I get it. I get what we need to do, no compromises, blah blah blah.
But a year into my veganism, I was suicidal, barely able to feed myself and the food at work was often cheap or free, but not vegan. Eventually, I had to be a survivaltarian.
It wasn’t an easy choice nor would I argue a healthy choice. My body is still fucked up in so many ways, but at least I am beyond that place of wanting but not wanting death.
Often when I try to open a dialogue about this (or I am avoiding a dialogue), the response has been pretty judgmental, looking at me like a hypocrite or short-sighted.
Yet, I am here celebrating every advance in artificial meat, the reduction of cost for vegan options, encouraging others to go vegan, sometimes restraining myself in social circumstances from eating animal products (but not always).
There are many barriers to veganism, and despite many arguments about how it’s possible and healthy, that doesn’t mean it is possible or healthy for all people at this point in time. And this is usually where the conversation shuts down. Either it’s right for everyone, or it’s a fringe life style that’s not. What I want us to work on, is the accessibility of veganism, what does it mean for people who are struggling to not have space to talk about that struggle, especially if they really want to be vegan, the circumstances are just not ideal.
I had to choose between my life and my ethics, because the anxiety around food was the only thing I had the power to lift under the weight of so many other crushing circumstances. Desperate times call for desperate measures; I had to be selfish. I hated myself for this and I had no space to talk about this. As a non-binary transgender person, entering new spaces and connecting with the necessary community to sustain the lifestyle choice of veganism was frightening and impossible.
But if we want to make veganism a bigger thing, if we really care about animal liberation, we need to look at these failures with compassion, because people are sometimes trying really hard to survive and like it or not, meat may be the ACCESSIBLE option. It is not for a lack of wanting that I am not consistent in my diet, more of a sheer exhaustion from all the other factors and an inability to fund and organize the diet I would most like.
Unless we address the things that make it hard for people to be vegan, which means paying attention and honouring the stories of vegan failure as opportunities for growth with steps to take, we will not be able to succeed in making veganism a more viable option for more and more people.