Fighting for animal liberation and an end to speciesism
I know I’ll probably catch some heat for saying so, but I disagree with characterizing being vegan as easy.
Being vegan isn’t easy, and we can know it isn’t easy because of the number of people who try it on and then leave off doing it. (We can know by the number of vegetarians who flirt with the idea for years too, as I did.) In that respect, it’s like quitting alcohol. Easy to talk about, and even easy to do for days at a time, but when the social situations encourage it, or when internal pressures make it easy to fall back on old habits, fall back on old habits we will.
Once a person fully accepts the moral value of other animals and understands the rights-based argument for veganism, then it becomes easier. But promoting it as “easy” isn’t helpful, I don’t think, because when people try it, and find that it isn’t at all easy for them, they may assume that they aren’t the kind of person who can be vegan. Sometimes vegans are thought of as being different kinds of people.
If you are vegan, or if you are a person who does things that others might not, especially such as commit large portions of your time to volunteer work, or missionary work, then you may have heard others say “I don’t know how you do it, you’re a special person, living the life you believe in. I wish I could be more like you.” Now, if you respond to this kind of statement by saying, “Oh, it’s easy, anyone can do it”, your words will likely have the affect of of criticizing the other person. After all, if it’s so easy, you are, in a way, implying that there’s something wrong with anyone who wouldn’t do as you do. That’s bound to be not helpful.
I also believe that’s there’s something else at work in the minds of those who ask “how do you do it?” I believe that people want to be the best they can be, and that they want to be challenged to answer to their better angels. We all want to be special in some way. When we tell others that whatever we do “is nothing, and anyone can do it” we cheapen the value of what we are doing, we make it less special and make it less likely that others will want do it too.
Better to say, “Yes, it can be difficult, but it is important to me, and I believe that it’s important to others, so I do what I can.” This is honest, and it is accepting of others, as they try to come to understand what they are able to do in their own lives.
Now, there is a huge difference between that which is easy and that which is simple.
The best analogy I know of is long distance running. For example, running a marathon (26.2 miles/42.2 Kilometers) is quite simple: Quickly put one foot in front of the other over and over again until you cross the finish line. That’s about as simple a thing as a bipedal primate adapted to running can do. Obviously, especially to anyone who has tried, it isn’t easy at all. The good news is that anyone (barring those with serious physical limitations) can do simple things, even when they are not at all easy to do. My 82 year old mother completed marathons when she was 77. She and I walked 9 miles last Sunday. It wasn’t easy, but it’s always worth the effort, and if she can do it, so can you.
Being vegan is simple: one just stops using other animals as things in every way possible. It’s simple, but I don’t think it is all that easy in a speciesist society. It’s still worth the effort though, and if I can do it, so can you.
The original can be viewed here: http://timgier.com/2011/01/13/is-being-vegan-easy/
Blackpanther, Michelin tyres do not contain any animal products.
I find being vegan, that is being satisfied with vegan food, is easy. The difficulties around being vegan are more about social issues I think. I don't work with people who are vegan or even vegetarian, although they all respect that I am and go to trouble to try and find something vegan when we have a morning tea or lunch. It's amazing though that they get confused between vegan and gluten free. But I persevere and I think their interest is growing. At first they looked at me sideways and I think were waiting for me to drop dead with some nutritional deficiency, but that I am quietly vegan has been the best way to manage the work situation.
Most of my friends are OK but I think they get a bit tired of being restricted by where we can go for a meal or vegan friendly wines to drink, as they have to acknowledge that animals products are used in so many things. You never stop learning, but I became vegan when I went from knowing in my head that eating animals is wrong to knowing in my heart. So for me, it's primarily just having to ask questions when I go shopping, but I think that's part of the process of spreading the awareness.
On the issue of animal testing, the point is to buy from companies that don't test now and do not buy ingredients from companies that do. I also use herbal and homeopathic products primarily, nothing of which is derived from animals and people who work in health shops are now very aware of this as well.
Well, being vegan is easy if you're an independent adult (at least in buying and cooking food/toiletries), are single or have a partner/family who will go along with it (either by going vegan themselves or by accepting that they will eat vegan food most of the time at home), and have been vegan long enough to get into the relevant habits (checking ingredients, taking packed lunches to work, I'm sure we all have the general idea). Going vegan in the first place isn't always easy, and I think some of us lose sight of that. I'm just as guilty of that as the person who lambasted me when I was going vegan for the second time for daring to say it was difficult - had forgotten after a few years what most of the issues were, until I became friends with a very new vegan who was still getting into it. And of course not everyone's circumstances make veganism the most straightforward option, have to admire the people who still try!