The Carpe Credo

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We’re not really here to recruit more vegans.

Although we obviously think that becoming vegan is a great thing to do, there are already many, many people out there giving sound advice on how and why to make that change. The fine folks at VegNews, for example, have an excellent vegan starter kit (PDF), as does Vegetarian Times (PDF). For Christ’s sake, even Oprah‘s got a vegan starter kit. Oprah!

No, our goal here is a little bit different.

Vegetarian Times estimates that there are currently one million vegans in the United States today. Assuming this is more or less correct, our own estimate is that there must therefore be at least a zillion ex-vegans. Perhaps this is a slight exaggeration. But, it’s an undeniable fact that a hell of a lot of people who become vegan don’t stay vegan. That’s not good nor acceptable.

Bieber: V is not for Vegan


So why do so many people who try veganism eventually give it up?
The easiest answer is that a large proportion of people who are drawn to veganism in the first place happen to be the type that aren’t going to stick with anything for very long. For example: twelve-year-old girls. They love animals so they decide to stop eating them; however, they also love Justin Bieber– and you can ask David Cassidy and the New Kids on the Block how that usually ends up.

Unfortunately, though, many people who aren’t preadolescents also eventually give up on veganism. Some of them have found the “rules” overly restrictive and the quest for perfection exhausting. Some have have grown tired of the stigma that’s still attached to the lifestyle and find it easier just to be “normal.” Some may have looked to the vegan community for support and understanding yet found it judgemental and cannibalistic instead. Some have even dealt with legitimate health concerns.

These and other causes of the vegan movement’s unacceptable attrition rate are what we intend to address. We want to help people stay vegan and be completely comfortable with it even when it isn’t up to the standards of what some vegans think being a real vegan should be.

How do we plan to do this?

These are slacker Jains as they haven't covered their mouths and they appear not to be sweeping ahead of them


We propose a more sensible and realistic definition of veganism that takes into account:

  • The impossibility of perfection
  • The law of diminishing returns

If you think you’ve fully eliminated all animal products from your life, you are naïve. You haven’t. You never will. It’s impossible unless you go the route of living as a strict Jain, and even then, you will still fail.

If someone smokes a pack of cigarettes a day, they’re clearly a smoker; but if, once or twice a year, they get drunk at a party and smoke a cigar, then they’re a non-smoker who smokes every once in a while. We propose a similar way of thinking for veganism: if 95%’ish of the time you’re vegan, you’re vegan or veganish.

Public shaming definitely works!

Do you see Catholics kicking members out for using birth control? Do you see Mormons 86’ing members who drink beer or coffee? How about public shaming of Jews who don’t eat kosher? And, these are effin religions! Hell, veganism isn’t even supposed to be a religion but we set far stricter criteria and far higher standards to live by. And we don’t offer an after-life, heaven, or any other nifty parting goods for participating.

And, by the way, what is the real difference between someone who eats 100% vegan vs someone whose dietary intake is 95% vegan? Does the difference really mean less animal suffering? Depends, but if the difference is just lots of misc ingredients in various meals during a given year, that is probably not the case.

In a world that is so crazy, so cruel, and so barbaric, why is it that so many vegans are hardest on fellow vegans who don’t meet the mythical standards of strict vegan? And how can we not see that so many people stop being vegan is because they feel like a fraud still calling themselves vegan when they slip up on occasion? And, who doesn’t slip up on occasion? Isn’t that what being human is all about? So, let us all stop giving other people a hard time over the relatively tiny areas of their own lives in which they may fall short.

Veganism is an ethical ideal, not an absolute fixed and defined lifestyle that can be described in zero-sum ways as 100% VEGAN versus everyone else is an accessory to murder. Life is filled with many shades of gray, and vegans need to understand that just as well as everyone else does. No one is the great moral arbiter of vegan correctness, and we reserve the right to go after knuckleheads who proclaim they are. The higher the monkey climbs, the more you see his ass.

Oi

Vegan is not a political party or an overarching philosophy of life. Vegans should heartily welcome different political, social, religious and cultural views– and that means perspectives you may not like or maybe even oppose. Ideally, veganism would be only a part of your identity and you would be happy to see a wide range of people making it a part of theirs; if you find veganism taking over your entire identity, that is probably not a healthy and balanced mindset in life and for interacting with others in the world. For example:

On your Facebook page, you should probably list your name as your name. Unless your middle name actually is “Vegan,” you really should not be doing that kind of thing. Please do not list veganism as your political affiliation and, whatever you do, please do not list it under religion. Be an actual person. Cultivate numerous interests. We understand that you’re just trying to raise awareness, but you need to understand that the perception of vegans as one-dimensional zealots is one that many would-be (and soon-to-be ex-) vegans find embarrassing and off-putting. We intend to do our part to change that perception, by welcoming vegans from a variety of backgrounds into our community and encouraging the discussion of things other than veganism. It really is okay not to think and talk about your food choices twenty-four hours a day.

And, whatever you do fellow vegans, just make bloody sure you get your fuggin B12- Love, Dad

  • While a well planned vegan diet is associated with numerous health benefits, we will never make the claim that it is the absolute healthiest of all possible diets for all humans living in all places and at all times. That is absurd. More to the point, we openly acknowledge that a poorly planned vegan diet is potentially horrible for you. If you do not supplement B12, for example, your brain will shrivel up and fall out your ear. While that’s not actually true, you’d be an idiot for not taking a B12 supplement. There are a few potential pitfalls associated with following a vegan diet, which– while not insurmountable– are serious enough to be worthy of discussion.
  • A vegan raw diet is not the next logical step after veganism; it’s completely separate as an issue though certainly a very interesting topic. Personally, we don’t roll like that. Likewise, unless you have a specific sensitivity– and you probably don’t– there is no reason to avoid gluten or soy like the plague.
  • Most of us have adopted a vegan diet as a response to what we see as terrible cruelty and injustice, and that’s something that should make us feel good about ourselves. So, feel good. Celebrate. If we want to reward ourselves with good food and tremendous quantities of alcohol, there’s nothing wrong with that.

    At CarpeVegan we want to advocate for a more tolerant, more life-affirming, and more inclusive veganism that focuses on someone’s positive actions that they make 95% of the time versus those other relatively small areas where they may fall short.

    Hells Yeah!


    And thus, all birthday cake and alcohol is vegan! Not really, but life is short, so we should have some fun as we try to make this a better world for the animals, ourselves and the earth.

    Eat. Drink. Enjoy yourself. You deserve it.

    Thanks for reading. Now, play nice.

    FYI: This credo was never meant to be our argument for veganish, this is: Let’s Kill Vegetarian! Why Vegetarianism Must Go and VeganISH Should Ascend

    comments:

    99 Comments

    1. Kieron says:

      I’m generally an all or nothing vegan, but this article is a very interesting read.
      Perhaps the way forward for folks like me is that while I might be happy being all or nothing myself, to bite my tongue when others are not exactly the same way. After all, 2 people cutting their animal product consumption in half is quantitatively the same as one person going vegan I suppose.
      Well written.

      • Joe Haptas says:

        Thanks Kieron. Your reply is refreshing to hear.

      • Lorri says:

        Thanks. I’m glad you brought the subject up. I think Vegans can turn people off from becoming Vegans. Glad someone said something. For some people they can convert at once for others its a gradual change. I feel it dosent matter just as long as you do something to keep getting better. I don’t try to shove my life style down anyone. I have gotten people who were hard core meat eaters who thought Vegan diet is nuts; to try vegan dishes and they loved it and always ask me to cook vegan dishes and ask how do I make this. I can’t say I converted them, but I opened thier minds to it and they are more receptive to it. They say you catch more bees with honey than vengar.

        • Jed Gillen says:

          Hey!! Catching bees is not vegan! You’re out of the club.

          But, more to the point, thanks for the comment. I cringe at the word “convert”– seems cult-y to me– but the reality is that I’ve never “converted” anyone by being strict and preachy, whereas I’ve influenced many people just by being relaxed and setting a reasonable example. It’s really gratifying to see how many people’s experiences have been the same.

      • Dave Bemel says:

        True, on paper, but one vegan acts as a beacon to their friends and family, and sends a loud and clear message that it is time for animal liberation; that animals are not ours to exploit and that veganism is the way to live without intentionally exploiting animals or infringing on their rights. Two “half-vegans” living in a bubble may do as much good as one vegan, but in the complex and social world in which we live one vegan can do a lot more to advance the cause of animal liberation, I believe.

        • Kieron says:

          I don’t disagree. I try to be the vegan beacon you describe, though leading by example rather than by lectures.

          However I’ll take the two half vegans over two ex vegans turned full omnis any day.

          • Joe Haptas says:

            Thanks y’all for chiming in.
            FYI: This credo was never meant to be our argument for veganish, this is:
            Let’s Kill Vegetarian! Why Vegetarianism Must Go and VeganISH Should Ascend
            http://www.carpevegan.com/?p=1923

          • Do you think the strictness of the vegan diet is more likely to create “ex vegans turned full omnis”? Or could it be that telling them, “oh go ahead, have a little of this or that, no one’s watching and it’s not a big deal” leads to that?

            I’m not asking to start a fight – as almost everyone with a dissenting view on this thread has been labeled “the vegan police”, and that’s not my intent here at all – I’m just saying that my convictions as a vegan were much less strong when I was encouraged by those in my life on a daily basis to “cheat”. Now I have a supportive network of friends and family, and I’m able to stay 100% vegan. Is it really necessary to encourage people toward the animal use that society already makes very easy for them? I contend that “cheating” happens whether you tell people it’s okay or not, and that a vegan article saying it’s okay doesn’t make our convictions sound very strong.

            And one more note on the subject of 100% veganism – several times, I have seen Joe comment that he could come into the lives of the strictest vegan and find some animal use. (I have heard similar comments from militant omnis who argue the other side of all-or-nothing.) That is certainly true – most of us use cars and computers, and doubtlessly some component of those items exploited an animal somewhere along the way. I believe a 100% vegan is someone who, to their knowledge, does not knowingly use animal products on anything unnecessary in their lives. Knowingly and unnecessary are the two important parts of that sentence. I’m sure we were all “starter” vegans once and bought some casein-infested milk substitute or some such, all the while believing we were staying true to our vegan spirits. That being said, it’s obviously important to educate yourself, because veganism is about knowing what you consume and consuming it ethically – if you choose not to know or think about what’s in your food, you’re not a vegan.

            Finally, let’s not further the idea to the public that veganism is so hard that even the vegans can’t do it. We can, and we do, and they can too.

    2. Maggie says:

      I meet with a couple of vegans on a semi-regular basis to share food and thoughts about nutrition, etc. Lately I’ve come to realize these meetings have a very limited scope; it’s as though there is no other topic beside vegan food that we talk about. Also I’ve noticed it has become a matter of pride for these other two to ‘give up’ as many food items as they can…tea being the latest. My research indicates tea contains polyphenols which are protective so I am hardly going to drop it but that decision leaves me feeling a little on the fringe of things with this crew. More than once I’ve found myself thinking that this group is more like a religion than a social support and that is hardly what I am prepared to give my energies to. This article perfectly articulates what I am finding increasingly hard to stomach about my own little vegan group. I will be sorry to let my membership lapse but I am not going to be part of any fundamentalist group for any reason. Life is complex…Eat it up!

      • Joe Haptas says:

        Hey Maggie, Vegans run in all stripes. I hope you can find or create a group in your area that can also be a source of social stimulation as well. Making those connections in life can be very special.

      • Jed Gillen says:

        What Joe said. But also: be our friend on Facebook or whatever. It’s sometimes hard to find people in real life you can really relate to but the Internet makes it kind of easy to find them in fake life at least.

    3. Morgan says:

      Thank you for this; I find it both refreshing and inspiring. I get so disheartened and depressed when I read rants by the vegan police, and I feel that sort of attitude only discourages potential vegans from making the first move toward a more compassionate diet. I think it is far better to be kind, compassionate person living on a 95% vegan diet and a so-called “100% vegan diet and be a total dick.

      • Joe Haptas says:

        Amen Morgan. CarpeVegan believes in a big tent philosophy. the more vegans/veganish, the merrier. We can’t get caught up in the minutiae any longer. We need to build this culture up and out big time.

      • Dave Bemel says:

        You can be truly vegan and not be a dick. In fact, being vegan is about not being a dick. Dicks exploit animals or pay others to exploit animals. Don’t be a dick, go vegan! =]

      • MacCoder says:

        “I think it is far better to be kind, compassionate person living on a 95% vegan diet and a so-called “100% vegan diet and be a total dick”

        I dunno. If you ask me, the person causing the death and suffering of the non-human animals would be the bigger d-bag in this case. Especially from the animal’s point of view. :P

        • What about the person bashing 100% vegans for assuming that they bash non-100% vegans for not being as vegan as they are?

          If you guys want to encourage solidarity in the group, calling out one segment for being too intensely vegan isn’t the way to go about it.

    4. Holy Moly says:

      This article elaborated on almost everything I have been feeling and thinking, but couldn’t quite put into words.

      In my experience, I’ve noticed that it is predominantly omnivores that push for “perfection” in vegans, because to be anything less than perfect supposedly shows vegans as hypocrites. I was once taunted at a restaurant by a guy eating steak fajitas because I may have accidentally consumed bone char sugar. As if that one teaspoon negated everything I had ever done, believed, and felt. So I understand the desire to be “perfect” on one hand is a desire not to be constantly called out by a world making fun of you.

      I’ve learned that instead of getting defensive, I now reply, “I never claimed I could be 100% exploitation free. I only made a conscious decision to reduce my impact.” It always throws them off. Also, you are so spot on with the “identity” part. Activism works so much better when people see that you are capable of living a full and busy life WHILE adhering to ethics instead of “Go vegan and your entire life will revolve around it.” When I first went vegan, I went total vegangelical. Judging, questioning, talking about it non-stop. Eventually, I calmed down and when I calmed down…people started listening. They actually were inspired to change their diet. My husband went vegan. A few of my friends are “predominantly vegan” (I just encourage them to keep it up instead of saying ‘it’s not enough’) while they figure out their own path. I realized…just living my life was setting an example…shoving animal torture videos down their necks wasn’t. I mean, that works for some, but everyone is different.

      Thank you for writing this article, reminding many of us that we went vegan because we believed in compassion and, yet, we often forget to extend that compassion to ourselves and others around us.

      • Joe Haptas says:

        I love this story. We are adding to our CarpeVegan Comments Hall of Fame! You are inductee #3 as we are only a week old.

      • D.G. says:

        Holy Moly:

        My experience is nearly identical to yours–in that, when I stopped talking about veganism, a lot of people around me started to change. In fact, now that I hardly EVER talk about it, people around me change all the time. It’s truly amazing how revolutionary the act of setting an example can be, no?

        • Joe Haptas says:

          Hey guys just thought you’d like to know:

          This credo was never meant to be our argument for veganish, this is:
          Let’s Kill Vegetarian! Why Vegetarianism Must Go and VeganISH Should Ascend
          http://www.carpevegan.com/?p=1923

          • S says:

            I’m new at trying to live this healthier lifestyle. And I will say that I do not like to mention the word “vegan”, simply because the expectations are way to high for me. Also, I feel like the minority, in that my motivation had everything to do with health and nothing really to do with the animals. I guess that alone doesn’t allow me to call myself a vegan :-) regardless of how close to the “script” I keep.

    5. D.G. says:

      For 8 years, I worked at a college as a director of student activities. I also did a lot of vegan advocacy and worked with students interested in animal rights and veganism. My experience there definitely led me to conclude that there are way more ex-vegans than vegans. College students regularly experience veganism as a new club, identity, something to believe in. And let’s be honest: they often abandon it with as much zeal.

      However, I wondered then as I wonder now: I wonder if it’s not the very act of watering down what veganism means that doesn’t contribute to this phenomenon? I am not asking this rhetorically, as I truly do not know. But it seemed to me at the time (and it still does now) that not taking it seriously enough, and allowing one’s self to “cheat,” doesn’t really help either. In no time, birthday cake and booze turns into hamburgers and bacon. It’s a slippery slope.

      I couldn’t agree more, though, with the assertion that vegans need to stop acting so holier than thou and indescribably obnoxious. Just recently, I got a stern lecture from a group of vegans who think — seriously — that if you aren’t spending every waking moment advocating for animals, then you aren’t even vegan to begin with. (And I have been a vegan for a long time!). Plus, I need balance in my life. I will never be one of those people. Veganism will never be my sole interest in life.

      I am very frustrated by a lot of what I encounter in the vegan community. In the early 2000′s, I actually refused, ever, to even admit I was a vegan — because I was so embarrassed by so many vegans’ behavior. I still am, though I cop to it now.

      Vegans need to get off their freaking high horses of moral superiority and realize that this world is screwed up in a BIG WAY, and animal exploitation is a part of it; it’s not the be all, end all, and the world going vegan doesn’t solve every problem on earth. And I say that as someone who REALLY CARES about animals AND vegan advocacy. But good heavens, sometimes I cannot stand vegans. I admit it.

      • Joe Haptas says:

        Great post D.G. I understand what you say about watering down the concept. I think we ultimately have to trust people’s own instincts to self-identify as vegan/veganish. We can only hope people have honor for the ideal when they use that term. And, for the record, I know so many great vegan people. The problem is that most of the obnoxious vegans are also the loudest ones which can create a distorted sense of reality sometimes. I do think the silent majority of vegans are really fantastic people who care about the countless other problems of the larger world as well.

      • Dave Bemel says:

        There is a lot of emotion involved in the fight for animal liberation. I think that the word vegan gets substituted for animal liberation or animal rights far too often. Vegan is what one individual can to to support the rights of animals, to live without exploiting them. While I think that anyone who has decided that animals’ rights are important enough to be vegan should be an activist as well, I know there are a lot of quite vegans who don’t want to actively join the movement for animals’ freedom. If you are one of those quiet vegans, the least you can do is show respect for those who dedicate their lives to improving the lives of non-human animals.

        As for the slippery slope effect you mention, I can not agree more.

    6. Ryan Andrews says:

      Nice take. I like this article.

      • Joe Haptas says:

        Thanks Ryan! Hope you don’t consider this spam but i just wanted you to see this piece on veganish:
        FYI: This credo was never meant to be our argument for veganish, this is:
        Let’s Kill Vegetarian! Why Vegetarianism Must Go and VeganISH Should Ascend
        http://www.carpevegan.com/?p=1923

    7. Sarah Stone says:

      Thanks, I love this article. And this comes from someone who eats, as far as humanly possible, all vegan, all the time (I don’t know about my car tires!) Several reasons:

      1) the images that I have associated with dairy and eggs (the baby male chicks in the grinder, the mother cow bellowing for her calves taken off to be turned into veal), make all animal foods revolting. No matter how great it would taste, there’s no pleasure in that.

      2) Although I do this for the animals, my body has happily adapted to all plant foods. The odds that I could eat birthday cake once a year and not be made sick are small (why would I want to be sick on my birthday?) I eat great vegan cakes and don’t miss or crave the other stuff and don’t want to open the door to cravings.

      3) I just don’t want to have to constantly adjudicate (if I eat it on my birthday, why not to oblige a kind friend who made pasta and cheese?) People are constantly wishing others to make exceptions (based on weight loss diets, which most of us can’t follow for more than a day or two at a time). If you ever make an exception, why not now?

      In other words, it’s a pleasure, and sometimes a challenge to be as consistently vegan as humanly possible, and there are good reasons for those of us who choose that path. (Not as our only interest in life — you have a great point about that, and your description of it made me laugh.) I like the term “consistently vegan” rather than “strictly vegan,” because otherwise it all sounds like a punishment.

      The reason I love this post, even though I’m still going to eat consistently vegan, is because several members of my friends and family have adopted mostly vegan lifestyles, and my goal is to support them and to understand that people come in through different doorways to veganism. Some people are doing it for their health. So any amount of plant foods is better for them (and lessens the death and suffering). But it makes sense that they might make exceptions. And others eat mostly plant foods for environmental reasons — so the occasional exception makes more sense there too.

      I agree that we shouldn’t police each other or be pills. But what if we use somewhat different terms for people who sometimes eat plant foods and sometimes eat animal foods? Ode magazine just ran a piece in which the writer enthusiastically wrote that the new vegetarians eat meat, but sustainably raised meat, and not all the time. I’d say that those were the new omnivores, or the new carnivores, or something, but if people who eat meat don’t call themselves vegetarian, it’s helpful for the rest of us.

      In other words, I support you in eating whatever birthday cake you want, if you’ll support me in eating my Millenium Chocolate Midnight cake on my own birthday and not call me a fanatic…let’s not guilt each other!

    8. Rhi says:

      My brother calls me “vegetarian with moral issues”. I call myself 90% vegan. Everyone thinks that is strange, but seriously I feel like I’m living my life as close to my values as I can. Part of that means honoring my friends by eating birthday cake if they serve it, even though I know there are 2 eggs & 1/2 cup of milk inside, etc.

      I think vegans, along with everyone, should simply live consciously. Think before we act; make decisions based on our values; listen to the opinions of others; confront our own hypocrisy; & in the end forgive ourselves & each other.

      Wild & Bright Blessings,

      Rhi

      • Jeff says:

        Rhi, suppose your friends served you a cake that contained human breast milk that was forcibly obtained from a woman who would much rather have used that milk to nurse her child. Suppose that child was taken away from her so that your friends and other people could continue to forcibly milk this woman for as long as she was lactating? Suppose that child was then butchered and his/her meat sold for human consumption? Suppose that when the woman stopped lactating, she was raped and gotten pregnant again so that she would continue to produce milk, and that this cycle was repeated throughout her reproductively fertile life, and that as soon as she reached menopause, she was slaughtered? I don’t know, but I sincerely hope your attitude would be “It DOESN’T MATTER whether the cake contains an ounce of that milk, a quart of it, or any amount in between; the way it was produced was UNETHICAL and I’m not going to eat it.” That fact about the way the mother was treated would trump your concern with honoring your friends, I would hope.

        What I’ve described above is exactly what happens to female dairy cows and their offspring in the vast majority of cases. If you’re not okay with a human female being treated this way, why is it okay to treat a female cow this way?

        • Dave Bemel says:

          I agree fully, except I think you could have been a little nicer about it. What is so hard as a vegan [animal rights] activist is that people don’t give non-human animals the same respect and rights they afford humans, even if they say they do in theory. So when we ask them to do just that we sound like zealots. Also, the injustices forced upon non-human animals are so terrible and so massive, that just to describe them as they actually are, as you equated above, makes us sound overly intense and scary. And of course, with the cruelty and oppression of non-human animals being so terrible, it is hard not to have emotional transference when talking about it.

          • Jeff says:

            I described what’s involved in the treatment of dairy cows and pointed out that if a human mother were treated this way, she probably wouldn’t find it acceptable for someone to consume even a little bit of milk that came from this human mother who had her milk taken without her consent. I don’t see how there’s anything either “not nice” or “nice” about what I said; it’s simply the truth. The truth about what the dairy industry involves isn’t pleasant to hear about, but it’s something people need to hear and think about. I’m not sure how else to say it so that it would even fit into the category of “nice/not nice.”

            • Joe Haptas says:

              Hey Jeff, this reply is way overdue but I gotta say that i think this overreliance of always using the absolutist criteria and rhetoric just doesn’t help us. We can certainly compare the treatment of animals to the Holocaust and assorted atrocities like rape (and I have). But, the question must be, is it ultimately effective to do that? Does it win people over or does it scare people away when they can’t meet 100% criteria? Pragmatism and vision to bring others in the fold must be a priority as I see it.

    9. lilliebliss says:

      Interesting article. I’ve been vegan for two years, and I feel, because its such a personal thing, I think its much better to live mostly vegan than giving up completely because you feel like you’re denying yourself pleasure. I know that I can eat anything I want, any time I want, and the decision not to is mine alone. I am totally OK with friends being ‘veganish’ when they want to have a biscuit with their tea at their grandmother’s house. There are some things that cause less harm than a fundamentalism that leads to a complete abandonment of the lifestyle. Its not something that should be emotionally damaging, it should be a celebration of the fact that you are doing something fantastic, something you want to be doing, and what you can do in your personal capacity.

      This however leads one to examine what constitutes ‘veganish’. I think that, even though its not my personal philosophy, if you’re still not directly supporting any of the abominable industries that cause so much pain and agony to other sentient beings, its OK. I don’t think I would necessarily eat my own hypothetical hen’s eggs or drink my own hypothetical cow’s milk but perhaps that’s OK – and if a non-vegan specially cooks a meal for me but added something, for instance butter, by mistake, that’s not where I fight my battles.

      Veganism can come across as incredibly fundamentalist and self-denying of pleasure and whatever else it is that freaks people out about it, but most of the time I really don’t miss things, and when I do, its quite easy to remind myself why I’m not eating it or buying it. I don’t think that everyone has to be fundamentalist, but I also think that the line has been drawn as a system of understanding of what the lifestyle under the label ‘Vegan’ constitutes. Its OK to be veganish, but isn’t the term for that vegetarian? Why, when one doesn’t want to be strictly vegan, can’t one accept that one may be vegetarian? And if that is problematic – then perhaps its worth questioning why one may be so desperate as to label oneself as ‘vegan’ when ‘vegetarian’ is much more descriptive of someone who is still OK with eating animal by-products than ‘veganish’ which is this totally grey area. I would imagine it could totally confuse your friends when sometimes you will eat their cupcakes but then other times you refuse to on moral grounds?

      With regards to drawing on the Catholic Church, there is most definitely still a problem with the use of contraception within the church – worth looking at their policies regarding HIV and the use of condoms… *shudder*. I understand what you’re trying to say, and I don’t disagree with you, but why call yourself Vegan if you’re not that into it when Vegetarian seems perfectly descriptive, and acceptable?

      • Joe Haptas says:

        Hi lilliebliss, YOU SAID THIS: Its OK to be veganish, but isn’t the term for that vegetarian? Why, when one doesn’t want to be strictly vegan, can’t one accept that one may be vegetarian? And if that is problematic – then perhaps its worth questioning why one may be so desperate as to label oneself as ‘vegan’ when ‘vegetarian’ is much more descriptive of someone who is still OK with eating animal by-products than ‘veganish’ which is this totally grey area. I would imagine it could totally confuse your friends when sometimes you will eat their cupcakes but then other times you refuse to on moral grounds?

        Very good questions. I’ll be releasing an article very soon on why we should kill vegetarianism and start talking about veganish in its place. it addresses these very concerns you point out and I think gives us a much strategic perspective to talk about these issues.

        • Andrew Collins says:

          I suggest that you stop while you’re behind. There is no need for you to create new terms, or advance new and personalized definitions for existing terms, in this area of life. Really, just stick with the truth. If you are anxious for there to be more “winners” you aren’t alone, but in attempting to change the rules, move the goal posts and ignoring reality (e.g. eating eggs directly relates to the execution of all male–economically useless, chicks), you’re only confusing more people, being dishonest and generally messing things up. I do not support your efforts because there is no such thing as someone being “veganish” or “virtually vegan.” This is a fact in precisely the way there are no people who are “virtually not slave-owners” or “virtually not murderers” or “virtually not thieves” or … well, I could continue, but nearly all reasonable people will understand what I’m saying. It is a true shame that you, Joe Haptas, do not. In some things there are very clear and very bright lines. With regards to my relationship with sentient life I am not a murderer, slave-owner or thief (or one who benefits from the enslavement, murder or theft of others). Therefore I’m a vegan. Simple and straightforward. No muss, no fuss. Please take down your website before you do more damage; or leave it up, and see for yourself how you’re accomplishing nothing but putting a three-ring circus in your “big tent.”

          • Jed Gillen says:

            Thanks so much for setting us straight! We’ll be taking down the website first thing tomorrow.

          • Joe Haptas says:

            Take down the site? Wow. OK. Seems a bit extreme based on one article.

            I’ve asked this question a few times and it is apparently considered by some a nasty question, but what the heck, here goes:

            What exactly and specifically do you do to make the world more vegan? Here’s what I’ve done in my life: http://www.carpevegan.com/?p=346 I’m genuinely curious.

            I doubt I’ll win you over but what the heck. This credo was never meant to be our argument for veganish, this is:
            Let’s Kill Vegetarian! Why Vegetarianism Must Go and VeganISH Should Ascend
            http://www.carpevegan.com/?p=1923

    10. JJ says:

      I absolutely agree! Some people (abolitionists) define a vegan as someone who does not use animals for any food, clothing or entertainment. So you take your kids to a zoo now and then or wear an old leather belt you had from before you were vegan, then you’re not even vegan! I would say, similar to your definition, that you can call yourself vegan — you are a vegan — if you strive to eliminate all animal foods from your diet. Have a slice of cheese pizza once in a blue moon when you’re really hungry and it was going to get thrown away anyway? Have a rule among your friends that “all donuts are vegan” (me and some friends actually did this a few years ago!), allowing you to eat donuts sometimes without grilling people about the ingredients? Fine — you’re still vegan! Because you try, and, most of the time, you succeed in eating a plant-based diet.

      • Dave Bemel says:

        I try not to rape people but sometimes I get so horny I just have to. So I am not a rapist, right? Cummon!

        • Joe Haptas says:

          Question Dave: Would you ever talk to someone like JJ at an Action for Animals table like this? If so, wow. If not, why is it different online? Lastly, do you really think you can win JJ over with this kind of statement?

          • Jeff says:

            I agree that Dave should have found a different way to make his point that didn’t involve sarcasm, but it’s a good point. If we really and truly take an ethical principle seriously, then we will behave in a way consistent with it 100% of the time (or at least try to in cases such as use of animal products where it’s extremely difficult to avoid sometimes). So, for example, because I believe that beating my kid is wrong, I’ve never even been tempted to do it. If one out of every 20 times my son misbehaved I beat him, that would mean I didn’t take that principle nearly as seriously as if I never did so. Since I never do it, that doesn’t make me a “militant” non-beater, an “extremist,” “fanatic,” or “zealot”; it just means I believe strongly enough in this principle to be consistent in following it.

            • Joe Haptas says:

              Jeff, you seem like a good guy and you are very civil. We can disagree and disagree in a respectful way I think but, take a look at some of things that Corey Lee Wrenn is saying on this page about a group like Vegan Outreach. Attack us? OK. But Vegan Outreach? Really? This is what Vegan Outreach does: http://www.adoptacollege.org/lifeall I’m probably just as vegan as you, that’s not the point. The point is how do we build our numbers to reduce overall suffering? We are trying some new stuff on this site. So everyone doesn’t agree. That is fine. We must be more civil though don’t we?

              • Jeff says:

                Why do you think people shouldn’t criticize Vegan Outreach? They call themselves a vegan organization and a lot of their literature doesn’t even mention anything about veganism or promote it. They appear to think that bettering the status of animals is just about getting more people to eat animal products less of the time. They don’t promote the idea that humans ought to accord animals the RIGHT to not be exploited for humans’ pleasure or convenience; they’re not an animal rights organization, and that’s the problem. Making the world a better place for non-human animals is more than just a numbers game; building an effective animal rights movement involves challenging and changing people’s ATTITUDES about animals, not just getting them to use fewer animal products. We need to get more people to stop thinking of animals as “things” that they can use for their own purposes when it suits them, not just get them to eat less meat, milk, etc.

    11. Brian says:

      There’s a fine line between striving for perfection and not beating oneself up too much for any slip-ups. Certain things about my personality and outlook make it that all that difficult for me, but I don’t know what it’s like for others.
      For me, birthday cake is out of the question, beer is checked at barnivore, and wine is to difficult to find info on to worry about. I also avoid animal products in all facets when I can, but it still took me two years to get a non-leather belt.

      • Joe Haptas says:

        Brian, I think you were trying to say it DOESN’T make it that difficult right? that’s good.

        Just wanted to let you know about this
        FYI: This credo was never meant to be our argument for veganish, this is:
        Let’s Kill Vegetarian! Why Vegetarianism Must Go and VeganISH Should Ascend
        http://www.carpevegan.com/?p=1923

    12. Katie says:

      I just wanted to say thank you. I decided to cut back my intake of animal products a week ago. I was completely overwhelmed by the list of do and dont’s, so I decided to take it slow. I decided that I wouldn’t tell anyone unless it was absolutely necessary (ie dinner at a friends) and even then Id just say I prefer not to have these foods. I was terrified of “coming out” because I knew that I was failing already and I was worried I couldn’t be pure enough to ever call myself Vegan. Seems every time I turn around I’m finding new information about food and products that I had no idea about. It is a very hard struggle.
      I was hoping to find help online, I have heaps of questions and queries but I was afraid of being yelled at or told off like a naughty child because of my ignorance. So you can imagine how mortified I was when my husband accidentally mentioned to our Vegan friend that I was cutting back and changing our lifestyle (I saw our because I do 100% of the cooking and shopping so he has no choice, hehe). I remember the day it happened I was at the supermarket when he texted me apologizing at the same time my friend texted me all excited. I needed washing powder. I spent 30minutes in front of a wall of washing powder, reading labels and staring at my smartphone hoping for answers or a someone to say just get this one. I ended up just buying one I thought was ok, and walking to the checkout like I’d just stolen a chocolate hoping none of my Vegan friends would see me. As it turns out my friends were very supportive and are encouraging me to take my time with the transition while answering all my questions and sending me useful information. I am just very grateful that they weren’t crazy about it.
      I think (and feel free to disregard my opinion since I am still a “non-vegan”) the Vegan world should be more open and helpful and less critical. I can see why people fail. It is very daunting not to have anyone to talk to or ask questions of for fear of persecution. It’s the judgmental people that cause this anxiety and I don’t really see it as necessary. I think if someone wants to change their lifestyle and try to help fight in the battle against animal cruelty we should be welcoming. I’d rather have 100 soldiers, with only 90 of them being extremist than be standing on the battlefield alone.

      Well that’s my early morning two cents, please be kind.

      • Jeff says:

        Katie, that’s great that you’re considering becoming vegan. It’s true that there’s a lot to consider and that can seem overwhelming. I didn’t realize for years after I decided to go vegan that beer and wine were often refined with animal products; fortunately, there’s a Web site called barnivore.com that has a long list of vegan-friendly alcoholic beverages. A little cumbersome to carry around, but I just put it on my iPod. And of course as a vegan one has to read labels carefully at the grocery store, check whether things like shoes have any leather, ask about ingredients at restaurants when, as is often the case, it’s not clear what’s in this or that dish. So yes, it takes a bit of effort. But compared to a lot of other things in life–raising a child, for example–it’s not that difficult, so hopefully putting it into that sort of perspective will make it seem less daunting. Most of the time it’s pretty easy.

        Some Web sites and books that I found really helpful as far as general advice or recipes: Vegan Freak (by Jenna and Bob Torres), the Boston Vegan Association site, fatfreevegan.com, vegweb.com…actually the Boston Vegan Association’s site has several other links to Web sites of all kinds, so I’d highly recommend checking out their “links” page. Good luck!

        Jeff

        • Jennifer Greene says:

          Jeff, I understand why you wrote this, with great sincerity: “And of course as a vegan one has to read labels carefully at the grocery store, check whether things like shoes have any leather, ask about ingredients at restaurants when, as is often the case, it’s not clear what’s in this or that dish.”

          But let me share with you a question I’ve asked myself. Let’s say I spot a non-vegan ingredient on a label, and put the product back on the shelf. If I *really* want to have my non-purchase decision have a much bigger effect, shouldn’t I write a letter? Or make a phone call? To convey my objection to the ingredient in question?

          My individual decision not to buy that product, well, yes, presumably it’s part of something larger–a boycott–but how much *more* effective that boycott would be if we communicated our reasons to the company, right?

          If I took the time to urge the company to quit using whey or egg whites or whatever in their product, that act–of writing or calling with my comment–would do waaaaaaay more to influence them than simply passing over that product on the grocery shelf.

          So here’s my confession. Do I write that letter or make that phone call? No, almost never. (I’ve done it only a few times, as part of a campaign that someone else organized, making it easy for me.)

          And I feel bad about that. It makes me feel like a hypocrite–I mean, I say that I want to end animal exploitation and needless suffering, but am I doing, as a consumer, something that I know could make a big difference? No, I’m not.

          In fact, if there were someone–an omnivore, a “bad” vegan, whoever– who went ahead and purchased that box of cereal, but then took the time to write letters to the manufacturer, urging the company to reformulate their product, well, I have to admit they’d be doing much more good for the animals than I’d be doing by conducting my silent boycott. So who’s more in keeping with vegan ideals, given this scenario?

          Remembering that I’m not perfect (as I described above) helps keep me off my high horse.

          I’ve also kept in mind, when I’m in the company of non-vegans, that rigid trace-ingredient-avoidance, or extended-interrogations-of-waitstaff, can turn off would-be vegans. I’m mostly persuaded that if something’s apparently vegan, that’s good enough, when I’m in the company of folks I’m hoping to influence. I also think this balancing act will fade as an issue, as we make progress and the times change. That is, as “vegan” is becoming a more familiar term and a more common request, it’s becoming easier and easier to ask for it without being a pain.

          But my bottom line is that I don’t want a not-yet-vegan person to perceive the distance between us as a huge chasm. I want them to perceive the distance as small enough, and to observe me appearing so happy and at ease with what I’m doing, that they think, “Hey, maybe I *could* do what she’s doing.”

          If I succeed in inspiring that person to make changes, then I’ve helped so many more animals that way. I think that’s being a smart abolitionist.

      • Joe Haptas says:

        You are awesome Katie! I’m so happy you came across us. Please do stick with it. if you have any questions, feel free to email me joehaptas at carpevegan.com. There are a lot of great resources out there provided by groups like PETA’s Caring Consumer: http://www.peta.org/living/beauty-and-personal-care/companies/default.aspx

        Depending on the city, you may have access to a local veg guide. you can google around for your city or state coupled with words like vegetarian or vegan.

        I just love your fresh opinion and perspective.

    13. Angie says:

      Katie, you are doing fab :-) and don’t let the vegan police tell you otherwise.

      It is very noticeable on this thread that the ‘real’ vegans are the ones who won’t accept anything less than perfection in others. And I find it amusing that they are ranting to fellow vegans, and trying to score ‘perfection points’ over others who fully understand farming practices. If they come across as harsh to hardened people like me (30 years into my veggieness) I cannot begin to imagine how extreme they sound to you, and people like you who are just exploring the issue. They fail to see that their strident ‘my way or no way’ attitude turns people away.

      If everyone in the Western world went 90% vegan (or veganish, whatever you choose to call it) the other 10% of animal products would soon stop being produced, for economic reasons alone. So we would get there: but in an much more caring and compassionate way.

      If the vegan police were as compassionate towards their fellow humans as they are towards non-human animals that would be a vast step forward. How about it, guys?

      I live in hope. Meanwhile Katie, keep on doing what you’re doing :-)

      • Dave Bemel says:

        Not so. 90 percent of people don’t use crack, but there is still a lot sold. 90 percent of people don’t buy ivory, but elephants are still being murdered for their tusks. If 90 percent of people stopped buying products of animal exploration, then 90 percent fewer animals would be exploited, but ten percent still would be.

        • Angie says:

          Sorry, Dave, I didn’t make myself very clear about the 90% in my explanation – but taking it in the way you have – prices of meat/fish/dairy/eggs would increase if they become rare commodities rather than the norm. People are already cutting down on meat consumption because of rising prices, and they will cut down even more as prices continue to rise.

          But let me explain it the way I intended it: if 90% of people stopped eating meat, fish, dairy and eggs – without bothering to scrutinise trace ingredients on labels (at my age, the eyesight is starting to go a little, and more and more labels are beyond my optical capabilities these days ;-) ) then the cost of the by-products and trace ingredients would increase, profit margins would shrink or become non-existent and manufacturers would be left with the choice of either increasing product prices, (leading to fewer sales as the price becomes out of reach for the average customer) OR buying alternative (vegan) trace ingredients. And there is a very good chance they will buy the cheaper vegan ingredient to keep their profit margins up.

          Y’know, I’m so old I remember well when the vast majority of biscuits sold in the UK had animal fat in them. Now, the vast majority don’t – when the market prices for vegetable fats came down, the manufacturers quickly changed over to using them.

          So my argument that 90% will equal 100% in time stands. So if we can get people to be ‘veganish’ rather than insisting ‘vegan or nothing’ – it will still have the same result.

      • Joe Haptas says:

        Well put Angie. Thanks for your thoughtfulness. What you say is so true. A frustrating situation.

        FYI: This credo was never meant to be our argument for veganish, this is:
        Let’s Kill Vegetarian! Why Vegetarianism Must Go and VeganISH Should Ascend
        http://www.carpevegan.com/?p=1923

    14. toni says:

      Veganism is the intentional avoidance of all animal products in every way shape or form, as far as is possible. One is either vegan or not. If one lapses ocassionaly, so be it; but then one is not vegan, but vegetarian. What’s not to understand about this? As it is, restaurants and the public understand vegetarians eat fish or chicken (!!) because lines have been blurred. I embrace all who reduce their animal consumption, they make the effort. I do expect though that veggies will make the transition, esp if they insist they are veg for ethical reasons. And by the way, as a vegan, one CAN have one’s cake and eat it :)

      • Jed Gillen says:

        Thou sayest.

      • Joe Haptas says:

        Thanks Toni for disagreeing in a civil way. Perhaps this might clarify a bit for you our take. Given your response, I’d be curious to see if this moves you at all.

        This credo was never meant to be our argument for veganish, this is:
        Let’s Kill Vegetarian! Why Vegetarianism Must Go and VeganISH Should Ascend
        http://www.carpevegan.com/?p=1923

      • Jane Wilder says:

        ” as far as is possible.”, Ah Toni, herein lies the rub. One person’s “as far as possible” is another’s “not far enough”. This is because that is a subjective as opposed to objective empirically provable statement. In other words basically a choice. You CHOOSE what is vegan enough, for you or not. So you can’t really cast stones.

    15. Dave Bemel says:

      Yeah, I dont agree at all. Well, ok if the mono and diglycerides are not listed as veg I might still eat them, if no other obvious choice exists. But if I find out they are not veg, I wont ever eat them. Obvious animal products, are, well, obviously not vegan and never will be.

      Veganism is not just a lifestyle, it is a moral imperative. Vegan is certainly not just a diet, that’s vegetarianism, and the made-up lacto- and ovo- vegetarian. Not smoking is not a moral issue, unless you are pregnant or have kids or something around, so it is not a good comparison.

      Religion is asinine and no one ever follows it or they would go to jail or worse. An eye for an eye and all that. So comparing veganisn to religion does not work.

      I think there are ways to speak the truth and be a real vegan w/o being an a-hole, but I also think that if you are knowingly eating or buying products of animal exploitation you can not call yourself a vegan. You can call yourself a caring person who works to avoid animal products, or something like that. Or maybe just “almost vegan” or an “aspiring vegan.”

      • Joe Haptas says:

        You crack me up Dave. You talk about not being an a-hole but in the preceeding graph say this: Religion is asinine and no one ever follows it or they would go to jail or worse. An eye for an eye and all that. So comparing veganisn to religion does not work.

        Oversimplify much?

        anyhow, here’s a cut and paste: FYI: This credo was never meant to be our argument for veganish, this is:
        Let’s Kill Vegetarian! Why Vegetarianism Must Go and VeganISH Should Ascend
        http://www.carpevegan.com/?p=1923

      • Not a Religious scholar. says:

        I could be wrong, but isn’t there this thing called the “New Testament” which overrides the eye for an eye bit in the “Old Testament”? There again maybe you’re referring to some other religious text or perhaps the code of Hammurabi? Which wasn’t a religion so much as a code of law. hm. So, I guess if we were living under the code of Hammurabi then… ah well, never mind.

    16. Sonal says:

      “Slacker Jains”..I find out comment under the photo of the walking Jain followers offensive and truly disrespectful. Who are you to judge if these Jains are “slackers” all because they aren’t wearing a face mask and sweeping the floor. There are many ways to practice ones religion and instead of putting them down there should be some level of respect for them given that most ardent vegans would never walk around naked and expose themselves to physical harm for the sake of animals and insects like those in your photo. You advocate for respect to all animals but you have none for those that are doing their utmost to protect animals in their way and in the name of their religion.

      • Joe Haptas says:

        It’s a joke Sonal. We aren’t making fun of Jains. We are trying to illustrate how difficult it really is to cause no harm and what extent some people go through to do that. Some Jains cover their mouths and sweep before them to avoid killing insects. These Jains didn’t appear to be doing so which is why we called them slacker. Those Jains obviously aren’t slackers.

    17. Stephanie says:

      I understand the premise of getting more people to go vegan by us not coming across as crazed zealots, but I have a hard time getting on board with this 95% proposal. If I know that cruelty is wrong, then why would even occasional meat purchases be okay? Most people are against child molestation, and I can’t imagine advocating that molestation is okay as long as it occasional and not habitual or that it is done quickly and humanely by slipping the kid a roofie. We have no problem saying that there should be absolutely no raping, killing, child solicitation. How is this different?

      I am hoping they get in-vitro meat on the market so that my questions may be rendered null and void.

      • Joe Haptas says:

        Hi Stephanie, thanks very much for your civil response. Perhaps this can explain a bit better:

        FYI: This credo was never meant to be our argument for veganish, this is:
        Let’s Kill Vegetarian! Why Vegetarianism Must Go and VeganISH Should Ascend
        http://www.carpevegan.com/?p=1923

    18. Beth says:

      I agree with your post 100% Do the best you can, it all counts. I do not need the vegan police scrutinizing my every move, which by the way is vegan.

      • Joe Haptas says:

        Thanks Beth! We appreciate it. Hope you come back. New article on the home page about promoting veganish over vegetarian that might interest ya.

    19. Beth says:

      Also, if we lighten up a little, and stop fighting with EACH OTHER, we may get more on our side and more at 95% is better than less at 100%.

    20. Ron says:

      I wanted to thank Mr. Bemel for opening my eyes. For the past 10 years I’ve been living a lie. I’ve been calling myself a Vegan. My wife and I thought we were raising our kids Vegan. Now I know we’re all “aspiring Vegans.” My folly is legion.

      I make my living as a software engineer. It’s part of my job to push electrons around into patterns that we call “data” then push more electrons around so that people can do something useful with said “data.” I’m not sure where those electrons came from. Given the sheer quantity that I’ve pushed around in my career I’m sure some of them were of animal origin. Likewise, the machinery used for the pushing and transmission of electrons was sure to have been manufactured using some sort of animal product like stearic acid, an animal based lubricant or adhesive. Not to mention powering said hardware. How many fish were killed for hydroelectric? Of course being an “aspiring Vegan” I make good choices. I run my home on solar. The solar inverters have computer hardware manufactured the same way. Even if I make really really good “aspiring Vegan” choices, once I push my “aspiring Vegan” electron out past my router it passes through an army of hardware. Hardware that could again be animal based, powered by fish killing hydroelectric, in buildings sitting on or made of Portland cement. Who knows what sort of hardware or building this very message passes through to get posted as a comment. Could be some ISP network node is run out of the back of a slaughter house! Which, as an “aspiring Vegan,” makes me sick. Just looking around my office, I see books (animal based adhesives?), phone and headset (stearic acid?), sticky notes and things my children have made me (animal based adhesives again?), egads! Does my poop kill when I flush it? I now know, with statistical certainty, that my profession, my computer usage, my book reading, my life have all in some way contributed to the death of an animal.

      I’ve done my best for 10 years and I see now that I should just call it quits. I am not Vegan. I choose not to eat animals or animal products as best as I can. I choose to eschew animal products for clothing, in the home, and so on as well as I can. I’m only an “aspiring Vegan” person with an “aspiring Vegan” family.

      Tongue in cheek prose aside, where does one draw the line? If we deconstruct every aspect of every action in our life, from using a cell phone, to walking on cement, we’re sure to find some animal based product involved. Does a “real Vegan” need to choose a life away from “civilization,” foraging for nuts and berries in the forest? If so, thank goodness for us “aspiring Vegans” we’ll spread the word while all the “real Vegans” are in the woods. This has been a ponderable issue for me since transitioning from vegetarian (which is what we called it 20+ years ago, but you may know it as veganish) to “aspiring Vegan”. If I deconstruct everything, then I’m left with nothing that is Vegan. On the other hand if I don’t deconstruct, then there’s an omnivore out there waiting to club me with my folly. I appreciate the stake in the ground made by this article. I will still not eat cake of questionable origin (sorry Joy), but at the very least, now I can sip a scotch and read CarpeVegan with a clear conscience as an “aspiring Vegan.”

      Thank you Joe and Jed for the new community you’re building. I guess I was really bored. I read to the end of your bios.

      • Joe Haptas says:

        Wow. Ron, this is awesome man. If you ever wanna write for CV in a fit of inspiration, just let us know. We had 18K uniques in our first 8 days so traffic is pretty good. As for now, you’ve been inducted into the CarpVegan comments hall of fame. We need a lot more people like you sir. Keep on keeping on!

    21. I started out ovo/lacto vegetarian when I was 17 in 1975, and for many of those years was vegan off and on and/or trying be as vegan as possible (though always remaining at least vegetarian). In about 2005 or 6, I started trying to be much more strict, and called myself a “99% vegan”, which, I suppose I still am.
      In recent years, one significant “stumbling block” has been accepting non-vegan (albeit still vegetarian) food from various people to avoid offending or hurting them. Often, these are from elderly ladies who aren’t just giving food, but “love”. This kind of situation happens, oh, maybe 2, 3, 4 times a year. I’m sure not all my cleaning and pharmaceuticals are vegan and cruelty-free, though I try to eliminate as many as I can.
      I avoid honey, but I’m still using a whole foods multi with bee pollen. When this bottle is through, I’ve switched to a vegan equivalent. But I’m inconsistent with bee products. I still use waxed dental floss and candles, which apparently contain bees-wax, though I’m not quite sure. I’ve read good arguments pro and con about the veganism of bee products, and don’t have a clear opinion about them at this point.
      I think the vegan police and “church ladies” are mostly, if not all, ignorant or hypocritical about their own inconsistencies. They say they’re not claiming to be 100%—but hey, that’s just what WE “less-than-vegans” are saying. We’re just more honest with ourselves and others about it and prefer not to make excuses.
      Even though I’ve been hugely put off by sanctimonious vegans who “claim” to be “more consistent than thou”, I think there is a legitimate concern behind their message. Here’s were I might start sounding like a church lady myself, and my apologies in advance.
      I think a vegan is someone who TRIES, who makes an on-going and good-faith effort, to consistently avoid meat, dairy, eggs, (maybe bee products), etc., and still may claim the label if they fail to now and then. Even a moment of weakness now and then I can understand. But I think the suggestion that some self-described “pure” vegans have made, that it’s okay now and then to indulge in a cheese pizza or something is a little bit beneath the vegan bar. Succumbing to tempation on the one hand and pre-deciding occasional indulges are “okay” on the other, are somewhat different things.
      I’ve so often been so put off and discouraged by sanctimonious vegan hypocrites, that I’ve been searching for an alternative term to describe myself, to belong to a different community. The suggestion of “vegetarian” is ridiculous and insulting (I’m not by any means anti-vegetarian. It’s good step toward respecting and caring about animals.) “Veganish” may be okay, but is ambiguous, and an adjective. I’m looking for a noun. “Sub-vegan”? “Near-vegan”? I may explore this option.

      • Jed Gillen says:

        Good post. You make a lot of sense here. Let us know if you stumble upon a good noun. Meanwhile, I’ll veganishly continue my quest to find an adverb.

      • Joe Haptas says:

        Hey James, one qualifier that Jed has captured well with these words: “The concept of “veganish” isn’t to encourage current vegans to slack off; it’s to give recognition and encouragement to those who can’t do everything, but are doing much more than nothing.”

      • Jane Wilder says:

        If you use candles made out of any wax you are hurting animals. All wax comes from somewhere. If you use any matches or lighters again. It disturbs habitat , nothing is safe. Nothing is “pure”. You know what? All food and clothing has a cost in death. Why pretend otherwise? I agree sometimes people feed you stuff you don’t want to eat and won’t be able to understand your reasoning. They will be only hurt. Maybe that matters more. The eggs in the cake are already cooked. SOmething to think about.

      • Nora says:

        “I avoid honey, but I’m still using a whole foods multi with bee pollen.”

        WHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAT is BEE pollen?

        Seriously, pollen comes from plants. Not bees. I know from pollen – I’m allergic and I hates the stuff (OK, I hates the stuff in my eyes and nose, I know plants need it). If you like it, more power to ya. Look at http://www.pollen.com for lots more data!

    22. Sorry. Typo. “But I think the suggestion that some self-describe “pure” vegans…” Delete the “pure”. Thanks.

    23. Kay says:

      Thanks for this article. I have been vegan for four years, and was starting to feel frustrated and burnt out a few weeks ago. Sometimes I travel out of the country (to visit my sister where she lives in Central America, for example), and out of convenience have eaten vegetarian (eggs and cheese, no meat). I made the decision consciously, but felt like a sneak or a “bad vegan” when I got back home–can I call myself a vegan, if a few weeks out of the year I may eat a vegetarian diet?

      After years of being a fairly strict vegan, and starting to have thoughts like, “I just want to eat breakfast at a restaurant that is not carbs with a side of carbs,” I decided I needed to be easier on myself. I’d rather forgive myself for eating something non-vegan on a rare occasion than say, “well, I ate an egg, I’m not vegan anymore, I will eat an egg every day.”

      • Joe Haptas says:

        Hi Kay, I think you present a perfect example of the conundrums many people face. Some believe it must be all or nothing, 100% or culpable. Life is filled with foibles and missteps. We can’t just beat one another up over these issues. We need to build a bigger party/tent/movement, not destroy those who are so close to the ideal. Hang in there!

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      • Joe Haptas says:

        Hey Dwight, Thanks so much for the kind words sir. You get us! Obviously a website like this is the best way to get the most people engaged and thinking about these ideas while drafting a vision/strategy for a more vegan world.

    25. LoCo Vegan says:

      This is fantastic. It is about choices and how they chnage and evolve. We all sart somewhere not knowing where we end up. I think the only people who can disagree are those not so confident in their own decisions.

    26. Wow. This is a refreshing site for someone that is really sick of toe-the-line vegan websites.

      It actually inspired me to finally start my own vegan blog. Check it out: http://speciesistvegan.wordpress.com/

      Cheers.

      SpeciesistVegan

    27. Enlightened says:

      dont stay because they wanna be normal??? That is immatuer people as you say fads. Those are the sheeple. As for the rest of us, veganism isn’t a choice. We are tired of being chemical dumps for the USA government (fluoride. lookup fluorisis of the teeth. dentist make money off you/your pineal gland being poisoned by fluoride. they buy it from china as a byproduct from factories that would normally cost to get rid of they now make money off. Let’s not mention gmo’s, pesticides and steroids they inject meat with WHICH is enough reason to be vegan itself, and they do spray plants 2 which is WHY people get cancer from cigarettes. its not the tobacco but the radioactive fertilizer sprayed to keep animals and bugs from destroying the crop so they get 100% profit. they dont care about your health your a chemical dump/something to be made money off of to your GOVERNMENT. its not just their fault but their culture. the eurocentric world view which is about control over everything, capitalism, and greed but that’s another lesson).

      as for veganism you should watch “foods that part” part 1-6. a doctor lays out all you need to know (its on youtube):
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zG_tn3KAXNE&feature=results_video&playnext=1&list=PLC676616DAECF396D

      knowledge is power. Right brain knowledge.

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    30. Hollywood_Vegan says:

      *Have read many of these statements. First let me tell you this, eating meat -Sometimes & dairy Sometimes- means YOU ARE NOT VEGAN! I work too hard to be nearly 99% vegan & I say that because many of the shoes, etc., I purchased in the past are not vegan apparel. Nowadays, I shop vegan. I don’t own leather coats, or jackets or fur. I’m really working on purchasing eco-friendly items.

      I have cut out MANY of my favorite foods to become as close to 100% vegan as possible. I’m also living a Raw way of life, as well. I’ve learned to prepare all of my own meals..I used to never really cook but heat up packaged vegetarian meals. Mostly all of those have SOY–and I’ve learned the dangers of soy. I buy Raw/Vegan recipe books and I work extremely hard at it. And real Vegans carry certain items with them to dinners/restaurants to make sure they stick with their vegan way of eating.. so don’t think you can consume dairy each week, smear butter on your food, and have milk in your cereal at times and call yourself VEGAN. Get the heck outta’ here- YOU ARE NOT VEGAN! SO STOP CALLING YOURSELF THAT!

    31. Kate says:

      This was a very interesting article. For the record, I am an omnivore, but many years ago, I started making the conscious effort to eat some vegetarian meals weekly.

      I live in the Deep South. My husband has two meat smokers in our driveway, both once belonged to my dearly departed dad who was also a meat enthusiast. There were many times when my husband would catch a sale at the grocery store, and I’m calling everyone I know because we’ve suddenly got 20 lbs of meat somebody had to eat, and next thing I know, we’re having a dinner party.

      So imagine my surprise when about a year ago, my husband came home from work with the idea that he wanted to drastically cut the meat in his diet. This was the Monday after Thanksgiving when he had just spent the whole weekend teasing my best friend who’d recently changed her diet to pescetarian. He’d started worried about this health and the toll of his “extreme meat” diet.

      At the time, I was breastfeeding my second child. Just a few months later, we learned that she was allergic to milk, eggs and peanuts. So for me, those foods were suddenly off-limits. Take these two diets together and we’ve suddenly gone from regular American carnivores to… well what the article described as, “95% vegan”.

      Now, make no mistake, I’ve NEVER called myself a vegan, nor has my husband. While we don’t fit the vegan label, our diet is VERY different from the average American. I describe us as “semi-vegetarian”.

      So like the documentary, “Forks Over Knives”, I guess you could say that we subscribe to a “Whole Foods, Plant-Based Diet”. But that’s kind of a mouthful. It’s almost as if you need another name for this type of lifestyle, and it just doesn’t exist. Hence, why I use the term “semi-vegetarian”.

      For the record, you can say all you want that I should just suck it up and go 100% vegan, but the fact is, I’m not doing that in the forseeable future. And neither is most of America. I like cheese. Every now and then, I’d like to have a gelato. And I like having turkey (gasp!) for Thanksgiving dinner. And where I live (South Carolina) going vegan means that there is ONE restaurant in my city where I could ever go out to eat.

      So given that I’m never going to be a vegan… are you really going to say that my fairly extreme dietary behaviors are worthless? What if a few million more Americans jumped on board with me? What kind of environmental impact are we talking about here?

      I respect the commitment that people make when they become vegan. I’m not making that commitment, and I’m not claiming to make the same commitment.

      But can you really say that you’re entitled to SCOFF at me for having made any commitment because it’s not enough? Really, it’s not enough for you, Internet Stranger? lol

      This article is 100% accurate in stating that the self-righteousness attitude of some vegans (clearly evidenced in MANY readers’ comments) is exactly what turns off the rest of the population. Rather than impacting change on the status quo, it reinforces it. It’s pretty sad really.

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    33. Carrie says:

      I love this article and agree with everything it says– YES, everything. The false dichotomy of “you must be a perfect vegan all the time, or give up on helping animals” sets people up for failure. The first time they screw up and have a grilled cheese sandwich, they think they’re starting from square one all over, instead of just allowing themselves the imperfections that come with being human.

      In my opinion, there are no “vegans” or “vegetarians” or “Christians” or “leftists,” because none of us do these things all the time. There are only good decisions, bad decisions, vegan meals and non-vegan meals.

      -Carrie, eating vegan meals since 2003

    34. Jane Wilder says:

      Most of you are the hypocrites. All food and clothing harms animals. All of it. One of you said as far as possible. It is always possible to be more vegan. You would have to move to a place where you could gather your own food in its original habitat and only eat foods that want to be eaten so you could shit out and spread their seeds, wear nothing and sleep where you don’t disturb any other habitat. But you would still be competing for food with those who can’t really compete with humans. So really there are no vegans. I am old. None of you look very old. There are some old vegans but not many. There are many young vegans. You do the math. Either they all died young from brain rot from no saturated animal fat, or they quit?
      This is the most sensible vegan article I ever read. Wow thanks for posting this.

    35. Wiktor says:

      Many good points made in the spirit of pragmatism except for the section “Vegan is not a political party or an overarching philosophy of life. Vegans should heartily welcome different political, social, religious and cultural views” which I find utterly lame.
      When you say, “Please do not list veganism as your political affiliation”, perhaps you’re taking a view of politics as the exclusive domain of George Bushes and Barack Obamas of this world, but – surprise surprise – “politics” is about the way society is organised. If you strive to replace cruelty with empathy and joy of life, that is thoroughly political, especially if you have the faintest trace of strategy in pursuing your goal. You may not want to acknowledge it, but every choice you make in your life is political, because it impacts others. As feminists have pointed out, personal is political too. Can’t escape it. And given that veganism is a fairly coherent set of assumptions, it is a political ideology like any other. Burying your head in the sand and pretending you just want to have fun in your life away from the dirty world of politics is kinda naive, let alone pretending that veganism is politically neutral or void. Being neutral means suspending critical thought and drifting with the mainstream – is veganism really that?

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