It’s OK to be Vegan and Unhealthy
I make it no secret that I enjoy alcoholic beverages. I have a rule that, if I don’t have any meetings or personal obligations and it’s past 5 pm, I drink. This allows me to indulge in the Devil’s Elixir without it getting in the way of life’s duties and responsibilities.
Granted, I sometimes drink a little more than I should. Granted, I come from a long and dignified line of alcoholics and addicts. Granted, when I am in my cups, I tend to donate large sums of money to various nonprofits. (Author’s Note: You’re welcome AASCPA) However, these are all my demons and, in the grand scheme of things, not that bad compared to other vices.
Despite my positive outlook, the following is an interaction I have on a regular basis that makes me spit fire.
Joe Kirkenir and Linda are chatting by the proverbial water cooler. Joe says, “My favorite food is bourbon. Does that make me an alcoholic?” (Author’s Note: Probably)
Linda gasps and exclaims, “You drink bourbon?! I thought you were vegan?”
Joe stops in his tracks and stares at Linda with a look of surprised frustration and simply says, “What animal products are in bourbon?”
Linda, realizing she has made a grave error, murmurs something about vegans being health fanatics while she quietly slinks away to her corner of the office, contemplating her next Google search.
I’ll spare your search bar the same fate as Linda’s and simply tell you now that, yes, bourbon is vegan. In fact, most types of alcohol are vegan. Don’t believe me? Go to http://www.barnivore.com/ and see for yourself. While this may be a personal point of pain for me, it speaks to a larger misconception that ultimately hinders the vegan movement.
Veganism, in its purest form, has nothing to do with healthy living.
Granted, the diet is typically healthier than the sad SAD (Standard American Diet). Granted, many people choose to go vegan for health reasons. Granted, I do eat an extremely healthy diet, alcohol notwithstanding. However, none of these points mean that one must give up unhealthy food and other indulgences if they want to avoid needlessly harming animals.
The notion that all vegans are health-crazed dieters who only put the purest of substances into their bodies makes the lifestyle seem unrealistic and unappealing for a vast majority of individuals. A lot of people don’t know what chia seeds are and often eat out at fast-food restaurants. They may be concerned about their health, but they lack the desire and/or ability to give up fried, greasy, sugary, and mind-altering foods and drinks. Even if they want to avoid exploiting animals, their relationship to such indulgences might be greater than their compassionate desire, leading them to do nothing.
(Author’s Note: The purpose of this piece is not to elaborate upon the challenges that many communities and demographics face when considering veganism, which is a complex issue that deserves a lot of attention. For more on this topic, I recommend doing some research into the Food Empowerment Project’s work: (hyperlink to http://www.foodispower.org/)
There is an unimaginable amount of indulgent and vegan food that gives the best of animal-based alternatives a run for their money. One would need to spend a mere two minutes on Facebook pages like “Fatass Vegans Are Awesome” (hyperlink to https://www.facebook.com/groups/fatassvegansareawesome/) to see that eating vegan need not be squeaky-clean healthy. I personally don’t enjoy eating these kinds of foods, but have no problem with other people doing so. If the thought of living life without ice cream, burgers, taco-filled waffles, etc. is the only barrier keeping one from going vegan, then there is really no excuse.
At the end of the day, it all comes down to the animals. While eating healthy and avoiding animal products may be beneficial for one’s health, the animals only care about the latter. The cows who are spared from slaughter, the chickens who get to lay eggs as nature intended, and the pigs who aren’t crammed into gestation crates because someone went vegan, don’t give a you-know-what if vegans are eating the greasiest of greasy foods, drinking the sugariest of sugary drinks, or imbibing in the bourboniest of bourbon around. When we vegans shame other vegans for making unhealthy choices or don’t push back on the squeaky-clean health fanatic misconception, it does the animals no favors.
So, let them eat cake! Let them drink soda! Let them nom on fried foods! Most importantly, let me drink bourbon! By being real people with realistic lifestyles, indulgent vegans show the rest of the world that veganism need not be a chore or sacrifice. In fact, it can be downright amazing! For what could be better than enjoying your favorite vice knowing that it’s leading to a more compassionate world?