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Veganism Revisited

What Is Vegan, part 2:

An update on vegetarianism and veganism. We’ll discuss the key difference between the diet and the lifestyle.

As stated in our previous post, this post is based on my (Sally) current knowledge of  veganism and vegetarianism. I am still learning and I know that my beginning experiences are out of date and very brief. Please feel free to correct, add to what is said here, and add your individual take for others to learn from. The goal of this post is to begin a conversation to inform those who have a limited experience and interaction with those living this lifestyle.

 

Defining the terms vegetarian and vegan from Your Dictionary Online:

  • Vegetarian:

A vegetarian is someone who eats exclusively fruits, vegetables, grains and nuts and no meat or, in some cases, no animal products at all. (noun)

A person who believes eating animals is cruel and who thus eats no meat is an example of a vegetarian.

  • Vegan:

A vegan is a person who will not eat or use any type of animal product. (adjective)

A person who won’t eat meat, dairy or other animal products and who will not use leather or any other product derived from animals is an example of a vegan.

A vegan is someone who tries to live without exploiting animals, for the benefit of animals, people and the planet. Vegans eat a plant-based diet, with nothing coming from animals – no meat, milk, eggs or honey, for example. A vegan lifestyle also avoids leather, wool, silk and other animal products for clothing or any other purpose.

 

Diet:

There are many who follow the vegetarian or vegan diet for health reasons. They may or may not share any of the ethical views of those following the lifestyle.

Lifestyle:

While there are many health benefits to eating either of these diets, those who follow the lifestyle do so for ethical reasons, not solely health reasons. The ethics range from not eating meat, vegetarianism, to not using anything that involves the use of animals, vegan.

There is debate within the vegan community on whether or not those living as vegetarians are really doing so for ethical reasons. This is because they still consume dairy and egg products as well as other goods where animals are involved. Those following the abolitionist approach believe in following the literal definition of veganism to the letter. In the end, it comes down to each persons personal beliefs, willingness to make lasting lifestyle changes, access to vegan alternatives, and where they are in the process of becoming vegan.

Some people who become vegan do so immediately. For example, they will go through everything in their home and either throw it out, send it to be recycled, or donate it.

Others make changes over time by slowly replacing aspects of their life with vegan alternatives. For example, instead of throwing out a wool coat, they may continue to use it until it is worn out. They will then purchase a non-wool coat to take its place. The same can be said for food and body care products. Instead of throwing them out, they will use them and replace them with vegan options when it is time to buy more.

*Vegan Info reminded me of a point that I neglected to mention. Those following the vegan lifestyle also avoid using any product that has been tested on animals.

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Vegan

Are you a Vegetarian? A Vegan?

Are you following the Vegan diet or the Vegan lifestyle? What does your everyday life look like compared to the average omnivore? What would you like every omnivore to know about vegetarianism and/or veganism?

Let us know!!!

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[blockquote]Comments from Vegan Maven, the vegan lifestyle:

A “vegan” is a person who does not consume or use ANY animal products either for eating or for other aspects of their lifestyle. This obviously includes all of the above listed animal-derived items AND anything else that comes from an animal (i.e. when we say “animal” we are including all sentient beings so think of all farmyard creatures, wild animals, mammals, fish and other sea creatures, birds, insects, and so on). This means that you won’t see a true vegan using ANY meat or dairy products, eggs, leather, fur, honey, silk, wool, etc.

Furthermore, as vegans we are completely opposed to any form of animal exploitation, which would include things like zoos, pet breeding, animals in sport, animals used in stage shows, and so on. These institutions were created purely for human convenience or entertainment and deny the rights of the animal to a free life.

The original definition of the term “vegan” dates back to 1951 when the early vegans met, as members of the Vegan Society, to agree on a definition for the word ‘veganism’ for the first time. They agreed that, “The word veganism shall mean the doctrine that man should live without exploiting animals.”

True vegans today uphold that original definition and, therefore, to call oneself “vegan,” one has to actively refuse to partake in any activities where there is ANY exploitation against non-human animals. Anyone who advocates or excuses the exploitation of animals cannot be, by (original) definition, vegan. [/blockquote]

[blockquote]Comments from Tom, the vegan diet:

I don’t eat animal based proteins for about 2 years now. I started this eating choice after several years on a low-carb Atkins diet, eating every animal protein I could stuff in my mouth. A very interesting observation is that when on the Atkins diet, I craved carbs. I wanted bread, candy, fruits, anything with carbs. I lived like this for years, gradually slipping off the diet and regaining weight. In contrast, the vegan diet has caused me no cravings. I’m completely satisfied by plant-based foods. I did miss cheese a little, but for me the key is to have an open mind and realize that something doesn’t have to taste just like milk or cheese to be enjoyable. I enjoy some soy milk occasionally and I really like almond milk. But, trying to imitate diary foods accurately, just isn’t necessary. [/blockquote]

 

Resources:

The Vegan Society – Why Vegan

Eco-Vegan Gal

Vegan Maven

 

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2 thoughts on “Veganism Revisited

  1. Hi Sally,
    I want to commend you on opening a dialog about this topic. I think as you continue to learn more about veganism you’ll find that there are many opinions and passions about the topic, and they are not always in agreement, so you can see a fair amount of conflict about it. In addition, I’ve observed that there are a lot of defensive carnivores out there that seem to actively look for veg*ns to vent their hate on. So to provide a space for such dialog is an act of courage as well as education. Bravo. I also appreciate your openness to feedback and willingness to keep learning and sharing what you learn.

    I’m going to build a little bit on Vegan Maven’s comments–hope she won’t mind. The term ‘Vegan’ is actually a little older than she indicated. The original Vegan Society split off from the (UK) Vegetarian Society in 1944. I lived in Leicester, England for a few years, and the local Vegetarian and Vegan Group there is very proud that Leicester was the home of the (co)founder of the Vegan Society, Donald Watson. Here are a couple of urls if you are interested in veganism’s historical origins:
    http://www.vegansociety.com/about/history.aspx
    http://www.ivu.org/history/societies/vegansoc.html

    The process of becoming a vegan, even if you try to do it all at once, is still a process. Slowly, over time, people living a vegan lifestyle will become aware of the ever-more-insidious ways that animal products are incorporated into our lives. Alcohol products, chocolate products, medicines, both over-the-counter and prescription, all pose risks of introducing animal products into our mouths and our lives. Shoes, even when made of ‘man-made materials’ may still be put together using animal-based glue. Sugar is refined using the charred bones of animals… It goes on and on, and every time you find that something you have been using or eating turns out to have an animal-based component you will have a reaction to that. You can be sickened and ashamed, or you can say ‘good to have found out, now I can make different decisions about what I use’. (Or both). I read ingredients before I buy anything, but even now I am sometimes astonished to learn that an ingredient I thought was safe turns out to be animal-derived, or to be made with a process using animal-derived ingredients. I have learned to take the approach that I will do the best that I can, and will diligently continue to educate myself about eliminating animal exploitation from my life, and that’s all I can do. Where I can I try to educate others about why I choose this lifestyle choice, but always in a nonjudgmental way so that they will actually hear the message. My attitude is that it’s a journey, but the destination is a moving target. I just try to keep on the journey.
    Good luck on yours.

    • Ann,

      I apologize for taking so long to respond. I have been caught up in getting us ready for launch. Plus, I have a bit of a cold so, my thoughts are a bit foggy at the moment ;-).

      Thank you so very much for your words of encouragement! I started this original topic with those, like some of my family members, in mind who know very little about veganism. I wouldn’t say it was an act of bravery. Rather, I was completely unaware of the conflict within the community of the subject. I appreciate your openness about this. I was pretty confused after my first post as I have come across people, in person and online, who have called themselves “vegetarian” or “vegan” yet did not live as Vegan Maven defined the terms.

      I was a learning experience and I am happy I had it. I now understand that there is a key difference between the diet and the lifestyle. I am sure those who did not live the lifestyle yet called themselves vegan are following the diet. Or, they simply are working toward the ideal. It was very helpful for me to understand that there is conflict on defining that ideal and that there is a conflict on using the term if one is living the diet and not the lifestyle. I hope this assists others in furthering their understanding as well.

      I love your attitude and approach to veganism. It is very similar to how I look at it. I do my best to inform without banging someone over the head with it. I know that people respond better to compassion than judgement.

      Again, thank you for sharing and mentoring those who are just starting to chase that moving target :-).

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