Today I was talking with a vegan friend (I’m vegan as well) who mentioned that she had received a casual offer of work at a food truck. She said that she was considering doing it, because it would mean some extra income and she is tired of doing what she is now.
I asked her if the food truck served meat products, and she said that yeah, it does. It struck me as odd. For the non-vegan people reading this, a statement like that from a vegan is kind of disconcerting.
The vegan lifestyle is characterized by non-consumption of all animal products or by-products, up to and including all meat, fish, eggs, milk, cheese… anything that comes from an animal (even honey).
So I was a bit stunned that my vegan friend had so casually mentioned that she was considering working at a food truck which serves meat.
For me personally, as an ethical vegan, I could never support any business which explicitly supported the harm or exploitation of animals for any reason, especially one that requires killing them (obviously meat requires the death of the animal supplying it).
I automatically correlated her vegan-ness with the standard vegan principles. Having strong principles is so important to me, that someone claiming to be something, then nonchalantly considering violating the principles of that something just for a bit of quick cash really confused me.
Maybe she doesn’t have principles, or consider them when making decisions.
It occurred to me then just how important it is to have a defined set of principles, and to stand solidly on them, even be willing to stake your life on them, because if not, then it’s just too easy to be blown whatever direction the wind takes you at the time.
In Principles, Ray Dalio defines them thusly:
1) What are principles?
Your values are what you consider important, literally what you “value.” Principles are what allow you to live a life consistent with those values. Principles connect your values to your actions; they are beacons that guide your actions, and help you successfully deal with the laws of reality. It is to your principles that you turn when you face hard choices.
His next statement on why they are important is also apropos to the situation:
2) Why are principles important?
All successful people operate by principles that help them be successful. Without principles, you would be forced to react to circumstances that come at you without considering what you value most and how to make choices to get what you want. This would prevent you from making the most of your life. …
It’s possible that my friend hadn’t considered operating by principles at all — that she was just reacting to the circumstance … without considering what she (maybe?) values most. Or it’s possible that I’m just wrong — and she values money, and experience working at a food truck more than animal welfare. I do tend to see things as all-or-nothing, so maybe I should just get used to seeing things along a spectrum instead. Maybe she’s not quite as hardcore along the “vegan hardcority” spectrum. Maybe I just made up that spectrum.
Really I just think it was a good example to write about the importance of having principles and living life by them.