Vegan Compromise?

Adrienne August 27, 2012 22
Vegan Compromise?

Thanks to Gretchen for giving me the chance to be a part of the Chic Vegan team!

I debated what to write for my first post, knowing that ChicVegan is all about, well, being chic AND vegan. I’ve got some ideas up my sleeve that lend themselves towards the chic realm (more later!), but there is one topic that I really wanted to address that has been driving me bananas as I moved from being vegetarian to vegan.

An explanation as to my motives behind writing for ChicVegan may be in order first. Part of the reason I was excited to contribute to ChicVegan was to get more involved in the vegan community and connect with other vegans. I saw the request for writers and decided to jump in. I live in a part of the country that does not provide a wealth of vegan options….wealth probably isn’t even the right word. We have a few options, but you have to look for them. And I know one other vegan, that’s it. So, I don’t really have anyone with which to bounce those burning vegan questions back and forth. Needless to say, I’m jubilant about the possibility of having these discussions online.

Enter Chic Vegan. So here is my question du jour…as I seem to think about it quite a bit. I’m a new vegan, just going on one year, so perhaps this is common at first –

where do you compromise on being vegan??

I’ve done a bunch of reading on being vegan, and pay attention to some of the leading vegans and their journey, but I haven’t quite gotten an answer to this question. So far as I can see, it’s probably impossible to be 100% vegan.

I do my very best with food. I’m vegan at home, of course, and at restaurants, although I probably don’t do the greatest job I could with asking more questions about ingredients. I also prod in the politest way possible at social gatherings as to ingredients, or I just avoid food I’m not sure about. But sometimes, I just let it go. For example, I just learned last week that the communion bread at my church has honey in it. I briefly debated asking for a different recipe, but I have decided against that, for now. Maybe as I become more established in my veganism, I will be more vocal? For now though, it’s a compromise.

And I think the area in which I’ve struggled the most so far is in vegan purchasing. I actually started phasing out animal-tested products, leather, wool, etc. several years before phasing out dairy and eggs. I haven’t had a problem with shoes or bags. I have had challenges with cleaning and beauty products. When I made the decision to ethically shop, I dove right in, buying only clearly stated cruelty-free, organic and natural products….and then realized I was way short on cash at the end of that month. It’s simply not in my budget.

So, I started looking for other, cheaper options. St. Ives states the products aren’t tested on animals, as do many Wal-mart brand Equate products (I know, I know, just shopping at Wal-mart is a compromise; I live in a pretty rural area). Clorox GreenWorks products also state the same thing. This is another one of my compromises, until I find a better solution (or win the lottery). I don’t feel great about it, because testing a product and an ingredient are different things. Some of the ingredients may even be animal-based. Again, I’m just not asking the questions as well as I could, like with restaurants. And don’t get me started on medicine and animal testing….yikes. But I still take medicine!

Perhaps as opposed to being just “vegan,” I’m more of an aspirational vegan. My goal is to be VEGAN! with an exclamation point. But maybe compromise is built right into being just “vegan,” and it’s not a topic that’s easily addressed, so…..we don’t. I know as a new vegan it’d be nice to know others feel the same way and make similar choices. My one vegan acquaintance seems to be on the same page, which helps.

So, perhaps a bit of a weighty question to dive into it in a first post, but I’m just so curious. Where do you compromise? How do you justify these compromises? Or, have you figured out a way you don’t have to? I’m all ears!!


Image courtesy of Flickr’s The Commons

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  1. Andrea August 27, 2012 at 1:36 pm -

    You ARE vegan. You have already made the important changes in terms of diet and clothing etc. The worst thing among vegans is judging. I’ve only known a couple of vegans who are like that (and I know lots of vegans). I knew a guy who told me I wasn’t a vegan because I bought some marked down cans of meat dog food for my dog who had had a stroke and was refusing to eat anything. SO FU to anyone who would judge a person for buying non-veg food for a dying pet.
    That was indeed a compromise, as my dogs are vegan. But I don’t view other digressions that way. We travel a lot and sometimes mistakes are made when ordering food in another language. If a salad comes with a sprinkle of cheese, I don’t get worked up about it. What’s the point? At that point, it’s freegan. It’s done. Eat it or push it aside.
    It sounds like you are doing great and don’t be hard on youself. We all take medicine and do our best to avoid bad stuff. The other day, we wanted some over-the-counter treatment and I looked and saw it had gelatin in it. Ewww. So we found something else to use.
    Be proud of where you are, and don’t let the judgey people get to you. As you seem to realize, there is no such thing as perfect. You just do your best.

  2. VeggieGrettie August 27, 2012 at 9:40 pm -

    You make great points Andrea! We are all on our own vegan paths doing the best we can at the time.

  3. Carolyn August 27, 2012 at 11:20 pm -

    Such an interesting topic and yes I do struggle with it. I compromise with my ca’t who at 21 years is not willing to make the change no matter how convincing my argument ! and then there’s cockroaches …. I usually just ignore them, keep my kitchen very clean and all my food covered but sometimes it’s too much and I kill them ….so yes I do my best …..whatever that is on the day !

  4. Melissa August 28, 2012 at 3:59 pm -

    I compromise on prescription meds and vitamins. Prescription meds are an area where I just have to prioritize my health and well-being over animal products or testing. It would be harder to be a vegan/activist if I don’t have my health. Where vitamins are concerned, I’m looking into vegan options for some of them, but as in the original article, cost is a significant issue. I feel ashamed of my choices sometimes, but I’m doing the best I can with what I’ve got.

  5. AddyB August 28, 2012 at 6:45 pm -

    Thanks, Andrea! I really appreciate your attitude and think it’s a great way to approach the whole question. Focus on what we CAN do. And that’s awesome your dogs are vegan too! I would have done the same thing to help make my dog comfortable.

  6. AddyB August 29, 2012 at 3:27 pm -

    That’s really funny you mention that about roaches – my husband teases me because I try to get every other bug outside alive, but not roaches. I won’t even get near those; luckily he will. I tried to get him to save them too, but…..I do apologize to them in my mind though! Glad to know someone else is in the same boat.

  7. AddyB August 29, 2012 at 3:28 pm -

    I guess by default I’m the same way on prescription meds – truthfully, I haven’t even looked too deeply into them, I suppose because of what I might find out. I have gradually made the switch to vegan vitamins. In fact, I just ordered some last night from Lucky Vitamin. Their prices seemed reasonable. I think focusing on doing the best we can is the way to go!

  8. Melissa August 29, 2012 at 4:47 pm -

    Cat’s are obligate carnivores and a vegan diet is dangerous for them. I’m glad you chose not to. But this reminds me that my dog’s food is another area where I compromise, and again, to my shame, it’s because of cost.

  9. JL August 30, 2012 at 6:16 pm -

    Great topic! As you know, I’ve been in the midst of a “vegan enough” debate…or rather how I defined “vegan” for a mainstream paper for which I write. Vegan is a philosophy. It’s also a word. A label. I claimed the term vegan while still wearing leather and wool. And my vegan journey progressed and I no longer wear those items. But I refuse to judge others who are eating vegan for ethics but haven’t completely changed their lifestyle….yet…because it’s a journey.

  10. Andrea Schloeder September 9, 2012 at 9:22 am -

    Agree 100%.

  11. Liezl Thomas September 9, 2012 at 10:25 am -

    I am sure most vegans do the best they can do and there will always be some grey areas… I always think about it when I use a public bathroom. The soap will have animal ingredients in it 99.9% of the time, but I have to wash my hands 🙂
    From a medication perspective, generic drugs may contain animal ingredients but it is not tested on animals. It is a bit cheaper as well, so that may be an option to make it a bit more animal and budget friendly.

    I like the analogy – even if a monkey falls out of a tree, it is still be a monkey. We can only do the best we can.

  12. garthgirl8888 September 9, 2012 at 11:01 am -

    I have been vegan for about 6 months, and though I am trying, I am not quite there yet. When someone brings treats or cookies to school, I will eat them, even if they’re not vegan. And on special occasions (my first day of high school, for example), I will eat a non-vegan dessert. Also, I eat honey, and don’t check labels on EVERYTHING. Sometimes, I feel judged. It’s a dirty little secret. But for all of us who aren’t fully vegan, I think we need to remember that some-way, part-way, most-way, or almost vegan is much better than nothing.

  13. Lauren Ann Read Koslow September 9, 2012 at 2:17 pm -

    It is impossible to be 100% vegan; we make the best, least violent choices we can. Based on what you described, I think you indeed should go around proclaiming your veganism. Don’t compromise on your positive, influential label! Go ahead and where a shirt that says, “Ask me why I’m vegan.” Own it. And make change (however subtly you want to). That said, I do think it’s good for those who (regularly) eat honey to refer to themselves in mixed crowds as “mostly vegan.” Otherwise, the definition of the term becomes obscured. I want to live in a future where I say simply “vegan” in a restaurant and am understood, without a long descriptive schpeal of my own.

    As a church-going vegan myself, I cross my arms over my chest when there is baked bread in unfamiliar territory (i.e. visiting a church), and otherwise (church where I attend regularly), I ask for the traditional wafer (just wheat & water), which most any church likely carries, if for no occasion other than Lent. Maybe. Overall, (if I may give advice), I say go ahead and ask, in all situations. Ask nicely. Ask joyfully.

  14. Julie Michelle September 9, 2012 at 2:42 pm -

    I compromise on prescription medication, only because there is no vegan alternative. I try to look for vegan, holistic alternatives to medication when possible, but I have some medications that I do take. I also have one makeup item (concealer) that contains beeswax. When I’ve used it up I will look for a vegan alternative, but at the time it was the best option I could find. I am allergic to citrus and zinc oxide and I’m extremely pale, so finding an all natural, vegan concealer that works for me is has been a very difficult endeavor.

  15. Sascha September 9, 2012 at 6:02 pm -

    I found a great word somewhere the other day: vegan-in-training. I think that’s what I am! Just like you, my goal is to BE 100% VEGAN!

  16. jody September 9, 2012 at 7:45 pm -

    Thank you! Thank you! In our goal to be kinder to animals, we should not be rude or disrespectufl to humans. If a friend goes out of her way to make a vegetarian dinner for me, that might have a little milk or eggs in it. Guess what? I am going to eat it. I am not going to torture the waitress at a restaurant with 100 questions about an entree. I’ll do my best to order a meat-free meal and ask that they don’t put cheese on it.

  17. Vui Bova September 9, 2012 at 9:12 pm -

    as a work in progress vegan….my partner often reminds me when I am stressing about my vegan lifestyle ‘it’s about progress not perfection’.

  18. AmyB September 9, 2012 at 11:00 pm -

    Agreed. Cats cannot be turned into veggies…grains are def bad for them and some veges ok, but they need the meat. Otherwise the usual problems will arise with kidneys, bladder, etc and then cancer.
    I do however mostly save and toss the roaches, that is unless one of my cats who like to hunt them finds them first.

  19. Marissa D'Aleo September 10, 2012 at 5:10 pm -

    This is a great piece. I agree with other posters- you ARE vegan. Veganism is not about purity and perfection, but about intention. You clearly intend to be as cruelty free as possible, and eliminating meat and dairy from your diet, opting for products not tested on animals, and not buying wool/leather etc. are the steps to take. Yes, there are snags (i.e. honey in the bread at church), what we feed our pets (my dogs are not vegan, and I struggle with that decision), and taking prescription medication (I have medical issues and rely on prescriptions as well, and don’t like knowing that I support medical testing, but they control serious illnesses and I cannot just eliminate them). Like you, I have my own personal ‘compromises’, but at the end of the day, we do the best we can to be voices for veganism and to represent this lifestyle in a positive way.

  20. Sarah September 10, 2012 at 7:23 pm -

    Great post! It brings up a lot of things that I constantly fight with. Having been vegan for 5 years now, I still struggle with figuring out where the line should be drawn. I’m coming to realize that we can never be fully vegan. Instead we are all making conscious decisions to help end animal suffering and better ourselves and our planet. That’s what being vegan is about! Not nitpicking your every move. Don’t sell yourself short, you’re as vegan as I!

  21. Pamela D September 13, 2012 at 4:16 pm -

    I compromise on food for our dogs. My husband is not vegan (but he’s made many changes toward a vegan diet and I appreciate what he’s done in the interest of a harmonious relationship with me!) and he does not seem to understand the idea of vegan dog food. I consider our dogs’ food a joint decision. A few months ago I started buying vegan canned food, which we use to supplement their kibble. I don’t know if my husband realizes it’s vegan. Someday I will start an earnest conversation about vegan dog food…and it may take days or weeks to complete. In the meantime when I feed my dogs I apologize to the animals who gave their lives for our dogs’ kibble. I have been ethically vegan (or at least leaning that way) for a few years now and loving my all-vegan diet and mostly-vegan lifestly knowing that I have a lighter, more compassionate footprint on the earth. Step by step I’ll continue to lighten my load. 🙂

  22. Adrienne
    addyb October 8, 2012 at 10:49 am -

    Hi everyone – thanks so much for all the fantastic comments and support! I think each of you touched upon what’s important here – that we are all doing our best, and we have the goal of leading as compassionate a life as we can. Each step towards that goal is something to be proud of, and we should focus on that instead of what we can’t do, or “mistakes” we make. It IS a process and a journey, and things always change. Something we don’t do now, we may do in the future, and vice versa. But we should all give ourselves a pat on the back for making our best efforts!

    I celebrated my one year vegan-niversary last week by getting a small “v” tattoo on my foot, so I’m proudly committed to being vegan, as defined by me! Of course, I forgot to check if the ink was vegan…but I’m assured that it’s usually only the black ink that is not, and I should be safe with my green ink 🙂 It’s a learning process!

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