Let´s Make Veganism Less Strict

Graeme M

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There are many different vegans. We have raw foodists, fruitarians, part-time raw foodists, whole food vegans, and those who
dabble in many processed vegan foods and may not consume a lot of whole vegetables, etcetera. There is no one "vegan".
I don't much think that the various flavours of veganism ARE veganism. People fiddling around with diet are just that - people fiddling around with diet. As I have said here before, my own position is that veganism is an idea about applying moral philosophy, not an actual moral philosophy of itself. And for that reason I do not think there is any such thing as "a vegan" (unless one joins a vegan club or society I suppose).

Worrying about whether one is vegan enough to be a vegan seems pointless. Sure, working out whether some things are ethical or not is part of everyday life; how we relate to/treat other animals is just part of that. Veganism encourages us to use existing moral principles to guide us in that decision making and the guidance that vegan concepts offer help us in that.

At the end of the day, it's your call. You have to live with yourself. In regard to the original post, I suggest "veganism" can be as broad as you want it to be. Just like all our other moral beliefs and attitudes that aren't constrained by law.
 

vegan89

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As long as they don´t have leather, vegans are able to buy and use products like cars and consumer electronics, even if they have say a glue derived from animals.
Well... it depends on how you associate yourself with the term vegan. If you say you "follow a vegan diet" then glue derived from whatever in your car is not an issue. Your diet is still vegan. And I suppose you could still say you are a vegan in the dietary sense of the word.

If you want to call yourself "a vegan" in the broader sense of the term meaning you oppose any human exploitation of animals... well then yes, I guess the glue in your car is a problem.

Lets check the definition of vegan: "A person who does not eat any food derived from animals and who typically does not use other animal products."
Source: VEGAN English Definition and Meaning | Lexico.com

Under the above definition, animal-derived glue in a person's car would not necessarily stop them from being considered a vegan as long as they "typically" do not use animal products elsewhere in their life. However, eating foods that are obviously not vegan like dairy ice cream or cake made from eggs would mean you are not a vegan.


However, for reasons that don´t appear to me to be consistent, a much greater strictness is required for food than anything else. If a processed food is 0.01% animal product, it is not vegan and you can´t have it. I don´t agree with this.

Processed foods aren't healthy anyway and are often more expensive than unprocessed vegan foods. Just eat something else or get a vegan version.

What is this particular processed food you don't want to give up?

I am going to guess more emphasis is placed on food than anything else because animal-derived glue in cars for example (or animal-derived fats or glycerin in soaps) are probably only used because there are cheaply available animal by-products from slaughterhouses that can be used to produce these things. So I'm guessing these other products used in the economy like animal-derived soap or animal-derived glue would in most cases not be used anymore if everyone on Earth decided to adopt a vegan diet tomorrow, because the price of animal by-products used to produce those things would go up a lot if billions of animals were not being slaughtered to produce meat.

I think all vegans should be expected to do on products they buy regularly is glance through the ingredients and make sure that as far as they can guess there are no animal products. It shouldn´t be necessary to scan every packet you buy with an app, or google every product as some seem to expect.

I think the important thing here is what you do when you learn the item contains animal products. If you want to continue buying it even though it's not vegan and you know it's not vegan... that's a very different thing than accidentally buying something you think is vegan because you read through the ingredients list, didn't see any obvious animal products, and just made a mistake.

I also think when you are in a restaurant with non-vegan friends, or on holiday in a foreign country, or at a friend´s house, vegans should be able to eat any bread, pasta, get any ice cream, and eat the birthday cake. This will make vegan seem more accessible, and lead to more people trying it.

If you want to generally avoid animal products but also eat dairy ice cream and birthday cake that was probably made with eggs... there is a word for that: "vegetarian." And if you want to generally avoid all animal products but occasionally eat them when you're at a friend's birthday party or something, there is also a term for that: "plant-based."

Do you still want to eat the birthday cake after you watch this?

Do you still want to eat "any" ice cream after you watch this?

Pasta usually seems to be vegan as long as there are no eggs in the noodles, and as long as there are no meats or cheeses in the sauce. (And there are lots of great tasting vegan marinara sauces..)

I worry that if eating non-vegan cookies and doughnuts means people have to call themselves vegetarian then once they have defined their identity that way they might start eating eggs for breakfast every day.

I don't see a big difference between eating cookies made with eggs and eating eggs for breakfast.

They both result in this happening:

Neither one is vegan.

That doesn´t mean we should encourage people to just rush to the store and buy milk chocolate ice cream. It should still be slightly discouraged, but not forbidden.

Nobody has made dairy ice cream "forbidden." It simply is not vegan, and people who knowingly and intentionally eat it are not vegans.

And especially not “that´s great, but you should call yourself plant-based instead of vegan” which is basically like saying “you can´t be in our club”. People want to belong to a group. If they don´t fit in with the vegans, they might end up somewhere else.

If you want to call yourself vegan because you think it will make you popular or something ("in the club")... good luck with that. Being a vegan has never been a social advantage in my experience... it is more likely to make people dislike you (regardless of whether you "push it" on people).

We should want veganism to be accessible to everyone including the working class, or anyone with a difficult life for any reason, people in developing countries who are struggling, ethnic minorities and people that don´t speak English. I think all of this will help with that goal.

I am entirely in favor of making vegan foods more accessible for everyone, but not if that means acting like eating eggs and dairy is acceptable.

This would also make veganism cheaper. That counts for something in how many people will do it.

Vegan foods are cheaper (and often healthier) than birthday cake made from eggs and ice cream made from dairy.

And the more people do it, the less the animal suffering and death.

On the other hand, acting like eggs and dairy are acceptable in the vegan community may result in more of this:



A common reason for giving up is the social difficulty. A less strict definition would make people more likely to stick to it.

Few people would say that standing up for your principles in life is easy... and this is especially true for vegans.
 

majorbloodnok

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Perhaps the biggest hurdle here is the apparent need to label oneself.

When I joined the forum, I was asked to define my lifestyle and the only choice that wasn't wrong was omnivore. However, that rather polarises; either I am or am not. It doesn't take into account the fact I may consume less that is animal based than, for instance, a vegetarian who loads every meal with cheese or that my completely homegrown, environmentally friendly pea and bean omelette may arguably be a more sustainable and "better" lunch than a totally vegan meal containing out of season produce that had to be flown in. That's not to say, of course, that I'm trying to argue against a vegan lifestyle by blurring edge cases.

Did you know that it was only in the 19th century in the UK that it was first possible to be a homosexual? Before that, the word "homosexual" was an adjective to describe an act, and it was only after that point that society started to label a person as "a homosexual". These days, there are plenty of people who happen to let their love be directed to whoever they choose irrespective of gender, and yet our mania for labelling requires them now to identify as "bisexual". Wouldn't it be easier to remove the label altogether? Does one homosexual act mean your label has changed?

In the same sense, I understand how labelling oneself as vegan is a really convenient shorthand for all the myriad choices one is making. However, if my diet is 90% plant based, does that mean I have to start defining myself as "mostly vegan" because of the lack of animal products or "meat eater" because of the continuing inclusion of some? For me, how I define myself is about more than pigeon-holes and is largely no-one else's business unless I choose to court their opinion. After all, I'm the only one who has to sleep at night faced with the consequences of my choices and actions.
 

Lou

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Perhaps the biggest hurdle here is the apparent need to label oneself.

A lot of you content is about that so let me go there for a minute.

Words. we think in words. Words is not only how we communicate with others, it is how we think about the world.

In any philosophical debate or discussion is should start with agreeing to the meaning of the terms under discussion.


When I joined the forum, I was asked to define my lifestyle and the only choice that wasn't wrong was omnivore.

Well, yeah. I'm going to say that we learn to know ourselves by how we define ourselves. Omnivore has a special meaning to vegans. but biologically we are all omnivores. Maybe a better term is carnist.
A name coined by vegans to refer to meat eaters. Where veganism is the philosophy that humans aren't better than animals and shouldn't be exploited, carnism is the philosophy that animals are inferior to humans and it's fine to eat them, test on them, use them for entertainment and the like.

So, are you a carnist?
if my diet is 90% plant based, does that mean I have to start defining myself as "mostly vegan"

yes. nothing wrong with that. A lot of people on this forum are "mostly vegan".
no-one else's business
yep. many vegans for various reasons don't tell anyone. Although telling someone you are vegan or mostly vegan does explain nicely why you don't want a slice of cake.

one last thing. And I got this from a vegan author. The definition of a vegan uses the word intent. And since the word "intent" is in the definition, just wanting to be vegan makes you a vegan. of course that doesn't mean you can honestly call yourself a vegan and have a cheese omelette. (that would make you a vegetarian).

Nowadays you hear a lot about process vs result. Veganism isn't about results - its about the process.

I don't think there is a magic number. I don't think anyone can adhere to a 100% vegan lifestyle. So what is good enough? (90%? in school that gets you an A. In medical research that gets you a lot of dead subjects. )

It is up to each individual. But let me say this, if you are 90% vegan but that last 10% isn't because of your taste buds - you are vegan enough in my book.
 
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majorbloodnok

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Where veganism is the philosophy that humans aren't better than animals and shouldn't be exploited, carnism is the philosophy that animals are inferior to humans and it's fine to eat them, test on them, use them for entertainment and the like.

There's a lot you've agreed with me about, @Lou, and similarly I agree with a lot of the comments you've made in return. That's good, and seems to typify the rather more understanding and collaborative approach I've seen on this forum that, to be honest, I didn't entirely expect.

I've just highlighted one sentence of yours, though, that I'd like to dig into a bit since I don't entirely agree. Just because I have squared my ethics with eating meat doesn't mean I feel animals are inferior as such, and just because I'm OK with eating meat in various circumstances doesn't mean I'm OK with animal testing, use of animals for entertainment and so on. I would prefer if each of those topics were treated separately rather than tarring me with a big brush completely or not at all.
 

Lou

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There's a lot you've agreed with me about, @Lou, and similarly I agree with a lot of the comments you've made in return. That's good, and seems to typify the rather more understanding and collaborative approach I've seen on this forum that, to be honest, I didn't entirely expect.

Yay!
I've just highlighted one sentence of yours, though, that I'd like to dig into a bit

That sentence you highlighted is a quote. Sorry. I should have made that clear.

The term Carnism was invented by the psychologist Dr. Melanie Joy. And the definition I quoted came from The Urban Dictionary.

I'm a big fan of Dr. Joy and I often refer to her when a vegan comes here and complains about carnists. As she points out in her books and videos, we were all carnists once.
If you haven't been exposed to her I have linked some of her stuff in other posts here at the VF. She also has made some videos (including a Ted Talk) that you can find on YouTube. Plus her book is well worth reading.

I think once you are exposed to her you will find yourself agreeing with those ideas. And if not at least you will have another perspective in your quiver.







 
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Graeme M

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After all, I'm the only one who has to sleep at night faced with the consequences of my choices and actions.
Without labouring the point, my own view is that veganism is a label to describe an idea. The idea is that we extend already existing ethical ideas about how we treat other humans to include other species. That's it. From there, it's up to you to pursue in good faith how to do that well. Exactly the same as how you pursue relations with other human beings.

On the other hand, if you want veganism to be a strict lifestyle, perhaps even a club (as it is if you join a vegan group/club/society), then you can't be a part-time vegan. Either you do your utmost all the time, or you aren't vegan.

As I see it the first option is the only rational one.
 
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