EDITOR”S NOTE: This post won our “go find readers” contest. Way to go Michaela!
I’ve made the recent decision to work toward becoming vegan. I’ve been told I’m crazy, naïve, idealistic, and never going to be able to commit to it. People are concerned about my health, mental state, and wallet. But that’s okay! I’m really excited for this new adventure! I’m intelligent, independent, and too stubborn to quit before I figure it all out!
First, let me explain what vegan is. This means that I will not consume any animal products or by-products through food, clothing, personal items, etc. That means I can’t eat hamburgers, grilled cheese, or even honey. (Ah, didn’t think of honey, did you?) Fur coats, leather couches, boxed cake mix – those are all off limits too.
But wait, can’t? I don’t like that word. I’ve never liked that word. I’m smart, strong, and far too stubborn to be okay with that word. This is why I think it is important to strive for an ALMOST vegan lifestyle. This idea that I am either vegan or I’m not implies that a commitment to avoid animal products for an entire month is completely irrelevant after a really long day and a piece of milk chocolate. I don’t believe it needs to be this way. I am not a failure for enjoying a grilled cheese sandwich and tomato soup on a rainy day. After a “failure” like this, people often go back to their old, mass meat consumption lifestyle. It doesn’t need to be like this.
I tell people that I’m an exploring, almost, mostly, vegan. What does this mean? I started out not eating meat during the week. Now when the weekends come, I usually just forget that I want meat, and avoid it then as well. I’m in the process of cleaning out my cabinets. I still have tomato soup, Girl Scout cookies, and hot cocoa mix that I just haven’t used up yet. My trips to the grocery store are filled with vegan goodies like avocados, sweet potatoes, and Oreos. I’m exploring veganism in the sense that I spend more time than I’d like to admit looking at vegan recipes on Pinterest. I take my time at the grocery store, reading labels and learning about the food I want to eat. This is fun for me! I love food. I’m not shunning it (as my best friend keeps telling me) by avoiding animal products. I’m opening myself up to a whole new genre of ingredients and recipes. I’m trying something new. And I’m lessening my impact on the Earth in the process.
So why am I writing this for my Business, Government, Society class? Good question. I asked myself that too.
I think too often in business, people view company decisions as “good” and “bad”. Decisions are made in favor of the stakeholder or the shareholder. They consider the good of the community or they don’t. Sure, there are some decisions that will fall into one category or another. There are legal and widely accepted ethical choices that are largely undisputed. But I don’t think everything works like this. Sometimes businesses need to strive for the best. (Like I strive to be vegan.) But we can’t fault the company for slipping up now and then with a piece of milk chocolate. The important point is that these firms continue to work toward being good. Admirable firms educate their executives and employees on best practices. They learn from their mistakes, and the mistakes of others. We see this in the Whole Foods Market case where John Mackey takes time to educate himself on farming practices before he responds to criticism and protests of his firm.
This desire to learn and improve is what makes a great company. It’s also what makes a great exploring vegan.