I have not kept track of my vegan activity very well over the last couple of weeks. I've been trying to be more conscious and to develop a vague set of guidelines. There is no doubt that I have slipped up, alot. But never in an intentional "F-this! I'm having an animal product" sort of way. I can confidently say that in any given situation, I would choose an animal-product free option over any other. Unfortunately, that is an oversimplification of serious magnitude.
First of all, that is simply not an option in every given situation. Secondly, it is not exactly easy to even know what animal suffering may have contributed to putting any particular product on one's dinner table, or around one's shoulders for warmth, or on one's feet to walk out into the snow and get the (cruelty free?) newspaper. Thirdly, was that suffering proportionally more significant than the benefit of whatever product it may have helped make available? Realistically, animals can contribute to society, right? Just not in a disproportionally cruel way? Or is any contribution (even if it comes with a reciprocal benefit to the animal) a no-no because it cannot be the result of a conscious choice? Fourthly, I'm a social guy. I can't leave my friends behind because I'm unwilling to compromise on their diets and life-styles (Sorry, Jim and Diane, we can't go out to dinner tonight because you are unwilling to go to our favorite vegan place for the 7th time in the last 4 months and we are not eating another "vegetarian lasagna" special, hold the cheese). And I'm not going to preach to them. Is my energy best spent leading by example and hoping, perhaps, to inspire? Fifthly...I could probably go on for several hours...
My point is that making the transition from vegetarian to vegan is much more challenging than its second-cousin, giving up meat. When I became a vegetarian, my goal was to stop eating meat. For the most part, that was black or white. Is it meat? Then get it out of my dinner. Going vegan is a war against a chaotically organized guerilla army. They are hiding in trees and rigging traps and violating cease-fires and throwing rocks when they run out of bullets.
From about Thursday on, I think my diet was almost completely animal-product free. I made my own seitan and mashed potatoes. I ate steamed chard. I made a delicious pot of lentils. I went to my favorite vegetarian/vegan restaurant and did not order cheese on my sandwich (even though I'm sure it was "organic" and "free-range," etc). I had the gnocchi and marinara at a big group dinner at an italian place with very little vegan fare but lots of delicious dairy to choose from. What I did not do was research the method used to produce the wine I drank or look at every ingredient in every component of my meals (even the ones I cooked - did you know that there are anchovies in Lee and Perrin's worcestershire sauce but not in the Safeway brand?). I wish that ignorance was truly bliss.
PS. I'm not having second thoughts. Just reeling myself in a little bit.