A few weeks ago I shared my “vegan conversion” story on James McWilliams’s Eating Plants blog. Since then I have been thinking a lot about my transition from a dietary vegan to an ethical one. I always give credit to the big three:
- Gena Hamshaw of Choosing Raw wrote a Vegan 101 post here on the ethics of veganism and later introduced me to a pig on a farm sanctuary through one of her posts.
- Which led to me discovering Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary and Clover, my sponsored goat.
- Jasmin and Mariann of Our Hen House helped me figure out to move my passion to activism.
These three experiences/animals/people/places/organizations are the reason I say emphatically that I am vegan for life.
Because once you know something, you can’t not know it.
Okay, that’s not my line. It’s Barbara McDonald’s. A reader recently turned me on to McDonald’s study: “‘Once You Know Something, You Can’t Not Know It’: An Empirical Look at Becoming Vegan“, originally published in Society and Animals, Volume 8, Number 1, 2000. Essentially, the study confirms what I am coming to realize on my own. A vegan can go back to eating cheese far more easily if his or her veganism is not about the animals. I know how dairy is manufactured in this country. I know that cows are put on rape racks. That they are continuously impregnated. That their own babies never get to nurse because the cow’s milk has been “manufactured” for humans to drink. I can’t not know this. Cheese just isn’t that important.
I think this is why I get so frustrated. Frustrated with vegans selling veganism by promising skinny. If someone comes to it for diet, we may not have them on the team for long – unless they are influenced, as I was, with a compelling animal rights argument. I get frustrated when “public” vegans – bloggers – leave veganism and suddenly, surprisingly, toss a photo of an egg on a post. Or quietly add egg, butter or milk to a recipe without exactly stating they are no longer vegan. As I see this happen, and re-read their old posts, I often see that their plant-based diets were just that. Diets. How do we influence these public figures to explore the ethics behind their diets?
I recently announced my vegan lifestyle coaching business to a LinkedIn group. Someone, quite kindly, suggested that I change my messaging to “plant-based” instead of vegan. Because I would probably attract more clients. I replied that I simply couldn’t do that. There are plenty of people out there who are “plant strong” and are focused on the diet. I have a perspective and it’s that I want to end violence against all beings – which includes non-human beings.
The takeaway, for me, is that I must hold true to my perspective while understanding that readers of this blog, followers on Facebook, and coaching clients may be approaching vegetarianism and veganism for dietary reasons but that there is always an opportunity to share what I know, compassionately, so that once you know something, you can’t not know it.
What do you think?