I began this blog for two reasons. The first was to help me process the change of being a meat and dairy-eater for the first 39 years of my life and knowing very little about how animals were treated in the agriculture industry today to becoming a vegan and suddenly seeing their lives and deaths in an entirely different way. The change in diet (at least for me) was easy. Living with the knowledge of what animals endure every single day for meals I’d so quickly consumed and forgotten was the hard part. Is the hard part. Though I no longer eat or wear animals and their by-products, I still live in a world that does and writing is a way for me to try to deal with those two realities.
The second reason was to ask myself the question based on one of Gandhi’s famous sayings: “The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.” How does our nation Canada treat animals? How has the message that certain animals are meant for us to eat been conveyed throughout our lives? Even with all the evidence of animal cruelty, human health dangers and environmental damage caused directly by the meat and dairy industry, why is a plant-based diet still dismissed as though it were an eating disorder or simply someone’s “personal choice”? Is smoking still considered a “personal choice” even though the general public is by now well aware that it also harms other beings?
Humans are divided into groups based on everything from colour, gender, education, nationality, wealth, weight, religion and countless other “value” systems and animals are no different. They are put into categories based on what their purpose is (e.g., some are pets, some are dinner) which then determines what their life is worth. Why is that? How do my everyday surroundings reflect the “moral progress” by how we view and treat animals?
As for the title of this blog, that reason is a little less academic. The phrase “mean vegan” came to me back in early 2014 when I was in a food court one day at a vegan fast-food place and found myself waiting 10 minutes for a veggie sandwich that required no cooking. It wasn’t the waiting that bothered me – it was the fact that I was standing beside another fast-food joint that was serving hamburgers to twice the number of people in half the time. It was then that I realized two things: one, I may be vegan but I’m still a Type-A personality who likes things to run efficiently and two, if a vegan lunch counter wants to attract meat-eaters who are looking for a delicious meal in a hurry, they cannot take 10 minutes to make a sandwich.
Like the tag line says, I may be a vegan but I can still be an asshole.