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Veganism as Symbolism 

Foregoing animal products means drawing a line in the sand

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In the middle of the remote and desolate Scottish Highlands, I dumped out a bag of potato chips because I realized they had put milk powder in them. I was hungry and miffed—after all, these were potatoes. Somebody took something vegan and made it non-vegan.

I could've just gone ahead and eaten the chips, it wouldn't have made any difference in the world, right?

Not quite. It meant something to me: symbolism. That's powerful, like the American flag and what it represents to some of us.

My son mentioned to me recently that he was considering vegetarian meals for dinner. I suggested that he start with the creation of a complete meal that was entirely vegan. I explained to him that if he devised a meal without animal products, and he could understand the huge threshold crossed by doing so, he could be motivated to do anything he wished.

If you understand symbolism, then you can understand what motivates us to act on our beliefs, no matter what the odds are against us. In the case of veganism, there are two effects: the real impacts of our decisions on the world around us, and the impacts we have on ourselves. We strengthen from within because we have acted on our principles based on a respect for others.

If you are vegan, you are also a symbol—a symbol that represents those among us who have drawn a line in the sand, an icon of what will become a cultural revolution. You illuminate the possibility of a world without victims, a world where we are judged simply by our own merits—a world where we reap our own fruits, not that of others.

Please don't support any business or mentality that involves exploitation. Complacency is complicity. The world changes the very instant you decide to do something, anything.

Ray Cooper is a member of VegCurious and lives in Petaluma.

Open Mic is a weekly feature in the 'Bohemian.' We welcome your contribution. To have your topical essay of 350 words considered for publication, write openmic@bohemian.com.

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