Saturday, June 9, 2012

Doing Our Best with the World As It Is

VO received email from someone with a chronic disease. All treatment attempts have failed (tried for four years), except for a medicine made with animal products. This individual wanted to know, "If I decide to take the medication, do I have the right to still call myself a vegan?  I know it's just a label, just a word, but it's a word that is important to me – a badge of honor that represents my commitment to saving lives and reducing suffering."

I replied:

Thanks so very much for writing, and for your commitment to making a real difference in the world.

Our mission at Vegan Outreach is to make as big a difference as possible, in whatever situation we find ourselves. Our choices are guided not by, "Is this vegan?," but "What can I do to reduce the amount of suffering in the world as much as possible?"

We need to be healthy to be maximally effective. The more work we are able to do for the animals, the sooner veganism will be more widespread, and, among other things, medicines will no longer be made from animals. 

In short, we need to do our best with the world as it currently is, and not be put off by wishing things were different, or worrying about a specific label. The world is vastly imperfect; we can't expect perfection of ourselves -- just our best. Again, the question is never, "Is this vegan / Am I vegan?" Rather, we ask, "Will this help reduce suffering as much as possible?"

-Matt

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