Thursday, 22 October 2009


My attitudes, to be exact! In case anyone was speculating about the posting gap, I have neither vanished nor quit veganism. I am less of an activist than I was, although I was going that way when I set this blog up.

My commitment to veganism hasn't changed, but my circumstances have and hence the ways in which I relate to veganism have adapted.

Until a little over a year ago, I was in a relationship with a person who was what might be called a professional vegan, as in he was employed by an organisation which exists to promote veganism. So in addition to my own vegan friends I also spent a lot of time with the vegans he worked with. As a person who was just re-stablising as a vegan, this was a mixed blessing. On the one hand I had it affirmed to me time and again that I was right to be vegan, and this was good in that it strengthened my resolve, especially at times when I did have to argue my case. It also meant that most of the cafes I ended up in would at least be vegetarian and have some sort of vegan selection, that if we went to the pub someone would always know which beers were ok, and generally that the people around me had some level of vegan intuition without being prompted. On the other hand, it meant being around people whose definitions of what a vegan did beyond the very basics and what got prioritised varied wildly. There was also a bit of point-scoring from some (although by no means all! or even most...) quarters. At any rate, 'vegan' was part of my identity there as a sort of default setting, and sometimes the grounds on which people communicated with me.

For a few months after that relationship ended, I was single and became a bit of a health fanatic. I don't mean in any way to make this sound like a bad thing - I needed something to focus on, and had been very ill for a long time that time the year before, so trying to up the percentage of raw food and learn about proper nutrition was useful. This was the best time for promoting veganism, due to a combination of factors. I was affirming my own belief, unrelated to who I may have been going out with, which meant that people took me a bit more seriously. I was working long days, which mean *always* taking at least one meal to work with me. As a result I was often whipping tasty food out of my bag in a crowded break room, which obviously led to questions about what I was eating. I would discuss the 'whys' of my veganism if it came up, but the 'hows' (ie the practicality of having a tasty, healthy varied and yet reasonably cheap diet while working long hours at multiple jobs!) tended to be seen by most people as the main issue.

For a little under a year I've been in my current relationship. The person in question may well be 'the one'. However, he is 'just' a vegetarian and not with any moral basis to his decision, so I have had to explain veganism. He has one vegan friend other than me, and that person lives in America. My personal life involves a lot more outreach than it used to, just to make sure he and I can eat together! So far it seems to be working. He respects me for sticking to my principles even though he doesn't share them. It does mean, however, that the outward face of my veganism is a lot more orientated to showing how a vegan can live a 'normal' life, whatever the baseline might be there. Again, I will give the whys if anyone asks, but often people are more interested in the 'hows'.

My life is not a constant round of vegan advocacy as it may have been a few years ago. My time and energy is limited - I am finishing a PhD and working multiple part-time jobs at any given time, and am too knackered to do much some days. But I think that merely being vegan - and doing it 'properly' rather than giving in and eating something non-vegan to avoid being an 'inconvenience', preferring to make suggestions about what you can eat, how you will make up for it later and alternative places to go for food next time - leads to some extent to a certain base level of advocacy being necessary.

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