I have revisited this extract from Roxane Gay's Bad Feminist essays quite a few times since it was first published, because it’s clever, and funny, and forgiving. As Gay points out, moving through this world as a woman is hard. And it is a topic to which I will return a lot here. But for now, I just want to share that I’m not only a Bad Feminist, I’ve realised I’m a Bad Vegan, too!
I often feel like I’m failing at being the person I want to be – my best possible self - and with that comes a lot of guilt. This has only gotten worse for me since becoming vegan. Here I am actually trying to be the change I want to see in the world, but I ruminate on the instances in which I’ve failed. I know that you have those moments, too. In fact, you just did. But as I said in my text, not even a few hours ago, you really should not feel guilty because you ate non-vegan chocolate in the midst of a stressful weekend. If we had our way, everyone in this world would be vegan and we’d have the convenience and luxury of endless vegan options everywhere we went. If Roxane Gay had her way, she’d have the luxury of enjoying catchy thuggish rap songs that don’t degrade women. Until then, I think we all need to forgive ourselves our imperfect taste.
I very much like this article in Slate – not least because I am fully on his side when it comes to the oyster debate – but I love this line, in particular, “Eating ethically is not a purity pissing contest”. Well said. So I’m just going to do the best I can, and for now (all things subject to change), I’m of the opinion that it’s OK to enjoy oysters, and honey, and on occasion, the non-vegan chocolate bar, the naan bread at your local Indian, your best friend's homemade garlic mayonnaise, and the beer and wine that – so frustratingly – is not actually vegan because of a technicality called isinglass.
In short, I think I’m a bad vegan. But that is better than not vegan at all.