It’s a privilege

its-a-privilege

If something about the vegan and the zero waste movement annoys me, then this: Some people lost their understanding of how privileged they are. When they talk about, how EVERYONE can do it, regardless of any circumstances. When they are passive aggressive about every little detail that someone puts on his or her social media platform. You could do this better, or that, or why are you consuming this, that’s so wrong…What they all do not understand is, that such behaviour comes from a place of privilege and it’s completely destructive, too. I cannot imagine anyone would change because they tell you every little detail that you are doing right now is wrong, even though you are already trying your best. I’m sometimes guilty of thinking in such a way, too. Why are they doing this? Why aren’t they doing that, too? Why do they do not understand? Instead, I should focus on all the amazing things, that they are already doing, celebrate them for it and then turn to myself again and ask myself the exact same questions, that I silently wanted to ask them.

KNOWLEDGE IS A PRIVILEGE
First and foremost, knowledge is a privilege. First being aware, of that this knowledge is out there and then educating oneself. Having access to it, books, the internet, the money to buy all of those things or to go to libraries etc.. But also having enough time and energy to do so. There are many people out there, who work different shifts, long hours and are just too tired and exhausted by simply surviving and trying to earn money for their and their families living, to even begin thinking about anything else. Or people who are suffering from illnesses (mental and physical ones) that prevent them from focusing on things like veganism, not buying that avocado or reducing their plastic waste.

UNDERSTANDING IS A PRIVILEGE
You might be open to all of this new information about animal welfare, the connection between meat, dairy and eggs and your health and how destructive animal agriculture is for our environment. You feel deeply about the environment and are ready to challenge your beliefs about consumption and waste. But that’s you, not everyone else. Being in the right mindset to understand and then act on new information, cannot be taken for granted. I can only speak for myself, but it took me 13 years to become vegetarian, another 5 to become vegan and just in the recent year I started acting on what I’ve learned about the fast fashion industry, all sorts of waste and the use of resources of any kind. Knowledge actually settling in can take a long time. And I’m in no position to demand faster change from anyone than how I have changed. I kind of knew that animals weren’t treated well, but I kept eating lots and lots of meat until I gradually changed my eating habits when I became 13. I don’t think anyone is completely oblivious of the topic. But really understanding is something entirely different as well.

MONEY IS A PRIVILEGE
I plan on sharing with you some tips on how to save money on a vegan diet and what low waste practices actually save money. Money should not be an argument to do nothing at all. But saying that you can do everything on any kind of budget is simply not true. For some people, the money they save making their own cleaning products, using reusable items …, is dearly need to put food on the table or pay the rent. A few months back, someone told me that even as a student you can live completely zero waste. She told me, that she had only 700€ per month to live and even she would manage. I don’t know about you, but I have less than 700€ per month and I guess, many other people do, too. What I want to say with this, is: The amount of money you spend every month might not be much for you, but for other people that’s a lot. I’d like to ask you to not put statements like “everyone on any budget can afford living zero waste in all aspects of their lives” out there. We should start to look at every person and their different circumstances individually, instead of generalising everything from a privileged point of view. And that’s not me saying that you cannot change anything on a tight budget. That’s simply not true, too. But let’s focus on what’s actually possible for you at the moment, instead of talking you into a guilty conscious, which ultimately prevents you from doing the best that you could do.

YOU ARE PRIVILEGED. ACT ON IT!

But if you are in the lucky position, to have gained the knowledge, to really understand and to make enough money to sustain a more eco-friendly lifestyle, then – let me put it plainly – you HAVE to act on it. I’m not talking about changing everything overnight, but rather starting to gradually change small things, like bringing your own shopping bags or coffee mugs, choosing the vegetarian/vegan option more often, trying to take the bike more often etc. You don’t have to do everything – nobody does, and everyone who says so, lies. But just because you cannot change in every aspect of your life, that’s no excuse to not change at all, to not even try.

I’M NOT PERFECT…
I don’t want anyone to thing I am perfect. I buy something, even though I know, there is a more eco-friendly alternative out there. If I can find someone, who is traveling in the same direction as I have to go to by car, I’m very likely to not take the train/bus, and instead take the car wit him/her. I eat way too many bananas & avocados. I just really love that bag of crisps or the chocolate bar every now and then, even though they are wrapped in plastic. I could list so many more things right now.

… BUT NEITHER DO YOU HAVE TO BE.
I tell you this, to show you that you don’t have to be perfect, to create a change in the world. Changing small things, leading by example and educating yourself about important issues, is what really matters. Not that you are 100% vegan (even though I definitely encourage it, since I’m a really passionate vegan) or that you go zero waste. You vote with every single time you spend a euro/dollar. So go out there and vote for what you believe in!

Amazing photos by Thought Catalog, rawpixel on Unsplash.

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Maura

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