Thursday, March 16, 2006

Eat, Drink, and Be Merry - But Not Vegan

I was just over at the Forum where somebody mentioned that Guinness is not vegan. Tomorrow's St. Patrick's Day, so you know I'll be having a pint of Guinness. I'd probably be having a pint of Guinness even if it wasn't St. Patrick's Day. I am not giving up drinking Guinness. (And, no, I am not an alcoholic.)

On a more general note, I do consider myself vegan, but I have never been stringent about seeking out vegan beers and wines. I realize some people will be upset or disappointed by this, but then that's their problem and not mine. I know and understand that animal products are used to make beer and wine, but that's something that ethically I can live with.

I have a good perspective on being vegan. I don't see it as deprivation. I eat well. Many people will ask, "What do you eat?" The assumption being, of course, that I am depriving myself of good, healthful foods. It's a whole way of thinking about being vegan that's influenced by the omnivorious, meat-and-potatoes diet of our culture. I just refuse to think about it that way. My choice to be vegan is just that, my choice. It's something that I chose for me. I don't impose it on anyone else, not even my children, and I don't proselytize about it. For me, it is both filling and fulfilling, literal and figurative.

However, I am not going to deprive myself of alcohol that is made using animal products. Veganism is already an extreme choice. I've seen it written that 1% of Americans are vegan. That's a relatively small group. I'm proud to include myself in that group. It's right for me in terms of my health. It's right for me in terms of my ethics and spirituality. It's right for the environment. And, it's also impossible to be 100% vegan in our culture. I do the best I can. I'm vigilant about reading labels. I quit buying soy cheese because they're mostly made with casein, an animal protein. But I'm not going to give up drinking the occasional glass of wine or beer because it's not vegan. I eat well, and I want to drink well too.

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