As a vegan, I cannot buy most things. But I don‘t feel limited; I feel liberated. I may have lost the freedom to buy whatever I can afford, but I have gained another kind of freedom: freedom from many of the pressures of a materialistic society.
Of course, my life is still shaped by consumerism. I own more than I use. I sometimes buy things I don‘t need. I shop for pick-me-ups when I‘m feeling down. And I buy fancy foods for special occasions. In these ways, I‘m still your average consumer.
But the mere fact that most products aren‘t for me has made me significantly less susceptible to the pressures of consumerism and the tricks of sellers. Ads, special offers, and „must-haves“ just miss its target: me. Since I know that only two of my local drugstore‘s brands are cruelty-free or that only this particular candy bar at the grocery store is vegan, it doesn‘t matter to me what the company or store manager wants me to buy that week. Omnishoppers may be swayed by a Buy-2-Get-1-Free promotion to try out a product they wouldn‘t normally have bought, or they may get shellac nails because someone declared them a summer staple. My vegan self just trots to the familiar cruelty-free aisle or grabs the tried-and-true vegan candy bar and is done. No cutting out coupons, sitting tight for sales, or weighing special offers. Since those gimmicks usually don‘t apply to the few products I can buy, I don‘t even feel like they‘re aimed at me.
Non-vegans pity me for my „austerity.“ Isn‘t it frustrating to choose between only two types of body wash and eat the same cookies every single day? First of all, my consumption isn‘t as limited as many non-vegans think. Many products are accidentally vegan, and more deliberately vegan products are being launched all the time. And yes, sometimes I get annoyed when I‘m unable to find something specific that I need. (Like this morning, when I was looking for a bottle brush, and they all contained either wool or horsehair.) But overall, no, I‘m not sad that I can‘t fully partake in the consumption craze. Who needs 5000 shades of lipstick to choose from or 100 Jell-O flavors?
As a vegan consumer, I don‘t feel limited. I feel liberated.