If you'll excuse the lame title for this blog post for a moment, I want to dedicate this particular post to discussing a topic that is becoming more heated these days, for environmental reasons: meat and the use of animal products, vegetarian and vegan lifestyles, and whatever else falls under this umbrella. While readers of this blog already know that I'm not vegetarian/vegan (yet), I still feel I need to have a say on this topic so at least vegetarians and/or vegans know where I'm coming from.
Let me start out by saying I have nothing against vegetarians or vegans. My vegetarian/vegan friends in real life know this. :-) I feel that if someone wants to go vegetarian or vegan, more power to them. I'm a big believer in personal freedom in this regard. That said, it's also my belief that one shouldn't be forced into becoming vegetarian or vegan. Obviously my real life vegetarian/vegan friends don't force anyone; what I'm more referring to are those people on the Internet who are vegetarian/vegan that militantly espouse their ideals and snub anyone who doesn't think and eat like they do. (There are people like that on the meat-eating/omnivorous side too, don't get me wrong, but I'm bringing that up here for the sake of making my point.) Whether or not one has to be vegetarian or vegan to be considered a true Hindu is another can of worms entirely, so I'm not going to discuss that now.
What I am going to discuss is how plausible and/or effective it actually is for absolutely everyone on the planet to strive for a vegan ideal. For the purposes of this argument I'm going to say that the vegan ideal is no usage or reliance on animal products or services whatsoever. It is my personal belief that the vegan ideal is not an ideal everyone can strive for, and may be impossible for some people, for various reasons.
I will use my diabetes as an example of this. Diabetes, because of the nature of its treatment, at least from my experience, can make striving for a vegan ideal impossible. Why is this? Because a key component of diabetic management for myself and many others - insulin - came about because of animal testing. It was testing on pigs that allowed insulin development to be possible. I know most insulin these days is synthesized and not dependent on pigs producing it, but if pigs weren't tested on to begin with, insulin wouldn't be around...and my life as a diabetic would be much more difficult. So if you look at my diabetes objectively from the viewpoint of the aforementioned vegan ideal, then technically it would be impossible for me to be vegan.
I know some vegans would argue the following point - that if I just followed a vegan diet, I wouldn't suffer from diabetes in the first place. In the case of myself, I wouldn't know since I haven't tried a vegan diet yet; I might one of these days but right now I have too much on my plate (no pun intended) to devote the mental energies to attempting to go vegan. But even if I did, a vegan diet is no guarantee against diabetes for anyone. This is because diabetes has a genetic component to it. Lifestyle is a factor for developing diabetes, yes, but if one doesn't have the genes for diabetes in the first place, one is far less likely to develop it. Also, one can develop diabetes symptoms even if one follows a perfect vegan diet because of the aforementioned genetic factor.
Now I'm not saying going vegan won't help diabetes, but what I am saying is that it's no guarantee. And if one's diabetes treatment requires insulin, like mine does, whether or not you were vegan to begin with you are still going to be using medicine that was the product of animal testing. It's a rather depressing thought, but it's sadly the truth.
I'm not trying to discredit vegetarian or vegan ways here. I think they are of great merit. Rather, what I'm trying to say is that there are some cases where going entirely vegan would adversely effect one's life. Then you get into the horrible argument of which life is more sacred...and that's an argument I'd rather avoid. Surely all life is sacred, including my own...right?