A couple people have asked me why I'm vegan recently, and it got me thinking about how some of the reasons are the same as when I started
and some of them are rather different. One of the questions was in terms of what living with me would look like, and that was interesting for a whole host of reasons, not least of which the fact that I'm going to be looking for housemates very soon. So I thought I'd free-write about it and share and see what other people thought about it, too.
When I first started doing the vegetarian thing, in 2004, it was so that I could get fresh produce instead of cafeteria food while I was working at a summer camp, and because I couldn't afford much of anything else. It turned out that I enjoyed it, although when I got more money and a different job I went back to eating meat, then gave up meat and kept eating fish, and by the end of November had just said "screw it I'm a vegetarian now." But I pretty much rejected any political premise for this --- sure some of it was in the back of my mind, but at the time I was going all California health-conscious and working out like crazy (for me, anyway, which is not as much as maybe it should be) and I associate the decision with that more than anything.
I did veganism for Lent a couple of years --- maybe three? And the last time, 2008, it stuck. Partially I stuck with it because I had become lactose-intolerant from going vegan earlier and it was easier just to cut dairy out of my diet entirely. At the time, I wrote "I am not vegan because I believe it is wrong to eat animals or animal products." This has changed; I don't go so far as most abolitionist vegans  and think that animal lives are worth as much as human lives. I think it's important to prioritize human life and experience and to consider the people preparing and shipping and growing our food when we talk about "cruelty-free" products and diet. And I think there are some situations in which eating animal products isn't wrong, or at least, its wrongness doesn't matter very much, since it's stacked up against the wrongness of starving oneself (or malnourishing oneself, or what have you). But for people who have the time and Internet access to read my rambly thoughts about veganism, and who have the financial resources to make most to all of their own food choices, I think it's wrong to eat meat.
The thing is... I don't really care if you do it. We all do things that are wrong in this sense all the time. I think it's wrong to perpetuate economic inequities, but I'm not sending most of my income to charity organizations or to the government.  I think it's wrong to go to war most to all of the time, but I'm not out there protesting right now. I think it's wrong to make individual transportation dependent on fossil fuels whose extraction and marketing is hardly "cruelty-free" but I own a car.  It is my assumption that people who eat meat probably work to improve the world around them in different
tiny ways from the ones I do, and it's not my place to tell them they should be improving the world in the tiny ways I find the most important. (I'm also not going to try to convince anyone that being vegan is one of the ways they should choose to do this; other people have done it much better.)
In terms of relationships, close friendships, and housemates? It is convenient and comfortable to spend time with people doing the same tiny things as me, and I like having housemates who are also vegan biker queer &c. &c. I'm basically unbothered by vegetarian food in my environment but sometimes the smell of cooking meat kinda weirds me out. Luckily our new house has a vent fan over the stove, so as long as potential new housemates do a good job with the dishes, I don't really mind. Kissing meat-eaters can be weird if it's right after a meal, but luckily my current onmivore paramour (which is super fun to say out loud) has quietly made this not an issue at all without my ever having to say anything.  I like to be able to cook for people, and I'm happy to meet their restrictions when doing so if they have allergies or preferences, although at this point if their preferences include "every meal must have animal products" we're probably not going to eat together very often because that's not a preference I can meet in my kitchen.
The environmental veg*n idea (mentioned in this comment
) also holds some sway for me --- that producing meat requires more environmental resources (food, water, space, and so on) and it's good to take up fewer resources. I've heard anything from "meat takes twice as many resources" to "meat takes ten times as many resources" and I don't know what to believe, but not even Serious Meat Apologists claim it doesn't take more so I figure the claim, if not the scale, is true. It's hard to sit there and pat myself on the back for taking up fewer resources with my food choices when I live on arable land and grow grass, have central air, and own a car. But at least I don't eat animals too
, I guess. ;)
A lot of vegans are down on them, and often for good reason, but vegan fake meat products really help me with all of this. Sure, they're more resource-intensive than raw produce, and they're mass-produced, and they're not as good for you, and so on, but they allow me access to the kinds of meals I find nostalgic (vegan calzones!!!!! <3 <3 <3 <3 <3) and the kinds of meals I can serve much more easily to omnivorous friends. Plus, they taste really good. ^^;; Over time I'm working on making my own (spiced seitan!) and abstracting the things I cook away from "fake meat" --- like marinated tempeh instead of "fake beef in a box" --- but I don't think the concept is inherently wrong given the cultural and nostalgic value that meat-seeming food has for a lot of people.
I should come back to this at the end of 2012 and see what I think then. In the meantime, it's time to have some granola with soy yogurt, and maybe some juice, and then get to work. :P
 Some would, either grinning enthusiastically or rolling their eyes, say "yet." I don't expect this to happen, but I also didn't expect to get where I am now, so who knows.
 Well, that might be even worse, really.
 I care a lot about this one too, thus all the walking and biking and such, but if I really
cared, I could certainly live without a car. I just don't, because having one is nice, and I'm unwilling to give up the usefulness for the principle. Whether this is pragmatism or moral incontinence depends on your perspective, I guess.
 He did once taste of cheap candy, but what can you do. ;)