One thing that I have faced a lot of since becoming an activist is guilt. Whether it be environmental, feminist, or consumer issues, I feel like there is a lot of negative connotations for people that don’t always realize how problematic things are. We are a part of a system and that system is corrupt and we should not feel bad for feeding into that system because it is how we were raised. Our job now as activists is not to shame people into feeling guilty for taking part in the system either.
I was a vegetarian for 5 years, and this year I finally decided to be vegan. I face shame both from the vegan community and meat-eating community. At family parties, my cousins will say, why don’t you just eat it, and I feel like I am being pressured into doing something because it is the “norm.” While I was still a vegetarian, I constantly faced guilt from vegans who encouraged me to remove dairy and eggs from my diet, but at the time it was not something that I could do, not because of the discipline that it takes to be vegan, but because of health issues and the cost of being vegan. I never recognized that I should not feel guilty for factors that are out of my control.
Being vegan is difficult because society has made us rely so heavily upon animal products that we don’t know how to properly be vegan all while getting the right amounts of iron, protein, etc. Vegan products that are not just fresh produce are also much more expensive than nonvegan products.
Taking small steps to make a difference is a way to change the world. I got angry at first when people were using reusable straws all of the sudden because it was the right thing to do in the eyes of others. Of course, using a reusable straw is not going to clean up garbage island or reverse the climate change that we have already faced, but it is making a difference. That is however many straws less per person and that is still great! Not only are people making conscious efforts to reuse products, but they are also becoming more aware of how all of their garbage and disposable products add up.
The popularity of this is also making companies more aware of consumers and how they can appeal to this “new idea” of reusing things. Philz Coffee, a coffee chain, offers a DOLLAR off of your coffee when you bring your own cup. They are marketing a better deal for people that are willing to make a change and that reward may be what consumers need to be motivated to reuse more products.
Like I mentioned in my welcome post, it is okay to give into society’s standards when it comes to feminism. I felt guilty for so long because I did my nails or shaved my legs. There is no reason that I should feel guilty for feeling better when I do those things. So long as I recognize that this is a product of consumerism and sexism, it is okay. Realizing that also brought me to be more comfortable with myself too. Now, I can wear shorts and not shave my legs and I don’t think about who is looking at my legs to see if there is hair. I don’t give a fuck, so why should anyone else.