I had been without a car for about three months and decided it was time to buy one. Nothing fancy or glamorous needed, just something to get from point A to point B - a reliable used car. Nothing too expensive or eye-catching, perhaps something with about a $2,000 value; easy enough, I thought.
I've known my mechanic for almost seven years; a trustworthy and honest gentleman. So naturally I went to him to inquire about a used car. "Oh yes," he says. "I have just the car for you." And he begins to tell me about a used Buick he had been working on and is now up for sale at $2,000. It couldn't be more perfect! Not knowing much about cars I don't ask too many questions I just take his word for it. But as I walked over to take a quick glance at the car something caught my eye quite instantly. You may have already guessed it: a leather interior. Well that's the end of that I thought, I will just have to refuse the car. Using leather goes against my vegan principles and I'm certainly not about to become a hypocrite. I thank my mechanic for his time and tell him I am going to head home and think about it, even though I'm certain I'm just going to call him later and tell him to forget the car.
Something about the situation though just would not leave me alone. For days I just could not get the car off my mind. It's not that I needed that specific car, in fact I really don't have too much of a preference as to what I drive. But for some reason this whole circumstance followed me around like a tail. Then one night that same week I was lying in bed, quiet, almost asleep when it came to me. How could I be so blinded by my own principles? It suddenly occurred to me that letting the used car stay on the market instead of buying it myself is counterproductive to a vegan-friendly approach. And three important ideas became clear:
One, this is a used car and the leather deed has already been done years ago, it's now a recycled product. Two, the leather itself is not bringing up the value of this specific car, therefore the market of leather is not being supported in this case. And most important number three; if I don't buy this car someone else will. And that "someone else" may not think twice about the leather, and they will invite friends in their car, and family, and others to see the leather interior and find luxury in it. In other words they would be promoting the leather interior. As a vegan I can make this all so much better. I'll buy the car, and then simply cover the interior with cloth seat covers as to prevent the leather from being seen and promoted, something a non-vegan would never think of doing. In other words my ability to take the leather off the market and prevent it from being promoted is of more value than leaving it be.
It was at this moment that I was inundated with clarity; that sometimes we strive tenaciously for values and principles but along the way mistakenly trade in these attributes for ego, and we ultimately but unintentionally leave the mission behind. Let us take responsibility and ownership of our principles of let us be guided by what is actually right for animals, not what we want to be right in our heads. There is sincerely a lifestyle that goes beyond vegan, but we are required to put our own veganism on trial in order to get there.