on being a fanatic

recently at a vegan meetup, i came in mid-conversation and someone said, "well, i mean, we're not fanatics, right?" he said it in a somewhat joking tone, but i don't know him well and i had no idea what he was actually referring to… so to be funny, i interjected, "well, i am!" and we all had a chuckle. 

i've been reflecting on this here and there, because it seems like there is always someone "less strict" or "more strict" than you, wherever you go. there is no such thing as The Perfect Vegan and there are all things that we have to decide where we each draw our proverbial line in the sand. feeding our cats a vegan diet, asking about types of sugar being used in restaurants, keeping non-vegan things around our houses from pregan days, dealing with botched orders in restaurants… all of these things can be seen as "grey areas," and we all have to do some thinking about what makes the most sense in a given situation. at this same vegan meetup, for instance, one of the orders arrived at the table with tons of melted cheese (it was inside the chimichanga, so it would have been impossible to scrape off). the person was disappointed and upset (as would i have been), but the woman across from her said, "well, but you'll still eat it anyway, though, right?" i was kind of flabbergasted by that comment (at a vegan meetup of all places), and so was the woman who was planning to send the chimi back, but i was immediately reminded of the "fanatic" comment only 20 minutes prior, and decided that i guess i am a fanatic. 

but then… not really. i personally don't think there is anything strange or out-there about being vegan, about believing that it is wrong to harm animals for our own selfish (and usually mindless) reasons. it bothers me when people accuse me of being "extreme," because i think it's much more "extreme" to (pay someone to) torture and kill an animal rather than to just eat a peanut butter sandwich. anyhow, this entire chain of thought reminded me of a great post that i read a little while ago over at the animal rights change.org blog. my favorite part is this excerpt: 

Animal rights is mainstream. Animal rights, at its heart, is the most unextreme philosophy I can imagine. It is about nonviolence. It is about compassion. It is about not harming and not causing suffering and not killing when we don't have to. That's it. It is really, truly that simple. Indeed, perhaps it is even that simplicity that causes so many to mock the animal rights movement or dismiss it as silly or radical–because if they can marginalize it, they don't have to acknowledge the simplicity of it or truly ask and answer why they don't support it too. 

 …but if you like that, you should definitely head over and read the whole shebang.

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