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.

Am I Still A Vegan?

question.gif - 1.4 K Can I still call myself vegan if: I take vitamins that contain gelatin? A pair of my dressy work shoes are leather? My hiking boots have some suede on them? My diet is vegan except for the vitamins. I just can't justify throwing away my shoes, since they are already bought and paid for. Plus, I have a hard time finding shoes and these were bought before I became vegan. I am vegan for ethical purposes and of course I won't buy any future leather or suede shoes.

answer.gif - 1.3 K According to the most concise definitions set forth by The Vegan Society (in England), the American Vegan Society, and the Oxford English Dictionaries, the word "vegan" refers to "a person who does not eat or use animal products." Gelatin and leather shoes are animal-derived commodities. Therefore, ingesting products containing gelatin and wearing leather footwear are acts which do not comply with the accepted definition of "vegan."

An individual can still practice many of the basic tenets of veganism even though total compliance has not yet been met. However, technically speaking, this person would not be vegan. She or he might be "transitioning to veganism" or be a "total vegetarian," but the term "vegan" would not be precise. Because "vegan" is a descriptive term that is neither positive nor negative, interpreting "vegan" as something good or bad is a personal judgement. The word itself is neutral. "Vegan" does not connote partialities; therefore, none are implicit to its meaning.

Some people who aspire to be vegan or vegetarian may label themselves as such even though they do not explicitly observe the principal criteria of these practices. Take, for instance, the chicken-eating, fish-eating, just-no-red-meat-eating "vegetarian." Regrettably, this has created confusion regarding the definition of "vegetarian" and has led to misuse of the word by the media, healthcare practitioners, and the public. Such deviation renders the term meaningless.

Why would people identify with a designation that does not accurately describe their behavior? Perhaps it makes them feel like "one of the group" or reinforces their opinion that they embody the beneficial qualities they ascribe to it. It's also possible that they believe they are deserving of the title simply because they are "partway there." In order to retain the integrity of our defining terminology, however, a line must be drawn between what is and isn't permissible.

"Vegan" is not a rank nor a badge of excellence. It is merely a word that precisely describes individuals who are committed to revering all life through conforming to a clearly delineated code of ethical behavior. Its significance lies in its accuracy. If the term "vegan" is employed erroneously, it becomes diluted and hollow. When used correctly, it retains its original purpose of identifying and describing a group of people who subscribe to an established body of values and moral principles that steer their life choices and conduct.

Despite your minor "transgressions," most vegans would likely say that indeed, by all respects, you are vegan. However, I imagine they would also recommend that you eliminate the remaining animal-derived commodities from your life as soon as possible. This is because there are readily available, affordable vegan alternatives to these items, and because describing yourself as vegan while still using products that are conspicuously animal-based could easily and logically contribute to the corruption of the term.




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Vegan Vittles:
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The Ultimate Uncheese Cookbook

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The Food Allergy
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