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I'm So Vegan It Hurts
I'm becoming increasingly militant in my vegetarian activism, and it's causing me to isolate and be depressed.
By Cary Tennis

I've been a vegetarian for 14 years (half my life) and a vegan for the last five years. The issue is not one of nuance or complexity, but is rather immediately wrong to me in the way that slavery is wrong, rape is wrong, and the death penalty is wrong. That is why reading this essay by someone I respect gave me pause.
My problem is that I am finding it harder and harder to function in this world where animals are slaughtered and consumed. I go to grocery stores as little as possible, considering I have often simply cried when I am forced to walk down the aisles containing the flesh of once living creatures. I only date other vegetarians or vegans and have mostly surrounded myself with friends who are vegetarian or vegan.

I was not formerly this way. I first became a vegetarian for environmental reasons, not at all voicing a concern for animals. I think I understood that eating meat was wrong, but could not admit my guilt for such crimes, so I came up with other reasons to stop supporting murder. Such feelings are years behind me, and now I am having trouble not being angry at those around me that eat animals. I've become shrill and pedantic, but I don't know how else to be.
I suggest you do this not only to be more effective in your work, but also to better play the other roles in your life. After all, you are not just a militant vegan; you also have family, friends, intellectual and artistic interests, a spiritual side, an emotional life. It may be that you are simply out of balance, that you have ignored many of your other legitimate needs in pursuit of this singular objective. If you can find out what else you need to be happy, perhaps after a while things will just straighten out for you and make more sense.

It may appear that I have steered clear of the topic of animal rights. What I respond to is your inner turmoil, your emotional suffering, which would be important to me no matter what the substance of your beliefs or the nature of your conflicts with others. I support your struggle to improve the world by advocating greater compassion and awareness of other living things. And I think the way to wage that struggle is to gain greater awareness of the forces in your own life that drive you to do it.

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