I'm amazed to see how many people think that veganism is just a diet, and don't understand the philosophy behind it. Amazingly, now we have ''vegans'' who hunt or fish, ''vegans'' who eat or use honey, ''vegans'' who eat eggs and cheese/casein, ''vegans'' who eat fish and chicken every once in a while, and even ''dietary vegans''... This is very unfortunate, because all this mislabeling and misusing of the words ''vegan'' and ''veganism'' are what cause the most harm to the vegan movement.
First off, choosing a plant based diet for health reasons, as well as any other reasons, is called vegetarianism. Secondly, eating any animal products is not acceptable to dietary vegetarians, let alone vegans.
Veganism, by definition, involves ethical reasons and it has many strict rules. There is no such thing as ''going vegan for health reasons'' or ''dietary vegan'' or ''vegan who eats and/or uses animal products''. Veganism is a lifestyle practice that excludes all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, any species that's part of Kingdom Animalia - that includes non-human land animals, human animals, non-human sea animals, birds AND insects, as well as anyone else who's part of KA.
Essentially, veganism is anti slavery. Veganism is anti-speciesism, anti-racism, anti-sexism, anti-classism, as as well anti any other forms of discrimination. Veganism is not just a "trend" or "something cool". Veganism is a serious thing, and its main goal is to end all animal exploitation and slavery. By choosing to go vegan, you choose to fight for total animal liberation and AR (animal rights).
A vegan does not buy and does not use any products that contain animal products. Sure, some vegans may buy products that contain animal products by accident, or out of ignorance, because, let's face it, most of the products we buy are mislabeled and disguised, so, many times, we don't even know what we buy. But, if you are a vegan, once you find out that a product contains animal products, you no longer buy it.
- A vegan does not kill insects. Insects ARE animals.
- A vegan does not enslave their ''pets''.
- A vegan does not support animal testing, aquariums, circuses, zoos, rodeos, horse riding, horse racing, bullfighting, dog fighting, hunting, fishing, child labour, and anything else that involves animal exploitation and unnecessary cruelty.
(Smoking is not vegan friendly either, as it involves animal testing, as well as child exploitation on tobacco farms, and humans are part of Kingdom Animalia, as well.)
Note that I stress the word ''exploitation''. For example, some people think that it's OK to eat eggs from their own rescued hens, as it doesn't harm the hen, but it doesn't matter if it hurts the hen or not - it's still exploitation, so it's against the vegan philosophy.
Many people who chose to follow a plant based diet think that they are vegan, just because they don't eat animal products, but they are not vegans - they are dietary vegetarians.
The difference between vegetarianism and veganism is, vegetarianism excludes animal products only from the diet, and people can choose to be vegetarian for any reason, while veganism excludes ALL animal products (not only from the diet), and people choose to go vegan because they care about all animals and don't want to contribute to exploitation and unnecessary cruelty. In other words, a vegan IS a dietary vegetarian, but a dietary vegetarian is not necessarily a vegan.
Sure, there are some people who, after going vegetarian for health reasons (or for other reasons), get involved in AR and decide to go vegan, but that's a different thing. I know some dietary vegetarians who, after seeing cruelty videos, started to care about non-human animals and decided to go vegan, that is, they stopped contributing to ALL forms of exploitation.
But most dietary vegetarians are NOT vegans, as they still contribute to other forms of exploitation and unnecessary cruelty:
- there are dietary vegetarians who hunt or fish ''for fun'', or who support hunting and fishing;
- there are dietary vegetarians who support aquariums, circuses, zoos, rodeos, horse riding,
horse racing, bullfighting, dog fighting;
- there are dietary vegetarians who wear fur, leather, silk and wool;
- there are dietary vegetarians who buy products tested on animals.
...And there are also dietary vegetarians who contribute to many other forms of exploitation
and unnecessary cruelty, and who have no idea what veganism is.
The term vegan was coined by Donald Watson in 1944 and was defined as follows:
''Veganism is a way of living which excludes all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, the animal kingdom, and includes a reverence for life. It applies to the practice of living on the products of the plant kingdom to the exclusion of flesh, fish, fowl, eggs, honey, animal milk and its derivatives, and encourages the use of alternatives for all commodities derived wholly or in part from animals.''PRINCIPLES OF A VEGAN
- Animals are not ours to eat.
- Animals are not ours to wear.
- Animals are not ours to experiment on.
- Animals are not ours to use for entertainment.
- Animals are not ours to abuse in any way.
These are 5 basic rules that a vegan must follow. In addition, some vegans may also choose not to drive a car or use a PC, or use other ''necessary'' products that may cause the death of many animals and environmental damage, even though this is something that can be considered ''extreme'', and not many people will do that, anyway, because cars and PCs, as well as some other products, are necessary for most people.
IMPORTANT FACTS ABOUT VEGANISM
~ Can vegans avoid all cruelty? Of course not! It's impossible to avoid all cruelty, but it is possible to avoid all forms of exploitation, that's for sure. For example, we can't avoid stepping on insects when we walk, unless we grow some wings and fly. Truth is, everything involves cruelty. Even producing all those grains kills billions of insects and small animals.
If you step on a bug without seeing it, it's called Nature. If you see the bug and avoid stepping on it, it's called veganism.
Note that exploitation or slavery is not the same thing as cruelty. Exploitation and slavery often involve cruelty, but cruelty does not necessarily involve exploitation and slavery. Nature is just cruel, while factory farms are plain wrong and totally unacceptable. Vegans can avoid all exploitation and slavery, but they can't avoid all cruelty. They can, however, reduce cruelty, as much as possible. There are a few exceptions, though - for example, some vegans can't avoid taking meds that are tested on animals (which obviously involves both exploitation/slavery and cruelty), especially if they have an existing disease that cannot be reversed, so, in such cases, meds are necessary.
~ Is harming or killing someone in self defense acceptable to vegans? Yes, it is! However, we should always look for another solution that's not causing harm, when possible.
~ Are vegans perfect? Definitely not! There is no such thing as ''absolute perfection''. Vegans are just people who are very passionate about AR, and they just want to help end all this unnecessary exploitation and cruelty once and for all, as it causes so much suffering and pain to innocent living beings, and it also ruins the planet and people's health.
~ Is veganism, as lifestyle, perfect? Yes and no! Even though, subjectively, ''perfection'' can exist, technically, nothing can be perfect in an objective way. I mean, some people can see certain things and beings as ''perfect'', but that's based on opinion, not fact. Anyways, the thing with veganism is, it's obviously not perfect, for the simple fact that perfection does not exist, but, IF perfection existed, veganism would be the closest thing to perfection. I see veganism as a nearly perfect lifestyle, which can only be beneficial to the Earth and all earthlings, and I could never give up my vegan lifestyle, for ANY reason - I'm vegan for life!
~ Do vegans think that they are superior to non-vegans? No, no, no and no! Contrary to popular belief, vegans do not think that they are better than others. We actually do not think that we are more important than a worm, and that's exactly why we are vegan.
~ Is it hard to be vegan? No, it's not hard at all! In fact, being vegan is the easiest thing in the world. The reason why most people think that it's hard is because they haven't tried it yet. Sure, at first, it is a bit hard, until you get used to it, but then you realize that it's so easy not to contribute to unnecessary cruelty. All vegans do is basically give up products that are totally unnecessary - that we were not even supposed to eat or wear or use, in the first place.
We do not need to eat animal products.
We do not need to wear animal products.
We do not need to use cosmetics or shower gels that are tested on animals.
We do not need to support or see animal cruelty in order to entertain ourselves.
We do not need to exploit or abuse others in order to survive and be happy.
So... If you feel like you can't stick to veganism, simply use the term ''dietary vegetarian'' in order to avoid confusion.
Don't get me wrong, I'm not criticizing people or anything like that. All I'm trying to do is educate people about veganism and its true and original meaning. I'm just trying to make it clear, because all this misusing of veganism is causing a lot of harm to the vegan movement. But I know it's all those Vegan Societies' fault, as they never make it clear what veganism is and what it stands for, so people start making up their own definitions of veganism.
Veganism is compassion, equality and justice. Veganism is awareness and education. Veganism is peace. But, most importantly, veganism is the only way to end all exploitation and slavery - it is total liberation.