I had an interesting learning experience last night. I made a post on a vegan forum (one that claimed to be inclusive, peaceful, and accepting of all questions) – “If you could source yarn knowing it’s origins (from rescued/pet sheep, organic, spun by hand in Australia, dyed naturally with plant dye) would you choose it over synthetic fibre? Asking for business research. All comments which are positive/constructive will be appreciated and respected.”
Some people said “Yeah sounds good!”
Others said “Mmm I personally wouldn’t, but my mother in law is a keen crafter – she’d love it!”
Some said “Nah. Not vegan. Any animal product is not by definition ‘vegan’. Have you thought about cotton or hemp?”
I learnt so much, and most people were so lovely and positive.
Others were downright viscious.
I had no right to call myself vegan. Stupid people ask stupid questions. This question has no place on a vegan forum. I dont really care about people anyway.
These reponses are why I shy away from saying the word ‘vegan’ when talk to people. Why I hesitate, holding my breath for the uncomfortable silence that inevitably follows, and watching the other person prepare their defenses. I dont want to be associated with extremists. (Wait… is this how it Muslims feel?!?!)
So I learned something. I eat vegan food that does not come from animals. I try not to wear leather (unless it’s 2nd hand). I believe cruelty and exploitation of animals is wrong.
But would I choose commercially produced, environmentally unsustainable, chemically treated, possibly sweatshopped synthetic fabrics over the fleece my goats have shed and I have handspun, just for the ‘no animal fibres’ principle alone? No way.
I dont believe in “ethical perfection”, and I dont have one philosophy. I wouldn’t choose animals over environment, animals over humans, or humans over animals. I dont think it’s that black and white.
I ride my horse. Therefore I’m not a vegan. I vaccinate and desex my dogs. Therefore I am not a vegan. I feed my dogs meat. My kids wear their cousins’ hand-me-down leather shoes rather than buying new. I buy and cook local free range meat for my husband (but not often!), because I respect him as a person and respect his choices. I adopt ex-battery hens rather than have them be killed, and sell their free range eggs cheaply, so that others will have an alternative to caged supermarket eggs. Therefore I’m not a vegan.
One forum member put it beautifully:
“I just try to do the ‘most vegan thing’ in each situation”.
Perfect. That’s my mantra. Well nearly: “I just do my best to be kind. What is the best, most compassionate thing I can do here?”
I dont think vegans are wrong. I dont know whats right or wrong. I’m not an expert. I’m not the Messiah (“Im just a very naughty boy!”). I dont need a definition, a title, or a ‘box’ to put my beliefs in. I just do my best. We’re all just trying to do our best.
Respect and love to everyone who’s just trying to do their best.