Original definition of vegan was better

nobody

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Current definintion from the Vegan Society:

Veganism is a way of living which seeks to exclude, as far as is possible and practicable, all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose.

It has come to my attention that originally, the word vegan only referred to a diet and not to "a way of living". Vegans were encouraged, but not required, to exclude non-food products of animal exploitation. Later, Leslie Cross took over the UK Vegan Society from Donald Watson and changed the definition of the word vegan so that it required the exclusion of all forms of exploitation, which led to the definition we have today.

In light of this information, I have decided to start using the original definition and I would like to invite you to join me in doing so. If everyone used this definition, it would probably result in a higher percentage of the population becoming dietary vegans than exists currently.

The reason is that it doesn't require as much of people. If veganism is only a diet, someone who owns a pet snake can go vegan and continue feeding their snake prey animals. But if veganism is a way of living, using the current definition, how is this person supposed to exclude cruelty to the snake without exploiting prey animals to feed it? Giving the snake to someone else changes nothing because the problem still exists, even when you don't have to deal with it yourself.

Do cat owners who go vegan need to switch their cats to a vegan diet? Not if veganism is only a diet. But if it's a way of living, maybe they do, if it's 'possible'. I feed my cats meat cat food on the grounds that it isn't possible, in my opinion, to feed them vegan food without it harming them. But if I'm wrong, I'm not even vegan, under the current definition, and the downside to that is if I'm not vegan, maybe I will start consuming animal products here and there. It is not like I have years as a vegan under my belt, that I would be throwing away by eating some animal product, because I've been buying and feeding my cats meat cat food the whole time I have been following an animal free diet, which makes me "non-vegan" anyway.

And there are many other things for people to worry about under the current system: excluding cruelty and animal derived ingredients in clothes, pest control, toiletries, tires, construction materials, vaccines, etc. Not to mention people need to take a stance on vivisection, working dogs (who can do important police work such as identify murder suspects and find cadavers, drugs or bombs), circuses, zoos, marine mammal parks, public aquariums and other thing like that.

It would be better if 50% of the population were dietary vegans than if 10% were dietary vegans who also feel obliged to determine the amount of cruelty to wild animals their purchase of some petroleum derived product brings, for example, or who feel obliged to steer clear of all the plant foods that are pollinated by exploited honey bees, or who feel obliged to give up their seeing eye dog or whatever.

Under the current system, it is easy to charge hypocrisy. If vegans are the anti-animal cruelty people, per the current definition, then why is it that most people (probably like 95%) who volunteer their time and money to work with stray dogs and cats are non-vegans? It is cruel to leave feral domesticated animals to freeze, starve and be devoured by fleas, ticks and other parasites. Luckily people build insulated winter shelters out of storage totes for feral cat colonies to use during the winter, and bring food and water for them daily. They also trap feral cats and bring them in for veterinary care when needed, volunteer at animal shelters where they walk dogs and socialize cats, etc. They foster homeless animals, run animal rescues out of their houses and adopt animals when they can, so that cats and dogs do not have to live month after month, and in some cases for years, in tiny enclosures at a shelter. But if veganism is only a diet, homeless dogs and cats are an a-vegan problem, just like they are an a-keto problem or a-standard American diet problem, so there is no hypocrisy.

It's just a much clearer and more concrete concept when it is only a diet - and not so nebulous. It being a diet only does not preclude anyone from excluding other forms of exploitation, but being a way of living does preclude it from making sense and being a consistent principle someone can live by, in a lot of cases, such as in the case of a person with a pet snake.
 
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I know some who vehemently disagree with your assertion, but I for one fully agree.

One of the reasons we started our blog and we are very open about our vegan journey on social media is to normalize veganism as much as possible. The more normalized and less restrictive it is, the more will be willing to listen and ultimately convert. Ideally, there is no animal exploitation, but that is not the reality of the world we live in. The larger we can grow the veganism diet, the more impact it will have, and ultimately the more that will transition in the future to the fully non-exploitative lifestyle.

As I told @Paul Bradford in his introduction thread, our existence requires some sort of exploitation. The point is to reduce this as much as possible. The vegans that scare off normal people with their "THIS IS THE ONLY WAY" mindset do much more harm for the long-term health of the planet than the ones willing to engage in dialogue and actually educate people.
 

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I find myself wondering why you feel the need for vegan to have a definition? surely you can make the moral decision that you have arrived at without the need to attach a label to yourself, and if you do attach a label you risk being tarnished by the radical element that adopt the name.
live your own life so that your conscience is clear, you don't need a label to achieve that aim.
 

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I find myself wondering why you feel the need for vegan to have a definition? surely you can make the moral decision that you have arrived at without the need to attach a label to yourself, and if you do attach a label you risk being tarnished by the radical element that adopt the name.
live your own life so that your conscience is clear, you don't need a label to achieve that aim.
There are two reasons, which I will call the internal and the external. The internal reason is that in my mind, I need labels to help guide my conduct. If I were around a smoker, I would be inclined to bum one and light up, had I not attached the label "non-smoker" to my identity. I smoked for 30 years and my status as a non-smoker is something I protect at all times. The "non-smoker" label is a tool I use to help me abstain. It's much more powerful than just saying "I don't smoke". Smoking is something I "don't do" but "non-smoker" is something "I am", and "a punk" is what I would be if I started smoking again.

For about 5-7 years prior to going vegan in 2014, I was a reducitarian. My reducitarian years began with awareness of factory farming and a stretch of following a vegan diet, but the vegan label was not important to me so if you were throwing away a piece of good meat or pie with butter in the crust, I would eat it on the grounds that the animals were already dead or exploited. And since I was a person who made exceptions and ate animal products in some cases, eventually it led to me buying my own animal products on occasion. It was not until I decided to seriously attach the vegan label to myself that I was able to remain consistent.

The external reason is that for an idea to spread from mind to mind, it must be encoded in words. I feel the diet definition would lead to the vegan diet being followed by more people, which would be better for animals . So that's the second reason I feel the need for "vegan" to have a particular definition.
 
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@nobody

First off, i want to compliment you on your well thought out and carefully constructed argument.

Unfortunelty there is little in it that I agree on. As i think about my response, I don't expect it to be as well thought out or constructed. But I will try to make improvements in the editing process.

It has come to my attention that originally, the word vegan only referred to a diet and not to "a way of living".

I'm not sure I agree with the premise. I have watched those videos before - but not recently. Those are YouTubers. Not historians. Do we have Primary Source material that supports your premise?

But you know what, who cares? Let's just go with that premise. So the UK Vegan Society changed the definition. I think they had a lot of smart people put input in. and IMHO they came up with a pretty good definition that has held up pretty good over the years.

I also disagree with your decision to go back to the "original definition". So it's easier just to be a dietary vegan. But that is not the point of veganism. Whether it is easier or not is not a criterion. Reducing animal exploitation is the purpose. Oh, wait, is that circular logic?

Ok, how about this. Let's change the definition to the dietary restrictions only are to be followed on weekdays. You get to eat whatever you want on weekends. That is easier. Let's just amend the definition to that. that should appeal to even MORE people.

someone who owns a pet snake can go vegan and continue feeding their snake prey animals.

This and every other crazy idea can be dealt with by just using the modern definition of veganism AND understanding the goals of veganism. which is compassion for animals. If you got your snake before you were vegan and for some reason you HAVE to keep it then you are showing compassion to the snake to feed it mice. But IMHO anyone who becomes vegan would find keeping a snake and feeding it mice to be abhorrent.

Do cat owners who go vegan need to switch their cats to a vegan diet?

Maybe. I've read right here on this forum that cats Can go vegan. (just ask Vegan Dogs). But as far as pet owners go, it is a murky grey area. I don't own any animals but I know plenty of vegans with pets (cats and dogs). And the way we stay vegan with our pets - even if they don't eat vegan - is this: Rescuing an animal, and sharing your home, providing food and medical care for it, for the rest of its life is one of the most compassionate acts toward animals a person can make. And that is exactly what veganism is supposed to be about: compassion.

I could probably go on and hit all your other points but I think you can just extrapolate my previous statements to cover those.

But let me leave you with a couple of ideas.

As far as I'm concerned, if you want to be a vegan, POOF! You're a vegan. Vegan is all about intent. "Which seeks". It is not about results - its about process. No one is really 100% vegan. Even a vegetarian is like 90% vegan. So, for the most part, we are quibbling about a few percentage points. As many of my favorite authors have written about - it is not about personal purity - it's about trying.

I think it was Theodore Rosevelt who said, "nothing worth having is easy".

And finally, what you describe already has a term. Its called a strict vegetarian.

'nuff said.
 

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My veganism is based on listening to my conscience, regardless of what society or authority figures have to tell me about what is right or wrong. I don't need a definition for that.

There's definitely utility in having a definition though, and I think the current one is pretty good. If hurting animals unnecessarily is wrong it really doesn't matter what unnecessary purpose we're talking about. If it can be reasonably avoided, it should be.

I can't think of a single fight for social progress that would have been better off if those fighting had been willing to settle for less, can you?
 

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I'm not sure I agree with the premise. I have watched those videos before - but not recently. Those are YouTubers. Not historians. Do we have Primary Source material that supports your premise?
Yes, links to the earliest newsletters are available in pdf form on this page:

http://vegansociety.today/

Ok, how about this. Let's change the definition to the dietary restrictions only are to be followed on weekdays. You get to eat whatever you want on weekends. That is easier. Let's just amend the definition to that. that should appeal to even MORE people.
This would not work because of the addictive stimulants in muscle meats and dairy. You would be in a state of withdrawal all week.

Also, it was very clear in the original newsletters that total abstinence from all animal food products was required to maintain membership in the Vegan Society.

Also, it isnt just easier, it's also fully achievable, except for perhaps trace amounts due to shared manufacturing equipment....whereas with the current definition an individual's total veganism is not is not fully achievable, but is a process, as you described. All of your comments about what veganism is about are circular because originally it was about what food you eat and only that, as far as requirements to maintain membership went. The relationship between the words vegan and animal rights should be that vegan is a requirement for animal rights, not the other way around.

As for strict vegetarian, it's an idea but I don't see why anyone should have to switch to that when this was the original definition.
 
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nobody

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My veganism is based on listening to my conscience, regardless of what society or authority figures have to tell me about what is right or wrong. I don't need a definition for that.

There's definitely utility in having a definition though, and I think the current one is pretty good. If hurting animals unnecessarily is wrong it really doesn't matter what unnecessary purpose we're talking about. If it can be reasonably avoided, it should be.

I can't think of a single fight for social progress that would have been better off if those fighting had been willing to settle for less, can you?
I'm not suggesting animal rights be eradicated, just that it is taken out of the definition. I believe animal rights can be achieved faster by doing this. I have been told that once people make the diet switch, they are more likely to make changes in other areas like clothes and entertainment. But these other changes don't need to be part of veganism. They can live under the umbrella of animal rights or animal welfare or environmentalism or religion as people's beliefs dictate.
 

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@nobody


As far as I'm concerned, if you want to be a vegan, POOF! You're a vegan.
You've said this before in another thread. This is like saying veganism means nothing. I've also seen it used in conjunction with so called 'ethics'. The chicken was already dead. I didn't intend for it to be dead, but the harm's already done. My ethical boxes are ticked, so I can consume the chicken and still be vegan.

Defining veganism as something other than abstaining from eating animal products is probably veganism's biggest enemy, and I have to think those promoting it are still eating animal products.
 

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So we want something that lessens the commitment, instead of veganism as we have it. Why not vegetarian? That would lessen it. Or just vegan Mondays? And maybe we could get many more, if we didn't have veganism but just Vegan Early Afternoon Mondays. But animals will always be continued to be used, that way, until everything runs out that has that being possible to continue. Veganism the way we have it is the only real solution, it is better that we keep pushing for veganism to spread, and can hope for the day that many many more people are vegan, when laws can be put in place and human people will then no longer do things that would harm animals.
 

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So we want something that lessens the commitment, instead of veganism as we have it. Why not vegetarian? That would lessen it. Or just vegan Mondays?
Originally there was only one requirement for someone to be called a vegan - complete abstinance from consuming any animal product. That is the heart of it. You can't make it less of a commitment than that.
 

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The number one reason I have a problem with this is because a lot of whiny "ex-vegans" on YouTube or Internet forums were never vegan to begin with they were just on a diet, and when the wind changed, so did they.

Vegan isn't a diet like Paleo or Atkins. Those are diet plans. Veganism is not a diet plan. WFPB is a diet plan, but you are not required to stop wearing leather on a WFPB diet, nor do you have to adopt a WFPB to be a Vegan. The two things can compliment each other, but they are not the same thing.

I certainly want more people to stop eating animals, but I want them to continue to refrain from eating animals, I'm not excited about people going "vegan" for a week, a month, or even a year, then quitting. The reduction of the word vegan down to a diet is part of the problem because then you get all of your orthorexics and narcissists who "try vegan" in the way someone else might try on a dress or a suit, then discard it if it becomes inconvenient OR they try so, so hard to be a perfect whole foods, oil free, fruit binger that they wonder in two or three years why their hair is falling out, and it's so obvious to everyone else it's because they aren't consuming enough calories or fat, but they decide it's "veganism" so have a steak.
 

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I certainly want more people to stop eating animals, but I want them to continue to refrain from eating animals, I'm not excited about people going "vegan" for a week, a month, or even a year, then quitting.
I’m not excited about people calling themselves vegan but still eating butter or cheese and using the “more ethical than meat” or “I’m not into personal purity” excuses. It sends the wrong message to observing omni’s and undermines what vegan (in action) is – a diet of exclusion. Btw, isn’t that you? You’ve said on this forum you have used butter, that you aren’t into “personal purity”, think cheese is “more ethical than meat” and didn’t answer directly when asked point blank if you have willfully eaten them during the time you have called yourself vegan. Flexitarians occasionally eat animal products (knowingly and willingly), vegans do not. In my mind that’s what you are, because you’ve made it clear in a variety of ways.

The reduction of the word vegan down to a diet is part of the problem because then you get all of your orthorexics and narcissists who "try vegan" in the way someone else might try on a dress or a suit, then discard it if it becomes inconvenient OR they try so, so hard to be a perfect whole foods, oil free, fruit binger that they wonder in two or three years why their hair is falling out, and it's so obvious to everyone else it's because they aren't consuming enough calories or fat, but they decide it's "veganism" so have a steak.

I could site a few different long lived and/or long time healthy fruitarians (not that I am one...doesn’t suit me at the moment for varied reasons), who have all their hair, get enough calories and yes, by definition eat whole foods only. Fraid you’ve got things mixed up. Donald Watson, when defining veganism gave but 1 rule: No animal products in the diet whatsoever. Strong encouragement followed to eat wholesome plant kingdom foods. Following this was encouragement not to use animals (exploit them) where practicable, such as for clothing. Vegans do not break rule #1 knowingly and willingly, but a Flexitarian will.

Vegan isn't a diet like Paleo or Atkins. Those are diet plans. Veganism is not a diet plan. WFPB is a diet plan, but you are not required to stop wearing leather on a WFPB diet, nor do you have to adopt a WFPB to be a Vegan. The two things can compliment each other, but they are not the same thing.
The only thing I agree with in what you said is that the vegan diet is not like paleo or Atkins, in the sense that the latter diets are usually adopted ONLY for so called “health benefits” - ie: losing weight or gaining muscle – while the vegan diet CAN be adopted for this reason, it is often adopted for multiple reasons including ethical ones. Oh, and no one gets to claim the ethical title as if they are someone special who can use it as a platform to judge all the supposed motives of someone else, especially so when they are still eating animal products here and there, willingly and knowingly.

On why people leave vegan diet:

Lots of reasons.
Some succumb to relationship/social pressures and are basically grasping at any reason to not continue because of these pressures. Others are in reality Flexitarians who eventually develop cravings due to their indiscretions. However “Orthorexia” and “not getting enough calories” do not define long term vegans, duh. I doubt anyone lasts a few months starving themselves, much less a year or multiple years.
 

Forest Nymph

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I’m not excited about people calling themselves vegan but still eating butter or cheese and using the “more ethical than meat” or “I’m not into personal purity” excuses. It sends the wrong message to observing omni’s and undermines what vegan (in action) is – a diet of exclusion. Btw, isn’t that you? You’ve said on this forum you have used butter, that you aren’t into “personal purity”, think cheese is “more ethical than meat” and didn’t answer directly when asked point blank if you have willfully eaten them during the time you have called yourself vegan. Flexitarians occasionally eat animal products (knowingly and willingly), vegans do not. In my mind that’s what you are, because you’ve made it clear in a variety of ways.




I could site a few different long lived and/or long time healthy fruitarians (not that I am one...doesn’t suit me at the moment for varied reasons), who have all their hair, get enough calories and yes, by definition eat whole foods only. Fraid you’ve got things mixed up. Donald Watson, when defining veganism gave but 1 rule: No animal products in the diet whatsoever. Strong encouragement followed to eat wholesome plant kingdom foods. Following this was encouragement not to use animals (exploit them) where practicable, such as for clothing. Vegans do not break rule #1 knowingly and willingly, but a Flexitarian will.



The only thing I agree with in what you said is that the vegan diet is not like paleo or Atkins, in the sense that the latter diets are usually adopted ONLY for so called “health benefits” - ie: losing weight or gaining muscle – while the vegan diet CAN be adopted for this reason, it is often adopted for multiple reasons including ethical ones. Oh, and no one gets to claim the ethical title as if they are someone special who can use it as a platform to judge all the supposed motives of someone else, especially so when they are still eating animal products here and there, willingly and knowingly.

On why people leave vegan diet:

Lots of reasons.
Some succumb to relationship/social pressures and are basically grasping at any reason to not continue because of these pressures. Others are in reality Flexitarians who eventually develop cravings due to their indiscretions. However “Orthorexia” and “not getting enough calories” do not define long term vegans, duh. I doubt anyone lasts a few months starving themselves, much less a year or multiple years.
I have never said on this forum I used butter. Unless you consider Earth Balance to be butter.

Don't talk to me.
 

Nekodaiden

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I have never said on this forum I used butter. Unless you consider Earth Balance to be butter.

Don't talk to me.

That's also why I'm not a "personal purity" vegan either. I don't gag if I find out there were trace amounts of milk or egg in something, so minimal that I can't even taste it, because honestly that doesn't matter. It doesn't kill any more animals or destroy the environment any further because you had a sandwich with a bit of butter in the bread. There's no ethical reason - and really not even a health reason - why trace amounts of egg and dairy are a problem, unless a vegan intentionally keeps buying a product over and over that they know has even trace amounts of animal products.
Doesn't sound rhetorical to me, and even if it was, context makes it clear it's not Earth Balance. Buttered bread isn't what I'd call a trace amount. But if it was rhetorical then I apologize, for that statement. I stand by the rest.

Oh, and you know what else? I'm going to keep responding to you as long as you keep making your digs at me on this board. From insinuating I'm grumpy because I haven't "had my b12", to calling me an orthorexic that is doomed to fail (so vegan of you), to citing "statistics" about failed vegans that come out the back end, to making judgements about alcohol use when you use it yourself, to playing manipulation games and to using strawmen when it suits you.
 
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Forest Nymph

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Doesn't sound rhetorical to me, and even if it was, context makes it clear it's not Earth Balance. Buttered bread isn't what I'd call a trace amount. But if it was rhetorical then I apologize, for that statement. I stand by the rest.

Oh, and you know what else? I'm going to keep responding to you as long as you keep making your digs at me on this board. From insinuating I'm grumpy because I haven't "had my b12", to calling me an orthorexic that is doomed to fail (so vegan of you), to citing "statistics" about failed vegans that come out the back end, to making judgements about alcohol use when you use it yourself, to playing manipulation games and to using strawmen when it suits you.
Excuse me, but any time I consciously use "butter" that is vegan butter aka Earth Balance. In the post you're intentionally misrepresenting, and misquoting, I never said "buttered bread" there are brands of bread where if you read the label about twenty ingredients down it might say "butter" or "whey." This happens to vegans A LOT, especially new vegans who don't know any better, and poor vegans who can't afford to shop at Whole Foods or may even have to accept charity from a food bank.

Again, do not talk to me. I will not ask you again to stop.
 

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Excuse me, but any time I consciously use "butter" that is vegan butter aka Earth Balance. In the post you're intentionally misrepresenting, and misquoting, I never said "buttered bread" there are brands of bread where if you read the label about twenty ingredients down it might say "butter" or "whey." This happens to vegans A LOT, especially new vegans who don't know any better, and poor vegans who can't afford to shop at Whole Foods or may even have to accept charity from a food bank.

Again, do not talk to me. I will not ask you again to stop.
"Don't talk to me" - but you'll keep on talking to me...have to have the last word eh?

I didn't misquote anything :)
 

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Either the bickering stops or I will be forced to close threads, and take further action.
 

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I like the current definition just fine.
If I want to emphasize the diet aspect of vegan, I'll say "vegan diet" or "plant based diet."
 

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I like the current definition just fine.
If I want to emphasize the diet aspect of vegan, I'll say "vegan diet" or "plant based diet."
Ok then I have a question. In your opinion (or whoever wants to answer this), is it alright for a dietary vegan who does not believe in animal rights to simply be called a "vegan", without the "dietary" qualifier in front of it?
 
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