Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Even the vegans

I visited the Vegan Expo last Sunday, and I have to say I was a little disappointed. I had expected that a vegan expo would be a shining example of ethical living on all fronts. Yet, I managed to walk away eating a meal served on a styrofoam plate with a plastic fork, and clutching a vegan cookbook that isn't made from recycled paper, and having heard no mention of locally grown produce.

Maybe I am being completely unfair, but I just assumed that people who chose one sort of ethical lifestyle would also have chosen an ethical approach to other areas of their lives. But it doesn't always happen that way. I remember getting frustrated with the socialists who shared my opposition to war, but thought nothing of contributing to un-necessary logging by printing out thousands of flyers for their cause. There are also those who care passionately about the plight of people in developing countries, but don't worry too much about the carbon cost of flying all around the world in a bid to help. And don't get me started on those vegetarians who happily eat tofu without a care for the impact of soy bean cash crops on local farmers.

But I shouldn't be so harsh. As you can imagine, I have been on the receiving end of all the same criticisms. It's always the smug, meat-eating, petrol guzzling, new wardrobe every season types who question why I might call myself a vegetarian but wear leather shoes, or claim to care about the environment but fly across the world or care about the conditions of factory workers but still buy the occasional garment made in China. Surely doing something we believe in is better than doing nothing at all? So, rather than disappointed, I have decided I am comforted by the fact that even the vegans are not perfect - maybe there is hope for me yet.


cristy said...

I went to the Vegan Expo a few years ago and was similarly disappointed. It contributed to my frustration with veganism being put forward as some sort of ultimate claim to ethical living, when, in fact, it could be adhered to in a less-than-ethical way (by eating heaps of highly processed, imported specialist vegan foods, non-seasonal produce, etc).

In the end this was part of my decision to stop being a vegan and to start being an 'ecotarian' instead. Now I try to take a whole range of ethical considerations into account for all of my consumption choices, but I also give myself permission not to be perfect, because I recognise that it simply isn't that straightforward.

Peter Kneale said...

Yeah i was quite surprised at how many specialist imported products were at the fair as well, i thought bulk of the focus would be on the primary concern of locally grown fresh fruit and veg. Instead imported suplements appeared to be all the rage..

Peter Kneale said...

Yeah aletia and i noticed a real focus on those imported food supplements, etc. There was hardly a mention of the simple healthy eating of locally grown seasonal fruit and veg. I guess not many people are really into the simple fact that we need fruit and veg and a bit of exercise but would rather adopt a lifestyle complete with a lifestyle gym membership and lifestyle accessories..

Theo. Bennett said...

Nice one, Aletita. Fair comment. The downside of political correctness is the sometimes shallowness of thoughtless conformity.
Surely, ideas and ideals are a lot more than the narrow and restrictive conforms of alleged social norms...?
May your notional "perfection" most always be your beacon, your Omega.
Congratulations on a well designed, coherent, articulate 'Plain English' blog..
- Theodore Bennett