Non-Vegan Guilt: Why Is It a Thing?
Why do some people who eat animal byproducts feel guilty about it?
It is easy to say you love animals, but how often do you show it?
They're Animal Lovers
Yes, puppies are cute, but are you going to jump at the chance to protest Puppy Mills? The cow pictured above is basically a big, grass-loving puppy, but most people are still going to enjoy a juicy steak this weekend.
So, where is the line drawn for animal lovers to cross over into veganism and activism?
For a lot of people, it starts with watching a documentary, such as Meet Your Meat, Earthlings, Vegucated, or Cowspiracy. Once the knowledge is absorbed, it is hard to ignore the truth: that eating animals and loving animals don't go so well together. That is, not in the way that animals are mass produced worldwide. Loving animals and properly hunting or fishing your own meat is an entirely different scenario.
They Have a Pet
Max the Golden Retriever is man's (or woman's) best friend and if anything happened to him it would reduce almost anyone to a puddle of emotions.
It makes sense that we love dogs and cats so much—we evolved with them and domesticated them. But, it is also hypocritical to favour one species over another.
Pigs are smarter than dogs, chickens like to cuddle, and cows wail when their babies are taken from them. There is no 'better' animal, they are all sentient and a lot of people can see and feel that.
They Just Can't Help Themselves
Nobody is the perfect specimen of willpower and breaking old habits is incredibly difficult. The struggle of wanting to eat what you're used to and wanting to leave a smaller ecological footprint is hard to suss out.
Food is a comfort and should be enjoyed exactly the way you want it to be, but at the end of the day if you feel guilty for your eating habits (whether it's unhealthy or an animal byproduct) you may have to tweak them.
The most important thing people like this can do is simply their best. Cut out a meat product once a week, eat less cheese, or try to buy locally from small-source farms. A lot of farmers give their animals comfortable lives and have adopted new techniques to make animals feel safer before slaughter.
If, at the end of the day, you still feel guilty, give up meat and live a vegetarian life-style for a week. Start small and see how you feel.
If it helps to have some empirical data to track your progress, here is a vegan calculator.