“The pursuit of excellence is gratifying and healthy. The pursuit of perfection is frustrating, neurotic and a terrible waste of time.” Edwin Bliss
Aiming for perfection? Well, you debilitated non-perfect dudes, I have been there many times...damn I'm good! Perfection is my birthright. I was born to be perfect.
For years and years I was so perfect, no one could tell me anything because I knew everything!
As far as I was concerned, I was the best, the purest vegan on the planet – in the known universe! I carried my vegan hubris like a badge of honour. I treated meat-eaters and vegetarians with disdain and contempt. I laughed at their pathetic intellects and feeble resolve.
In my mind's eye I had – let's not hold back – god-like stature!
I WAS INVINCIBLE!!!!!!!
And then I woke up.... I had an epiphany.
(Joking, of course.)
Is there any man, woman or child out there (vegan or non-vegan) who is perfect? Of course not. We are all fallible.
Let's be blunt: perfection is not attainable. Nor should it be.
If it was, it would be the end of the line so to speak. It would be mind-numbingly boring - there would be nothing to get up in the morning for, nothing to do better, nothing to fight for, nothing to live for. In my view, life has to be lived in incremental steps: that is, we experience each day to live and learn and aim for personal goals. It's about giving your life reason and purpose.
Sorry to rock your boat too, but there is no such thing as being 100% vegan. You could only reach such a state of purity on a deserted island somewhere.
I am sure some vegans have accidentally trodden on insects.
Accidentally eaten a non-vegan ingredient in a restaurant.
Patronizes a cafe/restaurant (that predominantly sells non-vegan food) to get a vegan option.
Sits in a car with leather seats.
Drives a car.
Deliberately takes non-vegan medicines.
Wears leather shoes from their pre-vegan days.
Feed pets non-vegan food.
Sat in a car with leather seats.
Uses various electronic devices.
As vegans, everyday we play detective and try to filter out (to the best of our ability) non-vegan ingredients from our food and other products we use. You may be aware that, below certain percentages, ingredients can be added to processed foods without revelation. (More reason to avoid processed foods where possible.)
If you have scoured the plethora of vegan content on the internet, you will know that
manufacturers utilise animal by-products in hundreds, if not thousands of products. To what extent, I don't think anyone really knows. What we do know is that in a dollar-driven industry, every part of an animal is used.
Products like, inks, dyes, adhesives, ceramics, cosmetics, rubber, cement, lino, plastics, medicines, electronics, confectionery, crayons, perfume, beauty products, vitamins, textiles, brushes, et al. So really, unless you were an industrial chemist or a member of one of the CSI teams, who would really know what is in some products? If we drive a car or use electronics, there is probably no doubt that animal by-products have been used in manufacturing.
So, do we throw our hands up in the air and give up? Certainly not.
For the animals and the planet, veganism is a life or death scenario. With approximately 59 billion animals slaughtered annually, we can't give up. So we do the best we can. Somethings we just can't avoid. And, of course, we are all prone to errors of judgement.
So if we fall off our bikes we get up, dust ourselves off, then get back on the bike. We learn from our mistakes. We try and lead by example. We know that being the best vegan we can is our destiny. There is no real vegan rule book; but we know what we have to do. Veganism is not just about the individual. It's also about the animals and the planet. (Most vegans I know also choose to think about and get involved in myriad other social justice issues.)
Striving for perfection is futile. Striving for progress/excellence instead, is much more realistic and much more achievable.
I am not saying that “good enough” is the new “perfect”, far from it. As a vegan, you know (or should know where you are coming from) and where you are going. You don't need structured Nazi-like discipline when you have your own self-discipline and you own moral paradigm.
(Coming in October: “Civil Disobedience or Education? Capturing the Hearts and Minds of Non-Vegans”)
- Published: 10 September 2014
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