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Many vegans choose veganism because of their personal code of ethics. The rise in plant-based food, clothing, cosmetics, and other items makes being vegan easier than it has ever been.
But we still face ethical dilemmas.
In this article, we’re going over how to face these moral dilemmas head-on with confidence.
Living a vegan lifestyle is a long-term initiative. It should be your goal to educate and inspire others about veganism, which is why you need to be strategic when faced with ethical dilemmas.
Many vegans are so focused on being perfect in their veganism and being right that they forget about why they became vegan in the first place – for their personal health and for other living creatures. Having a long-term strategy, instead of a perfectionist mindset, turns veganism from self-focused to others-focused.
Grant Lingel at Sentiment Media put it this way: “We need allies, not enemies. Education isn’t taught by division but by normalization and inclusion.”
How do we gain allies?
Grant adds “...patience, understanding, relatability, and open dialogue are what we really need to drive change.”
The key to being a strategic vegan is to think long-term and to rid yourself of a perfectionist mindset. Now, we don’t want you to unlearn all the guidelines of how to be an ethical vegan, but we do encourage you to think about how you will react to the ethical dilemma you are facing and how your reaction will impact others long-term, not just today.
For example, if you take a friend out for dinner and they choose a non-vegan dish, will you ask that they choose another dish or you will no longer pay for it? Or will you let your dinner choice start a conversation and encourage questions from your friend rather than squash the conversation by making them feel bad for their choice?
Many well-meaning loved ones may offer to cook or bake for you, or purchase items for you that they believe are vegan. They support you and want to show their support. It’s wonderful until you realize that the item they are giving you is not vegan.
The cake your best friend baked for your birthday has eggs in it.
The sweater your Grandma bought you has a touch of wool in it.
The makeup brush accompanying a vegan palette your coworker bought you is not vegan.
How should you respond? With compassion.
Be grateful for the gift and bring it home. Re-gift it if you can do so without letting the other person know.
If bringing the item home isn’t an option, then showcase your gratitude and be mindful of what you say. Show love and compassion to the one who gave it to you, and don’t make them feel bad. After all, they tried really hard to support you. That is a stride worth more than being a perfect vegan.
Jimmy Pierson from Vegan Food & Living put it nicely:
For me it’s not about my own purity, but about being an effective advocate and projecting a positive image that vegans are not the party-pooper that so many people think they are, that they can still join in and have fun.
Sometimes, making vegan choices is nearly impossible. Medicine is one such topic.
Most medicines are not vegan. You can seek out vegetarian, cruelty-free labels on your medicine, but this is not always an option. Out of necessity, many vegans prioritize their health over being perfect vegans by purchasing and taking medicine that has animal products in them and may be tested on animals.
This choice is not taken lightly by anyone. It’s valid to feel conflicted in these situations, but it’s okay to prioritize your health or other pressing matter first. You can rest assured that your impact on the Earth is still very positive. You are not a bad person for choosing your top priority over veganism.
In honor of National Depression Education and Awareness Month this October, we encourage you to put your mental and physical health above being perfect, especially when it comes to veganism and ethical dilemmas. If you feel like your mental or physical health is being hurt because of the ethical dilemmas you are facing, please prioritize and be kind to yourself.
At the end of the day, do the best you can. No one is perfect. So do your best, think long-term, be compassionate to yourself and others, and prioritize during difficult situations.
Remember: Be kind to yourself and others.Do you need to wear your reminder? Check out our Be Kind apparel and our Peace. Love. Go Vegan products.