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From: Keith ( -
Subject: Re: I want to go vegan - have issues with additives and family
Date: October 31, 2008 at 11:08 am PST

In Reply to: I want to go vegan - have issues with additives and family posted by earthfriend on October 28, 2008 at 3:43 pm:

Congratulations on choosing to go vegan. Good luck with it!

Advice from a nutritional point of view would be different from advice from an ethical point of view.

Here is what I do about small quantities: First of all, I don't worry about "may contain..." labels. That wording means that the manufacturer tried to avoid the specified ingredient. Basically, it is just butt-covering legalese and does not reflect the actual contents.

Other than that, my wife and I are fairly obsessive about reading labels and avoiding non-vegan ingredients on stuff we buy for home consumption. If the margarine contains whey, for example, we avoid it. We sometimes have to make a special trip to a store that sells a vegan version of a product.

When eating at a restaurant, we do our best to order something vegan, sometimes modifying the item ("I'll have one of those without the cheese.") if necessary. However, if it comes with a glop of sour cream on top because the menu didn't list every ingredient, it's not the end of the world. We don't usually interrogate the wait staff.

When eating at someone else's house, we offer to bring food, and we tell them we are vegan. Then, we hope for the best. We avoid dishes that are obviously un-vegan , and we ask about what's in interesting but questionable dishes. But if there's something in there that the host didn't think about because they are not used to thinking like a vegan, again it's not the end of the world.

As for getting along with friends, family and associates, the best advice I can give is to be truthful and non-accusatory. Don't lie about your reasons for being vegan. On the other hand, as you suggest, many people feel threatened by someone else's ethical choices being different from their own. Try to soften this discussion as much as possible for them. Talk about only your own experience, and avoid suggesting that you are judging them.

I might say something like: "I know I don't need any animal products in my diet, and, since I don't, I don't think it is right for me to exploit animals for my own pleasure."

Sometimes, though, people just enjoy being offended too much, and there's nothing you can do about it. If you have done your best, that is their problem, not yours.


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