I found going Vegan to be incredibly easy. No, really, I did. I started off as a Vegetarian for most of my youth, but when I married a meat lover I went on to eat meat. When I did become a Vegetarian again I found myself consuming less and less dairy products without paying attention. So making the leap was pretty simple to do. After all, what was I really losing?
But one thing I have found some difficulty with is the label. I don’t know if you have noticed, but for much of the Vegan community there isn’t much of a consensus on what isn’t a Vegan. There is plenty of information on what makes one: someone who doesn’t eat or use anything that comes from a living, feeling creature. So no meat, dairy, honey, leather, etc.
This seems so straight forward at the face of it, but what happens when you fall below the standard? What are you called then?
The Invisible Line
Not too long ago I came across a series of tweets from a very distraught young woman. She said that she just found out something she ate once a week was meatless, but contained some powdered milk product. I remember one of the updates clearly:
“Turns out I was never #Vegan, can’t stop crying. #Gutted.”
From what I can tell she had done everything else right. She gave up all animal products consciously, bought with the purpose of being cruelty free, and campaigned for awareness (based on other tweets in her feed).
Did the fact that she was accidentally eating something every once in awhile with milk really mean she wasn’t Vegan?
This, folks, is what I like to call “the invisible line”. It is invisible because no one actually knows where it is, or where it is placed. Just that it exists, and that if they cross it they risk being seen as “less Vegan” than the rest.
Finding Your Line
It is very important as a Baby Vegan not to feel intimidated or bullied by this unseen menace. Because in the end, the only person who can decide where that line is placed is you. You, the person who has made the courageous choice to lessen your impact on the environment, to not be a part of animal cruelty, and to do something amazing for your body’s health.
My own line is not the same one many people are going to take. I am meat free all of the time. But I am dairy-free only 95% of the time. Does that make me less of a Vegan? Well, maybe to some people, and I admire those who are able to keep themselves 100% animal product free all the time. But I am not ashamed that I am not one of them, because I see the good in the choices I make almost all of the time.
That is why I found it so easy to become a Vegan. Because even though I am making a massive choice in how I live, eat, shop and look at the world, I’m doing it the way that works for me. I am finding my line.
Don’t be afraid to find your own, Baby Vegans.
Oli Anderson is a freelance writer and owner of The Wannabe Vegetarian. She is new to the lifestyle, but eager to promote both cruelty free living and environmental resource reduction. She can be contacted by email here.