We are currently seeing a huge surge in the number of people who now identify as vegan. Many, have transitioned in just the last two years, myself included.
Many people are saying this is simply veganism's 15 minutes of fame and that it will all soon blow over. However, the statistics, which have shown steady growth in recent years, say differently.
So it looks like we're set to continue to grow.
Like any popular idea, at some point, it will slowly start to lose its core values - much like Yoga has with the introduction of 'Beer Yoga.
Consider that for real practitioners of yoga, it is to align your mind, body and spirit. How does alcohol fit in?
?Vegans eating dairy?
Now, if you look around the vegan community you will see self-professed vegans who say they enjoy eating dairy candy bars every so often.
They will then go on to explain to us that if we want the vegan community to grow, we must allow these types of 'slip-ups'.
You might also hear stories of vegans that buy dogs from breeders, vegans who stuff their fridges full of plastic, and vegans who follow and support 'wild animal whisperer' Brother Nature. This isn't veganism.
The vegan bar
Maybe vegans are holding the bar up too high? Should we all relax a bit and allow these types of 'slip-ups'?
The core value of veganism is to 'exclude, as far as is possible and practicable, all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals'.
Buying non-vegan products for personal satisfaction or buying fluffy designer dogs does not align with this core value.
The idea we should start to lose our core value to appease the masses is a slippery slope. Once we start to allow these 'slip-ups' and make them our normal practice, we truly lose sight of the whole movement.
We aren't advocating for slightly less harm to animals, we are advocating for the end of animal suffering and liberation.
Some will say 'at least they are reducing the amount of meat they eat'. Sure, but veganism isn't just about not eating meat.
It's a way of life and a way of thinking that can't be attained by going only halfway or just a little bit or every now and then.
It's a real commitment, a form of activism, and a belief system that should be held on to.
Vegans are not perfect
By no means am I suggesting vegans are perfect and harm-free. But that is what we should be striving for, even if it's not possible.
We focus too much on food in the vegan community. Being vegan isn't just about what you eat. We have flexitarian, vegetarianism and plant-based diets.
They are amazing steps towards a vegan lifestyle and I'm yet to meet a fellow vegan who does not support all three of these diets - as a pathway to veganism.
Where we're failing is labeling anyone that goes plant-based a vegan.
Some may say I sound elitist. But I'm just saying we should stick to the core values and educate those who aren't.
Directly paying into the suffering of an animal only sometimes is unacceptable and as vegans, we should acknowledge that.
The moment we start to water down veganism for the masses is when the movement loses its true power and potential to change the world. We should be striving to create a community of people that are truly compassionate - a community of people who try to live ethically in all aspects of their lives.
If we allow anyone who simply adopts a plant-based diet to identify as vegan, we risk allowing the movement to become the 'fad' we all fear it could be.