One of life’s little annoyances often comes to me in the form of the following comment: “You’re vegan? But you’re wearing a leather belt…” This prompted me to explain my hierarchy.
The way I see it, I chose to become vegan for moral and environmental reasons. I have always been very concerned about the environment and have always tried my best to keep my carbon footprint in check, even before I knew what a carbon footprint was. My concern for the environment led me vegetarianism as a kid and further led me to veganism in January of last year.
Things I purchased before going vegan, like my 8 year old leather belt or the feather duvet I purchased when Husband and I first moved in together, are still functional, regardless of whether or not they make me a “good” vegan. It’s more damaging to the planet to just toss those things into a garbage bin to find something more vegan-friendly so, yes, I do wear a leather belt, and I sleep under a feather duvet….until they are no longer usable and I don’t feel like any less of a vegan for doing so. I haven’t purchased anything containing animal products since going vegan; but, I certainly won’t be wasteful. I’m not comfortable accommodating one part of my belief system to compromise another.
That sort-of ties in to another interesting battle…organic vs. local. I try my best to purchase organic when I can; but, I do tend to believe that local trumps organic. For one, a lot of local producers have organic practises without having the certification and I feel just as comfortable supporting a non-organic family farm located just outside Toronto as I do supporting an organic farm in California. Plus, purchasing local increases the demand for local products in your area. If the demand is increased, the farms might just be able to afford getting the organic certification or other small farms might be able to step in with their own products, thus increasing the type of products available for me to purchase local.
I’ve always been a fierce supporter of the little guy, a defender of the under-dog and I believe firmly in doing what you can for your community by starting in your own backyard, and branching out from there. For those reasons, I tend to support the independent markets in my area, compare manufacturing locations on labels just as much as I compare ingredients, and support local charities first and foremost. To me, that’s all part of veganism.