Yes, there is a difference between someone being vegan and someone being just plant-based. Yes, that difference does matter and should be acknowledged.
But how often do we shame a person for eating plant-based yet still wearing leather or fur, going to the zoo and driving a car with leather seats? Too often is the answer.
We have become hostile towards people who are doing good things for other animals. We have become the type of vegan police no one likes – the type that shoots before asking questions, the type that discriminates based on what it sees not what it knows.
People are afraid of changes and most of the time they have no idea why silk is cruel and how elephants suffer when carrying humans on their backs. Yet instead of reaching out with information and helping them with anything they need help with, we shut them down and pretend we were perfect vegans from the day we started (we will never be).
Way too many times have I read the news about a celebrity that advocated for a plant-based diet and then read comments from hundreds of people saying that they still use fur. Well, yes, they do but that’s not the point.
The point is that this person has decided to stop eating foods that they grew up with, foods that are a part of their tradition and culture; foods that they used to be addicted to. They started eating in a way that is criticized and shamed; it takes guts to do that.
Why can’t we look on the bright side and acknowledge the huge step they just took? Why can’t we encourage them on their journey and provide resources that can show them why fur is bad as well?
The world won’t become vegan overnight and not everyone will be open to see how their choices affect beings around them, but if they only take one step towards a more ethical lifestyle, that’s enough for now, it really is.
It doesn’t matter why someone is just plant-based because now they can only go up if they choose to do so. They made the biggest step – they stopped eating animal products – and that deserves to be acknowledged.