Ok, so this will throw off a lot of people, but I’ve been thinking about that for quite a while already. It needs to get OUT: I’ve been vegan for – I don’t know – 4, or 5 years. However, that doesn’t mean I don’t kill anything anymore.
In the last 12 months, for example, I ate (and hence killed) about 6 fish, and probably 5 times as many eggs.
Undoubtedly, I am not one of those vegans who can proudly proclaim that I haven’t eaten any animal products in X years. Which is ok, I never intended to enter this competition anyway.
Let me explain:
- I am the master of my life.
- I make the rules I live by, at will. I also choose which externally imposed rules [read: laws] I abide to. (click to open NOT MY RULES – how I live an Anarchist life, in a new window).
- I can abandon same rules, again, at will.
There are a number or rules, or rather ideals, I try to live by:
A daily yoga and meditation practice, regular workouts, a healthy, plant-based diet, or, just being compassionate and a nice guy all around.
But guess what, just like most other people, I rarely fully live up to these ideals, and that’s fine with me. Life is not a competition and I don’t have to prove anything to anyone.
Moreover, I allow myself plenty of room to be, which also includes room to fail. Both are essential for growth and happiness.
I would not want to live a life full of rigid rules, it’d be like a prison. A mind prison, built by myself, incarcerating myself.
Why would I do that?
There’s already plenty of do’s and dont’s (link), and failure to comply is often sanctioned with state-enforced violence. It is already exhausting enough to navigate around these, I surely don’t need another source of anguish, especially not from within my head.
Back to the topic of veganism
Fellow vegans can probably relate, but I can’t count how often I have heard someone saying “Oh, you can’t eat that”, while pointing at some spiced and nicely arranged cadaver.
I hate to hear that (no offense, I know people mean well) and my response is always the same:
I can do whatever I want to.
I have no food allergies, no-one is holding a gun to my head and I am not after the “vegan of the year” award anyway. So yeah, no. I could eat that, if I would want to.
I just don’t (most of the times, at least).
Each and every time I eat something I make a conscious choice as to what I eat and whether or not it will include animal parts. Just because the VAST
majority of times I don’t eat anything that had a face or comes from something with a face, doesn’t mean I never would.
Personally, I don’t think it is surprising at all, that – during those 5 years on a plant-based diet – I did occasionally choose to cause death to an animal.
To be honest, it’s quite the opposite, I’d be concerned if I hadn’t strayed at all throughout this time, because – as said – I really value my freedom.
And just as I sometimes choose to ignore certain laws because they appear outdated, illogical or overly intruding, I can also reject or suspend self-imposed rules because of … whatever.
Obviously, you can use this line of thinking to just slack around and not aim for anything at all.
Personally, I’d find that rather unfulfilling.
Likewise, if you need rigid rules to guide you through life, all the power to you, it’s just not how I want to live my life.
I’ve never once regretted skipping yoga in the morning for, eg, sex or just sleeping in. Making such occasional exceptions also didn’t make me abandon my routine altogether.
Just like eating a locally caught fish in Greece about a year ago didn’t make me go back to killing animals on a regular basis. At that time, I fully accepted and appreciated the life I took, and while I did enjoy it somewhat (not as much as I thought I would), it didn’t come easy and was something very extraordinary.
But wait, why did I eat more fish throughout the year? Seems it wasn’t so extraordinary after all. Well, it’s not that simple. Life is not that simple, hence my skepticism towards inflexible rules.
See, at the end of last year I was in India for an intense yoga training, which was supposed to go for 6 months. After about 8 weeks I contracted a parasite, which quickly caused havoc to my body. Within a few weeks I lost nearly 10 kg. At my worst I weighed 62kg (I am 181cm tall). Needless to say I fled the country to seek medical treatment.
My first stop on my way to Australia (where I am insured) was the Philippines, which I believe to be the WORST country ever for vegans. Seriously, think Thai food without veggies and spices but instead with lots and lots of meat.
The hospital couldn’t help me so I checked into a 5 star hotel, trying to rest and eat as much as I could, before another vomit and diarrhea episode would inevitably hit me. I didn’t enjoy the most likely caged eggs and surely not locally caught fish, but getting the calories in no matter what was obviously my main priority.
In any case, it didn’t make me feel bad.
I have my place in this world, I am allowed to take up space, and sometimes it means that other beings have to die for me. That’s life to some extent.
Could I have survived on plain pasta and chips? Sure, but it would have inconvenienced me in a way I didn’t want to accept.
So, was I still vegan back then, despite having eaten fish and eggs out of pleasure and convenience? Am I now?
Your opinion might differ but I absolutely think so. A vegan is someone who doesn’t eat or use animals. Looking back, the last 5 years, this has been predominately true, by a large margin.
The exceptions I made were just that: Exceptions, for better or worse reasons, which, however, ultimately reinforced my strong preference for veganism.
I’ve said it before and I will say it again. Going vegan was one of the most important and best decisions of my life. Apart from the fantastic health benefits, the incredible body feeling, my main drive is to reduce harm to other living beings. With the emphasis on REDUCE.
I don’t think it is inherently wrong to kill for food or out of convenience. It’s just, in my opinion it is wrong 99% of the time, and that’s because of HOW we use those animals. There is a big difference between eating a locally caught fish, which had a life of sorts, and mass produced animal products made from objectified living beings.
Personally I also feel sorry for the wild fish, who had to give his life for me. I’d rather have him stay home with his family and friends, and would happily eat veggies instead. Most of the times that is, obviously, I did make exceptions, albeit rarely and after some contemplation.
Then again, I am also a passionate motorcylce rider and I drive a car. Why do I mention that?
Well, I wish I had a photo at hand, but my bike helmet resembles a battle field after each and every ride. Bug blood splattered all over the place, severed limbs, you name it. It is horrible. No, I am not kidding, it really is.
But me too, I also deserve to be happy and riding my bike makes me incredibly so. So much that I accept the lives I take during this activity. Riding a bicycle, which would undoubtedly cause less fatalities, just isn’t the same.
Or, it would suck majorly to only walk everywhere instead of driving the car, which again causes animals to die.
Contrary, eating fish doesn’t make me that much happier than eating veggies, which is why I hardly ever do.
It’s just where I draw my line, really (for the time being that is).
Living leaves an impact on this planet. By all means, try to reduce your impact as you see fit. Think about your choices and make a conscious decision,
however that may look like. You don’t have to justify it to anyone but yourself.
I am convinced that is how we bring about change, how we will ultimately get rid of animal factories. There is no doubt they are cruel and ancient and wrong, which is why they are on their way out, as far-fetched this may seem now.
Because deep down we know what’s right and what’s wrong, and while we might not always live up to that, most of us will naturally strive to do the right thing.
There is only one catch, my dear non-vegan friends. A conscious decision requires knowledge about all facts, and with regard to the use and consumption of animals, these facts are not pretty at all. Which is why they are hidden from us.
“If slaughterhouses had glass walls, everyone would be vegetarian” Paul Mc Cartney
Don’t believe me? See for yourself: We are all Earthlings.