My Rules for Navigating Vegan Life in a Non-Vegan World

shutterstock 123875626 300x287A few months ago, fitness writer Craig Ballantyne wrote a post for Zen Habits called 12 Rules to Live By that I really liked.

I was inspired: just as Craig intended, his list made me examine about my own life rules, borrowing from his where I found them useful. The point was not to say, You should follow these rules too, but rather:

These are my rules. Have you thought about yours?

As an exercise, I put together my own, narrower list, just around the topic of veganism (distinct from healthy eating, for which I have another list). I’ve gotten here gradually over the course of about six years, beginning with the day I decided I was going to cut just the red meat out of my diet — and that was a big deal! So it’s interesting for me to look at the rules I now eat (and live) by, many of which didn’t form consciously but instead resulted from habit, grooves that just kept wearing deeper over time.

Like Craig with his list, I have no intention of this being a “here’s what you should do” post. Nor is it final or comprehensive — I’m still progressing, still figuring out how I want to eat and what I want to be my “policies” as they relate to food.

But I do hope this list achieves one result: opens a few eyes to the fact that vegan doesn’t have to mean militant and inflexible. More than ever, I’m fed up that vegans and vegetarians are perceived as extreme, preachy elitists who think we know what’s right for everyone and that the world should be forced to eat like we do. I’m even more fed up that we bring that stereotype upon ourselves — for example, by creating sites like exvegans.com, as portrayed in this article.

As most readers of this blog probably already know, it doesn’t have to be that way. You can be laid-back, easy-going, accepting, and vegan all at once. What I hope is that my rules demonstrate just one way to do it.

My 8 Rules

[Update: After a conversation with my friend Javier in the comments, I've decided that my reasons for rules #2 and #3 (which I adopted several years ago), and the sometimes-exception to rule #1, are outdated and inconsistent with my current beliefs, so it's more sensible for me not to consume any animal products, regardless of circumstance. So, those changes all start now. Thanks, Javier. :)]

1. Don’t eat animal products.

Obvious. But even this one still has exceptions, the most common being that every once in a while, I still knowingly buy and eat something with honey in it. Under normal circumstances, if I see honey on an ingredient list, I don’t buy the food. But if it’s a rare situation where the kids are going nuts, we’ve got nothing at home, and we decide on pizza with vegan cheese, then when I run out to the store and the only frozen crust they have has honey in it, I let it slide. I’m working on this, because I’d like not to eat honey ever, if for no other reason than consistency.

“Don’t eat animal products” (besides breastfeeding) applies to our kids too — 3 years and 3 months old — but deliberately less strictly. Our toddler eats vegan at home, but every once in a while gets a bite of something non-vegan (but not meat) from the grandparents. Which is totally fine with me; I want him to try different things so he can one day make an informed choice about his diet. And I know that in the years to come, there will be plenty of birthday parties and other opportunities at friends’ houses where he’ll want to eat non-vegan foods, meat even … and we’ll leave that up to him.

One day I’ll write a more in-depth post about how we’re raising our kids, but you can get an idea about it in this old post.

2. Don’t turn down non-vegan (but vegetarian) food that’s offered at a friend’s house.

It happens. You go to a friend’s house, a friend who has graciously offered to host you and prepare you a meal. You tell them you’re vegan and don’t eat animal products, but they overlook something — butter (most often), sprinkled cheese, eggs. In this case, I eat the meal and be grateful. Meat, though, I don’t think I could eat. That situation hasn’t arisen yet, thankfully.

This approach is one I learned from my friend Karol Gajda, who wrote an excellent post on his old site about the idea. Though it sounds like we differ when it comes to meat.

3. If a restaurant messes up my order and serves non-vegan (but vegetarian) food, either find someone to give it to or eat it.

If it were an entire pizza with real cheese on it, I wouldn’t be able to enjoy it — in that case, I’d give it away. If it’s a little bit of cream sauce drizzled over enchiladas, I’d eat it (and have). The animal has already suffered, and I don’t think you honor the animal any more by wasting the food — and at this point I think I’m doing more for veganism by eating it than by making a scene.

Note that this is not about convenience — if a restaurant simply doesn’t have vegan options, I don’t eat there. Or if I’m running a race and the aid stations don’t have vegan food, I don’t make exceptions (I’ve learned to bring my own food). But when it’s an unforeseeable mistake, I think it’s better to use than to waste.

4. Don’t make a scene.

I understand that many vegans believe exactly the opposite — that the more visible they can be, the more they can raise awareness by attracting attention to their choice not to eat animals. It’s sort of like the “there’s no such thing as bad press” idea.

I disagree completely. In my own life I’ve noticed that people are far more interested in my diet when I don’t say anything about it — when they see that I can live pretty darn normally and still be vegan. I think being perceived as weird, while nothing to be ashamed of, does hurt your ability to spread the message because most people erect fortresses when they get a whiff of weirdness. So whenever possible, I blend in, quietly making my choice not to eat animal products, right alongside those who do.

5. Don’t complain about not having options.

Being vegan is a choice, and one that a tiny percentage of the population makes. When you choose it, you accept that in many situations and at many events, you won’t have food to eat unless you bring it yourself. So eat ahead of time or bring food, and accept responsibility for your diet choice. By complaining, I’d give vegans a bad name and sour people on the lifestyle.

6. When someone asks about healthy eating, don’t pounce.

If someone tells me they’re trying to eat healthier, closer to vegetarian, and they eat fish or even chicken a few times a week and want to know what I think, I say, “That’s great — if you’re going to eat meat, I think that’s a really healthy way to do it. Focus on whole foods and you almost can’t go wrong.”

And I believe it, as far as health goes. I don’t want to get into a discussion about ethics.

I became vegan very gradually, each incremental diet change bringing me closer to the next. So that’s the route I wish for others, and I don’t find it necessary to mention that they might want to go further with it over time. But of course, when they’re ready, I’m thrilled to help.

7. Don’t argue about diet.

I hate arguments about diet. Especially with the Paleo versus vegan one, nobody budges on either side: even when you try to ignore ethical aspects and just talk about health, there’s too much emotion tied up in the discussion about whether eating animals is natural or unnatural, much less right or wrong, to make it productive.

Much, much better than arguing, I think, is to persuade by example. Be the best and healthiest and most athletic vegan you can be, and if you do a good enough job of it, somebody will want the same results and consider copying your diet. That’s the way I’m influenced, so that’s the way I hope to influence. (See The Quiet Theory of Influence, one of my favorite-ever posts of Leo Babauta’s.)

8. Don’t buy anything that’s leather, wool, or made from other animal products, where I can avoid it.

While certainly par for the vegan course, paying attention to clothing and other non-food goods is a step beyond choosing not to eat animal products. I didn’t start paying attention to my clothes or other non-food products until a few months after I became vegan. But even after I made this shift, I didn’t throw away things I currently owned that weren’t vegan (again, I don’t think wasting something is any better than using it), so I still have a leather wallet, for example. But as my leather shoes have worn out, I’ve replaced them with man-made versions, and I’ll do the same with anything else I still have leftover from my pre-vegan days.

If it’s a gift, I donate it. New Balance gave me an otherwise great pair of leather sandals at their event I attended a few summers ago, and I’m sure they probably made someone in need very happy.

There are plenty of other things made from animal products — very often the glue that holds a running shoe’s sole to its upper is animal-derived. In cases like this where I know it’s common, I’ll do some research (Brooks has advertised that their shoes are vegan-friendly, except their walking shoes). But sometimes I forget to ask (I didn’t ask about my Hokas before I bought them, and I still don’t know), and with other products where I have no idea — furniture, kid shoes and toys, countless others — I don’t ask. Do the best you can, I say.

Finally, even though they’re foods, I put beer and wine into this category too. Since they don’t have ingredient labels, it’s hard to know if they’re made with animal products. And many are. Barnivore is a great resource for this, and as soon as I find out a beer isn’t vegan-friendly, I stop drinking it (Guinness, for example). But if I’m at a bar or see a shiny new brew in the craft beer store, I don’t go out of my way to check to see if it’s vegan before trying it. Only if I start drinking it regularly do I bother to look it up, and if I find out it’s not vegan, I stop drinking it.

Subject to Change!

That’s my list, and again, I want to emphasize its fluidity and incompleteness — I haven’t even touched circuses or zoos or keeping animals as pets, all things that I wouldn’t have batted an eye about a few years ago but that I now have second thoughts about (actually circuses are beyond just second thoughts; I wouldn’t go to one or take my kids to one). But I feel like I’m still defining whatever my rules are there, so I left those out. And as I said in the intro, I’ve moved gradually but steadily toward “pure” veganism over the past few years, and I can only imagine that trend will continue.

I’m eager to hear your rules, if you’ve thought about them. I’m sure many people will have rules very different from mine, and I’m open to hearing them and learning from you.

PS — We’re Simplifying the NMA Shirt Line

DSC00523I realized a few weeks ago that only about half of the nearly 30 styles and colors of No Meat Athlete shirts we offered accounted for the vast majority of purchases, so I’ve decided to make things easier on all of us.

To trim down the line, we’re discontinuing 14 styles and colors — and to help get them out of our hair those shirts are priced at 40% (or more) off. This includes shirts that are still pretty good sellers, but I was ruthless!

So, for example, the popular men’s tanktop in black, as modeled by NMA reader Jason during his Black Hills 100-Miler finish , is going away, since the green one is more popular … and do we really need two men’s tanks? Nope. (By the way, congrats, Jason!)

So check out what else is on sale. Only about half of the 350 shirts included are left after NMA Facebook fans pillaged and plundered the store yesterday, so don’t wait long if you want to grab one before those styles are gone for good.

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Comments

  1. I was surprised than many of my unsaid rules actually do line up with yours. I’ve been vegan a little over a year and my husband is still a carnivore. Although his willingness to try more veggie centered meals has gradually changed, I’ve never found aggressiveness about pushing anything I do onto him or others has been successful. I feel just as I made the decision to be vegan everyone else has the choice to make not to be, and it is a process to get there.

    • I am going through the same with my husband. I want it to be his own decision if he finally gives up meat, and slowly but surely, he is getting there.

    • Kristen, I think some people find that the more in-your-face approach does work, or maybe that’s what initially influenced them to become vegan. So I don’t want to say that approach doesn’t work — but I know it’s what always turned me off for years before I started to think about this diet, so I’ve never felt comfortable being anything but easygoing about it.

  2. I am vegan about 95% of the time and have been moving in this direction for over 30 years—starting out as a vegetarian when I was 19 years old.

    One of the reasons I have not become 100% vegan is because I feel that being a “purist” about it is inflammatory and preachy. There are always going to be situations where being vegan becomes anti-social and exclusive. When I want to be among other humans (and the vast majority are not vegan) I do not want to become the center of attention by explaining that I am vegan therefore I refuse to go to X restaurant and eat pizza with you. In some situations I end up eating vegetarian instead of vegan because the options become much more easier and require less explaining. When I go to someone’s house and they offer me food, I do not want to tell them that I won’t eat it because I am vegan. I am ok with explaining to most people that my food choices are based on mostly plants, lots of whole foods, fruits and vegetables because most people can understand that eating “healthy” is an acceptable lifestyle. What people don’t understand is that I chose to eat vegan because I think it is morally wrong to kill animals for human use or to eat their milk, eggs or wear their skins. They just do not get it and then a huge barrier is erected and the focus becomes my judgmental and critical opinion of other people. It is just not worth talking to people about and moving the conversation in that direction.

    One thing I have started doing is separating the conversation away from food and talking more about how animals are raised in modern day factory farms. I do not center this around food, but simply discuss something that may be in the news about a certain facility that was found to have people abusing the animals or a discussion of how chickens are kept in tight cages. Something factual that makes no statement about how eating animals is unethical or wrong.

    Frankly, I don’t think most people are going to make the switch to veganism no matter what is at stake. People are not going to sacrifice their love for animal products. And when you get right down to it, if you go far enough on the continuum towards veganism, then things do start getting a bit absurd i.e. it is wrong to kill a fly or mosquito because it is cruel. People are never going to buy into total veganism. I think it is much more productive to do the best you can, make some compromises when necessary and eat as many plant foods as warranted to stay healthy. Be a good role model but don’t get too caught up in being a purist and absolutely do not be preachy or arrogant about your “superior” way of life. :)

    • Doggirl, I like your strategy of shifting the conversation towards how animals are treated in factory farms. I’ve found that people are much more receptive to that than the idea that it’s wrong to eat animals, regardless of how they’re treated. They can argue that it’s natural to eat animals, but it’s hard to argue that the deplorable way we treat most of the animals raised for food is.

      Interestingly, for as lax as I may seem, I almost never kill bugs anymore. I pick them up on a piece of paper and move them out of the house. :)

      • doggirl says:

        Hey Matt:

        For me, learning about the animals in factory farms and what it is like for them to be slaughtered gives me the incentive to shun animal products as much as I can. Like you, I am finding not only do I not want to kill bugs that cross my path (well OK I do kill mosquitos because they can give my dogs heartworm or flies because they bite my dogs and cause them a lot of discomfort) but most bugs I will not kill and I put them outside. We had mice in our house on occassion and so I try to catch them and put them outside in a field. Now I am getting interested in growing native plants in my yard which attract insects that pollinate our food supply and have learned a lot about the plight of monarchs and bees because of habitat shrinkage and pesticides. I am learning that the things we plant in our yards (instead of green lawn) will help preserve these insects. When you create habitats for the little creatures it helps out the bigger ones also–like birds who need insects to survive. I am always in awe of the interdependence that we –all creatures– have on each other. It seems that the smallest creatures may be the most important ones. Think: microbes and bacteria that live in our gut that literally keep us alive. I also just read an article about the harm that cigarette filters have on the envrionment because they are not completely biodegradable and when they get into the water system —-almost 4 billion of them a year, they give off toxic chemicals that kill water mites (among other life). These water mites are the source of food for millions of animals that live in the water including birds that eat the mites. With the toxic filters, these mites are dying and upsetting the ecological balance. We humans have so much impact on the planet and we walk around thinking we know what we are doing–on so many levels we are doing things that are truely harmful.

    • Bringing awareness about how animals are treated in a factory farm is really important. Many people are becoming vegan because of this information. I met someone recently who became vegan after finding out how animals are treated. She had no idea! I know that sometimes it seems like no one will change, but that’s not true, people are changing.

      Also being 100% of something positive is something to feel good about. There may be people who feel that there is something wrong with it but there are many people who will respect you for it even if they don’t agree with you. No matter what we do, someone won’t like it.

  3. chantal liberty says:

    Great and thought provoking article. After gastric bypass it was easier to add meat to a previously poorly balanced diet of pasta veggies eggs and the occasional chicken. The nutritionist was not promoting vegeterian protein as options post surgery. But now 3 yrs and 170lbs later I am slowly trying to get to a healthy vegeterian eating plan. What really hit home was your rule about not buying other products made with animals. As a horse owner with a daughter who competes in jumping it was a bit like cold water in my face. I have not eaten beef or pork or lamb…. in 20 some years but never even batted an eyelash at buying leather horse tack.

    Although there are synthetic versions of all of it even with new “eyes” I don’t think I would change my purchases. For safety of both horseand rider I will likely stay with leather but now I may consider other options before making my choice.

    Interesting and thought provoking

    • Chantal, I’m glad you’ll at least consider a synthetic saddle in the future! I think if you’re not going to eat animals, it doesn’t make much sense to wear or use their skins.

  4. Michelle says:

    Love this article and agree with so much of it… (although I couldn’t eat the cheese pizza) but I love the philosophy of the article

  5. I think these are great life rules and thank you for sharing.

  6. Thank you so much for posting this. Everything you do is the same for me. It’s hard to be a vegan blogger sometimes when everyone is critiquing your meals and ingredients. I had a jaw reconstruction six months ago and couldn’t eat for 2 months, so I wasn’t refusing anything handed to be in a pureed or liquid form, and “let myself off the hook” for the first few months of recovery, given I couldn’t eat anything harder than a bagel (eg, nuts, carrots) or close my teeth together to masticate greens and other fibrous produce, I was just trying to eat what I could. I dropped a dress size and then some because I just couldn’t eat enough, and have been looking forward to my jaw being strong enough to return to my plant-based diet, and not having people telling me how pleased they are that I’m “not vegan anymore”, when I’ve never preached or complained to anyone. I’ve been given the all-clear very recently, but reading this has reminded me of both the pros and the cons. But it’s worth it.

    • Ceri, getting past criticism on blog posts is a big deal. I think the best thing you can do is fully believe in whatever it is you’re writing and posting, and then you can at least feel consistent, honest, and transparent in the face of criticism. And remember, as they say, there are no statues erected to critics!

      It never occurred to me how many “I’m so glad you’re not vegan anymore” comments there might be if you stopped being vegan … that would be annoying.

      • Yeah, I stopped being vegan because I developed iron-deficiency anemia that I was unable, after multiple attempts, to address within a vegan diet. I got so many of the “I’m so glad you’re not vegan anymore” comments, and I really hated it because I do think it’s a great way to eat, and I am still very conscious about eating as ethically as I can while also keeping my iron levels healthy. I just generally engage with questions – “What is it about veganism that you found objectionable?” “What were your concerns when I was vegan?” They often think that it just was generally unhealthy, which they think is backed up by my health issues, when in fact my iron stores have always been abnormally low, even before I went vegetarian at all, and veganism is an extremely healthy (and healthier) option for most people who currently follow the Standard American Diet. So I try to point that out, so I don’t become an example to them of why veganism is a bad idea.

        • Matt, wonderful post! Generally, most of my friends seem only to comprehend “vegetarian” rather than vegan, so when I go to their houses, cheese is their offering, in lasagna, pizza, salad, whatever. I always eat whatever they offer, out of respect and appreciation of their efforts…

          Kelly, I too had been anemic for years, even before I went veggie. I SO can relate to people’s pronouncements as to how “its due to your diet”, as though they actually have done the research! Which they inevitably haven’t. Even my doc doesn’t seem to comprehend that there really is no evidence that veganism causes anemia. A long period of MD-prescribed oral contraceptives helped tremendously, but when I had to quit them, the anemia came back with a vengeance ( I also had lost a lot of weight). So, the doc prescribed iron pills, but progress was slow. Finally, I read the Vegan RD book by Ginny Messina, and, lo and behold, learned that iron had to be taken a certain way to facilitate absorption. So, I now take it at bedtime with vitamin C and a glass of water. No side effects, and the iron levels are now way up! Doc was actually unaware of this info and grateful to learn about it. Lots of other good little nuggets of wisdom in that book regarding nutrients that can be challenging on a vegan diet (although many can also be challenging for omnivores, such as B12). The book is plain-Jane factual, scientific, and great for helping your friends understand that you’re not going to get sick, and may actually gain health, on a vegan diet. I also love how it doesn’t cater to false nutritional claims made by some vegans. The questions you ask your friends are great…seems that it’s easier to engage people by asking questions rather than “telling” them about something against which they’ve built some profoundly strong defenses. Following it up with “well, I had some of the same concerns, but when I did some research, found that there was no need to worry about ______”, is a great way to continue the dialogue, while gently pointing out that, yes, indeed you are watching out for your health :-)

  7. great article. I am not vegan nor vegetarian but I am glad you brought up that is does not just effect your diet. Its an important aspect that gets ignored since the choice might not be about health but more about morals.

  8. Brenna McEowen says:

    Great article – as always. I treat veganism the exact same way and have converted more people to the diet and lifestyle than I can count by doing so. Being flexible, open, honest and sensitive (yet still passionate, of course) about people and their food choices opens up the conversation and most of the time, they are intrigued and curious by the lifestyle.

    • Brenna, totally. That’s what has worked for me too. I suppose the alternative approach reaches its own set of people and ours reaches a different one, so in that way, maybe it’s not about which is better.

  9. This is a great post! I’m not vegan or vegetarian (although I’m leaning that way because I haven’t had meat in a while and have no immediate plans to eat any) but if I ever did decide to go vegan, this would be the way I’d want to do it. Your approach to the vegan lifestyle makes it seem so much less stressful…making exceptions for your own sake and the sake of others, but not all the time. When a diet is a lifestyle, it deserves a bit of fluidity in order to make it work.

    • Thanks Elise. Certainly the few times when I eat honey, it’s for my own sake, and in that way, selfish … so I hope to change that over time. I’m still not quite sure for whose sake it is when I make the decision not to send back food that has a little bit of a non-vegan ingredient on it (besides meat). My friend Karol, who I mentioned in the post, would say it’s for the sake of honoring the animal that suffered, instead of simply wasting it. I’m not sure I agree with that though. And it’s not for my own sake — I wouldn’t be embarrassed to send it back, and I don’t enjoy it any more that I would without the non-vegan ingredient. I really think the reason I wouldn’t send something like this back is because I don’t like how it makes the people involved perceive veganism. I know many other vegans would disagree, and say that the point of veganism is for others to see it, but for me it doesn’t work that way.

  10. Marty Cowan says:

    Eating a whole food plant based diet is sometimes a challenge, but I’ve learned (the hard way) that it should never be a battle. Leading through quiet example is the best advice. My choice should never be anyone’s problem, and I focus on the bigger picture when I am in a situation where the food is not ideal – the bigger picture is keeping in mind the many, many things I have to be thankful for.

    • I agree Marty. Except I don’t know if leading through quiet example is universally “the best advice” … for me and you, that’s what works, but maybe others lead better or help people to change in a different way than we do.

      • Marty Cowan says:

        Great post Matt! It’s got everyone thinking about how they eat, limitations and allowances. I really like reading all the perspectives. We are all doing what’s best for our bodies, animals and our earth in our own ways.

  11. It’s astonishing – or maybe it isn’t?! – that my “rules” (although I never wrote them down) are exactly the same. For me being the only vegan in the family (my wife and kids are omnivores with a little tendency towards vegetarianism) means compromises from time to time (like the honey or the cream sauce you mentioned). But it is really great to see that friends start to try out vegan alternatives out of friendship and that the dietary discussions (although really annoying sometimes, especially with my parents) lead to many people around me thinking a lot more about healthy eating.
    And yes, we should all try to be a great example of healthy vegan living by being superhero endurance athletes and wearing the NMA-Shirts (the sale made the decision to pay for overseas shipment easier). Thanks for this post and the great work with your blog – it’s helping me find my way as a vegan (someday ultra-) runner!

    • Interesting, Heiko. Perhaps there are a lot of us with this mindset … we’re just less visible because that’s our nature and the nature of our approach to veganism.

      Glad to hear the sale made it easier for you to get a NMA shirt overseas!

  12. I’ve narrowed my list down to two main main prinicples: respect others and do the best you can. As for the respect part–how can I expect others to understand and accept my beliefs if I can’t do the same for them? And while I can bend over backwards to avoid leather and non-vegan sugar and gelatin, I have to accept that no matter how hard I try, some animal products will probably sneak into my life in some way, shape, or form. For example, I play ice hockey, and it is literally impossible to find a skate that does not contain leather. I can’t beat myself up for that–I have to forgive myself and recognize that I’m trying my best to live a benevolent life, and that my best is enough. Our diet and lifestyle is based on compassion, and it’s important to extend that compassion to ourselves and those around us, as well!

    • Amber, I like a 2-rule list! Simple is good. It’s fascinating that even within veganism there can be such different approaches — many would disagree with both of your rules! They’d say respect animals over other people, since the animal suffering is likely much greater than the person’s feelings being hurt, and they’d say perfection, 100% of the time, is important. And I don’t think these are wrong — just alternative worldviews.

  13. Bree Hutson says:

    Great post! I just listened to your latest podcast this morning too! I am a vegetarian who dabbles in the vegan world from time to time. I won’t go near circuses either and am apprehensive about Zoos and parks that have wild animals. Recently, I declined to go swim with the Dolphins. But my love of cheese and honey is the deal breaker. I hope to one day evolve and be able to give these up too. I will say that I love No Meat Athlete and love that you have evolved so much!

    • Thanks for the support Bree! I meet a lot of people who tell me that their love of cheese prevents them from becoming vegan. (Honey, people don’t seem so attached to, this there are decent substitutes.) I used to think similarly about cheese. My advice, if you have a desire to be vegan, is just to consciously eat less of it over the course of a few weeks, then one day decide you’re done with it completely. For a few days, I missed it, but now it really doesn’t even seem good anymore. Daiya is a passable substitute that I didn’t like at first but now I’ve come to like a lot.

      Good luck with whatever you do!

  14. As a Muslim and a runner, I also have lifestyle guidelines that some people find odd–for example, I don’t eat/drink anything with alcohol or pork, and I cover from head to toe, including when I run. So my rules are similar, to navigate in a world with rules that do not conform to mine, because the number one rule of all is respect.

    • Sarah, great point! And cool blog niche, too. I’ve noticed a lot of parallels between veganism and religion. And I’ve noticed there are a lot of non-religious vegans, like me — probably because veganism serves a similar role in our minds.

  15. Hello.
    I was wondering what to say when someone, like a doctor or a fitness instructor, tells you that eating meat is necessary. Of course anything you say will be looked down, as these people usually think they know better. Do you just pretend to agree ?

    • If a doctor told me eating meat is necessary, I would politely disagree (and know that they probably aren’t particularly knowledgeable on the subject). Having no interest in arguing with these people, I might ask if they’ve read The China Study, or Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease and Cancer, or any books based on the comprehensive research of such. My mother’s cardiologist is a strong believer in whole food, plant-based eating.

    • Alex, I’ve never had this happened, except that our pediatrician has suggested that for our children. We’ve listened to his reasons, done our own research and come back and questioned him to continue the discussion. We haven’t made any non-vegan decisions yet, and he has been accepting of that. It’s sort of an “agree to disagree” thing, and I think as long as the doctor doesn’t think it’s of vital importance that we agree, that’s okay.

  16. This is an interesting discussion. I wouldn’t eat even a little meat, dairy, egg, etc., to “be polite” and compromise my values to accommodate another person’s comfort level. My values are as important to me as theirs are to them. It’s very much who I am, for cruelty, health and environmental reasons, but I have no expectation that the world changed with me (I only wish). If I am somewhere that there isn’t something I can eat and it isn’t a situation I feel free to elaborate, I just excuse myself as not hungry or am not eating. Simple. I tend not to make an issue of it. If I’m asked specifically, I am open to the discussion.

    • Debbie, I feel the same way as you do. I wouldn’t eat anything that comes from animals just to be polite or make it “easier” for others. I have been in many situations where some could say it wasn’t easy to eat vegan (travelling abroad, camping, eating in non-vegan restaurants etc.), but I always made it work. What saddens me is that this post suggests that being vegan is too difficult and it is ok to have lapses, while the opposite is true.

      • Ditto. It’s 100% possible to be polite and still decline to engage in animal abuse. Being inconsistent dilutes the vegan message and really just isn’t ok. You won’t starve if you skip a meal.

      • Tereza, I don’t think this comment is completely fair. When I travel, camp, eat in non-vegan restaurants, run marathons and ultras, I make veganism work, just like you do. Like you say, there are times when it’s inconvenient, but I make it work, just like you do.

        “Lapses,” to me, describes moments when you don’t have the willpower to behave according to your values. As I’ve said in response to other comments, that’s not what it is for me when I choose not to send back something that’s made, say, with cheese. It’s a deliberate choice I’ve already made, not out of comfort, but because I think it’s respectful (some even say of the animal who suffered, but I don’t agree with that) and more to the point, is better for our message than the alternative. I COMPLETELY understand that others don’t agree here, and that’s fine.

        But even if you insist these are lapses, we disagree on whether or not it’s okay to have them. When I get honey in a pizza crust, that’s a lapse. As I said, I’m on a trajectory of becoming more “pure” vegan, so I’d like to eliminate those lapses. But I don’t think that makes them not okay, as you say — I tend to think they are okay when they’re on the path towards a higher goal. I think being vegetarian (and non-vegan) is okay, because it’s better than eating meat. This is a huge difference between me and many others, and as I said, I think different approaches reach different sets of people and are all good if our ultimate goals are the same.

        • Matt, thank you for your response. My posts are by no means intended to attack you as a person. I am just voicing my opinion on this subject.

          I definitely don’t think there is such a thing as a “pure” vegan; one either is a vegan or is not. It’s simple as that. There is no “I am a better vegan than you are.” If one doesn’t follow a vegan lifestyle, just don’t call yourself vegan. That’s why I find these rules confusing because, in my opinion, they suggest that one can call him/herself vegan, but still willingly cheat on side. People won’t take veganism seriously & won’t understand what veganism truly is if they see that our intentions are not there either.

          After all, how else are people going to learn about veganism, if I keep letting it slide on occasions. I think it’s good to let your friends know “I am sorry, I am not going to eat this because there’s cheese on it” or ask in advance if there would be any vegan options. People will eventually try to accommodate your needs and if not, you can either eat before-hand or bring your own food. I can speak from my own experiences. I have been to many gatherings, be it friends, family, or people I didn’t even know, when I had to say “No, thank you. I won’t eat this.” It took some time for my family and friends to get used to it, but they eventually got it and accepted me as a vegan. And, I gotta tell you, I am a shy person; I don’t like to draw attention from others on me, but I just couldn’t ever say “Ok, I will eat this” because I would feel a lot more guilty doing so knowing how much suffering is behind that so-called “meal.”

          That’s just my two cents.

          • Well said, Tereza, on all counts! I’m glad for anyone who is moving towards veganism; every bit of animal product you replace with plant foods is a step in the right direction – and it counts. I would never be able to compromise because I firmly believe that every bit of animal products consumed came at a cost.

            Accepting non-vegan food from a restaurant (and especially implying that it’s only OK if it is a certain type of animal product) feeds into the belief of many restauranteurs that a “little bit” is OK. So, eating that bit of animal product could end up causing a more animal products to be served down the line.

    • Debbie, I think yours is an admirable approach. The difference between us is that our values are different — I don’t consider the behaviors I wrote about in this post to be compromises of my values, but if you were to take these behaviors, you would. I happen to think veganism can spread more readily if it involves more respect for people (I don’t think “politeness” is as appropriate a term as “respect”), but I completely get that others disagree. And that’s fine; I think our different approaches help the message to resonate with different types of people.

      • Milemom says:

        Matt, I am not vegan–more like veganish– but if I was, I would follow the “Grandma rule”: you haven’t seen Granny (or Dear Aunt Mary, or whoever) in ages; when you do, she proudly puts out her secret-recipe apple pie. Now she remembered that you “don’t eat meat” and gave you a lovely pasta salad for lunch, but she never considered the lard she put in the crust. She presents it to you, eyes beaming, and you say…thank you. End of story. (and before your next visit remind her that you don’t eat any animal products). Now if this is a family member who you’ve told a million times but insists on not caring about your beliefs, then it’s right to refuse. I would apply this rule to dieting as well– please skip all the crappy junk food that is all around–like the half-stale glazed donuts in the break room– but if you’re visiting someone who as gone all out to make you something special—eat it and enjoy.

        • I TOTALLY agree. I love the way you put this in a real life situation using Granny. We need to not only eat healthy and respect animals, but also respect people who love us and are trying to accommodate us. However, there are many who have been commenting who would absolutely disagree with you!

  17. Excellent rules. I especially agree with the ones about not being rude or making a scene when you are a guest or at a restaurant. It’s easy enough to scrape off most of the cheese or sauce and a little butter, eggs or cheese on a rare occasion won’t hurt anyone! The pizza however I would send back if it came with cheese. I am always very specific when I order pizza and request no cheese. However I try to do so quietly and turn to the waiter rather than make a grand announcement at the table!

    • Grace, funny how many different shades there are to approaches. Karol would say scraping off the cheese defeats the purpose of not sending it back in the first place — if I’m understanding his approach correctly, he would honor the animal who suffered in some way by not wasting the cheese, eggs, etc. I would tend to scrape it off, because I just don’t enjoy it anymore, and somehow that feels more consistent with being vegan. But we’re on the same page with the making a scene or announcement thing.

  18. This is a great list! It’s basically the same as my own rules only I was afraid to admit it for fear of judgement. We all try our best but nobody is perfect! It’s nice to be able to admit that and have others accept it. Thank you for posting this.

  19. My view on all this is the following. I really respect my friend No Meat athlete. He has done a lot for the promotion of health and fitness and has worked hard to get where he is today. All I can give is mad respect. I will say though I have to disagree with some of these in the so called “rules.”

    Veganism is not about us; it is about the animals. It is a political statement that disagrees with the use of animals. If vegans stop caring, who would care for animals? There is this fear that we won’t get along with people if we state what we truly believe in. That people will loose respect and think of us as strange or complainers. The truth is whatever inconvenience anyone must endure as a vegan I can tell you it is a thousand times worse for those animals. So, yes, if someone accidentally puts cheese on my food I will not eat it. Think about how credible your message is when you cheat from time to time as you then days later tell someone dairy causes harm to cows and takes part in the production of veal. They will laugh at you and go this person is not serious. Veganism is not an exclusive club nor a trend, nor a diet. It is a statement that says we strongly disagree what people are doing to animals. Veganism is not trying to make it more comfortable for people so we can bring more people on board. Veganism as defined is quite easy to follow. I will eat before if I can’t trust the cook to provide vegan food or I will bring my own food to share with others. Once they realize that you are serious about veganism, they will respect it and try to accommodate you correctly. Again watch :Earthlings”” all the way through and then say how hard one has it as a vegan. Vegetarians don’t mind that there is milk and dairy in their food, I am vegan and I care as I know lots of vegans do as well. Again remember veganism is about animals and if we want people to take us seriously we need to respect the principles.

    This is not to personally criticize anyone, Vegans who have faced these situations make it work or find a way. Veganism and vegetarianism is not interchangeable they mean two different things. Vegans have intentions to exclude animals even when it is a mistake.

    • Javier, perfectly put.

    • Javier! Great to hear from you, and I appreciate that your disagreement is respectful — my favorite kind.

      You make a lot of great points. And here’s what I believe is the fundamental difference between us: for you, veganism is a statement; for me it is not. Having a website obviously makes my beliefs very public, but in my day-to-day life at home and at restaurants / friend’s houses / events where there is food, I’m very private about my diet choices and don’t like to draw attention to them beyond what’s necessary to minimize the chances of being served something non-vegan.

      I have a tremendous amount of respect for vegans like you. I think it’s awesome and inspiring to see and hear from someone so dedicated to preventing animal suffering and unwilling to compromise. And I’m glad there are people like you spreading our message. (I think it goes too far when one tries to shame those who are not vegan, like with the exvegans.com site, but I’ve gotten the sense that you’re more about being an example through how you conduct yourself than about shaming others.)

      You say “Veganism is not trying to make it more comfortable for people so we can bring more people on board.” This is difficult for me to accept, because I’ve found that making it comfortable is THE reason most people cite when they email me to tell me about their success in moving a vegan or near-vegan diet. If the goal is to get people to eat fewer animal products, then it’s hard to argue that it doesn’t work.

      A lot of people seem to be misunderstanding something. My choice to eat a meal that’s incorrectly prepared so as to be non-vegan isn’t about comfort. I don’t take any greater enjoyment in it because it has cheese on it. And I’m not embarrassed to say, “I’m vegan; I can’t eat this, please make it correctly.” Instead, it’s because I don’t think doing so serves vegans well. I think it turns people off of veganism and gives us a bad name … you think the opposite, that taking the quiet road misses a chance to spread the message, or worse, appears inconsistent (though I would argue that anyone who is actually paying attention to what I’m eating knows me well enough to understand my approach, so appearing inconsistent is not an issue).

      Really great discussion; I learn a lot from debate like this. And again, tremendous respect. We want the same thing, which is for people to stop causing animals not to suffer. We have different ways of doing what we think will bring that about, and that’s okay. I think it’s a good thing, because we reach different types of people.

      • Matt, First of all the ex-vegan site is terrible.! Not sure why someone feels that making people feel bad about leaving the cause should be shamed. I am the first person to tell other vegans that shaming people is terrible and destructive. I know that we all try our best to get to where we can reduce suffering. So we are in total agreement on this. I don’t question your intentions as to reduce animal suffering. Me writing this is to make it clear to vegans that if they want people to listen to them about animals issues being flexible is going to make it harder for them to get respect.
        When it comes to social situations making a scene is something I am also against, but it does not mean that when you pay for food in a restaurant that if you asked for something and it does not come prepared the way you wanted it you can’t politely request the waiter to change it. Non vegans do this all the time. This is indifferent to if you are vegan or not. The key is being polite about it. So that should not be any problem unless one avoids these situations all together.
        In social situations I let the person no ahead of time that I am vegan or I won’t eat their food. To me dairy would be your equivalent of someone adding crumbles of meat in your food. It is not a good thing nor do I want to put that in the mouth. I don’t consider it food, like some might. This does not hurt the vegan cause. It does not make vegans look like complainers. The first few times people might find it strange but if you stick with something they will have no choice but to respect it and in my experience people do.
        I work at a huge gym with Alpha males who are mega meat eaters. I wear vegan shirts there all the time. The first few years they fought me on every issue possible and event told me that I would need every supplement known to man. After being there sometime they have not bothered me about it anymore and now respect that I have my views on animal issues. Plus when you get stronger and are athletic people tend to see that veganism is not harming your fitness. I even had a calm discussion with someone who could care less about animals at all and we exchanged views. Again veganism does not mean be a jerk, be rude and shame people.

        Do you think that people who are kosher and follow this strictly who go over to a friend’s house request to eat only kosher or Hindu; do people find that strange? No they respect it. When more people get serious about their ethics then people will learn to respect it like any religion, allergy, tradition and so on. I don’t see it as being difficult. I see it as educating people that there are people like me with similar views who take this very seriously and stand up for animals.
        Vegetarianism as a definition was meant to define people eating dairy, eggs, and plant foods. Then people became looser with the term and added fish to the equation and others chicken. People who ate meat foods who ate mostly vegetarian would still call themselves vegetarian. This is beginning to happen to veganism as people separate it who are not serious about the cause and consider it a way of eating. They separate it in ethical vegan and vegan. This is was created by some of these large animal organizations who are just trying to get more non vegans on board and giving them hall pass so to say. Things like I am vegan sometimes, is not correct. I think most people who jump on to veganism think it s hard which is not. I was never vegetarian and I went from eating meat to veganism overnight. Of course in the beginning there were mistakes I made but not because they were me letting things slip by but because I was unaware of what everything was and was not vegan. I never let something slide because I felt like I might offend someone. Veganism may not always be comfortable but you are laying down the tracks for future generations to have a piece of the world where things will be more convenient them all and making it so called “normal.” and veganism is not a diet or a part time thing. This is not about being elitest or purest that is usually used by people who feel guilt because they are unable to follow what veganism. If anyone wants to discuss this further with me I would be more than happy to discuss this with them.

        So I totally understand you might feel uncomfortable about asking or presenting your views. This comes with the territory of being vegan. I suggest that you read “Vegan Freak” Being Vegan in a Non-Vegan World,, by Bob Torres and Jenna Torres. It will give some insight how to approach these social situations that seem so hard for many.

        Matt thanks for letting me express my thoughts, I hope all is well with you 

        • Javier, more good points. In fact, you’re swaying me a bit.

          We’re making a big deal out of my rules (perhaps for good reason), but the number of times this stuff has happened to me in two and a half years since I’ve considered myself vegan, is three. So it would not be difficult at all for me, in those few instances, to tell a waiter that I won’t eat the meal this way, like anyone else in a restaurant whose food comes out differently than ordered. A friend’s house would be harder, but that’s more rare than restaurants in my experience. And honey is so rare that it would be just a matter of drawing the line.

          Here’s why I’m rethinking things. When I first adopted this policy of not turning down food that was prepared for me, and either giving it away or eating it myself, was probably 4 years ago when I read Karol’s post (here’s the link again: http://www.ridiculouslyextraordinary.com/how-to-travel-as-a-vegan/). I was interested in Buddhism and a new vegetarian, and the Buddhist-style approach really resonated with me.

          But since then, I’ve had much, much more time to think and read about animal suffering. And I got to my current point of no longer agreeing with part of the rationale in the post — that by eating an animal product that’s served to you (assuming you can’t give it away), you’re honoring the animal who has suffered more than you would if the food were to be wasted. I now tend to believe the opposite: that you’d honor that animal more by refusing to eat it.

          So without believing a central premise in that argument, I don’t have a strong reason for still having that as my policy, at least on a personal level, aside from the Buddhist point of view of humility and gratitude. But as I’ve come to feel stronger about animal cruelty over the past few years, humility and gratitude in these rare situations might take a back seat.

          Even if I make that change — and I really am thinking about this a lot as a result of our conversation — I don’t know that it would change my advice to people that they make exceptions when they need to, if that’s what it takes for them to maintain a mostly plant-based diet. Which is different from your and Tereza’s viewpoints, for sure. But like I said, I do think that’s alright, and I still do believe that’s the way to reach the largest number of people.

        • Alright, I’m convinced! After having thought about it for another day, my rules #2 and #3 (and the honey exception in #1) don’t make sense anymore. The reasons I had for them were old (over two years) and don’t apply to how I feel anymore, as I sort of explained in our comment thread.

          I added an update to explain this change in the post. Thanks for the discussion and motivation to change!

    • You’re right Javier. Many people are choosing to eat differently from those around them for different reasons. People have serious allergies and could get seriously ill or die if they’re not careful. I know someone’s daughter who can’t even be near peanuts or she will have a serious reaction. Would someone feel that it’s inconvenient if they made a dish with peanuts and she wouldn’t eat it? I would hope not! Should she eat the food in the restaurant if peanuts were added? Of course not and no one would judge her for that. If they did, the problem is with the person doing the judging, not her. If a person judges you for something like that, it’s not that you’re doing something wrong, they have their own reasons for judging. Also, it’s not like all non-vegans are that judgmental about not eating something they cooked or sending back food in a restaurant. In my experience, people respect someone who lives by their values even if they don’t agree. Non-vegans send back food in restaurants because they don’t like it or it wasn’t cooked right. How many people send back steak because it wasn’t cooked enough? They weren’t concerned with being judged or what anyone thought about it.

      I think that in this blog post there are many people are are very concerned with what other people think of them in regards to what they are eating. I understand because I felt that way at first too. It was awkward to eat something different from everyone else since I wasn’t use to it. After awhile I felt more confident and it was already a habit to eat vegan 100% of the time. My friends and family got use to it. I’ve never preached to anyone. I just like to be a positive role model and many people will ask me about it and are interested for themselves. It’s ingrained now and isn’t hard at all since I’ve done it for awhile and have learned how to manage social situations. Also I proactively went out and found vegan restaurants and other people who were vegan to be friends with. That’s important.

      If someone chooses not to eat the food that I make, I don’t think less of them or judge them. They are in charge of their body and it’s their choice of what to put in it. I think we should expect the same.

      One other point- to say that eating meat is honoring the animals is like people saying that they’re honoring child slaves by wearing the clothes that the slaves created. Isn’t it really just an excuse not to change?

      • This is an excellent discussion, and Matt, I applaud you for reconsidering and deciding that your rules about accepting non-vegan food no longer apply. As a health coach working with clients who are transitioning to a vegan diet for health and ethical reasons, I can tell you that some really struggle in particular with eliminating cheese and dairy from their diets, as these “foods” are highly addictive. Giving them “permission” to indulge in certain instances is a very slippery slope. I completely agree with Stephanie’s post where she references those with food allergies; these days, it’s not unusual for diners or party guests to make specific requests around what they are served. I follow and feed my family a completely whole food vegan diet for many reasons, primarily prevention as we have a very strong family history of cancer. I do not want my children to ever feel the slightest bit uncomfortable about explaining the way that they eat…I want them to be proud that they are making the best choices for their health, for the animals, and for our planet. The more we stand our ground and refuse to make exceptions, the more readily the vegan way of life will become acceptable…and I find that we often inspire others by walking our talk ALL the time, not just when it suits us best. I love that this discussion was so respectful and that all points were well taken. Too many times there are heated arguments over this topic and I have a hard time understanding how anyone can be compassionate towards animals but not towards their fellow humans. All of us matter and all of us deserve to be treated with the utmost respect. Thanks for this very thoughtful discussion!

    • Javier and Matt:

      Your arguments are both well taken. I think that between the two strains of political- and ethical-oriented veganism there’s a lot of room for interpretation and confusion. I have to agree with Javier insofar as being a vegan has a definite political core. But it is an individual and circumstantial kind of political statement and belief, which inherently ties it to the ethical realm of decision-making and no-harm principles in daily life. There, I see the value of NMA’s position to accept food with traces of dairy, for example. Like any political principle, personal decisions are not enough to transcend the issue, as I’m sure both Javier and Matt would agree. While it’s challenging to come to grips that there is no 1:1 result for our individual actions (as vegans, or let’s say, anarchists) to accept the limitations of our political motivations in personal decision making, it can drive us to see a broader horizon for social change and ethical treatment.

  20. The smart (and sustainable) part about your approach is its incrementalism. As you said, over the course of six years you step by step evolved to how you’re now practicing veganism.

    When something is done abruptly, completely, it often will not stick. We need time to adjust, not only our own understanding and behaviors, but to that of those around us.

    Surely this is true for something as fundamental to our nature as what we eat.

    Good post, Matt.

    Yep.

    -Joe

  21. Annabell says:

    I love all of these! I always think that I want to be the kind of vegan where no one knows it until they ask. So many people complain about obnoxious vegans are, and its nice to see an activist blogger who isn’t preachy or loud.

  22. First, I highly recommend the singlets and long sleeve shirts that are discounted right now. I’m really happy with mine and am considering buying another in different colour.

    Second, I like Matt’s list. I’ve been vegetarian for 30 years, vegan for 2. I’ve found the key to maintaining this diet for so long and keeping sane is being flexible. I don’t stress out when chicken broth is used in a vegetable soup or mayo finds it’s way into my salad dressing. Being vegetarian or vegan doesn’t have to be an all or nothing proposition. I don’t consider it a “lapse” when I eat a bit of dairy, and I feel sorry for anyone who puts that kind of pressure on themselves. Vegan is the right diet for me, but I’m also 100% supportive of my friends who are on “flexitarian” diets and are trying to cut down on their meat consumption. I’d rather have 100 people eating meat once a week than 10 strict vegans.

    The only change I’d make to the list is number is to add to #5 – Don’t complain about not having options. I don’t complain, but at restaurants I will often ask what their vegan options are (even if I could probably figure it out on my own). It’s my way of letting the restauranteurs know that there is a demand for vegan menu items. When restaurants label vegan mains on their menu I let them know I appreciate it.

  23. Thanks for the article. I’m not vegan or vegetarian but I don’t eat very much meat. I just think your “rules” are very applicable to life in general! Be considerate and kind to others who have prepared you food, engaged you in conversation or taken an interest in you. All important aspects of life that people can overlook. Thanks!

  24. Love this article. I appreciate the philosophy, and Thank you for sharing The Quiet Thory of Influence!

  25. This is a vegan world.

  26. Thank you for this. I’ve been transitioning slowly to vegan, but worried it meant that I had to be a militant, in your face kind of person. But this article made me feel that I can do this and still be me. Thank you for your kindness.

    • Ziggy please read my posts. Veganism is not militant it is to represent animals the best way possible. Why do something if you think it is militant? I never found it to be militant. I really enjoy living this way and I am glad to share my views with others. I have also found that peopel learn to respect you.

  27. Great rules, Matt. I couldn’t have said it better myself. ;-)

  28. Thank you for posting this! I really love your balanced approach. Some overzealous vegans, for whatever reason, tend to be hardest on other vegans. Sad, when there are much bigger problems to spend one’s energy on in terms of animal welfare and nutrition than quibbling over on occasional teaspoon of honey or making a scene at a restaurant because someone accidentally sprinkled some parmesan on your salad. Even self-proclaimed “perfect” vegans are not perfect. Sadly, animal products are omnipresent – in plastic bags, car and bike tires, glues [used in many purchased items] fireworks, dry wall, plywood, antifreeze, house paint, freon for auto and home air conditioning, etc. It’s getting better but making a scene or being overly rigid and exuding negative, angry energy does not help.

  29. If you believe that animals are part of the moral community and should have some basic rights (not to be used or eaten) then the only conclusion is be vegan. Veganism is not about being militant. It is about living a life without knowingly causing harm to animals. The examples given in this post are clearly not consistent with veganism. The author, Matt, can say he is on the path to veganism and that is great.

    I must disagree with Matt’s reasoning for knowingly using animals in a way that is incredibly cruel (there is arguably more pain and suffering in the dairy industry than the meat industry). The reasons he gives is that he wants to encourage other people by showing them that it is not difficult to live this way. I think becoming Vegan is challenging for some, but we should be honest about it. However once we become Vegan it is EASY to live Vegan. Matt’s methodology, although well intended, adds to the public impression that Vegans have some hidden agenda. The message should be supportive and always honest.

  30. Lavendergrey says:

    Your “rules” are very similar to ours, with maybe more wiggle room for us in certain situations.
    I do find it interesting that you state you don’t keep animals as pets, as if it is a bad thing. Granted, perhaps it isn’t the best scenario since animals are meant to be free, wild and undomesticated…but considering that there are countless animals who are either abandoned or given up for various reasons, even taken away from their owners for abuse reasons, I would think it is a better thing to adopt an animal and give it a loving and good home, while providing your children the opportunity to learn responsibility and concern for other living beings. Of course, if you adopted a dog you would need to allow him/her to eat meat since putting dogs (and probably cats, as well) on a vegan or vegetarian diet would not be healthy for various reasons. We adopted a sweet dog a year ago…he had been abandoned by his owners and was living in a foster home with many, many other dogs and cats. He was not in good shape and under weight, with various health problems including ticks, more than one type of worm and Valley Fever. Adopting him was the right thing. He was already on this earth and had been mistreated. Now he is a loving, happy, spunky guy who is thriving in our loving home. Nothing wrong about that, in my book.

    • Lavendergrey, I DO keep animals as pets — two rescued dogs. I got them before I was vegan (even before I was vegetarian for at least one, maybe both). Since I’ve learned more about veganism though, I’ve wondered if I’ll have pets again after they are gone.

      Your arguments for it are the ones I tell myself — mainly, that I’m providing a better home for them than they would have otherwise (and perhaps saving their lives). I think — and I could be wrong about this, so I hope someone will correct me if I am — the idea behind the belief that it’s wrong to have pets, even rescued ones, is that if everyone would follow your example and stop having pets, then there wouldn’t be all these abandoned animals that need to be saved, many of which (obviously and sadly) are not.

      Like I said, I’m not sure how I feel about it and what I’ll do after mine are gone. I’d be interested to hear what the arguments for/against pets are from someone reading this who has thought about it more.

      • Lavendergrey says:

        Oh I must have misunderstood. I am happy you have rescued two dogs! I see your point about some day perhaps everyone would decline to have pets and therefore having domesticated animals would be a thing of the past, but that is unlikely to happen. Many people are very unrealistic when it comes to having animals, believing they will welcome the responsibility and emotional efforts (not to mention financial). Sadly, there will be homeless, abused and abandoned animals far into the future. The thing about this that bothers me the most is those who have pets and don’t care for them properly, and consider them to be less than worthy of the basic things such as healthy food, cleanliness, health care and love. But, all that aside, since domestic animals are likely not going away any time soon, I really admire and promote the rescue option, which isn’t always an easy road, but is always an honorable one.

        My husband and I adopted the vegan lifestyle (I hesitate to use “became vegan” as it does not define who we are, just how we eat.) more for health reasons and a desire and a hope to avoid things like heart disease, cancer and a myriad of other meat and dairy related illnesses as we age (we are in our late 50’s). However, I have since become aware of the horrible treatment of animals who are bred for food and it has had an effect on me, as well. We watch documentaries about food and animals once in a while, and it seems to keep us on course and more sure that we have made the right choices in how we eat.

      • doggirl says:

        I have 4 cats and 2 dogs–all are adopted and “fixed” so that they will never reprodcue. I feel that adopting a pet from a shelter or rescue is a positive way to help these animals but is a negative effect on farm animals who become part of the pets’ diets (see more below).

        Dogs and cats obviously need homes and if people did not adopt them they would most likely be killed. I strongly advocate spay and neutering all pets. I also have mixed feeling about domesticated animals. I feel that it would be better for animals to remain in the wild but there are problems with that because 1) once animals are domesticated it seems cruel to release them back into nature to survive on their own 2) the wild animals already populating the planet are in peril because most of their habitat is being destroyed. Releasing domestic animals back into the wild would be crazy.

        My biggest problem with having 6 animals is that they are all meat eaters so I find myself feeding them dog and cat food that contains that remains of farm animals that I myself shun. I feel that dogs and cats do need meat protein in their diets because they biologically need that kind of food. Just as lions and tigers and wolves need meat too. Dogs and cats were not designed to be vegans so I can’t actually feed them my plant-based diet. Although my dogs do love just about anything in my diet that I give to them. Cats no so. It is really a hard situation for me personally.

  31. Thanks for this post. It has definitely generated a lot of interest!

    My approach is to offer non-vegans delicious vegan food which changes their perception. It’s a positive way to show people that they can have delicious food and feel better. Instead of being on the defensive, people are appreciative of the suggestions. Last weekend I went white water rafting with a group of 17 students (I teach a fitness program). One student really wanted to get together with everyone at a restaurant nearby. I did a search and realized that there was nothing vegetarian much less vegan in that area (west virginia). I also wanted to spend time with everyone and also make a positive impact on them. So I offered to make and bring the food for us to eat afterwards (with the help of another vegan who came). I decided to take on the inconvenience in this situation. However, this was a good solution because there was food for me to eat and the group could eat immediately afterwards and without needing to drive to a restaurant. I brought a lot of fresh fruit, veggies and dip, kale chips and various homemade dishes. I got a lot of rave reviews! Several people asked me for the recipes and the food went quick! Everyone was thankful for the food and was glad to get together afterwards. Win/Win.

    I am telling this story as an example of how to think outside of the box. I could’ve just gone to the restaurant and had a side salad with no dressing and watched everyone eat meat (not to mention very unhealthy in general). Or I could’ve just gone home and missed the conversation afterwards. Instead I found a solution where I had the food I wanted, the students had some delicious food conveniently served AND I helped them to see that they like vegan food. Also I probably save a couple of animals that night from all of the meat/dairy/eggs that would’ve been consumed at the restaurant.

  32. I have a friend who reads some of the bible every week. He rarely mentions it, but one day, out of the blue, he told me I reminded him of Daniel.

    How I could remind anyone of a biblical character, I had no idea. (I’m not really into organized religion.) Naturally, we were laughing about it, but the similarity had to do with my chosen diet and my confidence in doing just fine with that.

    For inspiration on how to avoid eating what you don’t want to, even under adverse conditions, read Daniel 1:1-17. Over two thousand years ago, somebody already had this figured out.

  33. By eating less animal products, you are reducing animal suffering and becoming healthier which I think everyone will agree with. If everyone in this country took just 1 day out of the week and didn’t eat any animal products, billions of animals would be saved. The collective effort is huge. So if you are reducing your animal consumption, but not a vegan yet, you are still saving animals.

    However, with that being said, some words by definition require that it be done 100%. For example, imagine that you are in a committed relationship with someone who told you that they were faithful 95% of the time (assuming this is not an open relationship). Do you consider it to be faithful? So 95 days out of 100 he/she is faithful but for 5 days, not so. This person tries to convince you that 95% is the same as 100%. Are you a purist or militant if you disagree? No, because by definition he/she is not faithful.

    It’s the same thing with the word vegan. By definition it’s someone who does not consume animal products. If someone consumes animal products for whatever reason even if it’s only 5% or 1% by definition that person is not vegan. If you are not eating meat at all, but you eat dairy on some occasions, you are a vegetarian that eats very little dairy, not vegan.

  34. I follow most of these :P I try to buy non- animal product clothes and stuff, but hey, if I’m given a wool sweater, I don’t throw it away. And finally someone who agrees that KIDS CAN BE VEGAN TOO. like me. I’m middle school age, and I’m vegan at home and school but when im at friends houses or on vacation I’m just vegetarian :D

    • Allea, my daughter is 11 and is vegetarian since 7 and almost-vegan now. She’ll still partake in organic cheese and will eat fish if served at someone’s house. Otherwise, she’s quite content to do without any animal products. More importantly (IMO), she is also a conscious consumer of toys for the last year or so. She wants to know where it was made, and also if it was made with c hild labor. She feels Ahimsa should be extended towards people as well as animals. In life, you’re going to have to learn which battles to fight, as there are so many, you can’t fight them all. Good luck on your journey!

  35. The authentic definition of *veganism stands as strong today as when it was first coined; *see link at end of comment here. I am appalled by the rampant misuse of the definition that has permeated our societies and am equally appalled at the ugly ego-centric, self-made definitions of veganism that appease an individual’s comfort level but blatantly ignores or minimizes the comfort level of another (animal). Making up our own individualized definitions of what veganism IS create mass confusion over what really is a very simple idea to grasp. Veganism is not difficult to understand, appreciate, or live by, on a full time basis. A small child “gets it”. One cannot be “almost” or “sometimes” or “part time” vegan; you either object to animal exploitation, oppression, and victimization and refuse to support these actions — or you accept and partake of that belief system and the deplorable practices that keep it alive. Even if you only eat a small amount of animal flesh or enjoy an occasional stolen secretion (i.e. egg or milk), or wear a super-duper thin leather belt on really rare occasions … or perhaps go to an entertainment event where elephant or pony rides are (but you don’t speak out against this ugly oppression), you are NOT a true vegan but rather a counterfeit. A phony. More talk than walk. There is no gray area “safety net” in veganism for those who still want to indulge themselves while ignoring the plight of animals, even for just a tiny little bit. If this describes YOU, then my advice is to realize where the disconnect is and get back on track at once; the sooner the better. With full conviction, the excuses quickly fade away, I assure you. I’ve been there. I know it’s true.

    We owe animals 100% of our efforts and full-fledged compassionate assistance. Nothing less. That’s what AUTHENTIC veganism encompasses and embraces without apology. Purity is not a dirty word. In fact, it is a clean and focused word, and can certainly be applied to authentic (ethical) veganism, whereas while it is true that one cannot be a perfect vegan in an anti-vegan world (which it is currently), one can lean towards perfection with every choice made. This is Purism, and it is beautiful. Such choices should be in alignment with (… and to the highest standard that one is able…) with the authentic definition of veganism , which is resolute non-participation in animal exploitation of any kind. This should include both (Albert Schweitzer’s) Reverence For Life and putting The Golden Rule into daily, consistent action, as these are also mentioned in the original (i.e. authentic) definition of Veganism. If you don’t know what these two references mean then you need to do your homework here. But it will be well worth it.

    For a powerful and CLEAR definition of authentic VEGANISM, please read here:
    *http://www.veganmeans.com/vegan_who/VEGANISM_DEFINED.htm

    Thank you. Live authentic Vegan.
    -V

  36. Counterfeit Veganism abounds. Feed your head!!
    A wise collection of thoughts on authentic Veganism, my offering here, from Jo Stepaniak:

    “Contrary to vegetarianism, veganism was founded on deeply held ethical convictions that espouse a dynamic respect for all life. This philosophy unifies vegans everywhere, regardless of superficial differences. Hence, a vegan from one part of the world can relate to and empathize with a vegan from another part of the world despite their disparate culture and language.

    There are no such entities as “part-time vegans,” “partial vegans,” or “dietary vegans.” People who merely consume no animal products, including no eggs, animals’ milk, or honey are not vegans; they are “total vegetarians.” Until one’s commitment extends beyond the scope of food, the word “vegan” does not apply, regardless of how the media or certain individuals wish to employ it. Unlike vegetarianism, being vegan does not entail simply what a person does or doesn’t eat—it comprises who a person is.

    People who are vegan attempt to imbue every aspect of their lives with an ethic of compassion. This influences their choice of clothing, personal care products, occupation, and hobbies, as well as food. It also colors their political perspectives, social attitudes, and personal relationships. This is not to say that all vegans think alike, act the same, have analogous opinions, or view the world and their place in it identically. Nevertheless, vegans do subscribe to a shared tenet that builds a collective awareness. It is this coalescence of consciousness that creates a bond among vegans and has the power to transcend cursory distinctions. In the final analysis, despite our diversity, there is only one type of vegan—a person who is committed to and practices a reverence and respect for all life.” ~ Jo Stepaniak  2004

  37. I like your rules. It would be useful to have something like this for common inconveniences. I’m not a vegan or vegetarian yet, but I think it would be far easier to become one with rules like these.

  38. Matt, I think it’s great that you and your wife are vegans and are raising your kids to be vegan as well. One of the worst things we can do for the environment is procreate, so at least you guy are mitigating some of the damage.

    All people who choose to have children should be vegan. There is no sense of sacrifice anymore in our culture. It’s fine to want kids – it is a biological drive – but there is a trade off. You want want thing, you gotta give up something else.

  39. I love this post — And I’ve seen an evolution of my own rules over time too. When I first made the switch from vegetarian to vegan I told myself that I would eat dairy if it was served to me at a friend’s house or at a restaurant accidentally, but I’ve found that as long as you don’t make a scene it’s not the end of the world to politely decline food.

    If you have any advice, I’ll be at my boyfriend’s cottage this weekend with his massive family, and am planning on bringing a lot of snacks (ProBars, nuts, goji berries, and homemade muffins). We’ve been all assigned to different meals for the weekend, so it’s nearly impossible to check that I’ll have options with every preson. I’m a little nervous that I’ll come off as frigid or offensive, as I don’t know many of them.

    • Laura, I can sooo relate to the family get together matters. My family is very open to various eating choices, even if they don’t do it themselves, so that’s easy. My husband’s family, on the other hand, can’t really relate to why a person thinks about how to eat other than how it’s been done in this farm community since the beginning of time, if you get my drift. They just can’t wrap their heads around a plant-based diet, aren’t interested and would never talk about it, either. My only words of advice are, good luck, you may need it but, trying to be positive, maybe you’ll find a few people who are interested. When I eat with my in-laws, I don’t expect them to figure out what to fix that I would eat. So, I eat the couple things I can and load up elsewhere as I can.

  40. I think some of the disparity in values/rules here comes from a difference in being 96.7856% vegan due to personal choice and health versus being 99.999999% vegan due to a moral stance. I think it’s more important to realize that everyone is at a different point on a path, and quietly leading by example (no matter what your reason to be plant-based is) still serves a better purpose than being militant and in someone’s face about it.

  41. Definition of VEGAN
    a strict vegetarian who consumes no animal food or dairy products; also : one who abstains from using animal products (as leather) – Merrian Websters Dictionary

    Veganism – is the practice of abstaining from the use of animal products, particularly in diet, as well as following an associated philosophy that rejects the commoditystatus of sentient animals. A follower of veganism is known as a vegan. – Wikipedia

    veg•an (v g n, v j n)
    A vegetarian who eats plant products only, especially one who uses no products derived from animals, as fur or leather. – The Free Dictionary.com

    vegan
    a person who refrains from using any animal product whatever for food, clothing, or any other purpose – World English Dictionary

    Nowhere in these definitions does it say: on Mondays only it is ok to not follow this. A little bit of dairy is ok from time to time. You can be vegan on an off. When you are with guests animals allow you to make an exception on those occasions. Veganism would never be this because it then it would never carry any importance.

    There has been much confusion on how veganism became “dietary vegan” and “ethical vegan”. There is only one definition for vegan and it is not a diet. The media has done a great job of coining their own version of what veganism is and its parameters by mentioning athletes who went vegan or other celebrities and whom over night gave it all up. None of these reporters truly understood veganism. To understand veganism stands for one needs to understand that veganism is and should be defined as such:
    “a person who refrains from using any animal product whatever for food, clothing, any other purpose, entertainment or experimentation.“

    This is the basic and moral foundation of veganism. People who get defensive about this have no interest really in the outcome of animals but care more about their own flexibility and convenience. This is not about saying someone is a bad person because they are not vegan or following veganism. My brother is not vegan and I think he is a great person but we have major disagreements when it comes to animals and to the respect to animals.

    Notice that guilt makes people defensive just look at the history of people who use straw man (should be gender neutral) arguments or red herrings to deter from the real issue at hand. I don’t make excuses. I follow these as best to my knowledge and aspire to do more for animals not see how easy people can make veganism for me. I don’t become complacent or look for an easier way to get around this. I stick to my principles because animals need us to. I know sometimes we all have our challenges but that is where we need to problem solve and support other vegans around so this becomes not and “I” thing but a “we” thing.

    There is a basic foundation that the vegan movement represents. You can always look for other products to say well there are hints of animal products in those things and so they are not vegan, like the chemicals that are in your pool could have been tested on animals. As we learn this broadens our foundation. We know what is clearly vegan and what is not and we continue to learn daily how we can reduce suffering, exploitation and the killing of animals. Most of the impact that we make on the front for animals is what we eat, what we wear, what products we buy that have animals ingredients in it and if they were tested on animals. As well as those things like not going to circuses and zoos that remove animals from their natural habitat and are put in smaller cages or environments against their will. Sometimes adopting animals still keeps animals in a domestic setting in smaller environments than they would actually would be but when you weigh the alternative it is far worse for those animals so you have make the best choice based on the circumstances.

    As veganism grows we will have more items that will follow our vegan ideals and then we can add these to our list of vegan items.

    If you cannot commit to these basic principles knowingly then you can label yourself an aspiring vegan or vegetarian. Even if you ate eggs once a month but remained vegan all the other days it would still make you a vegetarian. Veganism is not easy to do for new comers in some cases because it takes a little learning and figuring out before you can make it a routine. That is why I sometimes volunteer for vegan mentor programs to help make the transition easier for people. What you will notice though is vegans have the intention to reduce suffering anyway possible and they are not trying to see how they can skip out on their ethics. Veganism’s foundation is ethics not health. Health is a result from eliminating animal products and a major plus.

    If people who fought slavery were allowing slaves to work in their house on occasion how serious would their stand against slavery be? No one would take them seriously. Stand up for veganism as it is defined and not how people misrepresent. Educate people when you see them misusing it so they can understand what veganism stands for. PLEASE CARE…

    My comments are in no way criticizing or reflecting negativity towards anyone I want people to see where I am coming from and that this cause is really important and that people represent it as it was intended and not because it is a trend of some kind.

  42. I respect where you are coming from. I don’t necessarily disagree. I also want to give respect to those who chose plant-based diets for other reasons.

    I think definitions are good guidelines, but for someone who is nutritionally vegan, but still buys leather work-boots for example might have their own definition. They are definitely making the world better by their dietary choices than someone who eats SAD (standard american diet). To me forcing a definition, that’s like saying somebody isn’t Christian (or whatever) because they don’t believe in (this)type of baptism, or interpret the bible in (that) way.

    So if someone wants to say that they eat a vegan-diet, then that is accurate. They are not aspiring to be vegan in a dictionary definition way. I do not think that kind of clarification (or lack of) harms anyone’s stance or infringes on their beliefs.

    Matt @ NMA once said something that stuck with me. And before I get judgey on their choices, I try to remember this : “I’d rather see 100 people go mostly vegan than 25 people go all the way. 1000 people go Vegan-Before-6 than 100 go vegan. And I’d take a million Paleos over a million Standard American Dieters any day. This is why I don’t hate the Paleo diet, or its legions of adherents. – See more at: http://www.nomeatathlete.com/vegans-and-paleos/#sthash.3ynG7Cm1.dpuf

    So if someone wants to call themselves Vegan because they don’t eat animal products, then it’s not worth arguing over with them. You know the true definition. I know the true definition. We’re all good. Often it starts with small changes, like meatless-mondays. It’s up to us to set an example that is open and welcoming to take those changes to the next level. Telling someone why they are wrong that they identify a certain way doesn’t achieve that.

    It helps me to remember two things:
    1. Everyone is doing their best from their level of consciousness. – Deepak Chopra
    2. Whether your vegan or vegetarian, one of the things we have in common is : no one cares about our protein intake until the find your diet is plant-based. :D

    • Jen
      I think you misunderstand what the context of what I am saying.

      The definitions were just to show that even basic dictionary writers got that it is not just a diet or for just health reasons. Those definitions were not really well defined.
      Veganism is in respect to animals not people. Anything like environment, health, human rights and things like world hunger are a side benefit of veganism and a great thing. If one chooses to not eat meat because of the environment it does not address animals issue in specific is not vegan unless he or she aims to improve the environment in the benefit of animal habitat for and to save animal lives.

      Again the focus of veganism is about animals and only animals. When someone like you said, who eats a plant based diet and wears leather they are doing it for personal reasons not with the best interest of animals. This makes them plant strong, strict vegetarian or plant based but it does not make them vegan. Vegetarians can wear leather vegans don’t wear leather, wool, fur and so on.

      This is what I am saying is being misguided by the media. They say anyone who just does not eat animals is vegan. This is why Clinton is not vegan because his reasons are for health not animals. Vegan= animal interests.

      Addressing your other point on what is good for the world yes if people eat less meat it is better for the world and animals. It is better for so many reasons but I don’t consider them vegan because they eat less meat or on occasion or never at all. The intent is what is at hand here. Why are you doing what you doing and what are your interests?

      This is why people get confused because people are telling them if they just stop eating animal foods they are vegan or on occasion. If someone is vegetarian for animals reasons I don’t see them as what they are doing as worthless but quite the opposite I think they are moving in the right direction. I would never tell a person that has animal interest at hand who is trying to reduce the suffering and killing of animals as not taking action, they are. and every step obviously counts. Like so called flexeterians are some of the reasons why vegan foods remain in stores. Because they buy vegan products it makes it more convenient for those who have become vegan to find foods that are more available to them.

      All I am saying is unless you without a doubt dedicate your interest to remove animal products, animal based clothing, animal entertainment and animal experimentation you are not vegan.

      We can discuss definitions all day but we must agree that veganism pertains to animals not one’s own vanity or health, the key word is “animals.” If not the word would have not even been coined.

  43. Matt —
    Thank you for taking the authentic definition of Veganism into consideration and revising your “rules” accordingly. I am also happy that you’ve allowed me to post comments here, detailed as they are.

    Jen —
    I hear your (posted) explanation and view of things each and every day. I have even stated similar views, when I was at that indecisive place in my life. (Except that I have never used derogatory words like “militant” when describing authentic vegans; that behavior reflects personal prejudices / fears.) But what you have written is nothing short of an (intentional or not) assault on the integrity of authentic Veganism. In loving protection of authentic Veganism, I must step in and correct a serious error here. I believe that education is what clears up confusion (which breeds fear and avoidance); this should be addressed head on. With that said, I also believe that the teacher (who aims to erase confusion) must know, in an intimate way, the material he/she offers to others. Read what I previously posted here. Go to the link I provided and read the authentic definition from those who first coined the word VEGAN. It should be recognized, acknowledged and respected that there is ONLY ONE DEFINITION for Veganism; it has never needed an upgrade or addendum. The foundational principles of Veganism, like The Golden Rule, remain untarnished, steadfast and beautiful. Errant definitions breed conflicts and result in ugly things like ego-swelling, prejudice, distrust, and name-calling. Likewise, confusion mixed with good intentions result in counterfeit veganism. Both stem from the fact that people just aren’t aware of the authentic definition and principle of the word VEGAN. Let’s fix that instead of adding further to the exploitation / irreverence problems that authentic Veganism highlights and strives to rectify. Gary Smith sums it up well (at http://thethinkingvegan.com/articles/veganism-is-a-social-justice-movement/):

    “Veganism is much more than what one chooses to eat or not eat, chooses not to wear, chooses to forego for entertainment and chooses to purchase in terms of cosmetics and household items. Veganism at its core is about justice. Veganism is a social justice movement that places an animal’s right to be left to his or her own devices as the center of justice.
    As such, advocating for veganism is much bigger than convincing individuals to become vegan – not that this work isn’t deeply important. It’s about fighting against the industries that profit from the use of animals. It’s about fighting against the governments that protect the rights of those industries to use and abuse animals. Ultimately, it is about reaching a public that allows and perpetuates the abuse of animals, and educating them about speciesism.
    Speciesism is the core belief in the inherent supremacy of humans. It is what justifies  the confinement, torture, and murder of billions of animals for food, clothing, entertainment and research. The idea that human beings are the center of the universe and that animals are a sub-species is unethical. History has shown us what happens when one race or country, for example, sees themselves as superior. Genocide happens.
    What has been happening since human beings began to breed, raise, and kill animals has been a continual genocide. This genocide has been going on for thousands of years without a pause. In fact it is increasing with human population growth and industrialization.
    So veganism is a social justice issue that requires active efforts to eliminate speciesism. Justice and equality are not going to come to animals by manipulating people through health claims, environmental reports, personal spirituality, or other promises about how going vegan will help that individual. Justice is not about self-serving acts. Justice is about the greater good, in this case, the rights of animals.
    When someone makes a dietary choice for their own self interest, animals lose. How do animals lose? Diets and health choices change like the direction of the wind. I am avoiding gluten for dietary reasons. If I get tempted, or have a glass or two of wine, I may cheat on my dietary choice and eat some gluten. But no matter how much wine I drink, I will not cheat on veganism. Why? Because veganism is an ethical choice that is outside of my personal interests. I am vegan for animals.”
    Well said, Gary. This is the root and ground of Veganism. It is compassion in action. Conscientious object to animal exploitation and victimization, which harms us ALL.

    People who wear the vegan label for anything other than what the authentic definition lays out are counterfeit vegans. Disingenuous. It would be best for all if another word was coined for those who want to abstain from most or all animal flesh / secretions so as to improve their own health or to be a little “greener” and eco-friendly. For inauthentic “vegans”, in references to “diet”, I suggest adopting rather the use of the terms “flesh free” , “secretion -free” or “plant-based” in order to avoid, at all costs, misrepresenting authentic veganism. Stop hijacking the word VEGAN and its principles if you are not in full agreement with them or do not have a connective understanding and sincere appreciation of what they represent. Stop using the excuse of “people being on different points on a path”…, so they can define veganism as they wish and in accordance to their own comfort levels. There is only one path. One definition. All else is outside that and thus should not wear the VEGAN ID tag. Coin your own word, if that’s what it will take.

    And equally as important to note here: suggesting that vegans “quietly lead by example” wholly removes the URGENCY of the Vegan message. Do you really believe the animals (both non-human and human) who are trapped, manipulated and suffering in exploitative systems (that authentic Veganism works to eradicate) would want you to be so “quite” and casual of an example? I hardly think so. Quite literally, their very LIVES are at stake. Hence the immediate URGENCY is sorely needed in the message, and at every opportunity. Relayed in L-O-V-E, of course. I think we can all agree here that we cannot control how our urgent Vegan messages will be received, however. That is up to the receiver.

    Thank you. Live authentic Vegan.
    -V

  44. Most vegans I know are of the “militant-shout-and-preach-as-loud-and-as-often-as-they-can” variety. I would not want to be identified with that common perception of vegans. I think it turns more people away from the message than it reaches. I tend to be more tolerant and more respectful of where people are on their journey. I don’t know you or your approach, but for that reason I would never identify myself as a vegan if I chose that lifestyle. Instead, I’ll keep my vegetarian lifestyle and keep the quiet example going without forcing my definitions on them. I’ll continue to promote a plant-based lifestyle. When I find leather more sustainable choice than expensive cheaply-made-plastic substitutes made with child-labor and shipped via ocean freight across the globe, then I will make that choice in the spirit of Ahimsa – for both animals and people. To each their own. Good luck on your journey. Namaste.

  45. Jen
    I understand your frustration with so called loud vegans. I do agree that in many ways less emotional tactics work better. I do think we all have our different ways and strategies. I can say that veganism is not hard to do as many want to make it as hard and difficult. If a sneaker collecting (many were leather sneakers), cheese eating addict, peperoni loving fast food eater like me went vegan, anyone can. I was never vegetarian and went from my omnivorous diet to vegan. I even came into veganism by studying health and nutrition which opened my mind to animal issues. Veganism should be the norm not some odd thing to do. Just like when people eat whole foods people claim they are eating healthy? The thing is no they are not eating healthy they are eating real food the way it supposed to be eaten for our biology. The norm has gotten so out of wak that because everyone eats junk that now eating whole foods is “eating healthy.” If you eat healthy people look at you negatively like your trying to prove something.

    Just cause one is against racism one should not brag that he or she is not racist it is the obvious right direction to go and should be the norm. So having a sense of elitism because you are vegan is dumb because it is the right thing to do.
    My focus is always education and yes speaking up where the occasion presents itself. Being quiet will never move people forward. Setting the example works only so far. Again I understand some people are more reserved and don’t want people to know they care about animals, the environment, and other global issues but if people did not speak progress in any movement would never take effect. Look at Rosa Parks and Civil Rights If we take animal issues seriously we must be the best ambassadors for them as we would for any other issue such as sustainability, woman’s rights, and so on.

  46. I think the quiet vegan is the best. Those who do not try to shove the so-called real definition of veganism down other people’s throat. It is just a word. The important thing is for each person to try to do their best to eat little to no animal products when they can and set a good example. Personally, I really don’t care where “someone is coming from”. It’s a personal choice what you decide to eat and really is no one else’s business.

    • doggirl
      Everything we do has a global impact and effects all of us on the one planet.
      The total estimated cost of diagnosed diabetes in 2012 is $245 billion, including $176 billion in direct medical costs and $69 billion in reduced productivity.Saturated fat which is primarily from animals foods impairs metabolic cell function which leads to type two diabetes. In 2010, the cost of cardiovascular disease in the U.S. was about $444 billion. That includes costs for treatment. The financial costs of cancer are high for both the person with cancer and for society as a whole. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) estimated the 2008 overall annual costs of cancer were as follows: Total cost: $201.5 billion direct medical costs (total of all health expenditures): $77.4 billion. Indirect mortality costs (cost of lost productivity due to premature death): $124 billion. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), total health care spending in the U.S. was 17.9% of its GDP in 2011, the highest in the world. Guess who’s taxes are paying for it?

      According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the animal agriculture sector—which includes the production of feed crops, the manufacturing of fertilizer, and the shipment of meat, eggs, and milk—is responsible for 18% of all GHG emissions, measured in carbon-dioxide equivalent.

      In fact, the farm animal sector annually accounts for: 9% of human-induced emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2), 37% of emissions of methane, which has more than 20 times the global warming potential (GWP) of CO2 and 65% of emissions of nitrous oxide, which has nearly 300 times the GWP of CO2. Other things people;s diets contribute to deforestation (destruction of the rainforest), water pollution. and the list goes on. Am I affected by peoples choices? You bet I am and so are you and everyone else. So what people do to me does matter and does affect future generations. If you think that I am not justified with what I am saying please check out the United Nations on sustainability and the health of the planet. I did not dive into veganism because someone told me it was a cool thing to do. I could have caredless about labels and but I realized the message behind the word and I it stand for something.

      http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2010/jun/02/un-report-meat-free-diet

      This not about right or wrong and who’s ego is bigger but knowing the facts and making the best choice off the facts. Definitions serve as a guide not to make people feel bad. To Simply dismiss my comments is without warrant.

      • Javier:
        I have been a vegetarian– for over 30 years since I was 19 years old and I am now 55. Your facts about the planet and the impact of humans and our choices are nothing new to me, but I am glad to see you are interested in learning about the impact of meat eating and climate change. I have been thinking about these issues since I was 19 and a freshman in college. I have been vegan (about 95%) for about 20 years –probably about 98-99% in the last 5-10 years. Maybe vegan is the wrong word, since some people seem to use that word in a dogmatic sense. I am not a dogmatist so I will use the term “plant-based diet” which is a term I prefer to vegan. I have been eating a plant-based diet for over 30 years. I read Diet for a Small Planet in the late 70’s–one of the first mainstream books written about the negative impact of meat-eating on the planet. That book was way b4 its time and helped me make the transition from a meat to plant-based diet. I am versed in the UN FAO findings and have quoted many of their statistics to others, so I really do get it in spite of your belief that I am dismissive.

        I stand on my words above. We should do what we can to decrease animal products in our lives without being preachy or obnoxious about it (what I call “the quiet vegan”). I think it is important to look at the whole picture of climate change issues and not just the effects agriculture has on it. I am aware that there are many issues that effect climate change and focus on what I can do as an individual to reduce my carbon foot print. Such as by driving less, using less plastic, growing my own food, composting, buying organic food and locally grown when possible, growing native plants in my yard to conserve water (growing green grass in expansive yards is a ridiculous waste of water, pesticides, herbicides and fossil fuels used to mow the grass), riding my bike and using public transportation, adjusting my heating and cooling in my home, recyling, buying used clothes, etc… the list is endless.

        I’ve seen Earthlings. My guess is many people do not want to watch it because they do not want to think about where their food comes from. Just like we would not want to watch slave labor camps mine diamonds to make our rings or sweat houses that make our clothes. There is no doubt a huge disconnect for the vast majority of people in the USA.

        I get that animals suffer greatly in our Big Ag food dispensaries and I get that for some people it is a moral issue (crusade) and I can experience that moral certitude myself, but I will not jump on the bandwagon that uses the moral certitude as a means to influence others’ choices. I just don’t think it is effective in any way.

        Most people do not make decisons based on facts. They make decisons based on their emotions and past behaviors.

        • Thank you. You said everything I wanted to express but in a much more articulate and organized matter. I’m in year 10 of my plant-based journey and I hope to continue it for many years.

          • doggirl says:

            I hope you continue the plant-based diet and that you have educated yourself about how to eat well. Your posts seem very well artuclated and reasoned as well.

  47. At least we agree more plant based diet equals better health. Of course if yoU’re eating vegetables and fruit not grown locally, you’re significantly contributing to pollution. And if the imported food you buy isn’t fair trade, there’s a good chance it was harvested with near- slave labor. Do you only buy organic food? If not, you’re contributing to the killing of animals via pesticides and pollution of the waterways.

    These are all rhetorical. My point is, the labels we give ourselves and others are meaningless, except to the person doing the Labeling.

  48. Jen I agree with the first part of your comment about organic and one should support not just organic but veganic which is a step further (http://www.veganic.com/veganic-defined). I would never argue that eating the plant strong is not better for animals, the world, environment, and for people’s health I spent over 7 years studying nutrition intensively and still do till today.As much as I love nutrition I find veganism quite important as well. To me the word means something and to many in our culture it does as well even if they don’t agree with it. I have to say that words do mean something and more than the weight one individual gives them. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/susan-smalley/the-power-of-words_b_81918.html
    If a society adapts the term then it carries more weight, and hopefully the original message is not lost in the process. It can even influence thought, behavior and so on. I mean if it meant nothing it would not bring so much emotion to the conversation. People who feel they are contributing enough and don’t feel like they need to move further will get defensive that is true with any cause. Yet I do get your point on how you just do things without thinking about a label or a term but that is all and well when you have not political statement and you are just living your life as you say, not trying to make it obvious to people about your food choices. That is why vegan means something more than just diet. I invite you and anyone else who thinks vegans are to serious. Please watch this in its entirety and then we can return to the conversation. Skipping through it will ignore the whole purpose of why people stand up for animals and why to us it is not just about food.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ce4DJh-L7Ys (Earthlings documentary)

    • We’ll just have to agree to disagree.

      I think people who eat a vegan diet do the world a positive service. People like you will never think what others do (not up to your standard) is enough. That is why veganism movement will fail to take hold on a mass scale.

      On the other hand, I applaud your tenacity. I think it takes all kinds of people with your kind of commitment fighting a variety of causes to make the world better. It could be animal welfare, it could be poverty, the eradication of TB, building schools for girls, and for me it’s educating people about GMOs (as a ingredient broker to food industry, you’d be surprised of the nutrition background of my life ;) ). If we each take what we’re passionate about, pursue it, and be the catalyst for change, then the world will indeed be better.

      I applaud NMA for putting up this blog, it has been the catalyst for a lot of people. I link this page to so many people when they have questions. Matt’s frankness and sense of humor makes the concepts posted here accessible. I’ve loved watching the transformation over the last couple years as well. This site is an example of what I’m talking about.

      Your enthusiasm maybe be a turn off for some, but it may reach others. Either way, I wish you the best. I think we’ve derailed this post enough and I humbly bow out. Namaste.

  49. Speaking of “labels”…

    http://www.counterpunch.org/2013/07/12/is-there-anything-truly-sustainable-or-humane-about-eating-meat/

    Is There Anything Truly Sustainable or Humane About Eating Meat?

  50. Javier,
    Thanks you for your valiant attempts to defend and protect the integrity of Veganism here.
    You have asked jen to view a raw footage film of animal exploitation (i.e. Earthlings). Note: I would also recommend Tribe Of Heart’s THE WITNESS and PEACEABLE KINGDOM. THE WITNESS can be viewed online for free. You hit a nerve there with jen, as evidenced by her staunch dismiss and bowing out. These types of fast exits are always precipitated by an invitation to know the TRUTH (in this case, the mentioning of the film EARTHLINGS, as well as other points commenters made about animal suffering and the destructiveness of the manmade belief system which claims (errantly) that humans have rights over the lives and bodies of another individual) … and are met with irrational, poorly thought out “last ditch” measures and accusations (such as the “vegans kill a whole lot of insects in harvesting their precious vegetables” blather), because people start feeling uncomfortable and need to keep the focus off of their behaviors (that support violence, exploitation and disregard for the most abused beings on the planet) so they can continue — guilt-free — to defend harming them for nothing more than pleasure, habit, convenience, or ritual.

    I recognize this behavior because I did it myself. And I see others do it daily. So I understand it. But it cannot be overlooked, as it only adds to the world’s problems we’ve written about here. Like jen’s “namaste-cloaked” “let’s agree to disagree” getaway, I closed up my eyes, ears, and heart to the suffering of others so I could go on with my same-old routine of comfort and convenience. I had to face my fears and listen to what my heart was saying about their suffering and how I was supporting such an ugly irreverence and disregard for life. Ego-centric stuff. These were things I did not want to face. But I made the choice to do just that. I have never looked back or had a single regret.

    Veganism is not about sacrifices and limits. It is walking into the most freeing space you can imagine. It is about abundance and peacefulness. Immeasurable joy like you’ve never, ever experienced before. You cannot “know” this until you experience it yourself. What’s preventing you from starting today? Make the leap. No baby steps required. Only a single change of heart is all you need…

    jen —
    When you CAN choose kindness over killing (i.e. what the dietary vegetarian’s “food” animals — the young, “spent” dairy cows and egg-laying hens who will be forced to undergo, which is murder, by it’s most purest definition), and choose not to steal from another (as is the case of stealing eggs from hens or milk from mama cows and their baby calves), then WHY would you choose not to?

    Again I ask: WHY would you choose not to?

    No one ever answers this basic question. It’s a question of the heart. And oftentimes, one’s heart is forced to keep silent in these “sensitive” matters. It’s well-trained in this regard. But I say, listen — REALLY listen — to your heart. Don’t censor it any longer. Watch the recommended films and read the material at the links provided. What — or rather WHO– can it hurt? No more excuses. Do not delay.

    • Dear V; I’m not sure in your mind how bowing out = nerve. LOL. I’ve already seen the video. It was made quite a few years ago. I just didn’t see the point /progress in further discussion. But of course, coming in and attacking someone after they tried to choose a gracious way to get the conversation back on track speaks volumes about your intentions. Tha’ts why I’m LOL’ing. I have no doubt your concern for animals has made an impact. I’m happy for you. Be proud of that, as I am proud of my choices that has put me on the path I am on. Make it a great day.

      • V, apologies, but Part of my reply disappeared. Simply because someone doesn’t follow your dogma of Ahimsa, doesn’t mean that they don’t have awareness of issues or do not practice love. I meant what I said, each of us are at a different level of consciousness, and to attack those who are not at the same point on the path as you IMO does more harm than good. Which is the opposite of Ahimsa. That is also why I follow the lead by example / agree to disagree philosophy. Namaste-clocked was a harsh phrase when you don’t know that I truly meant it towards Javier and you : the divine in me bows to the divine (or light) in you. I applauded his (and your) efforts towards what you think is the best path (at least how I interpret your post) towards Ahisma. That is commendable. We may not agree how to get there, but the light in each of us wants the world to be better. That puts us on the same team IMO. So, whether or not you think I’m sincere is irrelevant because I know my intention, my divine knows my intention, and I’m ok where I am on my path. Good luck on yours. Namaste.

  51. Want to talk about emotions and morals and public sway? Okay, doggirl. Let’s talk about the emotions that the individuals trapped in exploitative systems have. What are the animals feeling? How do the animals FEEL about having their bodies used and their lives ended (while they are still quite young), when they want to live on their own terms, care for their babies, socialize in their groups, with freedom to simply BE who they are? How do you think they FEEL about being treated like living tools /things — commodified, debased, ignored and spit on with utter disregard for their BEING?

    I’ll ask again —
    When you CAN choose kindness over killing, and choose not to steal from another, then WHY would you choose not to?

    “Food” animals that vegetarians exploit are “spent” when they are quite young children, really. “Spent” hens are weak and fragile, suffer from calcium depletion resulting in broken bones. They have other health miseries, too. They never see their babies or put their motherly instincts to use. They are restrained from living their lives on their own terms. Likewise, dairy cows grieve over their stolen babies, having the same protective and nurturing motherly instincts that human mothers have. They suffer many health problems also, including emotional ones. These “food” animals are exploited individuals; there are no “happy cows” or “happy hens”; it is a marketing myth. All will be forced to face death; murder, actually, by its purest etymological definition (which means literally “to put a beast to death”). All go to the house of slaughter. All will struggle for their very lives. Till their last gasp of breath. ALL want to live.

    (Those familiar with all-inclusive AHIMSA should make the connection here; but few actually do.)

    One more time —
    When you CAN choose kindness over killing, and choose not to steal from another, then WHY would you choose not to?

    • doggirl says:

      I choose kindness over killing whenever I write to my representatives and plead with them to reduce our military industrial complex and to end our overseas involvement in Afghanistan and Pakistan (drones) and the other places that we are targeting innocent people.

      I choose kindness over killing everytime I eat tofu instead of meat and I drink almond milk instead of cow’s milk.

      I choose kindness over killing whenever I ride my bike or walk instead of polluting the air with my vehicle.

      I choose kindness over killing when I grow my own food, compost my waste, and eat organic foods that are grown locally.

      I choose kindness over killing when I reduce my water consumption by planting native species in my yard which attracts all kinds of insects and wildlife instead of maintaining a lush green lawn which is a sterile deadzone that requires exccesive mowing, pesticides and herbicide usage which are all increasing carbon and polluting the waterways and

      I choose kindness over killing when I give my money to groups that work to save the environment and protect wildlife, reduce poverty and hunger, protect women’s health issues, support animal rights, help educate young people, and reduces gun violence

      I choose kindness over killing when I refuse to buy clothes made in sweatshops, when I refuse to buy jewlry extracted from labor camps and when I refuse to attend rodeos, circuses, and zoos.

  52. Thanks for your details, doggirl… but I didn’t ask for your accounts of kindness. I never met a person who said they weren’t kind and compassionate. Hunters say they are kind and compassionate. Butchers say they are kind and compassionate. People who end emails with “Namaste” say they are, too. Same with vegetarians. And workers in houses of slaughter say it also.
    My question was this, yet one more time:
    When you CAN choose kindness over killing, and choose not to steal from another, then WHY would you choose not to?

    • doggirl says:

      I don’t have an answer for you because there is no way to answer a question that is loaded with dogmatism. It is like asking a woman who is going to have an abortion “Why do you choose to kill your baby over kindness?” It is the same kind of black and white thinking that shuts down real discussions.

      I applaud your passion I just wish that you could channel it into making real changes to help animals instead of basically harrassing people with views that you don’t like.

  53. doggirl —
    My question was for jen. Gee, you must have missed that.
    I speak for animals. I am an animal advocate. The question is from them. And the question is put forth to help them… by getting people to dig deep and use critical thinking skills. It’s meant to get people to challenge their prejudices and indoctrination. Animals are not ours to use. Never were. We don’t need to use them or exploit them or harm them or murder them or steal from them, etc. Labeling something as “dogmatism” is yet another avoidance response I see over and over and over…

    • What about human progress of agriculture and using horses for plow?

      What about 3rd world countries where a single goat can give milk to a family and their chickens can provide eggs? They’re invaluable and a good alternative to malnutrition. Would you deny them the animals that allow the families to live?

      We are lucky to live in a place where we do not walk miles for our water and dietary choices are a matter of privilege and choice rather than a matter of dying.

      • doggirl says:

        abi:
        Those are thoughtful questions and I will give you my opinon for what it is worth. I am not speaking for other vegans or plant-based people because others may have a different answer. When it comes to a plant-based diet, most of the world (expecially 3rd world and poor countires) already eat mostly a plant diet. However, in many poor countries, protein deficiencies are an issue because there simply is not enough calories in the average diet to sustain adequate protein levels. In those situations where people cannot get enough calaries and really are suffering from hunger and malnutirtion, then I certainly believe that they should and must eat animal products. I only hope that the animals are treated well or at least humanely. In reality this is probably not always the case. I see animals mistreated all over the world. But I still believe that people have a right to eat animal protein if that is what they must do to stay alive. The other issue of course is world population which is increasing greatly and our planet is becoming more crowded and over populated each year. Plant based diets—as long as they have adequate calories— will become more and more of a necessity when the planet becomes too crowded to raise animals for food–the space and resources needed will become a great burden as we already know that this practice is contributing about 20% of the carbon on our planet.

        My conceren about eating meat/ animal products is with mostly western countries like the USA where meat is the major part of one’s diet and animals are treated as objects for profit. We must at some point reduce our meat consumption because it really is not a sustainable way to live. In the past when world populations were minimal–just think 100 years ago there were about 1/2 of the world’s population or less –we are over 7 billion now and will be at 12 billion by mid century–when the populaiton was much less the environemental impact of raising animals for food was negligent. Not so now and in the future.

        World hunger is a complex problem. You are correct that we are lucky in our country to be able to make choices and I agree that it is often based on a matter of privilege but I also think it is often based on education and understanding/awareness. So many people on the planet are just living in survival mode. They really have few choices about what to eat. Many are simply subsistance farmers who just grow enough to feed their families. In America we throw out about 1/2 of the food we raise which is a terrible waste of resources. We have this attitude that food must have a perfect look to it. According to Warren Buffet’s brother, son (forgot his name) who is a farmer and who works with food scarcity non-profits, the 50% of food that we waste is from unpicked foods in fields–not enough people to pick it–spoilage and food that is thrown away in groceries because it does not look “good enough.” We are very spoiled people!

  54. Matt I very much applaud your willingness to put yourself out there in this forum. I’ve been vegan since February and often the biggest struggle I face is from judgemental hard-core vegans. I also of course endure a fair amount of outright hatred filled comments from non-vegans. I’v had people tell me I was starving my daughter (a vegetarian) and I get a fair amount of backlash about my motives. I’m very consistent on a vegan lifestyle except around honey. I’m considering that. But having someone like you to lead the way that doesn’t come from a place of judgement is a beacon of light for me. Like Rich Roll and Brendan Brazier it helps that you are all welcoming and active examples of healthy living. It destroys the stereotype of pasty skinny angry vegans and it’s the example I want my daughter to see. Thank-you for this post.

    • I totally agree that vegan athletes are the best examples — Whenever my protein intake comes under fire I always point to them!

      I’m sorry you’ve found it so difficult dealing with judgement from others. It gets easier with time — promise. Once you’ve been vegan for a while and people still see you’re sill thriving, they’ll simmer down. Just make sure you know your stuff when it comes to nutrition, and it’s hard to argue.

      I’m lucky I’ve never been attacked by any angry vegans (I don’t actually know any, but this thread seems to be a good place to find some haha). I also am strict about my diet, but I’ve never given up honey. Raw, unpasteurized honey makers seem to treat their bees well (and some even release some into the wild to keep up bee populations) — it’s the industrial honey you have to be wary of.

      • Neil Gaudet says:

        Thanks Laura.

        It’s not an every day thing, but absolutely I’d say about 3 times a week I get some sort of personal attach about my choices. I used to be quiet about them, but I’ve been speaking up more lately. A lot of those attacks happen over social media with private messages or things posted to my wall. At times it can be pretty aggressive. Of course, the worst came from other vegans as I was moving into the lifestyle. If I made a mistake and ate something as I was learning my inbox would quickly fill up with rather aggressive chastising. I’ve since left a lot of ‘vegan’ groups and communities. I’m not a believer that people change through shame and ridicule.

        I came to a plant based life for health reasons first, environmental second and finally the animal rights issues have crept into my thoughts. I’ve very much enjoyed not only the physical and health benefits, but the enjoyment I get out of my food now that I never had.

        I’ve been ‘cheating’ on two things, which I always hesitate to mention for fear of being attacked. Honey, as mentioned, and taking Glucosamine for my joint protection (I’m a runner) as I haven’t found a convincing vegan alternative. Once I do I’ll drop it. I also still own a car with leather seats. I’m not about to sell it until it’s time to do that and makes financial sense. My rotation of leather shoes is almost out the door. I feel guilty when I wear my fake leather jacket. It’s pretty convincing and you wouldn’t believe how many people comment on that.

        My skin is getting thicker. It was harder when I made the initial choice and as you mention, educating myself on nutrition has helped me fire back at the doubters (in a gentle way). The hardest part to deal with, and I don’t imagine that will stop, is the knowledge that people question our dietary choices for our 11 year old daughter. We’ve been exceptionally careful about making sure her nutrition is excellent. I know her nutrition is better than 90% of the kids out there that live on boxed food or fast food. But that doesn’t make it easier.

        Matt’s gentle approach to change, as well as some other people I’ve made a regular part of my reading, has very much helped. I’m glad there are resources like this. :)

        • My 10 year old cousin recently got in an argument with her entire class (nice one, teacher) where she was defending the ability to LIVE as a vegetarian (a change she just adopted). She retold the story of telling them, “my parents and my cousin are vegan and they’re still here”

          So now we say it as a joke at home. “We’re still here” (with conviction and a laugh)

          If I would do away with labels entirely I could. I was vegan for many months before my friends finally convinced me I should just start using the label. I use it more for simplicity than identity.

        • No matter how vegan we make our home, there are two exceptions. 1. honey – for the same reasons and 2. Fish oil. By moving to a plant-based diet I reduced the need for Adderall, but not completely. A doc-friend of mine suggested liquid (not pills) fish oil to supplement diet and that really did the trick. I think of it as medicinal rather than purely consumptive choice.

          • doggirl says:

            Hi Jen:
            You might be interested in this article about fish oils. I have been getting away from then and using algae instead as it is an excellent form of omega3’s in plant form. (The only thing I worry about is how sustainable it is because I am concerned about how much we humans are taking out of the ocean. ) I think you can buy algae tablets that are raised in other places besides the ocean. I am going to check into that more throughly.

            http://kimberlysnyder.net/blog/2013/07/15/could-your-fish-oil-supplement-cause-cancer-plus-plant-based-alternatives-to-give-you-your-omega-3s/

          • Oh great… something shiny for me to get online to research ;) haha. Seriously, thanks for the alternative. I have to admit, not only does a plant-based (NOOOO processed foods either) help, but I actually feel 110% better taking the fish oil (not just ADD, but energy, focus, dry skin went away, and my hair is insanely tame – LOL). yes, it bothers me knowing it’s a byproduct of the fishing industry, but my health is important too and I hate big-pharma as much as I hate factory-farms.

            Finding a good alternative is definitely something I’m open to. Thanks for heads up.

  55. My rules for being a vegan in a quasi-vegan world:

    1. Eat clean, wholesome foods that support my beliefs as a vegan and that will provide the proper fuel for my body. 100% vegan 100% of the time

    2. Politely and graciously turn down non-vegan food.

    3. Stay grounded

    4. Look for creative ways of making options vegan friendly

    5. Encourage healthy eating-baby steps are better than no steps!

    6. Lead by example, not by argument.

    7. Use vegan and eco friendly products. (Food, house hold products, cosmetics, personal care products)

    8. Enjoy life and have fun!!

  56. Those who wish to ignore the original, authentic definition of Veganism disrespect not only those conscience-awakened people who first coined the word in the 1940’s (and faced alienation / great public scorn) but also those who want to follow their example and fight to end exploitation, irreverence for life and LOVE this planet and her Earthlings in the best way possible. This includes a commitment to self-health and eco-friendly practices; they are not excluded from authentic Veganism. People who wear the label “vegan” with disingenuous intent are no heroes to me. People who continue to happily exploit human and non-human animals and thus hurt the planet and her beings by doing so are not vegan. They are counterfeits and need to be exposed. They are the ones who want vegans to be “quiet” and non-emotional / non-confrontational so their own dulled consciences won’t be seared or their flakiness revealed. They want to exploit bees for their honey or have an occasional “free range” egg when the craving hits…, but they certainly don’t want authentic vegans to get in their face about these actions that don’t line up with authentic Vegan values. Sure, maybe they have an awareness of animal suffering but they still believe they have indisputable rights over animals, be they god-given or man-made; they think they can use the bodies (and lives) of animals for their own pleasure or assumed “needs”. This smacks of entitlement issues and speciesism. Prejudice and self importance. All things that authentic Veganism stands against.

    Speaking out for animals demands an element of L-O-V-E filled anger, as their lives are at stake. The lives of their children are at stake. Their situations are dire and their suffering is heinous and deplorable to the millionth degree. Shame on all of you who turn your heads and hearts from this FACT. Shame on all of you who can’t bring up the same anger from your own well of emotions; who won’t risk having connective empathy with your fellow Earthlings who suffer under human constraints and the prevalent false “domination rights” belief system. Shame on you all for your LACK of anger. Shame on you all. Is exploitation really A-okay with you? Do you really believe that humans can use animals as tools and things and victimize them at whim? Do you believe that humans can “own” them? That they can be bought and sold? That humans know what’s best for them, though they are thought of as “lesser beings”? Shame on you for believing in “humane” myths. Shame on you for too easily accepting all this oppressive nonsense. Where is the great L-O-V-E in those beliefs and practices? And since when is LOVE and caring and anger mutually exclusive, especially when a terrible injustice is happening all around us, found in every nook and cranny, as the animal genocide / holocaust is. Would you ask people who are upset about a Holocaust to be “quiet” and live by example? Would you be as callous and dismissive? Would you tell them to not be angry but rather “have a nice day”?

    If you can’t walk the Vegan talk, then remove the badge and step out of the way so others who really are committed and resolute can pass you. If you truly want to live the Vegan life, then check your shortcomings and get back on track ASAP. It’s a wonderful road to travel.

    • Neil Gaudet says:

      And that is a perfect example of what I think makes the world mistrust vegans. Also a good example of the outright hatred I face from vegans as apposed to meat eaters on a regular basis.

    • Those who don’t truly understand the cause for animals will not get why vegans care so much, it will just label vegans as strict, militant, judgmental and emotional, which fine. As a non-vegan for years who went vegan, I know from experience that many never get or understand why this is important.

      Many people favor the social norm over veganism because it is easy and convenient. It takes the spotlight off them and they become “normal.” As long as the social norm supports the use of animals there will be resistance and people feeling apprehensive; this being a omnivore, flexitarian, pescatarian, paleo, vegetarian or whatever diet people choose. Like I have said in many of my posts here there is no need to call your self vegan to take steps to help animals but if you undoubtedly want to commit to helping animals anyway possible you will understand what veganism is and one will choose to commit to this. Not doing so like i said does not make you a bad person it is just a personal choice.

      The main reasons people struggle with being vegan is because of convenience and social pressure. As for convenience there are more options now than 20 years ago but still a lot of work needs to be done to make thing more available.

      As for social pressure there will be situations when you go to a friends house as you choose the non-vegan option to please the host or want to be accepted by others as to not look different, you are sacrificing the interest of animals if you are vegan. Many people just want to fade into the crowds and not be noticed and just be accepted. This is totally understandable but if you are going to stand up for animals it is hard to make a make an impact in you don’t make your interests known. In addition social pressure takes away from one being able to comfortably to make their own decision it sets up people generally to fall to the status quo.

  57. Neil —
    Of course “the world” (you reference) will mistrust Veganism. It will mistrust those vegans who say “pretty please go vegan” in nicey-nice, quiet gentle tones, who live by peaceful example… and it will likewise mistrust those vegans with URGENT, passion-filled pleas and solid logic. And every vegan delivery manner in-between. That’s because the mass population has “bought” the story that violence and animal exploitation / oppression is normal, necessary, and needful. It is NONE of those things. Never was. We fear and mistrust any system we are not indoctrinated with. Each one of us were born into an anti-vegan world construct. So it should surprise no one that a relentless push of anti-vegan messages were shoved down MOST of our throats (… and still ARE…) and we swallowed them whole, without an ounce of critical thinking or challenging the belief system of (male constructed) domination privileges and the greed / blood money that it thrives with. And the anti-vegan push continues…, and public mistrust of Veganism is crafted and fed, because there’s a lot of money riding on it. And few who are willing to walk away from the injustice of it all.

    Live authentic Vegan.

    • as my grandmother used to say : it’s not what you say but how you say it.

      Have you ever studied inertia? basically the resistance to change in movement/direction is equal to the force applied. Hopefully you get the parallel to what many are saying here.

      Yes, eating meat as the main part of each meal is the “norm”. Yes, that needs to change. What I see through all the posts here, it’s not that we disagree on those two statements – we disagree on the delivery. I think it’s sad that aspiring-vegans feel the most discriminated against by more mature (in their journey) vegans. I know I’ve experienced it in FB groups as well.

      I think people are awakening more now than ever before. The process is rarely fast and is usually uncomfortable. [that is why I suggest meditation, but that's another topic]. We should guide them along their journey, not belittle and force them. IMHO. I realize you disagree. Ahimsa is meant for all beings, not just non-human-animals. It is loving kindness to be a facilitator rather than an intimidator.

      People who have not reached the point of vegetarianism or veganism (or even 90% plant-based) yet are like people on a fast-moving train that has years of momentum behind their behaviors. You can pull the breaks, but that train isn’t going to stop immediately. It takes time, some friction,some sparks, and some effort. Let’s not make that process any rougher than it is for some ;)

  58. jen —
    I thought you were “bowing out” here.
    Would the animals be okay with that reasoning, jen? The ones whose babies are being stolen from them today? The ones in line at the house of slaughter, terrified and fighting to run free? Would your reasoning be okay with the workers there who are sick and tired of killing other beings but can’t break free from their own physical / spiritual prisons? Would you deliver your message, exactly as stated here, while at the house of slaughter? Would anyone listen? Would it make everyone’s day better? Would the animals sleep more soundly at night because of your study of the laws of inertia? Even though they’ll face their murderers tomorrow? On a quantum level, the laws of inertia are different. Always try to go one step further… and the doors to other possibilities — and time references — open. Stalling and waiting and the lack of URGEncy does little. Why not try mixing your meditation with a sense of URGEncy and the belief in the (seemingly) impossible and see what IMMEDIATE miracles occur.

    • The vitrol in your responses in this thread perfectly illustrates and validates my point of view.

      You did not understand my point about inertia.

      Tonglen Meditation does help focus my energies to what is urgent. That may be the refugee family we’re helping to settle, it may be another direction. That is the purpose.

      I’m not responsible for making “everyone’s day better” (your word). I am responsible for my own path, my own journey, and alleviating suffering (both human and animal) in the best way I can while on that path.

      I understand that this is SO important to you that you feel this issue can’t go on another day. I wish it wouldn’t either. Unfortunately, the corporate and social constructs that got us here didn’t develop overnight, and will not disappear overnight.

      The overwhelming majority on this thread have expressed that consistent examples are the best approach to people being open to a message that is new to them. Remember, stopping the train doesn’t happen immediately, no matter how much we scream ;)

  59. jen,
    This is more than simply “alleviating suffering.” It is about Reverence For Life and the end of all forms of exploitation. No more violence. No more domination of others, seeing them as lesser beings. That Veganism in a nutshell.

    If stopping suffering is important to you, and you say that you are 100% on board with being all-inclusive, and that you believe that Ahimsa is for ALL beings, then why do you still support the exploitation of bees and fish — for honey and fish oil (in gelatin capsules?)? Didn’t you post here that those are the two exceptions in your household? Surely, this CAN stop immediately, can’t it? Isn’t this a major disconnect? Off the “all-inclusive” path? Your doubts are what cause you to stray. As long as you are camped there you will not get the whole inertia / time refs I made. You will repeat that “can’t stop the train immediately” slogan. You will continue to believe that things will not disappear overnight… until you come to learn — and fully accept — otherwise. I hope you get there…., and teach others how to get there.

    Calling my responses “vitrol” (er, did you mean “vitriol”?) is something I won’t accept because it is unfair and a disguised bite. It is most unfortunate that some people here (including you?) may have determined that my sole manner of delivering the vegan message is one of angry pushiness with unrealistic expectations. This evidence of harsh and quick judgement is a red flag and problematic in our culture. I have a multi-faceted approach to spreading my vegan education; this is because I am a multi-faceted individual, and those I speak with are also multi-faceted. There are people and occasions that require a softer approach and then there are many more who need a firm konk on the head, metaphorically speaking, of course. I am stern when needed, and gentle when needed…, but always want to leave the urgency in the message. ALWAYS. For the animals and humans trapped in the hell of it all. There are people on this thread who need an extra firm konk on the head (… hence my straight-to-the-quick delivery…), as they make excuse after excuse to fluff off their own bad habits and unwillingness to learn and change. That’s why I jumped on board at Matt’s blog here. I wanted to speak URGEntly for the animals and clear up the toxic confusion about authentic Veganism that I saw infecting the comment thread. Counterfeit veganism is everywhere. For solid info, the links I gave are valuable FREE and L-O-V-E filled gifts; it’s your loss if you ignore them. So too bad if a vegan yelled at you. Too bad you were objected to a vegan’s anger, wherever that was. The animals get far worse abuse / disrespect from us each and every day — every minute of that day — and we are shame-free about that, it seems. They face plenty of anger from humans. They are kicked and punched and worse. Not just the factory farmed animals. Animals in nature and in our homes. In labs. In zoos. In the seas and on land. So does the planet as a whole; Earth is a punching bag for our anger. Our view and treatment of the planet and the beings on it (including ourselves and our loved ones) is flat out ugly and disrespectful; we need to wise up and get it right FAST. For instance,are you aware that there are about 200 species going extinct per day on Earth? This is not only unacceptable but demands a sense of urgency and a laying down of moral LAW immediately so that maybe, just maybe, we can stop this destructive insanity we’re causing. We have no right to extinguish life on a whim or continue to do so in ignorance. Those lives cannot be replaced.

    Some who know me say I am the model vegan coach, gentle and understanding and joyous and sweet and kind and well-studied. I am happy to hold their hand on their journey into Veganism and make myself wholly available. Others will say that I am the “vegan police” and one tough cookie, but convincing and highly effective. Still others will be repulsed by my offering because it did not make them feel all warm and fuzzy with sticky-sweet shallow talk that swells their egos. I am not interested in stroking egos and enlarging people’s already-inflated sense of entitlement and species superiority. I have heard people say that they wished the Vegan message was given to them years ago, straight up and unapologetic, so they could have started their vegan journey much earlier. But they did not know the horrors or urgency of the matter. No one ever told them, though they knew some vegans who were living as “quiet examples.” So my delivery will includes some painful details but will be tailored to whom I’m educating (and learning from, via reflection). If they feel threatened or judged then that reveals their own personal “junk”. I learn something with every encounter and grow however I can. I apologize and fix things when needed. I can be humble but will also exercise authority. For examples of authentic Vegan living, yes, consistency is important. For Vegan message delivery, versatility is key here; each situation will be different. Also key is the presentation of the raw truth; it should be clearly there at all times; never candy-coated or diluted. And so it goes with me. Education about the UGLY, UGLY truth about animal exploitation and victimization — and the parts we play in it — is the most respectful and liberating gift I could ever give to someone. No matter what the wrapping paper it comes in.

    Live authentic Vegan.

    • lol. ok.

      I don’t eat gelatin. read again.

      how is that browbeating working for you? how many people here who claim being plant based, but not vegan by your definition, have you converted here? :) :D

      • Well what I have learned is that I can not say, I am a vegan. While I try to eat a “vegan” diet (no meat, no dairy, no eggs), I am not perfect, and obviously there a lots of animal products I was unaware of until now that have slipped by. From now on I will proclaim that I am a strict vegetarian.

        • :(

          You do you, Grace.

          You’re a Grace-atarian

        • Grace, I understand. I do. Keep being a strict vegetarian….. you’re doing your body, your family, and the world a lot of good. :) <3

          • LOL @ Grace-atarian. Awesome.

            Dear Grace, one more thought. One of THE Vegans on the page quoted a definition from the Free Dictionary. Please let me offer a definition from the same page. I hope that allows you to use whatever definition you feel fits your views.

            ve•gan (ˈvi gən, ˈvɛdʒ ən)
            n.
            a vegetarian who omits all animal products from the diet.

            Nothing more. the Free Dictionary.

            Also ironically, the next entry for Vegan under that one defines Vegan as a strict vegetarian. So I think you’re good ;)

  60. Do you honestly believe that fish oil NOT in gelatin capsules is better? W-o-w.

    My mission is not to convert anyone, jen. People are converted by their own hearts, should they listen to them.
    Another FREE gift offering to you, my meditative friend —
    http://worldpeacediet.org/download.htm
    (Living In Harmony With All Life” – by Dr. Will Tuttle, author of the World Peace Diet.

    Will’s wonderful article on spiritual gurus who don’t “get” Veganism here:
    http://www.onegreenplanet.org/animalsandnature/why-are-few-spiritual-teachers-vegan/

    Live Authentic Vegan.

    • If you’re asking me if an all-natural supplement with no side effects is better than big-pharma alternative with tons of undesirable side-effects in treating a medical condition, then I will say

      YES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      And I won’t apologize for it. It is a ecologically sustainable alternative.

      I had to laugh at one of your more recent posts. You say you’re not here to convert anyone, then isn’t that in direct opposition of your URGEncy?? LOL. I mean, if you’re not yelling and bullying people towards your point of view, then you’re not helping your cause (based on everything you’ve shared here about your “mission”).

      It’s not about being perfect, it’s about improving each day. I am not alone in thinking that leading by example and educated when prudent is the best approach. That is our form of conversion. Have a good evening.

  61. And just for the record, jen, the definition found at the link I contributed (in a previous comment in the thread here) is THE definition of Veganism, written by the people who first coined the word VEGAN. It is not “my definition”, as you wrote above. If there is ANYTHING you get from my posted comments, then I hope it is a good understanding of the authentic definition. That’s why I am on this thread. It was sorely needed.

    And if you insist that you are far more likely to be influenced (and in turn make the step to authentic Veganism) if you are spoken to in soft, gentle tones and language void of vitriol discomfort — and you admire those vegans who lead by “quiet example”, then you must certainly be willing to listen to Dr. Will Tuttle, who is the epitome of ALL those things. No more excuses. Why not listen to the FREE download of Will’s discourse –LIVING IN HARMONY WITH ALL LIFE –which he delivers in accordance to YOUR stated preferences — at the link I gave above? Then meditate on his gift of wisdom and depth he offers therein, … and finally, act on your inspired revelations. Walk your talk, in other words. As we all should.

    Live authentic Vegan.

  62. You laugh an awful lot at the expense of exploited animals, jen, whom I speak for with URGENCY. That is sooo not funny. You add happy winking faces and smiley laughing faces to your comments that dismiss the urgency I’m trying to open people’s eyes and hearts to. You can be a health, eco, and animal-conscientious consumer and not support big pharm or GMO’s or unfair trade practices and fight poverty and hunger and be an authentic Vegan at the same time; people do it all over the world. I do it. The levity you project on mass animal suffering and exploitation is not something to be proud of. Again, W-O-W. Are you seriously enjoying your scoffing?

    What, exactly, is sustainable about fish oil supplements — for the fishes? Doesn’t the word “sustain” mean, in its basic etymology, “capable of being continued /held”? Then how is the fish sustained … if he / she is murdered for the oil… and is fed other murdered animals (in pellet form)? How are THEIR lives sustained and continued? They aren’t. Or is “sustainability” for privileged humans only? Are you aware that mad cow (prionic) disease is now showing up in fish oil? (It’s been in gelatin for a while now.) That’s because sick “downer” cows are being fed to fish. Insane. But let’s call it “sustainable” and “healthy” and maybe no one will notice the insanity…

  63. In diet terms only, people who eat only plants are called PURE VEGETARIANS.

    Authentic Veganism is defined at the link I offer (again) below. Please take advantage of the FREE education. Stop claiming that you can’t be vegan because you are not perfect. Forget about being the “perfect” vegan. Is anyone out there worried about being the “perfect” anti-vegan? Walking the talk is what’s important here. Veganism is he best way to keep your core values / beliefs in line with your actions.

    jen,
    Since you’ve decided to diss and disrespect the creators of the original, authentic definition of Veganism, and would rather consider YOUR selections of Veganism to be the ones that OUGHT to be used, you go right ahead, then…, living in ignorance and spreading the confusion others are working hard to rectify. You go right on being a part of the problem and not the solution. Good for you. Bad for the animals. It is blatantly obvious that the definitions that suit YOU are the ones that offer the least clarity, are the most conscience-soothing, aid in personal ego-swelling, and are pulled from dictionaries that have likewise ignored and disrespected the authentic definition. As I wrote several times before, counterfeit Veganism is everywhere. On the Internet and in reputable dictionaries. jen, surely you are aware that Internet postings, as well as some not-well researched books can be erroneous, aren’t you? But you don’t seem to mind latching on to erroneous, feel-good definitions… and telling others to do the same –because they only help to make YOU feel better about your own lack of knowledge and preference to continue on “as is.” The whole idea of authentic Veganism is repulsive to you, I would guess. A mystery in itself, as the authentic definition laid out at the link here is nothing but beautiful and proves itself to be the most LOVE-filled Golden-Rule-In-Action way to live in this world:

    http://www.veganmeans.com/vegan_who/VEGANISM_DEFINED.htm

    We fear what we do not know and understand.

    A mature and sincerely caring individual THANKS others for an education that will help hem continue on their “path.” They are thankful regardless of what package the info came to them. But you are not at that level of maturity. You are stuck in the “ignorance is bliss” stage; of needing to add smiley face inserts, LOL’s, trendy labels (i.e. “sustainable”), and a lot of ego stroking to mask the discomfort you have about learning anything more about the ugliness of worldwide animal exploitation and victimization. Whatever helps to keep that info at bay works for you. Deceptive /vague definitions and all.

    I “get ” all that because I was stalled exactly where you are and offer my push. We must be vigilant of our rest periods, yes. Momentum is equally important. But make note of this: Outright blind resistance, especially if done to feed the ego, is never, ever productive.

    Live authentic Vegan. If you’re not there yet, keep going…

    • Thank you for providing your point of view. I do appreciate the links, the banter, and the “education”.

      Unfortunately, the only POV you’re interested in is yours. You have zero-tolerance for anything outside of your dogma. My whole point was that we should celebrate and encourage baby steps towards a plant-based diet and living. It’s not about “my” veganism or “yours”. It’s about supporting each other.

      When dietary-vegans feel attacked by self-proclaimed-authentic-vegans more than by meat-eaters, then IMHO there is some room for growth and improvement by all involved. I thought by quoting some of the same sources that you (or the other “authentic-vegan” did), that it would be encouraging to aspiring (or curious) vegans. It wasn’t a personal attack on you or anyone else. Usually in discussion, by using the same sources for reference two parties can communicate better. I made the erroneous assumption that you wanted 2 way communication.

      Many people here love and show kindness in the way they know how for the point they are on for their path. Their path is not your path or my path. We each have our own. I respect that and won’t bully them to speed up their journey for my own agenda. I’d rather support them at their own pace for their own destiny.

      I am grossly turned off by your method of proselytizing and your personal insults. If this is what awaits me if I become an “authentic-vegan”, then you can have your religion all to yourself. I respect it, but cannot understand your tactics and the whole “if you’re not doing it my way, you’re 100% wrong” attitude. I have a suspicion you’re just as “passionate” and vocal IRL as you are here. I respect that you feel so strongly about something and are not apathetic that cause. Apathy is a huge problem in our privileged culture.

      If what you said about me is the impression you have gathered about me, then apparently I need to work on my communication skills, because you don’t understand me at all. I apologize for not being more articulate.

      Good luck on your journey.

  64. (From: http://www.veganmeans.com/vegan_who/VEGANISM_DEFINED.htm) —

    The Vegetarian World Forum
No.1 Vol.5 – SPRING 1951 pp.6-7:
     
    VEGANISM DEFINED
    Recently the Vegan Society adopted revised and extended rules which among other things clarify the goal towards which the movement aspires.
    The Society’s object and meaning of the word “veganism”, have until now been matters of inference and personal predilection, are now defined as follows:
    ‘The object of the Society shall be to end the exploitation of animals by man”; and ‘The word veganism shall mean the doctrine that man should live without exploiting animals.”
    The Society pledges itself ‘in pursuance of its object” to ‘seek to end the use of animals by man for food, commodities, work, hunting, vivisection and all other uses involving exploitation of animal life by man.”
    Membership in the Society is available to all who wish to see the object achieved and who undertake to live as closely to the ideal as personal circumstances permit. An Associate makes no promise as to behaviour but declares himself in agreement with the object. The door is thus widely opened, and the Society welcomes all who feel able to support it. Direction and management of the Society’s work, however, rest with the members.
    The effect of this development is to make veganism unique among movements concerned with animal welfare. For it has crystallised as a whole and not, as are all other such movements, as an abstraction.
    Where every other movement deals with a segment – and therefore deals directly with practices rather than with principles – veganism is itself a principle, from which certain practices logically flow.
    If, for example, the vegan principle is applied to diet, it can at once be seen why it must be vegetarian in the strictest sense and why it cannot contain any foods derived from animals. One may become a vegetarian for a variety of reasons – humanitarian, health, or mere preference for such a diet; The principle is a smatter of personal feeling, and varies accordingly. Veganism, however, is a principle – that man has no right to exploit the creatures for his own ends – and no variation occurs. Vegan diet is therefore derived entirely from “fruits, nuts, vegetables, grains and other wholesome non-animal products,” and excludes “flesh, fish, fowl, eggs, honey and animal milk and its derivatives.”
    In a vegan world the creatures would be reintegrated within the balance and sanity of nature as she is in herself. A great and historic wrong, whose effect upon the course of evolution must have been stupendous, would be righted. The idea that his fellow creatures might be used by man for self-interested purposes would be so alien to human thought as to be almost unthinkable. In this light, veganism is not so much welfare as liberation, for the creatures and for the mind and heart of man; not so much an effort to make the present relationship bearable, as an uncompromising recognition that because it is in the main one of master and slave, it has to be abolished before something better and finer can be built.
    Veganism is in truth an affirmation that where love is, exploitation vanishes. It possesses historical continuity with the movement that set free the human slaves. Were it put into effect, every basic wrong done to animals by man would automatically disappear. At its heart is the healing power of compassion, the highest expression of love of which man is capable. For it is a giving without hope of a getting. And yet, because he would free himself from many of the demands made by his own lower nature, the benefit to man himself would be incalculable.
    Leslie Cross (Vice-President,Vegan Soc.)
39, Willow Crescent East, Uxbridge, Middlesex.
    ================================
    Published in The Vegetarian World Forum, a magazine edited and published independently in Britain by Geoffrey Rudd, and sold worldwide. During most of the 1950s it became the official journal of the International Vegetarian Union (IVU). For the index of issues available online, see http://www.ivu.org/history/world-forum/index.html.

  65. jen,
    There is no such thing as a “dietary vegan.”
    Honestly, you are as thick-skulled as I’ve encountered.
    Hopefully, others here will have a clear(er) understanding of authentic Veganism, thanks to several well- researched posts in this thread. (Thanks to Matt and all commenters.) I suspect that is already happening and am grateful for this alone. They can use the information to make adjustments. When corrective info is offered and received, making needed adjustments is not a sign of weakness but rather a sign of strength. Few will be as cry-babyish as you, jen, and will rather be glad that they can now see the bigger picture and thus better align their core values with their actions. They can listen to their heart, heed the call to Veganism, and live as if a world free from oppression /exploitation is already in the making.

    Live authentic Vegan.

    • Your anger confuses me.

      “dietary vegan” was meant as clarification as to people’s choices. Obviously from reading this thread, I’m not the only one who uses the word vegan as a way to describe dietary choices. It’s a commonly accepted definition for those of us not subscribing to vegan-world-domination-news-magazines. ;) LOL. I do appreciate all the copying/pasting you did to clarify why you don’t think anyone should use the V-word in ANY other manner than your dogmatic POV. Again, I respect your opinion. My opinion is that it doesn’t hurt anyone with respect to a RUNNING blog to use the word vegan to discuss DIETARY choices. Most people reading this blog, using the words vegan and vegetarian and pescetarian will understand what each other means for the purpose of discussion. That’s all. AGAIN, it wasn’t meant to be offensive to you or your cause. No need to take such umbrage. I suspect I’m not the only one (on this very discussion page even!) who uses vegan to define a philosophy of eating. A very, very small minority would take offense to that.

      I’m not thick-headed on this topic, I just refuse to be bullied into your dogma/definitions/boxes. ;) and simply disagree with your method of proselytizing. No offense intended. There is nothing to correct IMO. I respect your POV, I read your links, and read your posts. What more can you expect? For me to never utter the word “vegan” again?

      People ARE heeding the call to Veganism . One step at a time. It often starts with vegan dietary choices…. let’s support that!! Everything is a process.

  66. This addresses your communications skills, jen, and the heart of the VEGAN DEFINITION matter here —
    http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-7u5oWGa-9rA/UHMP8y5eLyI/AAAAAAAABFg/dQakc_BgR04/s1600/clip_image002.jpg

    LOL!

    Perhaps laughter IS the best medicine. The Calvin & Hobbes cartoon at the link illustrates why your attempts at a ” 2-way communication” won’t work. Also, calling authentic Veganism “dogma (a distancing LABEL) and referring to it as a “religion” (again, a distancing LABEL with obviously derogatory implications you seem to want to infect others with) reveals more about YOUR personal junk than it does about Vegan values and principles.

    Live authentic Vegan.

    Live authentic Vegan.

  67. Yes, Matt. many, many good points made here. Thank you!
    With all due respect, Matt, I must make this powerful final point, as I have been outright accused of forcing my beliefs (i.e. Veganism as “dogma”, “religion”, etc.) down people’s throats at this thread. Here is a quote that sums things up well:

    “Eating meat is the ultimate form of pushing your beliefs on others. When you eat meat, you’re forcing others to die for your beliefs. If that’s not forcing your beliefs on others, I don’t know what is.” (- John Sakars)

    Same goes for supporting ANY system of animal exploitation as a whole; the quote isn’t just speaking about “meat” eaters. Be it animal-sourced “food”, leather, fur, medicines, entertainment, cosmetics, household products, packaging, research, “pets”/ pet foods, etc., all involve forced deaths, just to fit a personal belief system that human domination over (and violence to) animals is A-OK, … no matter WHO has to die for that belief.

  68. Matt, Apologies if this gave you a moderation headache.

    • Milemom says:

      Wow, what a volley…I’m exhausted.
      The gist is, I guess that people should not call themselves vegan if they purposely consume any animal products on a regular basis; technically most vegans are likely “near-vegans” but don’t we still call a black sweater with a small bleach spot a “black sweater”?: many people DO indeed accept the distinction between ethical and dietary vegans (language is not static); and finally, despite all the research and quoting and other forms of “urgency,” V has turned me off completely. Kind of like the pro-life lady in my neighborhood who plasters every inch of her car with pro-life bumper stickers….even though I am 100% pro-life/anti-abortion, I still think she’s a nut and I think she harms her message.

      • I agree that people need to be considerate and respectful when having these discussions. We don’t get anywhere otherwise. Also it’s true that a black sweater is still a black sweater even if there’s a hole in it. A sweater is an object so a small hole wouldn’t change what it is. However, I disagree that this is a similar comparison to what we’re discussing. Vegan is a word that’s defined by what one doesn’t do (or what a product doesn’t have). For example if someone is celibate, then they’re not having sex. If they have sex only once, the word celibate no longer applies to them. If a food company adds cow’s milk to their product (even a small amount), it’s no longer vegan. If they decide to change the ingredients and there are no animal products in that food, it could be called vegan.

  69. You are definitely my kind of vegan, Matt! I love your calm and friendly approach to other people’s lifestyles and choices. I try to be the same way. I never judge or criticise other people for what they eat. It’s their choice. Just as I chose to be a vegetarian.
    I really wish that the loud, preaching vegans would follow suit and stop giving meat-eaters such a hard time, because as I see it, they scare people off – or worse, give vegans and vegetarians a bad reputation, thus making people much less inclined to “join the club”. :)
    – Anna

  70. Victoria says:

    Veganism is a principle – that man has no right to exploit the creatures for his own ends – and no variation occurs. Vegan diet is therefore derived entirely from “fruits, nuts, vegetables, grains and other wholesome non-animal products,” and excludes “flesh, fish, fowl, eggs, honey and animal milk and its derivatives.”

    Vegans seek to end the use of animals by man for food, commodities, work, hunting, vivisection and all other uses involving exploitation of animal life by man. People who claim to be “vegans” or even “veganish” are counterfeit vegans if they are not living their lives seeking and striving to end animal exploitation. No matter where they are “along the path”, they examine every area in their life (…not just in their diets) where animal exploitation occurs, and in turn, they take every measure to withdraw support of and eliminate / eradicate that injustice.

    Veganism is in truth an affirmation that where love is, exploitation vanishes. It possesses historical continuity with the movement that set free the human slaves. Were it put into effect, every basic wrong done to animals by man would automatically disappear. At its heart is the healing power of compassion, the highest expression of love of which man is capable. For it is a giving without hope of a getting. And yet, because he would free himself from many of the demands made by his own lower nature, the benefit to man himself would be incalculable.
    (- Thanks to Leslie Cross / Vice-President,Vegan Soc. 1951)

    It has been said here that “we are all on the same path” in life. To which I would add that most on the path are sleepwalking. Maybe even sleeprunning.

  71. I loved this article! Almost a year ago I started really questioning my eating habits. I’ve always thought about it in the back of my mind since my early teens, but I finally started making a conscious effort last year. I started my research on animal treatment and was of course horrified. Part of what sparked my initial vegetarianism was getting violently sick every time I ate red meat. So I cut that out, and had a really hard time with it. I have a problem with fainting and kept chicken in my diet because it worried me to remove the food that I felt always helped me ‘come back’ after a fainting or dizzy spell. I finally couldn’t take being

    • Damn, I accidentally pressed post comment! Long story short, since typing on my iPhone is a giant pain in the ass is: I tried to force myself into vegetarianism and it back fired. So I slowly took things away, and I naturally made the progression happily, and not stressed out about my eating habits. I’m now on the same path to vegan. I’ve cut out diary coffee creamer and instead use a soy creamer or almond milk. I try to take out fairy whenever possible, not even using ‘dairy replacement’ foods. I thoroughly enjoy things like Boca patties in my diet. Not because I miss eating chicken or beef, but because they really are just tasty and I can do a lot of things with them. I love how much fruits and vegetables I eat now, and how much better I feel because of it. I feel good about my eating habits, and that makes me happy. I also continue to feel better and better about my choices (key word there is MY choice and not someone else’s) to use things like face&body wash & makeup NOT tested on animals and made from vegetarian/vegan ingredients. I also believe like you Matt, that things like my leather purse that I have had for years does not need to be thrown out. I am sad that I own something made from leather, but I’m not going to waste it because of my changing beliefs. I love your approach to veganism. Be healthy and be happy. That is what’s most important. I can rant for hours about the treatment of animals on farms, in the circus and the zoo, etc…. but it’s not always going to do any good. I want to help people eat healthy and make good choices in improving their lives above anything else.
      Thanks for your wonderful post. Very insightful and makes me feel happy to see other people with my same beliefs!

  72. Javier, This thread posed very respectful yet differing positions, and your measured approach in discussion with Matt prompted a reflection and a change in his position. Surely this is your dream result. I am thoroughly disappointed that this measured style you adopted (and demonstrably worked in this very forum) doesn’t appear to be crucial enough for you to add reflection to attacking and demonising posts such as that from V. I would have hoped to see some comments from you distancing yourself from V’s disrespectful way of posing an argument – not least because it does very little for the cause of the very animals that we all profess to care about. The saddest but very possible consequence of such venom is that people concerned about their choices and the impact on animals, but without lesser levels of conviction to lifestyle change, are likely to give up altogether when faced with such non supportive and nasty judgement. Javier I’d very much like to see you take a stronger stand against such nastiness .. in the interests of the animals .. as much as the people!

    • Hi Balance,
      First of people come into veganism very emotional. After you understand the cruelty to animals, to our own health and the harm that we are doing to this planet I can understand why people get upset and emotional. I don’t choose demonize or make people feel bad but I am trying to create awareness. This is not about my ego or how right I can be or anyone for the matter, but the fact is that if you take animals interest seriously cheating is not respecting those interests. As I mentioned in several of my posts people don’t have to call themselves vegan. This is not trying to dismiss someone’s interest in helping animals or anyone here on this board, but what seems to me is that a lot of people prefer to not to be inconvenienced so they won’t subscribe to a real vegan lifestyle. They want the perks that come with the label but then when it comes down to them they don’t want to show up to bat for the animals. If you talk the talk you better walk the walk. Animals don’t need people’s excuses. People love to make up crap like they were deficient in something because of veganism yet thousands of vegans never had a problem, .Let’s be frank people have addictive personalities and often crave foods they were raised with and feel that their cravings make them excuse their ethics. Then those who really are sticking to their vegan principles get labeled as too extreme. This is the same as if a person who is trying to quit smoking hangout one day with his smoker friends and the start teasing that person about how they are trying to be all healthy and stuff. Because those who see change fear change or make it out to be too hard and try to bring people down to their level so they feel less threatened and so it does not look like what they are doing is that bad. This is a tactic that has been used by humans for socially for years and it is what we call peer pressure. I don’t think anyone on this site or anywhere should put another person down, this is not constructive but destructive but it does not mean a person cannot criticize a thought or opinion because this creates dialog and inspires thought and creativity.
      For all those who feel veganism is too hard then don’t do veganism but for someone like myself who was a major cheese lover and meat eater who went vegetarian to go straight vegan I can tell you it is not all that hard especially when you put animals dying into the picture. This is not some Hollywood movie this is reality. I take veganism seriously and take those ethics and principles seriously no matter what the challenge that I may face. Eating a bit of dairy or not caring is cheating your principles and the cause weather one wants to admit it or not. I never heard a true vegan complain that going to a restaurant and ordering correctly was too hard for them they just did what they had to do. It might some learning in the beginning but once you get the hang of it becomes comfortable and easy like anything else you learn. When we started driving it was not comfortable but now I am sure most of you out on the road are quite comfortable driving. So I don’t know why this was even an point to discuss? This should not even be an issue. This is just crazy to me that people want to argue about not wanting to make an effort for animals specially when they want to represent veganism. This is total and utter hypocrisy. The question is do all of you who say you care about animals still continue to use and eat and exploit them under the table or out in public how is that truly helping animals.

      • “People making up crap”

        Millions of people smoke, but a minority get lung cancer. Same with vegans.

        Is it inconceivable to you that a small percentage of people who give veganism diet an authentic try will not thrive?

        You don’t know their underlying issues that may be present.

  73. I am just curious when you say ‘Non-Vegan World’ whether this is ‘Non-Vegan America’? I find the issues very different when I dont speak the language, when the indigenous diet and culture is a long way from factory farming and fast food, when the concept of veganism is unknown….. How much do you travel (not counting the US) and how do you deal with it?

  74. Just found this post now, and loved it.

    I’ve been eating plant based since march this year. I’ve had a few issues, like when we were on a day trip in NZ, hours from civilization, and our guide had prepared chicken soup – apparently something got lost in the communication when pre booking as we had requested a vegan lunch and were told it would be ok.

    We still ate it, first because that was what was available, and second because that’s what had been prepared for us, and our guide hadn’t been told so it wasn’t his mistake.

    I’ve also had an issue at a work function when it was requested via email that I have a vegan meal. An extremely cheesy and creamy risotto came out, and I tried to eat it out of politeness but I felt sick after a few mouthfuls as my body doesn’t tolerate cheese well. I ended up eating everyone else’s steamed veggies they didn’t want which was fantastic!

    The stance I take is that I’m as vegan as is practical. If there are no other options, or I’m at a friends place and they forget that the salad dressing has diary, etc, I don’t make a big deal of it. I usually offer to make something for myself to bring – and if its salad ill make a quinoa or lentil salad so that I know there’s something I can eat that will be delicious and filling.

    I also offer to make the cakes for work birthdays. Both these tactics ensure I can engage with the social convention of sharing food, but it also allows me to showcase how delicious vegan food can be, and by quietly giving these foods to my friends it opens up the conversations about how non restrictive vegan food really is.

    • Agreed! I don’t think I could have eaten the chicken soup myself, but if I’m at a friend’s house & they have gone out of their way to try and make a meal for me and they did something like dump shredded cheese on the salad, I’m not going to make a scene. While 99% vegan myself, I guess I’m not a huge fan of labels anyway, and I’ve found that more people are open to a plant-based lifestyle when it DOESN’T have to come with a label they have negative connotations with.

  75. I too, have found that people are more responsive when they see me bring lunch or a meal without that judging glare at what’s on their plates. (You all know the look that I’m talking about.) That’s when I get the good questions such as why did I do it? When did I start? What; if anything, made the transition hard? What have been some benefits? etc. My dad still eats meat but has a large salad before dinner each day and he rarely eats much afterwards. Friends and family have cut back on the grease since I haven’t had fried food in almost a decade. They have noticed that by accommodating me, they have also made some great changes of their own and have seen the results during visits to the doctor!

  76. Excellent advice. Although I disagree with #3, sending back food– if I’m paying good money, I would like what I ask for– same as if I were to get cold soup, I’d send it back. As a guest at someone’s house, that’s different, to a point– I wouldn’t be able to eat a cheese pizza, but can deal with a little parmesan sprinkled on a salad. I do like #5, not complaining about not having any options. I need to take that to heart more, especially at work, although I do wish they’d be somewhat more respectful when ordering food.

    What would you recommend here? My officemate, who is very aware that I have a vegan diet, made packs of cookies for everyone in the office. This person then told me in a nice and pleasant way that they weren’t vegan but I could give them away to someone else if I wanted. But I really couldn’t think of anyone to give them to. I guess I could have given them to a homeless person on the street, but it didn’t occur to me at the time. I ended up suggesting to this person, in a very pleasant and apologetic way, taking them back and giving them to someone else. But I really can’t think of why I would have been offered them in the first place. Why not give me something– anything– that I would eat? A pack a raisins, a banana, whatever. Not that I had any gifts for anyone in the office, and I did appreciate the gesture. But just to put it into perspective, I wouldn’t have offered a plate of bacon to an orthodox Jewish person or a Muslim person. Why offer something you know for a fact I’m not going to eat? Of course if this person hadn’t known that I had a vegan diet, it would be different, and I’d have dealt with it differently. It was just a bit awkward, and I wonder what you would have done.

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