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So You’re a Part-Time Vegan?

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A few days of the week you don’t eat animal products, and so you must be a “part-time vegan”, right? Except that there’s no such thing.

There’s veganism and there’s non-veganism. There’s doing your best to not exploit animals and there’s exploiting animals. So you don’t eat animal products three days of the week? Unfortunately, you’re still not vegan those three days because veganism is a moral baseline rather than a goal. Full-time non-vegan might suit you better if you insist on a label.

Still don’t get it? Think of it like this; we don’t ask people to cut back on their sexism. We don’t ask them to commit to a goal of no sexism on Saturdays, we just expect people to unlearn sexism altogether. Mistakes and slip-ups are to be expected as changing behaviours and thinking takes learning and effort, but the process isn’t followed with the intent of eventually becoming a Certified Non-Sexist. Instead, the process never ends, as being a feminist is about continuously upholding moral values.

I won’t waste any time trying to convince you that there are enough vegan options to get you through the entire week. If you’re eating plant-based part-time, you already know this when it comes to food – all other products are the same way. And at the end of the day, it’s all besides the point because veganism isn’t about us as individuals. Animals have a right to live fully and freely, without even considering our tastes. And this is where you miss the mark. The idea of “cutting back” or “giving up” animal products assumes that we were entitled to those products in the first place. In reality, animal bodies were never ours to use.

Veganism isn’t about giving up meat, dairy, etc…it’s about no longer taking things that were never ours to take. Patting someone on the back for participating in Meatless Mondays is still patting someone on the back for eating animals six days of the week. Much like patting someone on the back for being vegetarian is still patting someone on the back for contributing to the exploitation of animals through the dairy and egg industries.

For this reason I won’t pat you on the back for eating vegan when you decide to. Instead I’ll expect you, as I do everyone, to go vegan – full time.

Sure, nothing is black and white. There’s no ethical consumption under capitalism, there’s no such thing as being cruelty-free, etc. Most vegans have come to know and accept this. However, certain things are can still be morally wrong and that there’s no ethical consumption under capitalism can’t be an excuse to actively consume unethically. When it comes to animal exploitation, there’s no room for a middle ground.

The middle ground exists to cushion our feelings. It’s a safe and easy place to end up, where we feel like we’re doing something good (by say, eating plant-based a few days of the week) while not actually having to fully hold ourselves accountable (exploiting animals every other day of the week).

So what then if not simply cutting back on meat and dairy consumption? Veganism. I don’t expect everyone to snap their fingers and become the perfect vegan, but I do think we ought to hold ourselves accountable for the things we do and consume every day. If you can recognize that there are valid reasons for veganism, it’s time to dive in fully. 

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  • Erin Troyer Sullivan

    Very thought provoking as I am considering and taking steps to become vegan. It’s a complete mindset and lifestyle change (for us – die-hard raised on meat and dairy as our primary diet…and I mean EVERYTHING when you step back and look at it) and I am finding it hard to do with children, finding substitutions and vegan options they will actually eat. Not as hard as I thought it might be, but it’s still a struggle to step out of the familiar and comfortable as a single, working mother trying to overhaul her household. Thank you for this perspective!

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