Lately I feel that my diet is a major inconvenience to others, and I don't know what to do. If I don't eat meat or dairy directly but occasionally eat foods that have dairy in them, am I still vegan? Is it right to refuse a dessert just because it has a smidgen of egg in it, or am I just being picky beyond belief as my nonvegan friends tell me I am and as I'm feeling more and more lately?
Veganism is a choice, not an obligation. This is why it is important that people who become vegan do so voluntarily and with enthusiasm and joy. Otherwise, their veganism will become a chore to maintain, and they easily could be swayed by the nonvegans in their life who grumble that veganism is annoying and difficult.
Vegans follow a consistent ethical practice, so, no, vegans don't “bend the rules" in order to eat desserts or other foods that contain dairy products or eggs, even if it's “just a smidgen." Vegan values are not contingent on being easy. Any ethic that counters mainstream habits is going to take some effort to implement. Consequently, those who do not share our point of view may be unsympathetic or even antagonistic. They may think that veganism threatens their lifestyle, and if they can coax or tempt us away from it, they will feel more secure.
Veganism is less about being “picky" and more about being selective and discriminating. If we perpetually make exceptions to our convictions, how committed could we be and how credible would we appear to others? Few people would take us seriously if our actions contradict our words. Furthermore, it would be confusing to friends and family if we compromise one time and refuse to another time. Once the door has been opened, who determines when a “smidgen" becomes too much? What would be the difference between eating “a little" and eating “a lot," and where would we draw the line? Veganism is an ongoing commitment, not something to dabble with only when we can restrain ourselves or when it is convenient.
The longer you are vegan, the more accepting others will be of it and the easier it will be for you to deal with other people's frustrations and intolerances. Becoming vegan is as much an adjustment for our family and friends as it is for us. They must learn how to be more flexible and accommodating, without asking us to sacrifice our principles on their behalf. In turn, we must resolve to be more patient and understanding as they determine how to navigate around our newfound ideals.
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