Yesterday I ate a slice of leftover pizza. I took the meat off and just ate it.. It didn’t make me sick. I can still process dairy, unlike my unfortunate wife who has lost the ability. It wasn’t delicious, but we had no other food and I didn’t want to leave the house to get any.
I’m not really even bothered by this event and wouldn’t bring it up if it weren’t for the fact that I have the self-applied title of “vegan.” This appellation is a convenience. I can tell the burrito guy I’m a vegan and he won’t bother to ask me about meat or dairy options or, more importantly, accidentally squirt gobs of fatty, white sour cream all over my veggie burrito.
I didn’t become a vegan because of any ethos. I became a vegan because I was trying to find a diet that works for me. I’ve stayed a vegan because I really don’t want to eat something that is a direct result of industrialized death and suffering.
I remain a vegan because it makes sense as a Buddhist. However, as a Buddhist, it’s also important to me to not become too attached to an arbitrary label. Furthermore, the label of vegan brings with it some extreme views that are something I want to avoid.
The idea of being a vegan is something I’m comfortable with and something I’m committed to, but I’m not going to freak out if I occasionally have some birthday cake made by a friend who isn’t vegan or a slice of veggie pizza bought by a well-meaning co-worker.