Years ago I had a conversation with someone who ate a completely plant-based diet, didn’t buy anything made out of animals and would not purchase anything animal tested but refused to call himself Vegan and would correct anyone that referred to him as one. When I asked why, he replied without hesitation, “I don’t believe in following any religion and Veganism is nothing short of religion.” I found this an odd reason and I didn’t completely agree but I have thought of this statement a lot over the years.
Through the followers on my Don’t Fear The Vegan page on Facebook I have been exposed to a wider view of what is involved in being a vegan from different people’s perspectives. Much like religion, each sect or group has their own take and belief system, many of which are willing to call out others for not being as vegan as themselves. I myself have been told I am not vegan because I use chocolate. A friend told me to look up the meaning in the dictionary because I was misguided. In my Webster’s American Family dictionary it simply states, “A vegetarian that omits all animal products from the diet.” The point they were trying to get at is that it has nothing to do with leather, down comforters or wool; it is simply about the diet.
There are so many different takes and like religion where they are all after the same greater reward, vegans are also working toward a greater good though they may follow a slightly different path to get there. This can all be very confusing and there are so many different takes on the subject and that is why we have decided to make our first question: What does “Vegan” mean to you?
This is a very interesting topic. I refer to myself as vegan because it is a label most people are basically familiar with. To be honest, I am about 98% vegan, and I do eat honey. If one of my students gives me a cupcake they made for me I don’t ask if it contains animal products, I eat it and tell them how wonderful it was that they thought of me. Herbivore would probably be a better term for me, and I do like “plant-strong”, but they don’t have as much understanding in the larger world.
But here’s my main thought. Everyone makes their own choices for their bodies and their lives. We are all (or should all be) striving for health but since we are all different in our physical makeups, sometimes the way to achieve that health is different. I try not to judge the choices others make for their health. Because, after all, no one knows exactly what it is like to be me anymore then I know what it is like to be them.
Leko Batista says:
August 4, 2011 at 10:57 pm (Edit)
Vegan means everything to me; from a physical perspective, it brings a healthy life without clogs in my arteries, good healthy skin, 25% less chance of developing cancer (which is a good thing for me, it runs in my family), stable weight and my stamina if through the roof. From a spiritual perspective; it made me more compassionate, it gives me peace of mind to know that no being with a beating heart is dying so I can live. I can go on and on about this, but long story short, since I became a vegan I am a whole new person… I’m whole.
I too am ‘mostly’ vegan. Although I fully understand the health benefits of omitting animal products, “never” is not the way I live my life. I will, on occasion eat foods that contain animal products. Non-dogma is our path, but discipline and boundaries do get murky with a non-dogmatic approach. My son is six and although he too is mostly vegan, he loves cheese and is offered it often by friends, and especially at school. Overall we eat mostly plants, fruits, seeds, beans, nuts legumes and some grains. As a Holistic Health Coach, I find that many of us, vegan or omnivorous are overly dependent on bread products and meat or meat-substitute products. From a personal perspective, I do the best I can for myself and my family to consume raw produce and plant-based foods. And I recommend my clients try to “do their best” as well.
To me vegan means being a part of an amazing community of people. Like minded individuals who you are able to bond with through dinners, pot lucks, bbqs and other places where you feel left out because of your life choices.
It means having empathy for animals and taking a step in the right direction to make this world a better place for everyone to live in.
Being vegan isn’t good enough though, radical critique and action are required to make change not simply changing your own personal lifestyle.