Being vegan is more than just adopting an optional, non-animal dependent, cruelty-free, material lifestyle. It is more than just the food we chose to eat, the clothes we wear and the things we fill our homes and lives with. Yes, as vegans, we should be proud that our cruelty-free lifestyle is not dependent upon animal exploitation. Estimate the number of animals you have not consumed since you stopped eating meat, eggs and dairy. Be proud of the number of animal lives you saved and your contribution toward creating a peaceful and compassionate world. For many years this was — and still is — my approach to being a vegan. I am a cruelty-free consumer. I am a vegelical. I promote veganism and animal rights whenever I can for the animals, the planet and our own well-being. But my thoughts and feelings about being vegan evolve, as I know they do for many. My challenge is to understand how my veganism changes and the impact it makes on my animal advocacy practice.
I am not saying you have to be religious to be vegan. Nor am I saying being vegan is belonging to a religion, although vegelicals often come across with a missionary zeal. Thankfully, Donald Watson, the founder of the Vegan Society of the UK in 1944, is not being acclaimed as a god of a new church espousing vegan spirituality. My inner grumpy vegan being ensures that anything which boils with the fervour of born again sentiment, including animal advocacy, is met with scepticism and disdain. Zealous vegelicalism of my past has evolved into sniffy vegelicalism of my present.
What I am trying to say is that my relationship to being vegan is different from when I first gave up all animal products. I feel there is something more about being vegan which is a progression from its material lifestyle aspects. Age and experience, and their attendant rewards of insight and wisdom, are making an impact on my understanding of what being vegan means. I am no longer willing to describe myself simply as a material vegan. But I do not consider myself to be a spiritual vegan either. So, what type of vegan am I?
Is there room in the house for a more-than-material-but-not-quite-spiritual-grumpy-vegan?