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Veganism. Willpower? Deprivation?

Posted by tinako on January 10, 2010

It’s been suggested to me many times that I must have a lot of willpower to resist all the non-vegan treats floating around.  There’s nothing for me in the display case at Starbucks, no desserts for me at Panera Bread, no doughnuts or commercial muffins.  Unless it’s pie, even homemade desserts are almost always off-limits unless I (or some very kind friends) make them.  I was offered a free cup of Chai Tea while I waited for Indian takeout last night but it wasn’t vegan so I politely declined.  I haven’t had an M&M in almost two years.

From the outside, that looks like willpower, but willpower has absolutely nothing to do with it.  My vegan strength is powered entirely by compassion and the certain conviction that these foods spring from astonishing suffering.  If someone offered you puppy souffle, and let’s say for the sake of argument that you find eating puppies to be morally repugnant, would you want it?  If everyone else was oohing and gobbling it up, would you secretly desire it?  Would it take willpower?  Would you feel deprived?  Or nauseated?

I don’t feel deprived.  Click on the food category links at the top of this page and see the huge variety of wonderful food that I eat.  It’s true that I am more limited when I eat out, either in a restaurant or someone else’s home, but there are two things I’d like to say about that.  First, this is a very, very small price to pay, embarrassingly small, when compared to the price paid by the animals in production.  I may be deprived of M&Ms, but at least I haven’t had baby after baby taken from me like the animal producers of M&Ms have.  I may not be able to eat hot dogs, but I also haven’t been shocked with a cattle prod while I try to crawl to the stunner on broken legs.  My loss is incredibly puny, hardly worth the slightest consideration.  Secondly, I don’t really see my not being able to eat M&Ms as a consequence of being vegan; I see it as a consequence of the failure of the Mars Corporation to make their candy without animal products.  Ricemilk M&Ms would taste just as good, not have hormones, antibiotics, or cholesterol, would probably be cheaper, would be edible by vegans and those with dairy allergies, and would definitely be less violent.  If more people demanded them, they’d surely make them.

To return to my previous example, if restaurants were always putting puppy broth in everything, would you feel like you were making some heroic sacrifice to eat somewhere else?  Which would irritate you more,  your restrictive choice not to eat puppies, or the companies that raise, kill, and sell them?  Some people have told me they cannot really understand why I refuse to knowingly eat any amount of animal product; even if the last ingredient is gelatin, I put the item down.  It’s such a small amount, what difference does it make, they ask.  But would you eat it if the last ingredient was puppy gelatin?

Puppy, calf, what’s the difference?  I don’t want to have anything to do with the animal industry.


One Response to “Veganism. Willpower? Deprivation?”

  1. Katie said

    Excellent. Couldn’t have said it better myself.

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