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Sarah Taylor

Sarah Taylor

Posted October 16, 2013

Published in Animals, Lifestyle

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Veganism: Just a Diet, or is it a Philosophy?

Read More: philosophy, vegan philosophy, veganism

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I have a new column in VegNews magazine, and will be discussing controversial issues that face vegans.  There are actually quite a few (including a recent blog topic I posted – on whether to speak up or not when others are eating meat) and I’m bracing myself for a potential onslaught of criticism.  While I’m very excited for this opportunity, I don’t like having my feelings hurt!  But I suppose I’ll consider any tough criticism a growing experience in the hopes of opening some hearts and minds.

My next topic for the column will be on whether veganism is just a diet, or is it a philosophy?  Not only is this question controversial, it also will define why many people do what they do.  For example, a person who is a vegan only in their diet may still wear leather and fur, yet be calling themselves vegan.  This will outrage many philosophical vegans!  Some are calling for a change in terminology – “vegan” is used for those people who philosophically believe it’s not right to harm animals for any use, and “plant based dieters” for those who only eat plant foods, but otherwise don’t worry about their use of non-food animal products.

And what about those people who say they are vegan, yet aren’t 100% vegan?  They are, for example, 90% vegan, occasionally eating cheese or even a little meat here and there.  Again, a philosophical vegan might argue that you can’t be “kind of” vegan – just like you can’t be “kind of” Christian.  You either believe it’s not right to harm animals or you don’t, and act accordingly.  Semantically, it’s important to some people that these “kind-of” vegans clarify: “I’m working toward eating a 100% vegan diet, and do so most of the time.”

It seems rather important how you define veganism.  I believe that – even for those of us who have been vegan for years – this topic can really get you thinking. 

What are your thoughts?  Do you think that being a vegan only defines what you eat, or does it define your approach to life in some way?  I’d love to hear from you!


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Ive been vegan going on 3 decades, and it does bother me when someone says they're vegan, then goes on to list all the ways they make exceptions. It's like saying, I'm faithful to my mate, oh except when I'm out of town once a month. You either are or you aren't.

As for people who do eat vegan but use animals in clothing, buy products tested on animals, etc. Many of those people simply need to be educated that there ARE plenty of compassionate options. As for the ones who could care less about those options, then yes, let's please call them a plant based eater. They have not earned the honor of being called a vegan.

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