A question I frequently ask myself is, “How much should I worry as a vegan?” In other words, “How extreme should I be?” An Instagram user I follow, who refers to himself as a vegan anarchist, really brought this question to my attention the other day: He made a post about Oreos, which are arguably one of the few vegan junk foods available, and proceeded to explain that Oreos are not vegan because they have the potential to come in contact with milk, which means that Oreos could contain small traces of a dairy product. His post made me wonder if he was too extreme, or if I wasn’t extreme enough in my beliefs about veganism. So, these are my thoughts on how vegan I believe the average person can and should be.
James Aspey, undoubtedly one of my favorite animal advocates, lies on the more extreme end of veganism, at least in my opinion. He is well-known for taking a vow of silence for an entire year, whilst travelling Australia, to illustrate how animals are voiceless and, in turn, how we can be the voices for the voiceless. In addition to this, James participated in a rigorous 25 hour tattoo session to campaign for animals. (You can learn more about James and his campaigns here.) While this is an admirable act, it would be unrealistic for most of us to follow his path. Many of us have jobs, families, and other extraneous factors that may prevent us from being able to take a vow of silence, travel around the country, or get tattooed, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t be vegan.
On the opposite end of the scale, there are many vegans who practice veganism on a very superficial level. For instance, Kylie Jenner allegedly went vegan over the summer of 2017. I’m not sure if she continued this diet, but I recall reading several articles questioning the motives behind Kylie’s new dietary choices (Google it for yourself, and you will see). Many people questioned if Kylie truly understood what it meant to be vegan, as many people are unaware that veganism extends beyond consuming a plant-based diet (If you’re curious about what I mean by this, I encourage you to explore The Vegan Society’s definition of veganism here). Vegans who fall into this category may need to become more educated, and thankfully, there are a lot of resources on the Internet that vegans can use to improve on a day-to-day basis, and as I mentioned in my last blog post, becoming vegan is a learning process.
Right now, I find myself somewhere in the middle of these two: I’m doing something, but I could always be doing more. I avoid meat, dairy, animal products, and other items that may be products of animal cruelty. But could I be doing more to participate in an activist role? Perhaps go beyond telling other people that I’m vegan and actually explain to them why I’ve made this choice? The answer to these questions, and many more, is yes. Unfortunately, I don’t think I will ever reach the ranks of James Aspey , and right now, if anyone is wondering, I still eat Oreos because I am not afraid of potential cross contaminants with milk, but like I said, I am always learning and may change my mind. What’s your opinion? How vegan is vegan enough? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
The featured photo was taken by Kyle Broad. Find more of his work at unsplash.com.