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Vegan Vagabond

Vegan Vagabond

Posted May 11, 2010

Published in Food, Health, Lifestyle

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Hello, my name is Jim. I am an imperfect "veg*n"

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I recently got in a little tiff with someone that was taking exception to someone being called a "vegan", when they were not "fully vegan." The premise of this person was, vegan is not just a diet, it is a lifestyle. I bounced it back and forth with him, as I am totally turned off by the sanctimony of some of the veganer than thou's in our ranks (not saying this person was. He may be very genuine), but then I really got to thinking and I realized, who the hell am I to be arguing with this guy? When I really think about it, I am not a vegan. Not by the strict sense of the definition. Maybe not even by a stretch. I am a dietary vegan 99% of the time (more on this later), but I do wear wool suits, silk ties, leather shoes, and I eat honey. I am not "vegan". So, what the heck am I, pray tell? I can't say that I am vegetarian, that will confuse people that may be cooking for me (friends, family, restaurants, etc). I can say that I am a "strict vegetarian", but then "vegetarian" is so watered down anymore, that "strict vegetarian" might just be interpreted as someone that is really strict because they don't even eat chicken or fish. And so, as irritated as I get, when I hear someone say, "I'm vegetarian, but I do eat chicken and fish," I can appreciate a vegan getting irritated by me, standing there in my wool suit, silk tie, leather shoes and sticky honey fingers, proclaiming, "I am vegan." I get it, I really do. So, again, I ask you, what am I? My wife could probably roll a few labels right off the top of her head, but let's keep this to labels concerning my diet.

Many years ago, it was bounced around that there should be a new word, "vegetan", used for dietary vegans. I was opposed to it back then, because, if I put myself in the shoes of the common folk, all of these labels would just confuse the crap out of me. The only purpose I saw for "vegetan" was so that we can internally (among us veg*ns) label ourselves. I just didn't, and still don't, see it as worthy of all of the confusion it would cause externally, just to have a label that would make us feel good internally. So, what should I call myself? You vegans out there, sound off. Does it really bother you when dietary vegans call themselves vegans? I can understand if it does, I really can. If it does bother you, how would you prefer a dietary vegan like me label himself?

Moving right along, I want to also point out that I am weak and I stray. As hard as I try and as much as I promise myself, I do find myself cheating from time to time. I can go long stretches where I am rock solid and then I can fall completely apart. I can't figure it out. What does "fall apart" mean? OK, so, I can resist everything when it comes to meat, broth, cheese, eggs, dairy, gelatin or anything else in meals. What I struggle with is my MASSIVE sweet tooth. I never touch ice cream or anything so boldly non-vegan. Chocolate is the bain of my veganism. I happen to prefer dark chocolate, so milk chocolate really doesn't temp me. But, if I am dying for chocolate and there is no other option, and sitting there is a piece of dark chocolate with some milk product in it, I turn into a spineless wimp. Additionally, I sometimes will find myself being what I call "passively vegan". What the heck does that mean? To me, this is when I am sitting in some meeting and I am about to pass out from hunger (which is funny, since I have enough fat stored on my gut to last me a month if I am ever stranded without food) and there are some rolls or something that possibly could be vegan, but very possibly could not be vegan and, rather than aggressively hunting down an ingredients list, I just readily assume in my mind that it is vegan and I eat it. That's what I call "passively vegan".

Why am I going on about this? Well, I am a strong believer in the fact that shining sunlight on something has a cleansing affect, but also because, I know that other people struggle with this. It's not easy being vegan in this world where animal pieces, parts, and derivatives are being thrown at you on a constant basis. As I proof this draft, I am being presented with an ad to "Baconaise your burgers". It's a constant barrage. I know several vegans that are very convicted in their veganism, but they have confided in me that they sometimes have "moments of weakness". I am by no means justifying my spineless events by pointing out that others cheat, too. I am merely pointing out that there are many of us that struggle, so that those that are new to veganism or isolated in their veganism (not a strong support structure) do not get discouraged and give up because they struggle while "everyone else is so strong." If you are new to being vegetarian or vegan, or even if you have been vegetarian or vegan for a long time, and you find that you have moments of weakness and stray from your convictions, don't beat yourself up over it. Don't get discouraged. We are all at different stages on an evolutionary path and many of us struggle and stray from time to time. The key is to stay focused on why you have made this choice and know that you are doing the right thing.

My name is Jim. I am doing the best that I can, but I am an imperfect veg*n.

 


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I think that the word vegetarian has become a joke. If a vegetarian is plus this and that, then everyone is vegetarian. How about a vegetarian is a vegeration is not plus, and a Vegan does all the other animal products outside of eating. The government has allowed it to become a joke!!!!!!!(with Labeling) Our bowling had a vegetarian option, white pasta and cheese lasagna. (give me a break). It has got to the point that anything can be called vegetarian if it has 1% veg.!!!!!!

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I am not sure that I am following you completely. To me, I see vegetarian as someone that doesn't eat animals. I think the largely accepted world wide standard for vegetarian is ovo-lacto vegetarian. A vegetarian eats no animals, but does consume eggs and dairy. So, your bowling group having a "vegetarian" option that had white pasta and cheese lasagna is perfectly acceptable. I think we can agree that it is not healthy, but we disagree on the point you try to make that it is not vegetarian.

Where I think everything gets watered down is through misinformation. I believe that most people are completely clueless to vegetarianism. They really have no idea. It is so completely foreign to them, they just don't grasp it. Just at the basic level, I think people generally can't grasp what is animal, vegetable, or mineral. All of us could probably get together and crack up over all the scenarios we come across in our daily life:

Vegetarian: I don't eat any animal products.
Waiter/Friend/Family Member: OK, so I will make a seafood pasta for you.
Vegetarian: Uh, a fish is an animal.
Waiter/Friend/Family Member: How about clams? They don't have a face?
Vegetarian: Is it an animal or a vegetable?
Waiter/Friend/Family Member: WOW! So you can't even do olive oil?
Vegetarian: %#$@!!!

It's not the government's fault. It's mostly a lack of understanding within the general population.

Vegan, I think, is different. Many (Most?) people have never even heard the word "vegan" and, since they largely can't grasp vegetarian, the concept of vegan just sends them into a tail spin. See, this is the conundrum on dietary vegan, vegan, vegetan, etc. Do we need to create another label? My question to vegans is, what should a dietary vegan call themself? Do you really care if someone that eats vegan, but wears wool, silk, etc, calls themself a vegan? I can understand the argument, as I don't want a fish eater calling themself a vegetarian. I believe that it causes confusion and makes life tougher for real vegetarians. You could argue that I am the vegan equivalent to a fish eating vegetarian. Do "vegans" like me muddy the waters and make life difficult for true vegans? Let me have it. Tell me what you think. I can take it. I am pretty harsh on the fish and chicken vegetarians. My standard response to the "Oh, I'm vegetarian, too, but I do eat some chicken and fish" statement is, "Yeah, and I don't drink, except for beer and wine."


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Jim,
I am in the same boat! We're all imperfect....some folks just don't know they are imperfect.
Keep trucking along in your personal journey!

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I feel for 'ya.
I know people who have a diet dictated by religion and mistakes happen - but life goes on.

There are many many shades of gray as far as dietary choices go. We are surrounded by it and every time I go to one of those wonderful "lunch is provided" 3 hour meetings where "vegetarian" platter is egg or cheese loaded white bread and raw veggies I long of the rare times when real vegan sandwiches are provided. They seem deaf to understanding the difference between vegan and vegetarian and pretty well just tell me to bring my own lunch if I've got such a wierd diet.

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Ah, yes, the business meeting lunches are always an adventure. Have you read my first introductory blog post? I covered this in that post.

I admire your honesty, Jim. Who among us is perfect at anything? Even the most die-hard vegans among us cannot say with absolute uncertainty that their cars and homes do not contain traces of animal products or even that the foods they eat, particularly when dining at mainstream restaurants, do not contain any animal products.

In my early years as a vegan, I also still wore my old leather shoes, and occasionally caved into indulging in my favorite scones from a local bakery, knowing that they must have contained milk and butter. (My boyfriend used to rib me during these moments of weakness, calling them "the barnyard special" and making mooing and clucking noises while I ate them.) But as my shoes wore out, I sought to replace them only with non-leather alternatives, and as my convictions about why I was choosing veganism grew stronger, eating one of those scones, or any other food which likely contained animal ingredients no longer seemed tempting to me.

However, honey is where I draw the line. It's not that my compassion does not extend to bees, but I do have vegan friends who are also beekeepers and take excellent care of their bees while sharing the fruits of their labor. So while many will argue that by consuming honey I am no longer vegan, there are others, like my friends, who would strongly disagree.

In the end, I think the best any of us can do is the best we can do. Ultimately, our hearts will guide us towards making the choices that are right for us. It's only when we go against what our conscience tells us, that I feel we have strayed off track. In your case, if it feels right to you to continue to wear wool, leather, or silk, then you are doing what works for you. But I'd ask that you sit quietly with yourself and ask if it really does feel good to you to do so. And if you feel a strong need to label yourself, you might tell others that you choose to be a "dietary vegan" most of the time, and leave it at that. From where I sit, anytime you consume something other than meat, fish, eggs, or dairy, it's good for you, the planet, and the animals.

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I am with you on honey. I used to be a beekeeper and I know from first hand experience that beekeepers take very good care of their bees. I can't speak for the large corporate operations, but I do know that small operation beekeepers have a fondness and respect for their bees.

There's so many ways that the honey debate can go and, in the end, I believe that it comes down to what you believe and what you feel is right. 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. They tell you to eat honey alternatives, but, when you really think about all of the destruction caused by farming honey alternatives and the 100 fold number of insects killed in the use of pesticides, cultivation, and harvesting, it's really a weak position, in my opinion. When you factor in all of the incredible good that beekeeping does for the environment and the ecosystems (pollinating crops, dead/dying/gathering bees are an important food source for many animals) and then weigh it against the soil errosion, animal extermination (pesticides, insecticides, tilling, etc.), honey is a much better sweetener.

I personally am not crazy about the taste of honey, but I will not avoid something that has honey in it.

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Dear Bee Keepers. I am curious to know what happens to bees when they are no longer wanted or can provide no more honey?

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A worker bee (female) basically does three things: Gather nectar (honey), produce more bees, and die. The worker bee can live anywhere from 1 to 3 months. During a peak flower bloom, they have a shorter life span, simply because they wear themselves out. Over the winter, they can live for several months. The queen can live for 2 to 4 years. Drones (males) can live for about 1 to 2 months, but they are killed/run out of the hive by the worker bees at the start of winter. It's not really a case with honey bees where they grow old and retire. They produce and they die. The queen does nothing but lay eggs. The hive is contantly producing more bees to replace the bees that die.

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Jim,
Thank you for your fantastic post! It is ok to struggle and fall 'off the wagon'. I recently had an experience with a 'holier than thou' vegan and it was no fun. Everyone has different beliefs and it is incredibly difficult to put a label on what you 'are'. I have been vegetarian basically my entire life and was strictly vegan for a couple of years. Now I have incorporated very limited things from specific sources back into my life so I 'can't' call myself vegan. i.e. my brother and sister-in-law have a few family chickens; chickens that sit in your lap and have the run of the farm and house. They are treated with the utmost care and I feel good about that. My brother is a fisherman; a small batch, from the river humane fisherman, so I do occassionally have some fish. That means that by labeling standards I am neither vegan or vegetarian even though all of the food I cook every night at home is vegan... Someone was recently offended that most of my food is vegan because 'I am not vegan', as she said. So does that mean that I can't eat vegan food because I'm not vegan? My point is that I really appreciate your post and completely agree with you that everyone is different, labels are confusing and we should all just support each other in our valliant efforts to save as many animals as we can, however we do it. Keep up the good work!

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I tell people I eat a vegan diet. If they press me about the leather shoes, as a "true" vegan would, I remind them I never professed to be a vegan, I just eat a vegan diet. I can get away with cheating (you and I must share that same sweet tooth!), my severely lactose and animal fat intolerant husband cannot. So if I'm the one sneaking a snack, I won't bother hunting down an ingredient list for that roll. If he's the one in dire need of a snack, we either go to the effort to hunt down an ingredient list or we excuse ourselves and go find something 'legal' for him. Or we starve and he gets cranky...

To Vegan Vagabond, whose response is "I don't drink, except for beer and wine" -- when my then 92 year old grandmother was asked by a doctor whether she drank, she reponded, "Oh no, I don't drink. I have a glass of beer every afternoon to keep me regular, and I have an occasional shot of whiskey for my cough, but I don't drink." She was dead serious. Cracks me up just thinking about it. The doctor thought she was just the cutest thing...

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Thirty something years ago, I stopped eating animals for cruelty reasons. So, in theory, if you have happy chickens and cows it would be okay to eat eggs and drink milk.

In those thirty something years, I have gained a lot more street smarts about what I am doing to my body.

The killing of animals for human consumption is not something I can ever condone. Yet, it is for health reasons that eggs and dairy need to be added to the list of things not to eat. (even if you have happy chickens)

Please read the posts regarding the dangers of heart disease and the consumption of saturated fats which include dairy and eggs.

There is a post by Michael Greger MD, Posted May 12, 2010 "The cause of our number one killer".

I am one of the millions of Americans that cannot afford health insurance. If the country (even the world) went Vegan, costs would plummet and I could get coverage for my family. Plus the fact that we could end the hunger problems in the world because of the wasted resources from growing animals for consumption. But that's a whole other post!!

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I think that when vegans nitpick each other over minor points (honey, or refined sugar, or even less important topics) that it does a disservice to the message that most of us would like to send to the world at large. "Vegan" can not be seen as an absolute, because virtually no one can live up to it. If you drive a car-you are squashing bugs, if you see a movie-the film is made with gelatin, etc. etc. The term vegan should be applied to any person who does not eat meat, dairy, or eggs, or their obvious by-products. Beyond that it's a grey area. Although I will admit to being inwardly annoyed with leather-wearing vegans.;)

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I know. I know. I promise you, you find me a decent pair of synethetic men's dress shoes and I will buy them and wear them. I have been looking for years. Among other places, I have been to Vegan Essentials and tried on every different pair they have. I have yet to find a non leather men's dress shoe that doesn't look like garbage and wear and feel well. Send me a link if you have a recommendation.

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I wear these at work Monday through Thursday:
http://store.veganessentials.com/mens-comfort-wingtip-by-sanders-p1636.aspx
To me they look fine. They aren't the world's most comfortable shoe but if you put an insole in them they are acceptable. I prefer the Bristol Wingtip that Pangea used to sell but they have been discontinued.

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The reason us vegans have such an issue with someone saying they are a vegan when they are not is because it makes it EXTREMELY hard for someone to understand what it means when we go somewhere to eat.
When I was just a vegetarian I was constantly asked if I wanted fish or chicken after I said I was a vegetarian. I still get that when I say I am a vegan. Why do people think a vegetarian would eat fish or chicken or a vegan would drink milk? Because there are people out there saying they are vegetarian or vegan and thinking it is ok to eat animal products every once in a while.

If you care about animals and want to be a vegan, then be a vegan. But, if you just want to limit your intake of animal products, but you still might eat animal products once or twice a year, then PLEASE, PLEASE do not call your self a vegan.

I have been veg for about 20 years and I have never eaten an animal product during that time because it is something I truly believe in. So, it can be done and it is not at all hard if it is for something you believe in.

People make their own definition of a word by what they see. When someone sees a vegan eating or wearing anything from an animal that is the definition they create and spread around. It really makes it hard for us.

Trust me, A friend of mine went to someones house and the lady said that her being vegan was fine cause their sister was vegan and she would make her sisters favorite dish for her. The dishes main ingredient was shrimp?! Her idea that vegans eat shrimp did not come from Webster's Dictionary.

Thank you, Jim, for helping the animals out by lessoning your animal intake.


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Yeah, I agree with you. If you see my response to the first reply to this blog post, that is pretty much what I said. So, what do you suggest I label myself?

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I don't think there is a label yet, more than just someone who trys to eat a mostly plant-based diet. If you get rid of your leather and silk you can at least call yourself a vegetarian (Wool and honey are acceptable for the new vegetarian definition.)

You mentioned you had a sweet tooth. I know how that is. I have the biggest sweet tooth! When I go to a store I am often in the candy section looking for a vegan alternative.

The ones I often find are Lindt dark chocolate, some Ghiradelli and my favorite but I can never find anymore here in the west, are Goldenburg Peanut Chews.
The Endangered Species company said they sell their chocolates at Walgreen's now. Endangered Species makes great vegan chocolates!
There are even several "accidently vegan" cookies and things at normal stores.

Even when I am in another country you find me scouting the sweet tooth aisle and believe me I have found chocolates and other sweets in about every country I have been to.

It is just a matter of reading ingredients and it is really easy once you get use to it. I can scan ingredients in a milisecond :o).

How long have you been following your semi-plant diet? Could it be a matter of just needing to know what is vegan, even "accidently vegan" and available so you don't stray?

I know it is disappointing to have to pass up free food at work but if you hear from most vegans we often take Luna, Clif, Lara bars, etc. for just the occassion.

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"If you get rid of your leather and silk you can at least call yourself a vegetarian (Wool and honey are acceptable for the new vegetarian definition.)"

Really? I have missed this new definition. When did this come out and who defined it? So, according to this "new definition", if you wear silk ties, you are not "vegetarian"?

As far as shopping, cliff bars, luna bars, etc, yeah, I am pretty familiar with all of this. I have been following my 99.9% plant diet for 13 years and my 80% plant diet (ovo lacto) for 18 years. My issues are not from what I buy, it's more weakness when I am a situation where there is no vegan option.

Reading labels? There's a novel idea. ;)

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This new definition probably came about about the time Donald Watson created the word Vegan. He came about it because of the confusion/lax definition of vegetarian became. The word vegan was created to represent a lifestyle/belief, not just a diet. By true definition a vegetarian is someone who only eats plant foods but at some point it started to include eggs and milk, then people started making up other terms to try to get the classifications straight (lacto-ovo, etc.)

But, what has always stayed true is that vegetarians do not kill animals for their use. Silk worms are burned/killed to create silk in a factory. So vegetarians do not use silk.

I was just trying to help you with what helps me, because I have a massive sweet tooth and I know how it is. Not everything works the same for everyone. And, it isn't always easy in an omnivorous world.

I know how it is to have trouble resisting. If I were on a diet or just in general thought I should eat healthier, I couldn't do it. Today for lunch instead of making myself a salad or any form of real food I ate a very yummy sweet cereal. As long as it is vegan I have no willpower. So, I do know how it is to not be able to resist.

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First-time poster!

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.

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I am not looking to get into a tedious honey debate right now. I have been in so many over the years, they almost always come down to, "I don't care what the facts are, I want to believe what I want to believe and you can't change my mind." I am not trying to sound arrogant about this, but the fact is that most anti-honey people I have ever met are grossly uninformed/misinformed.

The honey bee/beekeeper is a symbiosis that is truly a beautiful case of man and animal working together for mutual benefit. The beekeeper provides suitable shelter, protection, and stewardship that allows the hive to survive and produce significantly more honey than it could ever do on its own. The beekeeper gains surplus honey and the hive flourishes. That's a fact.

As far as honey being compared to eggs, dairy, or any other product that comes FROM an animal, it is not a fair comparison. Honey is not made of or from an animal. It is made by an animal, freely, without coersion, or without being caged. We can agree to disagree, however, because I do respect your right to not eat honey, no matter what your reason.

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I don't think, Suasoria, was trying to debate. There isn't really anything to debate. Like she said, a bee is an animal so therefore honey is not vegan. Period.
A vegan does not eat, wear, or use anything that comes from, produced with or is made by an animal.

If you eat honey you cannot be vegan. Not trying to be harsh just, again, trying to keep the definition universally clear.

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I am perfectly comfortable with not being labeled "vegan", honestly. I am perfectly respectful of someone that *is* vegan taking exception to me calling myself vegan. So, you aren't sounding harsh, but you are ignoring the question. If you take exception to someone like me calling themself a "vegan", what do you think they should be called?

"A vegan does not eat, wear, or use anything that comes from, produced with or is made by an animal"

Made by an animal? Can you point me to that definition somewhere?

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I am assuming you didn't see my other response, which I put in about the same time, because I did not ignore your question.

I can give you part of the Merriam Webster dictionary definition of Vegan: one who abstains from using animal products.
Honey is an animal product.

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Well, if you are going to be using Merriam Webster and using strict etymology to define vegetarian, then I see no issue in turning that back on you. An animal product is something made of animal (leather, meat, bone, etc) or from animal (eggs, dairy, etc). Honey is made BY an animal. It is not an animal product.

I will let you take the last word on honey. I will come back to this in a future blog post. :)

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Even if you use your definition of animal products honey still falls in that catergory. Bees do not collect pollen put it in a pile and have honey. Bees consume it, throw it up, consume it again and throw it up, several times. They actually start digesting it before they throw it up again. They do this until it gets to the right consistency.

That in turn would not only make honey, bee throw up but it would also make honey have a variation chemicals from inside their body. And as an added bonus Royal Jelly is made from a gland on a bees head so that would also be an, non-vegan, animal product.

I hope you have been enjoying your weekend! :o)

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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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@ Suasoria: I was making a general statement about not wanting to get into a honey debate. There are more people in this discussion than just you and me, so I was letting everyone know that I wasn't going to get into a debate about it.

What I will do in the future is do a post about all things honey and beekeeping. I'll lay out the case FOR honey and then you guys can all shoot arrows at it. It may be fun, but I need to be in a certain mood in order to do this. :)

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The hobby beekeeper is light years away from the commercial beekeeper who takes no care when removing the product, and thus wings & legs get pulled off in the process & many accidental bee deaths occur. When people have this or that w/honey, now & then...it usually contains the commercial version of honey. A mass produced food simply won't contain local honey from a careful keeper.

Same with eggs. People who include eggs now & then
usually are not getting someone's backyard eggs. And of course eggs are horribly unhealthy.

Suasoria said it properly--bottom line--it's an animal product, and even tho they may make alot, it needs to be rathioned for times when they don't make much or any. (And by the way, PERK is a great vegan lip balm brand, comes in great flavors. Also the house brand at the All Vegan store in San Diego, which can be ordered by mail.)

Thanks, everyone, for your frankness & care. :-)

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I chose to "only eat plants" for health reasons and don't get into all kinds of other discussions and arguments about whether I am vegan or vegetarian. It works fine for me.

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Hello Jim; Great article because you actually address something I have noticed since becoming vegetarian and then vegan back in 1983. And that is; CHANGE. The movement is in flux, evolution if we wish. I would refer to you as a Vegetarian in transition towards a Vegan. I was once there myself too. Before "getting it" with the wool, silks, honey, etc, I was a dietary vegan but then realized this didn't do animals any good. We all transition in life because sudden change generally is a shock to the mental system. You are doing great Jim!! Don't beat yourself up over a couple squares of dark choc that may have dairy. You are much further along the evolutionary ladder than most and just keep going. Don't think about labels or how veg you are. The "work" involves us researching and continuing our march toward peace and ahimsa for all the animals. They are really why we have chosen our lifestyles. Those who consume no meat but do dairy, eggs etc. are all also in transition as was I at one time. If it comes from an animal, it is part and parcel not only of the slaughterhouse trade, but of a slave industry denying those without voices rights to their souls and their bodies. Continue on the path you are on with strength and commitment, and the daily joy of living peacefully will endure as each day brings enlightenment. Blessings to all!!

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Well said, peaceonplate! :-)

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Folks,

Thank you very much for all of the interaction. I do appreciate you taking the time to hit me with your thoughts and opinions and I do really appreciate the encouragement, as well as pointed jabs at my use of leather, silk, and wool, and lapses in my diet. Animal products are not healthy for me nor for the animals and the environment. I truly believe that a complete plant based diet is the best diet for modern humans and I also believe that livestock farming and fishing is destroying our planet. Holding me accountable to what I believe is not a bad thing. I do appreciate it.

With that said, I am an imperfect human, which makes me an imperfect veg*n. I am on the path, with absolutely no chance of me ever going back. The purpose of my outing myself was to help others out there that I know struggle and they feel that they are all alone in their struggle. I do believe that *most* "vegans" struggle. Very few of them admit it. If you are struggling, don't beat yourself up over it. Stick to your convictions, do the best that you can and don't worry, you are not alone.

When I look back at where I was in my veg*nism 12+ years ago when I first met Jeff and Sabrina Nelson, I have come a long way. In all honesty, I became a dietary vegan (or 99.9% dietary vegan) through their very educational, patient, and thoughtful influence. Not from judging me or through coersion. Not from being high and mighty, but simply by showing me the way and giving me ample opportunity and encouragement to follow the path. Using that style myself (just not as well), I have brought many people into the fold of veg*nism. Not by yelling meat is murder at the top of my lungs, but by educating people around me about the health and ecological benefits of a plant based diet. Oh, yeah, and also demonstrating that you don't have to be a wild eyed nut-job to choose a veg*n diet. Just saying. :)

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I appreciate your candidness. I have been a strict vegetarian since 1989 and became an imperfect vegan in 2004. I am becoming more comfortable every year with the perimeters I set for myself in this lifestyle and, in turn, feel less of a need to defend myself to those that think I have to be a perfect vegan to carry the label. All of my personal products, vitamins, etc are vegan. I don't buy any food that isn't vegan. I do, however, buy and wear USED wool and leather. I work for a caterer that provides a free lunch everyday. If there are cooked vegetables I don't ask if they've been cooked in butter or oil before deciding to eat them. On occasion I will eat a sandwich without making sure the bread is vegan. And I buy eggs from a friend who has pet chickens. They are cage free, organic fed, with no rooster. I do make a strong effort to support vegan friendly businesses. However, I am human and have weak moments and make weak decisions sometimes. I believe, though, that proclaiming myself vegan and educating interested people on the movement, while admitting I am a cheating vegan, is still benefitting the cause and helping the movement to grow. I applaud anyone who incorporates any aspect of a vegan lifestyle into their daily routines. I know that every vegan choice I make benefits animals and the environment and I don't have to be perfect to make a difference. It's about progress - not perfection.

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Thank you for the reply. I am ok with where I am and what I am doing. I don't do this for anyone other than me, so I am not going to lose much sleep if I lose my vegan club card or never get to learn the secret hand shake.

When people ask me, I tell them that I am a dietary vegan. I explain to them that I do not eat critter parts or excretions (funnier to me than secretions). That typically will open up a conversation about veganism where they will tell some story about some "raving lunatic" vegan they met or know and then it goes into the "you don't look like a vegan" discussion. People have such unfair predisposed feelings and thoughts about vegans, I believe that the simple thought of being lumped in with the stereotype bothers them more than the thought of going on a vegan diet. I consider myself a "stealth vegan." I hit them from the angle of personal health and the ecological impacts of farming and fishing. I have traveled throughout many parts of the world diving and jungle trekking and I have seen first hand the destruction, so I can explain it first person. I find that this approach works far better than "meat is murder."

I have met many/most of the top movers and shakers, if you will, in the vegan movement and I have noticed, maybe you have too, they are not "meat is murder" types. They are going with the personal health, planetary health, and then to the animal health aspects of the movement. People that have been raised eating animals, by people they love and respect, don't readily respond to the "You and all of your family and the people you love are killers" approach. It's better to go with the "Let's talk about your health, what animal products do to your health, and how you can live a better life on a plant based diet, and, by the way, another benefit is that the environmental impact will be lessoned and animals will not have to suffer." Sabrina lured me in by an even more sneaky manner, "Here, try this great food I just made." Stealth veganism, baby!

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hello Jim, just take it easy. If everybody would act as you do, than the world would be saved. So be pacient with your self, like yourself and do not try to reach 100 percent. Main thing is that you do something for the sake of improving the situation for the people, the animals and the planet and that you have compassion. Than go on as it is possibel for you, step by step, without puting yourself under pressure.
good luck and regards
maro

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Well, first, bees make honey for themselves, just as cows make milk for their calves and chickens, when they lay unfertilized eggs, like to eat them themselves.

If you took your tastes out of the equation and thought simply of the cruelty involved in these industries and of the fact that animals want to live just as much as you want to live, you'd have no problem abstaining from these items. It would then be so easy to rid yourself of the leather, the silk, the wool--all inherently cruel industries.

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Hang onto those thoughts. I will be posting something on honey in the near future.

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Shel - How about asking your boss if the veggies are cooked in butter, & if they are that day, then eat a huge salad...put beans or chunks of dry potatoes on it...bring some fruit from hm to snack on or homemade potato salad or cole slaw toi supplement if needed. When you call yourself vegan yet eat non vegan things in front of others, you set a false example.

As a caterer, he/she may also want to be offering something w/o cholesterol & fat & more creative...cooked in veg broth w/added seasonings...

Buying eggs from a friend's yard where the hens are treated well & raised organically, is still treating YOURSELF badly. Eggs are cholesterol time bombs. Each one has approx. 365 grams of cholesterol & who eats ONE at a time? They are not designed for human consumption & lead to heart disease, stroke, etc. And really, they are unborn embryos...think about that...how disgusting is that to eat? Eating eggs for breakfast is a habit instilled in most of us from childhood, but it's a lousy habit. A HUGE bowl of fruit cleanses the body in the am...if you want something denser, have oatmeal...as much as you want...toast w/PB...huge glass of OJ...Eggs come under the veg
heading but absolutely not under the vegan heading. The term "Mostly Vegan" perhaps applies to both you AND Jim. Being sloppy about checking ingredients in bread is one thing...deliberately buying & eating several eggs is COMPLETELY another. Nothing vegan at all about that.

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I aproved the comment, but I would prefer to keep the judgements/critiques to just me. I am the one that came out about cheating from time to time. I did this as a way to let others know that they are not alone. If someone wants to open up about their struggles, I would like to encourage them to, but, if they are going to be judged, they are going to be afraid to speak up. There is a cleansing affect to outing yourself. I highly recommend it to everyone. I was faced with a big chunk of dark chocolate over the weekend and I didn't touch it, even though the pull was very strong. That means that I have been 100% dietary vegan for a long stretch.

As she stated, she is an imperfect vegan. It is an evolution. If she's on VegSource, she's getting lots of information and tips from the articles, videos, and chat boards.

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Thank you, Jim, for your kind defense. To VeganMarr: I appreciate your opinion and your strong convictions. I had never posted a public comment on any blog before but felt moved enough by this strand of conversation to jump in. As I am currently trying to transition to a raw diet, I felt the community involvement would be helpful. I do not use the term "vegan" casually as you have asserted. I have been an animal activist for nearly 20 years. My diet and lifestyle is about 98% vegan on a daily basis and I will go four months at a time without slipping at all. I feel very comfortable with calling myself vegan and know that I have opened many people's minds to this lifestyle while admitting I'm not the posterchild for the movement. I am continually evolving on my personal journey and hope the same for all vegetarians and vegans, at whatever stage they happen to be at.

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Yes, for sure the gentle loving approach is best...educate people when they're ready, most of all set a great example. People often need many seeds planted before one of them sprouts. What sprouts can be different for everyone. Sometimes it's a book they read, a video they watch, several great meals they eat, meeting farm animals up close, a conversation with a friend, etc.

Even amongst radical vegans I've not heard anyone ever say "You & all your loved ones are murders."
I know of one person alone who might say that, but no one else, so I don't feel that extreme is appropriate to point out. There are many many levels of how to educate people & you just have to feel out what will work for each person. Knocking their socks off w/great food is always a great place to start, to show them they won't be missing any culinary tastes.

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"Even amongst radical vegans I've not heard anyone ever say "You & all your loved ones are murders."
I know of one person alone who might say that, but no one else, so I don't feel that extreme is appropriate to point out."

Meat is murder implies that anyone that eats meat is a murderer or is an accessory to murder. When you were raised eating meat and everyone you know and love eats meat, I believe (and we can certainly agree to disagree) that the in your face approach mostly turns people away. I have met many in-your-face vegans over the years. I personally think that the radicals do the movement far more harm than good.

I know that you know Rip's story of converting the Engine 2 diet to vegan. He didn't do this by marching back and forth in the fire house and yelling, "meat is murder." He patiently worked with them to show them the health benefits to the vegan diet and built it from there. I have no idea, but I highly doubt that any time one of his guys fell off the vegan wagon, which I am sure happened, he ripped into them and told them "You're not vegan! You're not vegan!"

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JIm, we may need to take this offline! ;-)

I feel you're missing the point that I AM agreeing w/you....gentle is the way...I have certainly learned that the hard way, in 20 yrs as a vegan activist (a 2 time award winning one, I might add).

However, when someone says they buy & eat eggs I feel pulled to point out that that isn't vegan. Accuracy is important, too.

The term vegan is very sacred to me, and to many of my friends. It's just a term to some but it's a way of life to many of us, thus why it is a blow to my heart when people use it casually.

You ARE doing great, and I find no fault with all you do, and I am proud of how you strive to go another step each day. And I even look fwd to your honey post because a new raw nut "ice cream" place in LA is using homemade bee honey in some of their flavors & it has become a hot topic there.

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No need to take it off line. I want to say publicly that you are truly a very nice person that walks the talk and lives every day in defense of animals and promoting veganism. You are tireless in your focus and energy. I have no idea where you find it. I wish that they could bottle it and sell it. :)

As far as the M is M goes, I am just using that as an example. There are many ways that some vegans go overboard in their approach. I think it turns off the general public and actually turns people away from considering a plant based diet. Where vegans are harshest seems to be against each other. It is really very sad. That is exactly how VegSource was started. Intolerant, judgemental, veganer-than-thou veggie nazis that expected everyone to fall in line with their vision of veganism and visciously attacked anyone that didn't toe the line and bow in deference. Jeff and Sabrina saw that there was a need for a fun, loving, educational, and welcoming place for people of all levels of vegetarianism to hang out without being judged and criticized.

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Oh yeah, and of course Rip doesnt say "You arent vegan." His whole rap is "plant strong". That's his approach. And yes, he's been VERY successful w/it.

And NO ONE else on this page has used the "M is M" stance (I dont even want to say the words) thus I dont know why you keep going back to that!

In the same way that it's good to be gentle on those en route to a vegan lifestyle, let us also respect those who have long committed to a complete vegan lifestyle & how deep that committment is in their bones.

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"The term vegan is very sacred to me, and to many of my friends. It's just a term to some but it's a way of life to many of us, thus why it is a blow to my heart when people use it casually."

VeganMar, I feel the exact same way!

I noticed the point is still not getting across but I will try with one last post.
If you are a percentage of a vegan that falls below 100, then call yourself a vegetarian. If you want to call yourself a vegan then earn it by being one.
Again I am not trying to be harsh or say you need to be a perfectionist. My whole reasoning is to have clarity in the definition. The word vegetarian has almost become a joke because of people who 1 or 2% percent of the time ate chicken or fish but still called themselves a vegetarian. People see that 1 or 2% of the time and build a definition on that.

I think it is absolutely wonderful and HELPFUL some people eat a mostly vegan diet whether just 70, 80, or 90 percent of the time.

But that fact is vegan only has one true definition and I can proudly say I live my life to its definition.

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The point is conceded. I agree, as I indicated above, because fish and chicken eating "vegetarians" do muddy the waters a great deal. Leather, wool, and silk wearing "vegans" I am sure can be equally frustrating to full vegans.

I eat a 99.99% vegan diet. As far as anyone knows by observing me, I eat a 100% vegan diet. When I order food for flights and food in restaurants, I always order vegan. Am I a dietary vegan or do we create a new name and muddy the waters even more with something like "vegetan"?

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I would simply say that you eat a nearly vegan diet.

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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.

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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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:-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-)

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