Written by Melissa Watt |
The Vegan Society defines veganism as a lifestyle which seeks to exclude, as far as is possible and practicable, the consumption of animal products. This recognises that individual circumstances do not always permit fully vegan lifestyles; after all, you can only do your best and act within your means.
This approach is not shared by the ‘vegan police’: superior vegans who incriminate vegetarians and meat-eaters alike. They attack anybody who fails to conform to their standard of veganism and nobody is safe from their critical eye.
“The truth is that they’re causing more harm than good to the vegan movement. Their all-or-nothing attitude deters people from becoming vegan.”
The truth is that they’re causing more harm than good to the vegan movement. Their all-or-nothing attitude deters people from becoming vegan. The transition to veganism can be an overwhelming task, one that is often shrouded in misinformation.
The vegan police directly contribute to the mass discouragement in the media by being judgemental and exclusive. This is counterproductive. It only fuels the stereotype that all vegans are extreme and that veganism is bad. I am almost always greeted with an eye roll when I dare mutter the forsaken ‘v’ word.
“I am almost always greeted with an eye roll when I dare mutter the forsaken ‘v’ word.”
To challenge this, the vegan police should channel their passion into offering guidance to those hoping to slowly veganise their lifestyle. They need to acknowledge that small changes can make a difference. Incorporating meat-free Mondays into your diet or switching to non-dairy milk are both commendable steps. Many vegans themselves once conformed to the societal mindset that sanctions the consumption of meat. They subsequently forgot how hard it is to break free from that habit.
Vegans can also find themselves the target of the vegan police. There is an unrealistic expectation to be the perfect role model. Vegans must be healthy, slim, yoga-loving hippies which ultimately undermines the diversity of the community.
“We should be embracing the non-vegan corporations who respond to the demand for more vegan options.”
There is also a pressure to eat from vegan-only restaurants. While you should support local vegan businesses, they are not evenly spread across the country. If the same rule applied to shopping at vegan-only supermarkets, veganism would be inaccessible, almost impossible. We should be embracing the non-vegan corporations who respond to the demand for more vegan options.
There is an equal pressure to live a completely ethical lifestyle. You must produce zero waste and source all of your clothes from ethical companies. While plastic pollution and fast fashion are urgent environmental and humanitarian issues, they are not specifically vegan ones.
Any diversion from the ‘norm’, whether that means turning veggie or not, is a valid step. The switch to veganism shouldn’t be an overnight task. The pressure to turn vegan shouldn’t be so aggressive. If you accidentally eat something non-vegan, you are still vegan. It is okay to make mistakes.
Veganism is not about being perfect – it is about doing the least harm and the most good.