As you will probably know by now, Daddy and I are both vegan and we are also raising you not to eat animals, because for our family, that is what we believe in. Just recently, your Grandma asked me what we would do if you ask us why some people in the family eat meat. She was worried you might think she was evil for eating meat if we are teaching you that it is our belief that eating meat is not ethical. She was worried it would impact your relationship with her and it got me thinking that there are a few very important things I want you to know about being vegan and about people who aren’t vegan….
Firstly, being vegan is a great thing to do but it doesn’t automatically make you a good person. We are vegan in our family because we don’t believe in eating animals. (No doubt we’ll get into this more deeply another time!) It’s also great for the planet and for your health and contrary to popular belief, it’s also good for people! Being vegan is a core value at the centre of our family. It’s what connects us together and is a huge part of our daily life, identity and something that we really want to teach you all about as you get older. We love being part of a strong vegan community and we hope you will love that too. Daddy and I weren’t always vegan though and we didn’t always know what we know now. Your journey will be quite different to our own!
As much as we advocate for being vegan and whole heartedly believe in its importance, there are certainly people who are choosing a vegan lifestyle, albeit for all the right reasons, who may not be living with compassion in other areas of their lives. As I said before, being vegan is always a good thing but it doesn’t make you a good person. You have to work hard to be a good person and that means extending the practice of compassion to all animals, humans included. Sometimes, this can be the hard part and writing you this letter today is my own reminder to do better here.
Living an ethical and compassionate life can take many forms and let me tell you, there are plenty of people in my life who I love dearly and admire greatly who aren’t vegan. Most of my friends and family aren’t vegan but I love and respect them all for the people they are and the good they are doing for the world. There are many people, both past and present, who inspire me to be a better person or make better choices, who aren’t vegan. There are many people doing other amazing and important things for the world, who aren’t vegan. Animal rights is a hugely important cause to stand for but it’s not the only thing you can choose to care about.
So yes, it may be a little sticky if one day you ask me why Grandma and Grandpa eat meat or why your friends at school eat animals when you don’t but the thing you must remember is to see the good in everyone you meet and you will find so much about people that you love, whether they are like you or not. Non-vegans, like many of your family, have other passions, other things they love and want to change about the world, other ways they are helping make the world a better place and I’d love you to learn about all of those things too.
Being vegan is a practice of non-violence, of compassion, of empathy, of peace. It’s a fantastic way to live your life but it’s not the way for everyone and the reasons for this are very complex! Of course I want to see a more vegan world. A world where animals are free and don’t suffer but the journey to that world isn’t straight forward. So as you grow up, I’ll happily try my best to answer your questions when you ask them, if you do, but I trust that your heart is big and wide open and that you will love wholly and fully those who are important to you, in spite of what they choose to eat.
If you decide to stay vegan too, of course you can be an activist and of course you can shout from the rooftops if it means the world to you like it does to me. Of course you can help to save animals’ lives by having conversations with people who aren’t vegan and I will encourage you to do so. Of course you can go to animal rights marches and find your passion but don’t judge others unkindly along the way if they don’t share your beliefs. Always maintain a sense of understanding and love for your fellow humans. The spiritual practice of veganism isn’t simply not eating animals. It’s non-violence and compassion and empathy in all walks of your life. It’s trying to be the best person you can be, both for the animals and for everyone you encounter. It’s extending compassion to the homeless, to the poor, to the vulnerable, to the mean and seemingly terrible people in the world. For loving those it’s easy to love and difficult to love. If you can live with peace in your heart, you’ll be doing a fabulous job.
So if Grandma still eats meat when you’re older (you never know, she might not!) then don’t judge her for it. Love your Grandma for all the amazing things about her, all the things she can teach you and all the ways she shows compassion for the world.
Love from, Mummy