(Before I go any further, yes, that title is dripping with sarcasm.)
Today I attended a work-sponsored lunch at a nearby resort/conference center. While there was plenty of non-vegan stuff served as part of the buffet, there was enough food there for me to easily fill a plate and feel satisfied. Sure, it was mainly from the “salad” food group, but it was fine.
During lunch, the topic of liverwurst somehow came up at my table. One co-worker asked me, “Would you ever eat it?” I responded, “Now? Hell no.” Another co-worker asked me, “Why?” and I attempted a slight bit of humor in my reply, “Because I don’t eat meat, and that’s a pretty big barrier to trying out liverwurst.” What followed felt like it came from the Totally Not Vegan sketchbook:
Co-worker: Do you eat fish?
Me: Nope. No meat.
Co-worker: (slight look of surprise)
Me: No dairy or eggs, either.
Co-worker: (utterly shocked, shaking head) I couldn’t live like that.
At that point, I stood up and said, “Yes, yes… it is true. I have chosen to deprive myself of all that we as Americans hold dear! I’ve taken it upon myself to sacrifice all my wants and desires for animal flesh and secretions for the betterment of the world! Oh! Woe is me, for I am wasting away in a state of constant hunger and deprivation! How will I ever survive?” And I followed that with a dramatic bow.
Of course that last paragraph was a total lie, but really, isn’t that what we all feel like saying when you get a line like that? You say “I couldn’t live like that!” to someone who’s living in squalor with cat feces piled on top of decade-old newspapers. You don’t say it to someone who simply chooses not to consume animal products (including cat feces piled on top of decade-old newspapers).
Veganism isn’t about deprivation. It’s not about sacrifice. It’s about doing what you know to be right and living your life in a way that is ethically consistent with your beliefs. Period. I can honestly say I’ve never felt deprived. Why? Because I’m not trying to lose weight here, I’m just trying to do what’s right.