We’re the Radicals

Is it me or are there more stories on the web lately about “reformed” vegetarians and vegans? My definition of reform must be different than others, as I’ve always thought of reform from another perspective (you know, beneficial change). As I’m always interested in words in general, I looked up reform in my trusty online dictionary (yes, I still use the hardcovered one too) and found this definition on Wikipedia—“Reform seeks to improve the system as it stands, never to overthrow it wholesale. Radicals on the other hand, seek to improve the system, but try to overthrow whether it be the government or a group of people themselves.”

So it seems these “reformed” vegetarians aren’t even using the word correctly. While I plan to never look back or consume animal products again, I’m wondering how these people decided to change to vegetarianism in the first place and if they really had any motivation to stay veggie. For me, I guess it’s the millions of animals that are mistreated, abused, and ultimately slaughtered that allows me to continue on the path of veganism. I know some folks decide to give up meat and dairy for health reasons—and it seems to me, based on those articles I’ve recently read, that these are most likely the people who resume the practice of eating meat.

So I get it—if you come to this kind of decision only thinking of yourself, it’s a lot easier to slip back into the carnivorous routine. Those of us who have moved to veganism for ethical reasons have another approach to maintaining this lifestyle. I quite frequently think that I came so late to the game, I have to somehow make up for lost time. Then I think that I was ignorant of the extent of animal suffering and realize that the best thing I can do is lead by example.

I politely decline cupcakes at work, pass by traditional ice cream shops, and notice when my neighbors are grilling meat outside. I’m reminded several times every day of the food choices people make, and this is what helps me to know I’ve made the right choice. I don’t want to contribute to the mass slaughter of animals for profit. I don’t want to corrode my arteries with cholesterol. I don’t want to blindly watch giant corporations help the general public die a slow death.

This is how you become a reformer. Set an example for those around you, and then you become a leader. A leader isn’t afraid to make radical choices to improve a broken system. Shouldn’t we all try to revolutionize something during our lifetime? Let’s stop pretending that these “reformers” were ever invested in real food choices in the first place. I’m tired of hearing about how “sick” they were as vegetarians and how much healthier they claim to be now that they eat animals again. Those of us who eat plants, legumes, nuts, and seeds, who read food labels, don’t support certain corporations, try to support locally produced food—we’re the reformers. We’re leading a movement that will hopefully one day lead to real, sustainable changes—so I guess, in reality, we are the radicals. I think I can handle that.

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