I’ll start by repeating some posts I’ve written at various stages of this blog’s existence:
I have attempted to live a vegan life for approximately 20 years now. Unfortunately, during that time I haven’t prepared all my meals in my own kitchen. Unfortunately, there were incidents where I thought I’d asked all the right questions only to find I hadn’t. I’ve learned from those mistakes.
I don’t celebrate a specific “veganniversary” because it’s been a long and difficult process with many twists and turns. Not in terms of finding good food—that part has always been a fun adventure. For years, though, I struggled with the question of “how vegan is vegan?” It was an especially upsetting question to have to ask myself as a new pet parent (for lack of a better word).
… I’m not happy about buying animal products, and their presence in my home bothers me more and more every day. I could blame it on my nonhuman babies and say it’s their decision, but that’s not a very honest position to take. My babies are completely innocent. I’m the one who has to decide what to feed them.
… I’ve transitioned my cats to a diet that’s almost exclusively vegan, a mix of Benevo dry cat food and canned Benevo Duo. But my elderly dog can be a picky eater, and I found I couldn’t maintain the vegan diet I fed her for our first three years together. Furthermore, I’m not prepared to reject all medicines and pesticides even though I hate using those products too. The kids each get a dose of heartworm preventative once a month—if I wait until they’re sick, the illness could be life-threatening by the time it’s detected.
Here’s the definition of veganism as set forth by the original authority on veganism, the Vegan Society based in the United Kingdom: “Veganism is a way of living that seeks to exclude, as far as possible and practicable, all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing and any other purpose.”
There’s no consensus on whether it is possible and practicable to avoid nonvegan cat food under all circumstances. Vegan cats are a tiny minority, even within otherwise vegan households, and there are no large studies of long-term vegan cats. However, there are resources such as vegancats.com that exist to help people reduce or eliminate the use of animal products to feed their nonhuman babies.
Since I wrote all that, Phoenix got sick and I reluctantly put my three kitties on a (nonvegan) crystal prevention formula. I’m still committed to doing the best I can and will definitely not purchase animal products for my own consumption. Bangsiri is back on her vegan food, and she takes her medicine in peanut butter and fake gelatin capsules.
When I first started out 20-plus years ago in the suburbs of Toronto and Montreal, I used to have to take buses and subways across town to get products I liked and felt good about using. Now it’s almost too easy to order online or buy frozen veggie burgers and other convenience foods from department stores or from the local market. Sometimes I miss the challenge, but there will always be new challenges to consider. Should vegans use palm oil, or coffee, or chocolate? Is there any realistic way to avoid supporting sweatshops when I can’t fit into most of the clothes in Korean secondhand clothing stores?
A so-called “friend” who questioned my veganness a few months ago earned permanent deletion from my life, not because he questioned my veganness but because of his flawed reasoning. Anyone who suggests that rescuing a homeless animal is incompatible with veganism is one extremely sick human being. It’s true that I didn’t cross ten lanes of traffic to save Bangsiri, Phoenix, Jellybean or Gemma and I haven’t been the perfect mother, but there’s nothing unethical about the way we came to share a household. To suggest otherwise is to lie about the meaning of veganism.