I was having a conversation over dinner with some friends recently, and it got me thinking about why I'm vegan -- or more specifically, what are, IMNSHO, the right
The bottom line is that the reasons for my veganism have changed since I first made the leap about six and a half years ago. Becoming vegan is a lot like going through puberty a second time (which is why, for any kids that might be reading this, I recommend going vegan around age 12 or 13, so you can compound the awkwardness of the worst years of your life). It's a bigger change than most people realize, because often it's accompanied -- or rather, precipitated -- by a shift in certain fundamental values. Suddenly, nothing is the same again. It's a growing experience, to be sure.
When I first made the step to becoming vegan, I was a militant little prick. Not in a bad way, I mean I wasn't a vegangelical, if that's what you're wondering. But at the same time, I was significantly less tolerant of nonvegans, particularly in the realm of taking shit from nonvegans about being vegan, than I am now. Part of what nurtured the growth of that militancy came directly from the endless amount of chiding I'd get from omnis and lacto-ovos alike. Oddly enough, I often got more shit from the lacto-ovos than from the omnis, although I suppose that's a bit besides the point. The other part of what nurtured that militancy, of course, was the amount of Earth Crisis I listened to (and still do). I think I was probably the only high schooler in America that walked around with homemade A.L.F. patches featuring the Avenging Angel graphic, or my homemade "Praise the Vegan Jihad" patch. Yeah, so I kind of got rid of that last one after 9/11. Anyway.
When I became vegan at the time, it had very little to do with the health issues. As you've probably noticed from prior posts or just the title of this blog, it still has very little to do with health issues, something I'll get back to in a minute. No, at the time, it was all about the ethical issues (sorry, I cringe at using the word "moral," I don't know why). I felt like the one guy in the Cave allegory. If I tried to talk to anyone about the ethical issues of why I was vegan, they either wouldn't believe me, or would just tune out completely. My favorite response, "Ew! I don't want to hear that!"
After I was vegan for a few years, I kind of stopped thinking about the "why" as it became just another part of my life. In retrospect, I think the only real reason to go vegan is from the ethical standpoint (animal rights/resource consumption/you like furry animals/etc.) After the dinner conversation, I left feeling like there are probably more wrong reasons to go vegan, though. So here are some things I think anyone should consider before becoming vegan.
The big question is, are you doing it more for animal rights and social justice, or more for yourself, i.e., for selfish reasons? Here are some reasons not
to go vegan.1. It's healthier.
Granted, it's much, much healthier. And I kind of lied, because this isn't a reason "not" to go vegan. My point in sticking it in this section is that some people do just go vegan for the health benefits, and I think that's silly and selfish.2. You can feel better about yourself.
That's fucking retarded. Veganism isn't about giving yourself a pat on the back because you didn't eat at McDonald's today. Being vegan is one of the best decisions in life you can make, and one you should feel good about. Just make sure you're not considering becoming vegan as some way to absolve yourself of some liberal guilt, or so you can feel like you've done your bit for social justice and can be lazy about other such struggles.3. Moral superiority.
Sorry, but being vegan will not make you morally superior to others. Now, you might already
be morally superior to others, like me, but going vegan for the purpose of lording it over others or becoming a vegangelical is irritating as fuck, and in many respects negates the very "moral" reasons that you're supposedly doing it for, and that would make you "morally superior." (Note that I do not really think I am morally superior to everyone else... just most people.) In many cases, becoming vegan is, unfortunately, a privilege. Most people in the world do not wake up in the morning with the option there. Keep this in mind.4. Because [insert celebrity/personal hero] is vegan.
Going vegan can't be part of jumping on the bandwagon. It is something that, for most people -- especially at the outset -- takes a lot of commitment. No one likes to hear some asshole spout off about how "Oh, yeah, I used to be vegan." It's demoralizing, makes the rest of us look bad, and is generally imbecilic. The general rule: if you're not vegan now, than you never were. It's great if someone you look up to inspired you to make the leap. But they might not always be around for support or to look up to. In my case, Earth Crisis broke up. I can think of worse reasons to go vegan than because it can, occasionally, become a fad. All I'm saying is, if you're going to become vegan, it should be something you're going to stick with. And it's easiest to stick with if you really know why you're doing it.
Now here's the bitch of it all: it is cool, in many cases morally superior, and always healthier to go vegan. And there are a lot of hot celebrities that are vegan. I guess my point in all of this is that the right
reason to go vegan is pretty singular: the needless killing of the innocent and defenseless is wrong.
Lastly, here's one of my biggest pet peeves with many vegans: they treat it like they are "sacrificing" something in being vegan, for the welfare of others. Like, "I'm making sacrificing my chance to eat a hamburger today or buy these Ugg boots -- for the animals." That's irritating and misses the entire point about being vegan. You're not sacrificing squat, because doing the right thing isn't a form of sacrifice. For the love of god, don't bitch about how tough you have it being vegan. The worst effect that type of behavior has is in turning off others from becoming vegan. Remember, people are often lead to become vegan by the example of others. Don't fuck it up by being an annoying twat about it.
Right now: Somewhere in Iraq, a child is getting a limb sheered off by a cluster bomblet. Somewhere in Canada, a pack of seals are being clubbed. Somewhere in Palestine, a home is being bulldozed. Somewhere in the U.S., a liberal is outraged... about smoking in bars.
If there's one thing I love, it's having a smoke with my beer and vegan bar food. Also, liberals who know how to prioritize.
With all the pitched struggles for social justice being carried on around the world at this very moment, the pet struggle of liberals all over the U.S. is the smoking ban in bars. Oh, that and they're fucking bars, assholes
. Bans in restaurants-- that's one thing. But fucking bars
? If you go to one regularly enough that you're worried the smoke around you might negatively affect your health, chances are you should be worrying more about your liver.
The letters to the editor are always the same. "My husband and I would go out to the bars more, but we hate coming home to our sleeping three-year-old smelling like cigarettes." Bullshit. You assholes still stay at home even after the bans pass. You just advocate that shit out of some stilted sense of self-righteousness. And as a result, the business bars see is starting to hurt, especially around areas near bordering states without smoking bans, or in states where only certain counties have smoking bans. On that note, the bans can also encourages drunk driving. But you probably weren't thinking of that, were you?
No. You were probably thinking about how much better you'll be able to sleep at night now that I can't have a fucking smoke with my drink after a long-ass day at work. You probably think that I'll magically decide to quit since I can barely light up in public without getting a sideways glance from one of you fuckers. You probably think I'll quit, and one day I'll thank you for it. You're no better than the assholes who want to stick the ten commandments on every flat surface of every public place.
Perhaps I should push for a hamburger ban. You know, just for you. Did you know they're probably hurting your health? All the carcinogens in ground round? Heck, even the smoke that's produced from grilling beef is loaded with carcinogens. Maybe I should just advocate a grilling ban. Yup. No more front yard cookouts with your precious husband and three-year-old. Besides, meat and dairy are environmentally reckless and extremely wasteful of natural resources. In fact, you might say animal products are a much worse habit than me putting one sort of smoke or another into my own two quasi-functional lungs.
And really, you omni piece of shite, why should I have to pay for your hospital bill when you get colon cancer from all the animal product you consume? That doesn't seem very fair, does it? But you know why I'm not pushing all of that bullshit as legislation? Because I can fucking prioritize! And you know what current global/local affairs are more important than passing bans about whether or not I choose
smoke, or whether or not you choose
to eat meat? ALL OF THEM!
Don't worry though-- I'm sure the Iraqi child, the clubbed seals, and the newly homeless Palestinian family are all really happy for you now that you have freed the bars from the tyranny of the smokers. Congratulations. I hope you win the fucking Nobel Prize, jagoff.
Because I can.
For as long as I can remember, I've been asked every stupid question that every vegan gets asked by every non-vegan. But, being a vegan who also smokes, I get some additional questions thrown into the mix that the non-smoking vegan never has to deal with. For some reason, omnis feel they have some vested interest in my life, and need to question not only my diet, but how smoking fits into that. Hence the reason for this blog.Don't you think it's kind of contradictory that you're vegan
and you smoke?
Fuck no. What, am I eating the goddamned cigarettes? Are they chalk-full of animal parts?* Why do you care anyway?
Such are my typical responses. It usually takes a minute, but more often than not, folks tend to realize that they have just asked an abysmally stupid question.
Once in a while, there's a quasi-valid philosophical issue behind the question, which normally revolves around the fact that many vegans advertise veganism as a healthy lifestyle (which it is). Doesn't my smoking contradict that? I suppose it would. If I was vegan for my health, which I'm not. Besides, I don't want to live that
much longer than all of my friends and family. Just a little.
The bottom line? I like smoking. I love
smoking. If I could marry the verb "smoking," I would do it. It's delicious. I like smoking all kinds of things all sorts of ways: cigarettes, cigars, pipes, shisha, and every now and then, the sticky-sticky. No crack though. Sorry. If you're looking for vegan crack smokers, you're going to have to find a different blog
So here's a little taste of what to expect from the smoking vegan. Other topics I plan on bangin' on in the near future: animal rights, smoking bans, recipes for cooking people, the many uses of vegenaise, and a write-up about the new hookah I just ordered.
I know it don't look fancy, but that's kind of the point for once. This particular venture of mine is all about the content, not about the look. Mostly, it's just a space for me to be mad, and once in a while, funny.
Are you a smoking vegan? Challah back at me in the comments, biatch.
(*To be fair, I have heard
that many brands of cigarettes use a horse-based glue for the paper tubes; however, I've never had that verified and personally find it a little far-fetched. That said, Winstons do not use animal-based adhesive, are additive free--so they taste less like rat poison and arsenic--and are my smoke of choice).