For starters, I’m not a vegan.
The movement of transitioning to a plant-based diet, reducing the consumption of animal products, has adherents because of the negative environmental impact of meat consumption and the dairy industry. Veganism became more mainstream in the mid-2010s, but this lifestyle dates as far back as the 1940s. It has since snowballed to the point where Whole Foods is no longer the end-all be-all, for plant-based eating.
There are other reasons why people choose to be more plant-based besides just the environmental side. I’ve seen one too many videos about gut health with mentions of non-dairy probiotics. Not only are they educational, but they’re really helpful if you need something to fall asleep to. One reason that is pushed heavily onto non-vegans is how violent and abusive the industry is to animals. There have been times where people have set up outside of the Nest with graphic videos and have tried to highlight this issue to uninterested students.
People are now more open to the idea of going vegan or vegetarian, but there are still hurdles to going all in. In Irving K. Barber, I overheard someone complain about how many vegetarians there are at UBC while I rolled my eyes a few feet away.
I decided to go vegetarian over a year ago, more for the environmental aspect. Even so, I try not to be too hard on myself for ‘slipping up.’ I’m the type of person who doesn’t want to step on anyone’s toes. In other words, if my mom makes food that has meat in it, I’m still gonna eat it. “I thought you were [insert diet here]” is something I’ve heard over and over.
I get why people bash vegans. You live your life being taught one thing and suddenly this alternative, ‘hippie’ lifestyle pops up — you’re bound to be confused by it. Even the term ‘plant-based’ is becoming more common because of the negative connotation with the word vegan. By making passive-aggressive comments about someone not being the perfect vegan or vegetarian, you miss the whole point.
Minimizing the overall amount of animal products consumed, such as partaking in Veganuary or Meatless Monday, is much more beneficial than pointing fingers and doing nothing. It pushes people away from making small changes in the first place. Fearing judgment and striving for perfection can act as obstacles to living sustainably. Asking a barista to use your own tumbler for the first time is unnecessarily stressful. Not buying yourself a coffee because you didn’t bring your reusable cup could hinder your learning for the day.
We’re already feeling the impact of ignoring the minor ‘inconvenience’ of sustainability. If the science behind being plant-based interests you, whether it’s health-wise or environmental, dive into the deep end and do some research. Looming existential dread can be combatted by taking action, regardless of how big or small.