FEATURE: Marya McQuirter, PhD

On 13 March 2002, I was featured in “The World According to Vegetarians,” The Washington Post's first substantive article on veganism. The article appeared on the front page of the Food section with a photo of me below the fold. The writer, Candy Sagon, convened six vegans for a roundtable discussion at The Washington Post building, when it was still on 15th Street.

When this article was written, I had been a vegan for approximately 14 years. I ate only vegan food, I did not wear wool or leather and I was an animal rights activist. I have exhilarating memories of protesting against the circus at the DC Armory and almost getting arrested outside of the National Building Museum.

At the dawn of 2017, I'm still a vegan and still don't wear animal products. While I haven't been to a protest in years, I'm still fervently committed to animal rights. What's new for me is parenting.  

My 11 year old loves to devise improbable scenarios to test my love for her. Her latest scenario: if the only way she could be saved from death is if I ate a non-vegan sandwich, would I eat it? I hesitated. She was not pleased.

It was easy for me, before I was a parent, to be a committed vegan. It's become more complicated now that I have to make decisions for and with another person.

So what do you do when ethics and love collide? This question haunts me.

It haunts me because I know that a range of isms are able to continue, in part, because they are entangled in our intimate relationships and traditions. When I was pregnant in 2005, three years after the article, I didn’t anticipate that being both a committed vegan and a loving parent could be antagonistic positionalities.

Check out Marya's curated project #dc1968. You can also follow Marya on Twitter @maryamcquirter.