Vegan Living Is Not About Purity
Let’s get one thing clear: No one is perfect—and it’s impossible to be a perfect vegan in a nonvegan world.
But being vegan isn’t about purity—it’s about helping animals and doing the best we can to reduce their suffering and avoid exploiting them while still living a normal life. We could all go out into the woods and survive on nuts and berries, but ultimately, that would be far less effective than living in places where we can influence others to adopt a vegan lifestyle, too.
Animals don’t need your purity. If they did, it would make sense to go live in a cabin in the woods, causing as little harm as possible. What animals really need is your effective, influential advocacy.
Here are a few tips for choosing effective advocacy over personal purity:
- Vegan living isn’t all about you. Living vegan is about helping animals by advocating for them and making choices that avoid harming them. Take action to promote animal rights, not to boost your own ego. Showing how accessible vegan items are and how enjoyable vegan living can be is much more effective than making petty comments about other people’s lifestyle. Remember to be positive about the steps others have taken, not critical of the ones they haven’t.
Helping just one other person go vegan will save twice as many animals. But if you do something that prevents another person from adopting a vegan lifestyle, that hurts animals.
- Focus on the positive! Let it inspire you. It’s easy to get discouraged and burned out as an activist. There’s a lot of cruelty to animals in the world, and many people don’t agree with us. We all work really hard and feel very passionately, which can be exhausting. Try to focus on the positive instead of the negative. For example, if someone stops eating chicken or starts buying cruelty-free products, that’s a positive step.
- Always remember to show how easy, popular, and fun being vegan is! We all know that the number one reason why people don’t go vegan is that they don’t think it’s convenient. So don’t grill restaurant servers about micro ingredients. Doing so makes being vegan seem difficult and annoys your friends and restaurant staff, which discourages them from going vegan themselves and really hurts animals. If you’re unsure whether a restaurant has vegan options, check the menu online or call ahead. And if it doesn’t have anything vegan, find another place to eat that you and your friends agree on.
- Speaking of dining out … Unless you have an allergy, you don’t need to insist that your food be cooked on separate equipment from that used to cook meat. Doing so doesn’t help animals—it only makes restaurants less inclined to offer vegan choices (which, again, hurts animals).
Help make sure that local businesses and your school cafeteria have positive experiences with vegan customers and students. Don’t order the vegan option, complain, send it back twice, and leave a lousy tip. Instead, thank people for offering vegan food and give positive feedback as much as possible, even if it’s mixed with a critique.
- Be patient with and tolerant of those around you. We don’t need the “vegan police” making it seem as if being vegan is a chore. Don’t give a restaurant server a hard time or lecture your parents and friends about avoiding an ingredient they’ve never even heard of. Always think about the big picture: what’s best for animals.
- If you make a mistake, don’t give up. If you see other vegans make mistakes, be supportive and encourage them to keep helping animals. Often, you may be the only vegan they know, so if they don’t have support from you, who will they turn to? And if you make a mistake, don’t be too hard on yourself! We don’t live in a vegan world (yet!), so this is bound to happen. We’ve all been there, especially when just starting out. When this happens, think of it as a learning experience that will allow you to make a better choice next time. 🌱
Want help getting started going vegan? We’ve got you! E-mail [email protected] to receive support every step of the way. peta2’s staff offers one-on-one support from knowledgeable vegans. You’ll be paired with mentors who can address your questions and concerns about going vegan, in addition to offering guidance on shopping, cooking, talking to your friends and family, and anything else related to living compassionately.
Text peta2 to 30933 for ways to help animals, tips on compassionate living, and more!
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