I had the opportunity yesterday afternoon to table at the Hillsboro Oregon Relay for Life event. I love the chance to talk to people about why adopting veganism is important. As expected everyone I talked to was interested in the health benefits of going vegan or vegetarian. After all this was an event to “celebrate the lives of people who have battled cancer, remember loved ones lost, and fight back against the disease.”
No one I talked to was vegan but several were vegetarian or had family members who were. I didn’t get the usual arguments about why it is wrong or unnatural or how a friend of a friend of a friend became really sick when they tried to go vegan. Everyone seemed to agree that a veggie diet is much healthier…but they couldn’t do it themselves. These are people who have been impacted by cancer and yet making the change is still too difficult. Sigh.
This morning I read the blog post by Vegan Outreach Messaging for the Animals, Not Acceptance.
Some argue that we should appeal to self-interest by attributing great health benefits to a vegan diet. But consider, for example, how much money and time that respected health organizations have spent on the ineffectual campaign to convince people to simply add more fruits and vegetables to their diets. Furthermore, claims that veganism prevents / reverses heart disease or that meat causes colon cancer can be met not only with examples of vegans who died of those diseases, but with counterclaims that soy causes breast cancer, that the Atkins diet has been proven superior, or that people with a certain blood type can’t be vegetarian. No matter the underlying truth, the public will believe the claims that support the status quo and the path of least resistance.
This blog post made me think about why I went and stay vegan. I was diagnosed with very high cholesterol several years ago and I did try to change my diet. However, while making diet decisions for my health is extremely personal, it still felt a bit removed or lacked a real sense of urgency. I didn’t stick with any changes I had made.
Today I am very passionate about what I eat and purchase or rather what I won’t eat or purchase. The idea of consuming anything from an animal is truly not an option for me, not even “just this once”. When I learned how animals are tortured and killed I could not unlearn it. I could choose to ignore what I know and I might have. After all, I know that driving a SUV is not good for the environment but still, last year when I bought my new car I got a small SUV rather than a hybrid. I choose to ignore what I know.
The difference for me is that I don’t let myself choose to ignore what I know about how animals are treated. My life is now filled with reminders of why I’m vegan. I read everything I can (just ordered Every Twelve Seconds: Industrialized Slaughter and the Politics of Sight), I try to stay involved with others who are vegan, I table, I blog and read blogs. For me, and as always my comments are just about what works for me, doing this for my health isn’t enough to keep me vegan. I need to remember the very real and urgent need of the animals who are right now suffering. I can do damage to myself without a bit of hesitation but I can’t knowingly harm anyone else.
I don’t agree that going vegan for health reasons isn’t a very good appeal to make or a great reason to go vegan. I just know that for me, my own health was not enough. I’m vegan for reasons that are far more important to me than me.