical Eating. Like veganism or vegetarianism, Ethical Eating is a lifestyle. But Ethical Eating is unlike veg'anism (that's the either/or term for vegan or vegetarianism) in the same way the Unitarian Universalism (which largely spawned the Ethical Eating movement) is different than most other religions: It isn't about hard and fast rules. The focus is on a continuing pursuit. It is about education, it is about constant steps forward. It is about striving.
Sadly veg'anism has become very much about rules. It has become a "religion" from which one can be summarily excommunicated for failing to meet the self-righteous standards of other self proclaimed veg'ans. A couple days ago my friend Lindsay Nixon, author of Happy Herbivore, one of my very favorite cookbooks, wrote a post on her blog questioning whether or not Honey could be used by vegans. A simple enough topic, and grounds (in my opinion) for a lively discussion.
Well, let's just say that "lively" isn't exactly the word I would use for what ensued from there.
As a result, the next day she renounced her V card. Lindsay no longer claims to be vegan. Score one for the self-righteous vegan fundamentalists? I think not. Because what sort of backward-ass movement strives to shrink it's membership? How exactly does chasing away the author of an awesome and well known cookbook further your cause? In short,
I think Lindsay put it quite well in her post: "why are these vegans taking the time to run around and tell people trying to be vegan they're not vegan enough, instead of using that time and energy helping someone who isn't vegan at all? Is veganism some cool club that I'm not worthy to get into? Do we really want to make it about exclusivity rather than inclusivity? Someone said to me once, and I think this is painfully true, for cruelty-free dieters, vegans sure are cannibalistic!"
I never have and never will understand backbiting idiots who turn on their own (remember Catty B*tches? If you missed it, it's worth the read). It seems to me that they're kind of loosing sight of the goal here. I mean, correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't the ultimate aim to have an overall positive impact? To reduce the amount of cruelty caused by our consumption? And to improve our collective and individual health while we're at it?
At the very least, that's MY goal. For some people, apparently, the point is to prove how much better they are at "being vegan." Whatever. Have fun. But please keep the hell away from me. I'm trying NOT to make Ethical Eating look like the niche of crazy extremists. As Lindsay said, "As plant-based eaters, we are a minority. We need to stick together and support each other."
And THAT, my dear friends is what Ethical Eating is all about. Sticking together, and moving forward. Whether you're taking big steps or little steps, every step counts. My current struggles to cut out all foods containing inhumane eggs and cheese are no more or less significant that the person trying out Meatless Mondays (or, like us, Meatless weekdays! You'd be absolutely shocked by how easy and satisfying it is).
Whether you are a vegan or a vegetarian. Whether you call yourself one or not. Whether you claim to pursue the goals of Ethical Eating or you just want to make the best health choices for yourself and your family. Whatever your reasons, and whatever steps you take.
Because every step is a step.
And lets not lose sight of that.
What steps have you taken? Which were the hardest? Which were your biggest triumphs? What are you struggling with now. THIS is a safe place for any step on your journey (unless you promote cruelty, then you're just a jackass, obviously). Tell us where you stand.