As a vegan you’ll have more decisions to make in daily life than with any other lifestyle. Those dilemmas depend on how far you are willing to take your veganism. Some predicaments are easy, others can be quite a puzzle because you’ll find they lead up to a new problem. Everyone sets a different set of “rules” to live by and what it means for them to be a vegan. One chooses to eat honey, while most say they will not because the bees will have to work for us. One wears leather shoes that where bought some years ago until they are worn out and another newly vegan will say they can’t stand to wear it anymore and buys new plastic shoes instead. And how about fruit and veg, is it really vegan? We read an article about this last month and fertilizer is never vegan, not even in ecological farming. What is your vegan limit? That’s what we talk about in this conversation.
Anneloes: “What’s a 100% vegan, what does it mean and does a person like that really exist? I’m not a 100% vegan, because of my eating habits for example: 80% vegan and 20% vegetarian. And is veganism only about food, or is it more? Is it a lifestyle?”
Janet: “For me veganism and sustainability go hand in hand. And if you choose to see those 2 together, you will have some more dilemmas. When you try to live as sustainable as possible you don’t throw away products that are still perfectly good. You wear it till it’s unwearable, you give it away or you finish it. It might sound strange, but if you did not have a problem with your bag a few months ago I find it weird to say: now I do have a problem. I know something is rewired and I can very well imagine that next time you’ll choose to buy a different bag but this bag has been your favourite for years. Use it till it falls apart. That’s the most sustainable. You might want to be aware of some comments and opinions of really strict vegans.”
Anneloes: “That depends on the person, if and how much criticism you’ll get with using a leather bag or wearing leather shoes ;-). In my closet you’ll find wool and leather too. Stuff that vegans might disapprove of. And yes, I also buy second-hand leather boots/ shoes or wool clothes. So I don’t always buy only vegan things. Then immediately pops up the question: as a vegan, are you allowed to wear second-hand woolen clothes or leather shoes? I think it’s important to make conscious decisions. In this case, I thinks it’s worth a lot to give items a 2nd (or 3rd or 4th) life. Then it becomes a choice between sustainability and veganism.”
Janet: “It’s always the question what is the most sustainable option. Suddenly there’s a trend you can label every plastic bag or shoe as vegan and you’ll find a whole new group of consumers in your store. I understand that’s very attractive and of course vegans love it when there is more choice. But those stores always had those bad quality plastic shoes and they usually only last one Summer. Shoes bought at Van Haren are definately not sustainable even though they are now labelled as vegan and it’s also definately not fair fashion. Not only do I not what to see animals harmed but also not people in Pakistan or India suffering for our cheap products. And what becomes of those plastic shoes? They end up on our waste humps or in the plastic soup ocean. Fish or bird accidently eat some plastic and they die. In my opinion if your are a real animal lover you care about those birds and fish as well.”
Anneloes: “Sometimes I wonder, can we do everything according to ‘the rules’? There are moments I think I’m making the right decision, based on the info given to me, for example for the environment or for my health. But, the next day ‘the rules’ change and it turns out I may have taken the wrong decision. Every decision probably has it’s advantages and disadvantages. And it feels like it’s never very clear which path to choose. It’s the same with the plastic shoes Janet mentioned. Vegan shoes: so a great choice right? True, until you think about the plastic soup, our health, the health of animals, the earth and the environment. Apart from that, I don’t want to be the nagging “knows everything better”-vegan all the time. Selfish? Yes, probably. Sometimes it just feels nice to let go and don’t think too much and just enjoy.”
Janet: “To stop thinking for a minute, let go and just enjoy. That’s sounds amazing. It makes me think about are upcoming holiday. We have booked a vacation in Croatia (Dubrovnik mostly) and Montenegro. By plane. Yes, not very sustainable and still we chose to fly. And then we arrive and there’s the next “problem”. People eat a lot of meat in the Balkan region. No cities with lots of hotspots and conceptstores, vegetarian restaurants etc. And even in regular restaurants a local predicted it’s a challenge to find anything vegan (let alone vegetarian sometimes). When I travel I usually choose to eat vegetarian (except for popular vegan hotspots with lots to offer). I don’t want to be a moody brat and live on lettuce, cucumber and tomato for 12 days if we can’t cook ourselves. Plus holiday is also for enjoying life (and life is for enjoying life!) right? Well, what do you do when there are no veggie opties either? (We will let you know in June!).“
Anneloes: “Then there’s only 1 solution: booking an apartment with a kitchen, buy local and fresh produce to prepare your own food. Or, you just accept whatever food crosses your path.”
These are a few vegan dilemmas that exist when you also find it important to live sustainably and healthy. And these are just 3. There are so many more things to consider. Do you have some interesting dilemmas for us? And how do you deal with the dilemmas mentioned above. Please do share with us!