The only types of labels I like are the ones that are plastered around my kitchen reminding my husband exactly where to put each pot, pan, utensil or ingredient. The OCD side of my persona enjoys nothing more than looking in my cupboards and seeing everything in its place – perfectly organised, nothing out of the ordinary. Ironically – this is the exact reason that I hate the labels we put on each other. They aren’t harmless guidelines (my husband would argue the same about our kitchen system) they are parameters – unyielding, unforgiving and often untrue. And nowadays I see it more than ever when it comes down to what we eat.
I Am Not Vegan
I thought I was vegan for a year and a half – apparently I was not (and never will be) a “proper” vegan. I actually experienced anger from a lot of vegans (some of them good friends) about the way my improper vegan lifestyle was damaging to the overall cause. I did not consume meat or dairy. I did not eat store bought eggs. I did however eat eggs from my parent’s hobby farm where no chicken was or will ever be killed. This – to my surprise – enraged people. In my view I was being true to the cause; I was not contributing to the negative treatment of any animals, nor environmental degradation related to food production, nor the exploitation of local/indigenous people (apart from my mum when I would force her to make me Pavlova). But I received a lot of criticism from people that I would not have expected it from. I was told that I was not as good a person as my properly vegan counterparts. I suspect that these people were trying to change my opinion/stance/behaviour but all it did was completely alienate me from a really beautiful philosophy.
What happens when you criticise someone…
See while I was looking down the end of a pointed finger (they were yelling down at me from a far superior plane of spiritual connectedness) all I could look at was their fridge. Highly packaged foods with little nutritional value. Non-organic fruit and vegetables, which have more miles attached to them than Richard Branson. Genetically modified soy. Carbon heavy plane tickets. How on earth could this person be judging me when they are committing all sorts of environmental sins? And there we have it! As soon as you tout yourself to be the Messiah of all things holy you turn a massive looking glass onto every decision you have ever made in your life. You immediately push people on the back foot while they grapple for their self-defence can of pepper spray.
Forgetting the labels and accepting each other
In my mind I am doing all that I can. I do not support industries that I do not agree with. I do support those that I do. Such as oyster farming – it improves water quality, provides local people with non-destructive employment, and many studies prove that they do not feel pain. But in the end what I believe (and if you agree with it) does not matter. Omnivore, locavore, vegan, fruitarian, organic devotee, self-sufficient. They could all spend their entire lives criticising different aspects of their consumptive habits or they could look at all the positives of their collective diets. If people have made the conscious decision to alter their food habits for the better then they should be praised rather than demonised about the specifics. Call me vanilla or defeatist if you will but I feel that positive reinforcement beats punishment and shame every time.
What everyone should do
In my opinion there are only three things that every single person should do;
- Everyone should endeavour to be as informed as possible about any industry or impact that they contribute to. If you don’t agree with it – don’t contribute to it.
- Don’t judge. Everyone has different opinions, timelines and motivations to change.
- Lead by a great, happy, kind example! People gravitate towards good energy.
I am really sorry if this has come across as a rant or as if I do not like or believe in the Vegan cause. I very much do and I still apply a lot of these philosophies to my life. I just started to notice a lot of really wonderful people that are all committed to a better world, bickering over the idiosyncrasies of their respective diets. That has just been my personal experience and my motivation behind the article. I just hated that people said that I was not a supporter of animal rights because I eat oysters. Humans are like onions dammit – we have layers!!!
Steve Irwin ate meat and did a hell of a lot for this planet. Ellen DeGeneres is vegan and does a hell of a lot for this planet. Saddam Hussein ate meat and Adolf Hitler was vegetarian and I guess it’s safe to say that they have both done a hell of a lot to the planet as well. Let’s focus on the good in people hey?
Please feel more than free to leave comments. Are you a food snob? Have you been shamed about your diet? Do you think it is a good tactic to incite change? I ‘d be really interested.