I appreciate greatly your trying to distinguish an animal-free diet (which is often based on health or environmental concerns) from someone else's animal-free lifestyle (which is often based on ethics or compassion).
I was actually an "ethical vegetarian" before becoming vegan - I didn't wear leather/wool, didn't use products with animal ingredients or tested on animals, skipped animal-related entertainment like zoos, etc. However I ate eggs and dairy without too much thought! Weird. But eventually I became much more educated on the issues, and now it's a way of life for me.
In your case I think it's perfectly fine to say "I eat a plant-based diet," or "I eat a vegan diet" as Faith suggested, or even "I'm a dietary vegan" (or "beegan," in your case). The nice thing about making these distinctions is it invites people to ask you further questions, and you can then contribute to their education too.
As for this, I must comment: "The great vegan gathering of 1950, or whatever it was, when they deemed honey not vegan, I think was a decision based on "feeling" rather than fact, but this is just my opinion."
You're entitled to your own opinion, but not your own facts. Bees are animals. That's as true today as when the term "vegan" was coined in 1944. It's not that honey was "deemed" one thing or another, it's that today some people choose their own convenience or personal taste for honey over their ethical stance about the use of animal products.
How kind beekeepers are is not the question, just like it's not about how kind chicken ranchers or dairy farmers are. It's not even about whether bees feel pain or get inadvertently killed in the collection process. It's based on the fact that a vegan avoids using animal products, and bees are animals. (This goes for beeswax, bee propolis, royal jelly, or any other bee product too. I will not lie and say it's easy to find vegan lip balm!)
Ethically, I opt not to steal from bees - but that's just my opinion. I don't believe they make honey or beeswax for me; they make it for their babies and to see them through the lean months in winter. And there are so many alternatives to honey that it's probably one of the easiest things to give up.
I'm not trying to debate either - I'm sorry you read it as such. The point was to put my thoughts out there for anyone following the topic. Using animals doesn't jibe with the vegan ethic, and bees are animals.
I admit I am interested in challenging or testing my own understanding of the honey subject. Intellectually I'm confused about the difference between honey and eggs. (Emotionally, I get it: insects aren't cute and don't have appreciable personalities like chickens.)
Another opinion: it's possible for eggs to made by an animal freely, without coercion, whether caged or not. Eggs are just a hen's menstrual waste. They occasionally eat their own eggs, but don't really need to if their diet isn't deficient. A lot of backyard chicken raisers treat them with fondness and respect, and happy chickens lay lots of eggs. I don't see how this scenario is all that different from the hobbyist beekeeper, yet people don't believe eggs are part of a vegan diet, and people don't say that including or excluding eggs is just a personal choice for a vegan. Hence my confusion!
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I would simply say that you eat a nearly vegan diet.
Hi Jim, I feel most comfortable with the term "plant-sourced" since I'd rather people ask me what it means rather than recoil from me thinking I'll attack their tastes/values/comfortable existence. I use "vegan" in restaurants because the server doesn't have the time or inclination to ask me about my lifestyle. I like "veg*n vagabond" though! Mind if I borrow it?
I don't nitpick over whether someone is truly vegan or not. Some people change their lives completely immediately and others pace themselves. Most get to the same place in the end.
I have to thank all of you, again, for all of your support and feedback. Since posting this, I have been 100% vegan with my diet. I don't think I have been even slightly tempted. :)
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