Conscious Living is a series which takes a closer look at living a life full of thoughtful choices and conscious decision making in order to live a life full of meaning, self-love, and respect for ourselves and the world around us.
For those of you who may be new to LFB, I have previously written about my relationship with veganism and vegetarianism, especially as a person who has many allergies and stomach complications.
It’s definitely worth a read, but suffice it to say, the moral of the story was that all we can expect to do on this earth is give the best that we are able to give at that point in time. As long as we are truly doing our best, we should not consider what we are unable to do a failure. In addition, because everyone is on a different journey and has different obstacles to overcome or that may block certain options, we should not place judgement on others.
In addition to this, even if an individual knows right from wrong and has the capacity to do the right thing but chooses not to, we do not have the licence to pick them apart and shame them. We can strive to educate and try to open minds, but we cannot force our views down other people’s throats. We should also refrain from morally attacking others just because they do not live life the way we think it should be lived.
Sadly the vegan community often does just that. Many vegans are rigid and unwilling to try to understand grey areas. While I can understand the overall thought process and why many vegans take such an extreme stance, to me this kind of mentality does more harm then good; it is dripping with intolerance and lack of understanding – for those with allergies against the primary vegan protein sources, those who may not have the income and access to a pure vegan diet, other cultures and customs, etc – and also has the opposite unintended effect, oftentimes permanently turning people off to the idea of a full or primarily plant-based diet and animal rights.
I was recently attacked online by zealous vegans who tried to shame and bully me into submission because they assumed a coat I had thrifted in Berlin for 30 Euros was real fur. I got called a bitch and basically was told I should die. Now here is the thing – I am strong enough for such kind of things not to personally affect me, but it makes me so sad to see these kind of actions as to me this goes against what veganism is all about.
(For the record, I bought the coat thinking it was fake fur and the friend who I bought it with and I are still 99% percent convinced the giant coat pictured above is nothing more than synthetic fibres. I also promote living with intention and despite my host of allergies strive to eat as vegan as possible. So it’s kind of ironic that I was targeted in the first place.)
Here is the thing – Veganism is about compassion. Compassion for creatures. Compassion for life. It’s understanding that humans are not the only creatures that suffer. But for many who decide to pursue a vegan lifestyle, it becomes an unyielding dogma. Such adherents to this extreme form of veganism tend to use intimidation, scare tactics, and name calling to bully people into submission. But how is this okay or acceptable to treat your fellow man with such disrespect, when your cause promotes compassion for ALL living things? To me this is the worst kind of tunnel vision – to be on a mission for compassion but in the process to forget the basic forms of politeness for your fellow man.
You do not have to agree with what everyone else is doing. You are allowed to have an opinion. You are also allowed to speak your mind. But if I were to encounter someone who I thought was doing something I was morally opposed to, I would first try to inform myself about the person and what may had lead to the actions they have taken. I would then offer alternative ways to solve the “problem” for lack of a better word, if I thought the person was receptive to hearing the information and that by offering alternatives I was not crossing any boundaries. I would not use my keyboard as a weapon and deface another human being.
For those of you who are fighting for the rights of animals, I salute you. And I implore you to keep on doing so. But remember, when trying to educate other people about their actions, please keep in mind the life circumstances of the person who are attempting to educate and do so with respect and humility for this fellow living and breathing creature. Intolerance and angry words more often than not have the opposite effect. It is with love and compassion that we have the strength to change the world. Not through hate and intimidation.
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