I am not comfortable calling myself a "vegan."
I intentionally stay away from eating meat, eggs, and dairy as a basic rule. So, I eat like a vegan, and when I'm out to eat at restaurants I ask for "vegan options." Which, depending on the place, means I just have a side or two of steamed broccoli.
When I first went plant based it was so much easier to just tell people I was vegan. I didn't really know what that meant except that I didn't eat animal products anymore. But the more research I have done the more I have found that eating plant based and going vegan are two very different things. (more on that here)
I do so many things that aren't considered "vegan." For example,
- I go to the zoo and aquarium with my kids, which a true vegan would never do unless they were picketing
- I eat honey, and sometimes use it as a facial mask, which a vegan would consider wrong because it's exploiting bees and stealing their food
- It doesn't bother me if my husband wears a leather belt
- I pay a company to come and spray my house and yard for bugs and scorpions regularly, which is probably not vegan considering it's intentionally killing a living being
- I am unsure if my makeup or shower products are vegan friendly, and if I found out they weren't I would still buy them
- I choose to eat one small slice of turkey or ham at Thanksgiving, and then again on Christmas
- I reserve the right to compromise when I'm out to eat and order something that may have eggs or chicken broth in it (I haven't done this, but I reserve the right to!) I will not, however, compromise with dairy - click here if you care to read why
I don't like to call myself a vegan because I don't want to group myself into a belief system that I don't fully cooperate in. I will most likely never be an animal rights activists or picket.... anywhere. I probably won't restrict myself to only buy products that are certified vegan and not tested on animals - and I'm not going to try and convince others to do that either. I do read ingredients labels, but I don't research into the practices of every company before I buy their products. I'm not saying that I condone animal testing or abuse, because I don't. I'm just saying I'm most likely not going to make it my life's mission to go out and protect every last one of them.
I'm known by friends and family with pets for not particularly liking animals up close. I can admire their beauty and value in the home to their owners, but they're cuter when they're twenty feet (or more) away. And I can't stand when a dog comes up to me puts their wet nose on my skin or rubs their fur all over my pants.
So, I am not a "vegan." There is just too much controversy surrounding that label, and I don't want to be a hypocrite. Plus, I'm not looking for a label anyway. I don't want to be defined by what I eat, what I wear, where I go, etc. I am so much more than that. Being vegan, I believe, is a very good thing. There are a lot of vegans out there doing a whole lot of good for the animals and for the environment, and I support that. But that's not my calling in life, and I'm OK with that.
I eat a plant based diet because I care about my health and the health of my family. I love what we eat. We are very satisfied with our meals. I don't count calories and I have no idea how many grams of each macro nutrient we consume. And that's the beautiful thing about eating a diet revolving around whole plant foods, you don't have to! Sometimes, I get lazy about nutrition and we eat vegan junk food. I aim for the best I can do, but I'm not too hard on myself when I fall short. I try not to judge others for what they choose to eat, but I do enjoy conversations with self proclaimed carnivores about the health benefits of cutting out animal foods. I'm not afraid of sharing the evidence.