Monday, 31 August 2009

Making the Compassionate Choice

Veganism is all about choice. Far too often, veganism is painted as some sort of self-sacrificing stance that turns even the most reasonable of people into activists who spend all day standing outside fashion houses with buckets of red paint (whilst secretly growing resentful of the fact that they haven’t had ice cream for 10 years).

Yet the fact is, in many places in the world, the things that vegans choose to give up (like cheese, ‘oh I could NEVER give up cheese!’) are things that would seem trivial to most people, and no sacrifice to make at all. Having an evening meal consisting of no more than rice and beans is considered a great blessing in many parts of the world. We have been seduced into thinking that it's our right to have the amount of consumer choice that we do, and the idea of sacrificing any sort of pleasure (strangely enough, particularly when food related), is not one that most people are comfortable with. Veganism is seen by many as a threat to their way of life, and even proximity to a vegan has seen many a meat-eater cling to their chicken burger that much more tightly.

But sacrifice, however small, is a necessary part of change, and it is also a big part of the Christian faith. So much suffering in the world is hidden from our eyes (whether that be by large-scale cover-ups or by glossy food packaging) and we can go on acting as we were before we knew about it, with an ‘ignorance is bliss’ mentality, or we can try and be part of the movement that changes it. Being a vegan does not mean that you can’t do certain things, it means that you choose not to, and there is a great significance in that distinction. One does not become a vegan and then have that choice taken away; rather, it is a conscious effort every day to attempt to live compassionately, with a consideration for the rest of creation.

Being a vegan is one of the most joyful things in my life, and when given the opportunity to make a compassionate choice, I hope that I continue to take it. God's creation is such an incredible, wonderful, awe-inspiring thing, and I believe we should tread as lightly (and thoughtfully) on this earth as we possibly can.

Sharing thoughts on peace, love, and vegan cupcakes!