As a vegan I try hard to be patient and empathetic, but I have to admit to a definite and regrettable wave of irritation that washes over me in response to some endlessly repeated discussions and lines of questioning – often indicating such a fundamental ‘missing of the point’ it is hard to know where to begin.
Take the old chestnut of the question along the lines of ‘so what are you ALLOWED to eat then?’
My response tends to be along the lines of ‘ “Allowed”? I am allowed to eat anything I want. I am an adult human in a free society, I’m not following a religious or weight loss diet, and I am not allergic to anything. I can eat anything I please. However I CHOOSE not to eat any food containing or produced from animal products’.
This sometimes leads to a great semantic debate about freedom of choice, and it’s got to be said that all choices are influenced by availability of options. Sure I’d like to choose to live on truffles and champagne, but that would be a fairly limiting lifestyle for a writer on a budget! And choosing to select a vegan lifestyle in an imperfect world leads inevitably to compromise in situations where information is simply not available. I could never knowingly eat actual animal flesh or excretions, however there have surely been times I have drunk non-vegan wine (ie possibly filtered through isinglass) simply because no-one easily available to answer the question on its provenance could be found.
I am not accountable to anyone but myself for the lifestyle that I choose, I don’t believe I will be judged by anyone (except maybe my kids – right now they are more likely to take me to task over my choice of dress for the school run than the consistency of my dietary habits, but one day the questions and moral issues may get tougher). Let’s keep the kids healthy too!
So I don’t see being vegetarian or vegan as a matter of what is, or isn’t, “allowed”. Furthermore, I would argue that if you do approach your diet in this mindset you will find it very restrictive and difficult, forever regretting the ‘forbidden fruit’ (or meat!) you have renounced. You will have a much easier time sticking to a dietary approach that you embrace happily and wholeheartedly, for reasons you believe in and want to live by for always, feeling consistent, compassionate and at peace with the world.