Veganism is on the rise – more and more people are switching to a plant-based diet and ditching animal products altogether. Of course vegans applaud this movement (and they should) but also on the rise are the people eating fewer animal products. What about these inbetweeners? Shouldn’t they get any credit?
Let me start by saying that I am absolutely pro-vegan. That’s why I only post 100% plant-based recipes on my site and stopped eating meat three years ago. There are many reasons to go vegan, the most important being animal cruelty as well as health and environmental reasons. While being vegan goes much further than eating a plant-based diet (it means dropping all animal products from your life, whether it is cheese, a leather belt or animal-tested skin cream) veganism is more hip and happening than ever before. The year has barely begun and I’ve already visited two vegan fairs in the Netherlands, seen countless vegan food blogs appear and read many news stories on famous vegans. Here in the Netherlands we also have a ‘vegetarian butcher’ which produces vegan and vegetarian meat substitutes and is immensely popular. That just goes to show that vegan food, at least, is here to stay.
The extreme vegan
Here’s my problem. If you’re ever online and have witnessed a vegan and a non-vegan go at each other on a forum or below a completely unrelated Facebook post, you realize and understand why so many people say “vegans are annoying” and why I believe it is unlikely that everybody will go vegan in the next decade. Most vegan people have a very black and white mentality; veganism implies no animal products, which mean none at all. No dairy, no eggs, no meat or fish and no leather, fur, or products tested on animals (and the list goes on). This is one of the main differences between being vegan and vegetarian. While there’s nothing wrong with ditching all animal products (it’s amazing), there are a lot of people (like me) that want to be as vegan as possible who don’t get any credit. Although I am very careful, I have at times accidentally bought leather (a leather patch on my jeans, who knew?), animal-tested products or eaten a veggie burger which had egg in it. Veggie burger, people. That’s better than meat, right? RIGHT?
Less = more
So here’s the solution: don’t force people to stop eating meat (I don’t), don’t ridicule them for not realizing honey is an animal product (oops – bees, that’s right, I forgot) and certainly don’t shame them for allowing some animal products into their lives. Eating less meat is always better than eating meat every day and the fact of the matter is, we live in a very animal-product-driven society. You just can’t help it sometimes. Until the day where we can buy fully vegan cars (at a reasonable price), affordable beauty products everywhere which have not been tested on animals, and get a vegan option in every restaurant, society will not massively go vegan any time soon. People need to be slowly introduced to what it’s like to eliminate animal products from their lives, which products to buy and which to avoid, and learn why it’s better for them and the planet. It means breaking with traditions, memories and everything you thought you knew about food and consumer products in general.
Change takes time
I’m still learning to be as vegan as possible (I call myself a part-time vegan) and I hope to become better at it – but it’s a process. Don’t get me wrong: I am fully pro-veganism; I think it’s extremely admirable and I wish everybody would make the switch. However, I also wish some vegans would switch to a kinder, more subtle attitude to those why are trying and doing their best. I’m doing my best and I know lots of other people who are too. You just can’t change the world overnight – it will take time. We will get there, I’m sure of it. Because just like I said at the beginning of this article: veganism is on the rise and it will continue to spread, resulting in less animal suffering, better human health and a more sustainable planet. So I do recommend going vegan but if you can, consider going vegan part-time. I have many delicious recipes on this site you can try if you don’t know where to start :-).