What's in a name? vegan vs. plant-based

I think that this focus on the name -- in particular, the attitude, "I'm vegan, but this or that person shouldn't be allowed to claim the vegan label" -- is a major reason why veganism is still a fringe movement. Successful movements are inclusive. They want to take over the world, and they recognize that in order to do so, they need to accept and include people who come from different backgrounds and philosophies. Too many vegans, in contrast, behave so as to keep veganism as pure, as exclusive, and, as a consequence, as small as possible.

The idea that someone who is vegan for health reasons should not be called vegan ignores the reality that people change. A person who stopped eating animals for health reasons is much more likely to recognize and embrace the ethical and environmental aspects of veganism after six months of avoiding animal products than a person who ate meat for those six months. Telling that person that they don't get to use the vegan label alienates them and makes them less likely to embrace the other aspects of veganism. Allowing that person to use the vegan label does not in any way make me less vegan or in any way decrease my concern for animals and the environment. Vegans don't need to feel so threatened by other people less pure and less perfect than they are using the vegan label.

When I went vegan, I did so for the animals. I wasn't concerned about my health, which I thought was excellent. What disturbed me was factory farming. I didn't have a problem with the idea of eating animals, if the animals were "treated well." But since animals were not treated well, I didn't eat them, and I did my best to avoid using them in other ways. Over time, my views shifted gradually, at an almost imperceptible rate, so that at some point, I no longer saw animals as a source of food. The whole idea of eating animals began to seem unnatural and wrong. Similarly, in my early days, since I was focused on avoiding harming animals, I didn't have a problem with eating animal products once they had been served. If I had ordered a vegan spaghetti without cheese, and it came with cheese, I would eat it because the harm had already been done, and sending that spaghetti back would only harm the environment further by causing waste. It was after I came to recognize the health reasons for veganism that I got to a point where I would be very reluctant to eat that spaghetti. The different aspects of veganism fit together. A person may come to veganism from one angle or another, but in the end, all vegans end up in the same place of love and compassion for all living beings.

I don't even have a problem with someone who eats meat once a year calling themselves vegan. And the reason for that is that I have more confidence in veganism than most vegans. Those who would refuse to call that person vegan are conceding that there is something good and desirable about eating meat. I do not. As Peter Singer has said, if eating meat once a year is going to keep someone vegan for the rest of the year, that is good for animals and the environment. Moreover, that person who didn't eat animal products for a year is not going to want to eat meat on the occasion where he is allowed to do so. It's not going to taste good; it's going to make him sick; it will seem unnatural and wrong. And who wins as a result? Animals do.

For a long time, I avoided the vegan label because I did not want to have anything to do with the purist, self-satisfied, and exclusive aspect of the movement. This caused a lot of confusion because the public doesn't understand why a person who doesn't eat dairy and eggs is not a vegan but only a vegetarian. Trying to explain it to them only gives them the impression that vegans are crazy. After years of calling myself "vegetarian", "strict vegetarian", "plant based", "vegan but not like the vegans you're thinking of," I finally decided that I cannot let the self-satisfied purists who care more about themselves than they do about animals define veganism. In the end, this is about the animals, and animals don't care why you're not exploiting them and what you choose to call yourself.

"Those who would refuse to call that person vegan are conceding that there is something good and desirable about eating meat." ....no...no that's actually not what's happening here...if someone only committed rape once a year, I'd still call them a rapist. If someone only committed murder once in their lifetime, they'd still be a murderer. Someone who eats meat, ever, is not a vegan. It's quite different for someone to eat some cheese accidentally stuffed in their restaurant burrito or to accept a piece of bread that has whey in it than to eat meat. Sure, that person only eating meat once a year is better than eating it every day, but NO, saying that they aren't vegan isn't the same as conceding that there's something good or desirable about eating meat. Where the heck did you pull that from?

Also, people like you who want nothing to do with other vegans aren't capable of acknowledging the huge legal cases PETA has settled, the businesses that have been shut down, the factory farms that have been burned by ALF, the animals that have been rescued by "extremists."

The Civil Rights movement required both Martin Luther King Jr and Malcom X. If you say as MLK that you think Malcom X isn't helping others then you're being disingenuous and petty. Both types are needed for ANY political movement. Early feminists threw stones through windows and put bombs in mailboxes, you can't possibly be serious.
There's no such thing as moral superiority or purity. We either have moral or we don't.

Are you done crying wolf?

Three things are going on here:

1) This type can't stand for other people to exclude them. They don't have the strength, even as adults, to be seen as "different" or "eccentric" - thus the constant references to what non-vegans think of them. Fortunately for me, I got over that in high school. A lot of activist-types of people (whether vegan or otherwise) do get over this in their teens, or at least by college. There are adults walking around though who can't bear the thought of being thought of as socially abnormal, outcast, or going against the social norms of their family or peers. Point blank: what their in-group thinks of them is more important than any other ethic they have.

2) They ultimately are speciesist. They might claim they aren't, but obviously they see veganism as a "diet" if they can cook flesh for family members or call someone who eats animals a few times a year a vegan. They see eating one meal of meat, or cooking a few animals as equivalent alcohol consumption. That's the vibe I'm getting here....we equate veganism on par with being anti-racist, anti-sexist, and anti-fascist....and they see us as people who get mad their neighbor had two or three beers or who dances occasionally. This disparity in what it means to be vegan is EXACTLY WHY the term "plant-based" has to exist to describe these people who apparently see eating animals as equivalent to having a few drinks on the weekend.

3) They're trying to hush up louder or more "extreme" types to make the movement look "mainstream" or acceptable. The problem though is that with less than 5% of the world being vegan, hushing up is the last thing we should do. Rest assured, this personality type also tells environmentalists to be "careful" when talking about climate change, or tells Bernie Sanders supporters they should have voted for Hillary Clinton. Just as you note that loud mouths are universal, so are these "hush it up" social policing types, and the biggest irony is that they call us the Nazis.
now who's calling names....

You can label yourself anything you wish to, if you do not adhere to the tenets of that label then you are not being honest with yourself or others. It doesn't matter if you are plant-based or vegan, if you eat any animal products then you aren't actually either of them so don't label yourself at all.

If you eat mostly plant-based or mostly vegan then just say that you "limit your intake of animal products" instead of saying "mostly" something.

I like Dr McDougall's term, Starchivore.

Emma JC
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Reactions: Consistency
This thread was created by the OP to justify his immoral behavior. Essentially trying to justify cooking meat for others. Logically he can't call himself a vegan since his actions contradict what veganism stands for.

My observation of people is that there are just loudmouths that can't sit still regardless of whatever they follow. It's not veganism that makes people offensive. It's those specific people's attitude towards the injustice of animals. Being reactive instead of proactive.

My suspicion is that the OP, if he is being honest about being vegan (which, given the hate and shaming being done by him against anyone he perceives/labels a "purist", causes me to have doubts) - actually may have a conflict of interest. He says he's a cook. I wonder if this is how he pays his mortgage and other debts.

There's a lot of people in the food industry. Many of them can't afford to just up and get a different job. Changing the consumer will change the industry, including those who decide on the menu and who prepare the food.