I sometimes wonder if I should change the title of this blog already. Have Gone Vegan makes it sound as if I've just transitioned, whereas this is my 13th! year since giving up consuming sentient beings. So, thirteen years have flown by and I'm still alive, which according to this ex-vegan is quite miraculous as they "Do not consider any version of a vegan diet to be acceptable, safe, healthy or remotely appropriate for human beings.... I think veganism is dangerous and nutritionally defective. Failure is the only possible outcome of that defecient [sic] diet." Well!
They also cite the Faunalytics' Study of Current and Former Vegetarians and Vegans saying that 84% of folk will abandon vegetarianism/veganism, but then throw in a time frame of within the first five years that I don't see listed in the study. And as a former researcher myself, I seriously question aspects of the study even though I support the organization and am a monthly donor. For example, grouping vegetarians and vegans together is like saying that apples and oranges are the same kind of fruit. No, they share similarities, but shouldn't be conflated.
As an illustration here's a statistic from their full report: Interestingly, while 86% of lapsed vegetarians abandon their diet, a smaller proportion (70%) of lapsed vegans do so, suggesting that while people are far less likely to adopt a vegan diet, vegans are also less apt to start opting for meat. I think 16% is a fairly big difference, and that's just one example. Also, if you look at the actual numbers of the study sample (N= 11,399), you'll see that of the total number of 1,166 former vegans and vegetarians, 129 were vegan. Yep, you read that right. Percentage wise they indicate that of the 10.2% (1,166) vegans and vegetarians grouped together, 1.1% (129) were vegan and 9.1% (1,037) were vegetarian.
But stats can be deceiving (as one who used to manipulate them for a living I know), because another way you could look at this is to see that of the 1,166 former veg folk, 11% were vegan and thus 89% were vegetarian. In other words, this could be viewed as more of a study of former vegetarians than vegans. If you then add in that the study definition of vegan/vegetarian was based on dietary inclusion only, and given that most vegans don't even consider veganism to be a diet, motivation would appear to be a key factor in how many vegans lapse as opposed to vegetarians. Hmmm...
At any rate, IF veg folk DO abandon their "diet" within the first five years as claimed by the ex-vegan turned enthusiastic fisherwoman and licensed hunter quoted up above, then I should have ditched my principles 2.6 times already. But even in my dreams I consistently identify as vegan, so that's not likely to happen.
And while I don't get how former vegans (some might argue they were more plant-based than vegan) can turn their backs on animals, I do certainly understand turning down the dial on activism as being vegan is hard. Not in terms of food, in my opinion, but the emotional toil of witnessing animal suffering and death, the indifference and denial of others if not downright hostility, and the incremental pace at which change often seems to occur. Being a vegan and seeing real progress is a long-term prospect, and not for the faint-of-heart.
So I would argue that being vegan is sometimes all you can do given other life circumstances. Full-on or even part-time activism is great if you have the time, energy and inclination, but please don't feel you're not doing enough, because just by not consuming other sentient beings you're already saving lives and making a difference.
And if you do feel you can contribute a bit more, consider what I think of as being more passive forms of activism: wear t-shirts with slogans, put stickers on your car* and around the community, have individual conversations face-to-face when appropriate (my best interactions with folk have been in grocery stores, for example, instead of anything posted online), chalk animal-rights messages, and other smaller actions that feel doable. Anything is better than nothing as they say, so don't feel it doesn't count if you're not up to doing bigger things like protests. Just being vegan and setting an example is activism in its own way, and all of our actions DO add up. :)
* like this! Was tickled pink/red? when I saw this vehicle in my rural small town. Had a lovely chat as well with the owner who wasn't sure what my reaction would be as I asked if this was their car, until I gave them a big smile and a huge thumbs-up when they said yes.