The Unlikely Vegan Explores Making Moral Choices by Phil Shainmark

Is your pleasure more important than your morals? It’s an interesting question, and one that I’ve never been able to answer, or even fully articulate, till now. The 16-25 year old me says “absolutely.” I drank, did drugs, committed crimes. Hurt whoever, whenever, and treated people that loved me horribly. I did awful things to people I should have cared about just so I could chase that NEW thing. It was pleasure, not in a sexual sense, but the pleasure of just doing whatever the hell I wanted, whenever I wanted, was the GOAL. Now I thank the gods every day that I still have friends from back then that put up with me.

My first inkling that maybe this WASN’T a good idea, came after I moved to Las Vegas. I drank and partied and did all those things I normally did. But then I met a woman who was NOT gonna put up with that behavior from me, and I had to decide what it was worth. So I opted to stay with her, and abide by her wishes. When she got pregnant and we had to have a discussion about what to do, my morals said we should get married, so we did. We had our son, and the drinking and the partying stopped (for her) almost at once. We decided to quit cigarettes when our son started “smoking” his crayons. I still chewed tobacco, but my wife went cold turkey. And I know she missed smoking, it was her “break from the world.” But she couldn’t do it anymore.

Then I got diagnosed with cancer and I decided to quit chewing tobacco. Of course, then I had to cut back on drinking with only one kidney. So in some ways, my decisions were forced, or rather I was hit in the head with a shovel and it made me see the right choice. Fast forward a few years, and I would tell anyone who’d listen (especially online) that “participation was consent” in relation to politics and those types of things. Then we came to Veganism. I’ve already spelled out why I chose to become a Vegan so we don’t need to go into that, but let me state again: I LOVE meat. It’s delicious. I don’t eat it anymore. My morals are more important than my pleasure.

As a more recent example, I gave up my Facebook account a few weeks ago, when I found out that they had deleted hundreds of anarchist and voluntarist pages. Facebook is a great way to keep up with family and friends, but if they’re censoring content because of a political agenda then I want no part of it. I hope I managed to get all the contact info from my online friends. But here, again, my morals are more important than my pleasure.

I went to a BBQ at a friends house last weekend. It was my first time at his home, even though we’d known each other for years. We had brought our own vegan food, and some snacks. However, more people showed up at once than my friend had expected, so I ended up helping out on the grill. Yes, I cooked everyone’s meat: burgers with bacon and cheese IN THEM. With cheese on top. And hotdogs. Once that was done, I cooked me and my wife’s food on the little section of the grill I hadn’t cooked any meat on. Here, helping my friend in a tight spot was more important than my pleasure – in this case from being the “unlikely vegan,” (because people NEVER suspect it and that’s good for some laughs).

What does this have to do with any of you? Well I got the idea for this article while talking to my mother, who is like 99% of the way Vegan. Any time I say, “Mom, you know how they get milk is screwed up?” or “You know what they do to male chicks at those egg farms is atrocious?” I get the response “I know, I know….” It’s the same with anyone else you talk to – you mention the horrible conditions in these factory farms and you get the “I know man, but….” I don’t judge, I really don’t. There is no “right” answer here. But what that tells me is, your pleasure is more important than your morals. And that’s something that everyone needs to address for themselves.

by Phil Shainmark