Vegan Deli

Vegan Deli  by Jo Stepaniak

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Raising Vegetarian Children
by Jo Stepaniak, M.S.Ed., & Vesanto Melina M.S., R.D.

Raising Vegetarian Children

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Do you have questions about being vegan? Send them to Jo using this easy form. She would be happy to address your individual concerns as well as general inquiries about vegan ethics, philosophy, practical applications, and living compassionately. Jo cannot respond to questions about nutrition or answer questions that have already been addressed in the Archives

Jo will make every attempt to answer each question personally, however, due to her schedule, this may not be possible. If a reply is forthcoming, it could take up to a few weeks, so please be patient. It is also possible that your question will be answered directly in the "Ask Jo!" column rather than an individual response.

If you'd like to view previous questions Jo has answered, visit the Ask Jo! Archives.

Picture Perfect?

question.gif - 1.4 K I invited my friend to the movies, but he says he can't go because he is strictly vegan. He claims that the film itself contains animal products and does not want to support it. I work in a movie theatre and I know that the film is made of plastic. Could he perhaps be referring to the developing process? And would this same concern apply to photographic film?

answer.gif - 1.3 K Animal-derived substances are used in a wide range of products and processes that most people would never suspect. From the clarification of alcoholic beverages to cane sugar filtration, from home insulation materials to rubber tires, from perfumes and colognes to soaps and shampoos, from pill capsules to frozen desserts, animal products are used in thousands of standard commodities, making it nearly impossible totally eradicate them from modern life.

Photographic and movie film contain several layers of gelatin, which is an integral part of the film's chemistry. Gelatin is the protein derived from the bones, cartilage, tendons, skin, and other tissue of steer, calves, or pigs. Film is not the only communication medium that uses animal products. For instance, glue is manufactured from collagenous materials made from animal hides or bones. Therefore, the vast majority of books are not vegan. Even plastics contain animal products, so computers, televisions, and telephones are not vegan either.

In our present-day society, it is not really possible to a live a one-hundred percent pure vegan life -- one that is totally harmless and includes no animal-derived products whatsoever -- and still participate in the culture at large. Of course, this should not prevent vegans from trying to create the cruelty-free world we envision. But in the meantime, we must be realistic and practical and use our energy, time, and money where they will be most effective and beneficial.

If we fret about the minutia we lose sight of the forest for the trees. We must ask ourselves: Is being vegan about achieving personal perfection or working to build a more compassionate and just world for all sentient beings? Some vegans become a little self-righteous and indignant over others who don't strive to attain their same level of "purity." However, obsessing over every item that contains even minuscule amounts of animal products could literally drive a person nuts. Animal ingredients are just too pervasive, and, beyond that, it's pointless. Animals aren't killed for their by-products; they are slaughtered first and foremost for meat. The inedible parts of food animals are merely viewed as "gravy" to an industry that doesn't want to lose a penny of profit. Economically speaking, it's a dollars versus sense issue.

Yes, it is sad that the use of animal products is so rampant. But because vegans comprise a small group with relatively limited power, we must assess where our efforts will have the most impact. If we work toward ending the source of materials for the by-products market -- meat consumption -- then we will be well on our way to abolishing our culture's reliance on animal derived ingredients and materials.

Certainly, it is important to devise and use alternatives to animal-based commodities whenever possible. This said, we still need to evaluate what is currently available and use it to our advantage, if feasible. For example, books, photographs, and films can be powerful documentary and educational tools that could positively influence individuals and groups and help redirect the course of our culture. Until there are suitable substitutes, we have no other options.

Being vegan is not about superiority, one-upsmanship, or flawlessness. Nor does it condemn practitioners to a spartan life of misery. For human beings to be whole and happy, we must have balance between our work and play, our joys and sorrows. Entertainment that does not involve exploitation can be valuable and is especially important for activists who are so often mired in the suffering of others. Going to the movies can be a pleasurable vegan activity (minus the buttered popcorn and Milk Duds, of course). Enjoy!




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Vegan Vittles:
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Vegan Vittles: Second Helpings by Jo Stepaniak

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The Ultimate Uncheese Cookbook

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The Food Allergy
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