When I explain to people that I am vegan, I am often faced with the question “Oh, really? Why?” to which I mechanically respond “For ethical and environmental reasons,” as I have learned that, even when people ask, they usually do not want to know much more than that. Ingredients lists, Google searches about obscure chemicals, and negotiations with countless waiters and waitresses are frequent occurrences in my vegan life. Every time I buy clothes or shoes, I check the tag for leather, wool, silk, feathers, or any other animal products. I make sure that there is no milk in my soap and that none of my makeup is tested on animals. My eyes have perfected the technique of locating the logo of a V in a heart on food packages, indicating that a product is certified vegan.
People always tell me “Oh, I could never do that.” Or worse, “How can you do that? You must be malnourished.” I’ve heard practically every argument for or against veganism and have seen every look of astonishment or admiration or alarm when I tell people about my choice of lifestyle. I spent the past five years living in a very conservative part of Texas. When I asked about vegan food at restaurants, instead of being offered a hamburger, servers would offer me a turkey burger, or say “But you still eat fish, right?” or “Are you allowed to eat eggs?” Adults and kids alike seemed to love to ask “Aren’t you tempted by bacon?”
I am happy to answer people’s questions - that is when they will let me. I am nothing but proud of my choice to be vegan, to defend animal rights and the environment. Despite the everyday trouble, and the sometimes harsh looks, I feel satisfied knowing that I am saving animals’ lives, keeping them from factory farming and that I am saving the environment by reducing greenhouse gas emissions, water use, and deforestation. So, the answer to the question that people rarely ask is: yes, to me, it is worth it.