A Vegan and Solo Living

Lifestyle is the general attitudes, interests, behaviors, and behavioral orientations of an individual, a group, or society. The word was first introduced by Austrian psychiatrist Alfred Adler in his famous 1929 book, The Case of Miss R. With the implied meaning of “the basic nature of human relationships as determined early on”. It can also be read as “the determining of attitudes toward the environment” and “identity formation”. As it is used in this article it will be interpreted to mean any behavior that has the following defining characteristics: it is not motivated by the attainment of a reward, it is not learned or motivated by any personal gain, it is not learned or motivated by any relation of love or obligation to another, it is not motivated by the threat of loss or danger, it involves a special person (the target), it is not a default or natural behavior, it is not learned or motivated by any knowledge gained, it involves an important person (the rule or targets), it is not an innate or default attitude, it is not motivated by any knowledge known, it is not motivated by any need or desire. In short, the definition of lifestyle is any attitude that humans have about their environment.

There are two broad schools of thought concerning the definition of lifestyle. One school suggests that the word lifestyle is an empty word because it has no meaning outside the narrow circle of those who use it and those who teach it. According to this view, lifestyles are those behaviors that are necessary for a successful life. On the other hand, some philosophers argue that lifestyles are a way of defining an identity or ascription of value to one’s life.

According to the second school of thoughts about lifestyle, lifestyles are anything that people do on their own as private matters regardless of how significant that action may be to other people. It might be something as simple as a hobby that consumes a lot of time or leisure. The life-styles of these persons may be called unique but they still belong to the larger group called a lifestyle. These individuals who share this distinction also argue that there are no such things as essential traits or universal goals among human beings; rather there are only concrete and measurable personal behaviors that determine the way people live their lives. The concrete behaviors are the essential traits and the universal behaviors are the qualities that identify particular persons, groups or families.

The Max Weber School of Thought characterizes lifestyles according to the extent to which they are flexible and individualistic. The flexibility or the individuality characterizes multifaceted lifestyles that can adapt to changing circumstances and are not bounded by fixed rules. For example, there are people who prefer to lead frugal lives, they do not want to empty their pockets and live cheaply but there are others who are ready to buy expensive items and live lavishly. There are other types of people who are ready to follow rules but are not open to changes, this is characterized by a certain monotony and a conservative attitude towards change. Even within these two groups there are variations, for instance, the first type of lifestyle might be described as the “work at home” kind of lifestyle, while others would say that it is characterized by “the permanent office worker”.

The Max Weber School of Thought regards the cultures as having three distinct characteristics: they can be liberal, they can be traditional, or they can be rebellious. It is the second type of lifestyle which the author characterizes as “rebelliousness”. The meaning of this phrase is that if people are truly able to act, they would act in the name of something greater than themselves, an idea that resonates with Adorno’s notion of culture as the over-determined, unconscious determination of man’s essence and destiny. It follows that, in order to be genuinely revolutionary, one needs to be, more often than not, at the opposite extreme of what Adorno describes.

A vegan lifestyle, by definition, is completely against any type of animal exploitation, even if that means that one totally avoids any contact with, say, cats, dogs, horses, chickens or any other non-human creature. Veganism is a form of anti-elitism, because it virtually insists that human beings are the most important beings on the planet, deserving of rights and respect. Adorno, however, adds another element to the definition of a vegan lifestyle: the sense of responsibility that is a by-product of the reduction of animal exploitation. In short, Adorno describes veganism as a being which is motivated by what he calls a “duty to reduce the extent of animal exploitation.” What this means, according to Adorno, is that veganism is a way of becoming involved in an ongoing self-struggle against animal exploitation; it is, as opposed to an uncritically consumerist lifestyle, oriented toward making money.

Veganism, then, can be seen as a negation of both lifestyles: animalism, the lifestyle of consuming animals; and healthy lifestyle, the lifestyle of maintaining a healthy body, mind and spirit. The former encourages a lifestyle of hunting and eating animals; the latter, an avoidance of unhealthy practices, including excessive alcohol consumption and smoking. The vegan, in general, is seen as someone who has taken on an anti-implantation stance. This is because the vegan, unlike vegetarians, does not believe that plants can grow without the direct involvement of human beings. Vegans often avoid animal products and animal fur, though they may eat eggs and dairy. Vegans are also called “plant-lovers,” though they are not strictly vegetarian; for some, plant milk is a more acceptable substitute for meat.

In essence, then, we can see veganism and solo living as two distinct ways of living that complement each other. A healthy lifestyle requires discipline and responsibility, a strong sense of commitment, and a reduction of animal exploitation. On the other hand, a vegan is someone who is committed to an active lifestyle. A vegan is active in the reduction of animal exploitation, but chooses not to participate in the exploitation of plants. Vegans and solo vegetarians are both, then, highly similar, though they differ on some crucial points such as the extent to which they pursue an active lifestyle.

Before having children Jennifer thought being a stay at home mom would be a walk in the park. Now that she's doing it she realizes it's more like a run in a zoo (without cages for the animals). She traded in her salary for sloppy kisses, corporate lunches for peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and sales meetings for finger painting sessions. Her two boys outsmart her on a daily basis although in her defense it could be the lack of sleep. She writes to stay sane on her blog Outsmarted Mommy and has been featured on Mamapedia, Scary Mommy and iVillage. Her children are not the least bit impressed they just want to know what's for dinner.