As the holiday shopping season approaches, most first-world citizens can expect to be inundated with ads featuring price-slashed electronics, gadgets, tools, jewelry, toys, kitchenware, day-wear, evening-wear, and sleep-wear . . . everywhere. Some adore this glitzy shopping season and embrace it, rushing from one trinket sale to another with unabashed excitement and glee. Others detest it with a passion, swearing off Target, K-Mart, Wal Mart, and every other mart until at least January 1st.
Then there's the rest of us.
Dare I say most of us? We're fascinated by consumerism of Christmas (What great bargains can I get for my money?), yet also slightly repulsed by it (Oh please! My house has room for no more junk!).
Sparkling store displays beckon us to abandon our budgets and consume, consume, consume! In fact, that's how many people define consumerism: The notion that the more stuff we buy, the happier we'll be.
How does all this consumerism fit in with veganism?
There are vegans who shop 'til they drop on Black Friday. There are vegans who stay home and nosh on Tofurkey leftovers all day. I posit the following theory: A vegan's attitude toward the consumerism of the holiday season depends on said vegan's reason for being a vegan.
If You're Doing it for Health Alone
If you're into this diet for the health aspect alone, I propose that the consumerism of the holidays has no direct effect on your veganism. You might love shopping at WalMart or you might hate it, but no matter what you choose to do with yourself that notorious day after Thanksgiving, there's just no obvious correlation between your veganism and your attitude toward Black Friday.
If You're Doing it for the Animals
If you're into veganism because you abhor animal cruelty, I suspect that the consumerism of the holidays bothers you, at least to an extent. Cruelty is hidden in products that some people would never think about, such as clothing with faux fur (sometimes contains real fur), down comforters (a Black Friday biggie), and leather everything. You might still shop the big sales, but you're probably pretty selective about what you buy, making sure that – to borrow Hollywood's trite phrase – no animals were harmed in the making of this product.
If You're Doing it for Environmental Reasons
If you're into veganism because you have an acute awareness of how consuming animals affects the well-being of our globe, I suspect you shy away from Black Friday altogether in favor of a nice Tofurkey sandwich and perhaps an afternoon nap on your (non-leather) couch. You associate the excessive manufacture of trinkets, gadgets, and stuff with the pollution of our environment, the demeaning of people in third world countries, and the direct or indirect abuse of animals that comes from all of this activity. You might still love shopping, but you favor ethical, green, conscientious storefronts whose products might cost more money but whose business philosophies allow you to sleep at night.
In all honesty, I probably fall more into the second category. Animals are my passion but I've not yet taken the bold leap into environmental veganism, partially because it exhausts me just thinking about it and partially because I know once I start really thinking about it, I'm going to get very, very depressed.
What about you? How does your vegetarian/vegan lifestyle jibe with the upcoming holiday shopping season?
Flickr photo courtesy of John Henderson