May 6, 2012

Am I vegan? Clearly defining who is and is NOT vegan.

“I feel in my heart that animal exploitation is wrong and I love animals, but I don't check ingredients when I purchase food, clothing, cleaning products, toiletries, etc.” Am I vegan?

If you are still demanding animal exploitation with your product purchases or funding practices that use animals - this is not vegan. I say this with the hope that you will align your actions with the love or respect you feel for other animals.

“I went vegan to cure my diabetes, reverse heart disease, to lose weight or control my eating disorder.” Am I vegan?

Living as a vegan is not the same as eating the diet vegans eat; an herbivorous diet, pure vegetarian diet, or a plant-powered diet, contrary to media inaccuracy. When we stop eating flesh that putrefies in our gut, milk meant for another species, and too much fat and cholesterol, we naturally start to feel better. However, veganism is not a diet, it's a way of life that encompasses more than food. It's a stance of non-participation in animal exploitation, as far as practically possible. Its essence is about basic respect for other animals. Understand that, and the path becomes easy; with no feeling of deprivation, whatsoever.

“I feed my dog vegan, I wear pleather - not leather, but on occasion, I “cheat” when out and have a little cheese.” Am I vegan?

It's not a diet that you can cheat on. Vegans make mistakes, and then move on, but don't knowingly "cheat". Would you participate in rape or murder of a human every once in awhile and call it “cheating”?

“I'm vegan and don't cause suffering, except I have 'free-range' eggs” from a neighbor.” Am I vegan?

Animals and their bodily secretions are not seen as food by vegans, as a matter of rights. Also, the egg, with the highest concentration of cholesterol, is not healthy for human consumption. Leave the eggs for other animals who really need it. Chickens sometimes eat their own eggs and the shells for nutrients.

“Am I vegan if I drive a car (stearic acid is used in the vulcanization of tires and is often animal-derived), have a refrigerator, a computer, and other things we need on a practical level that do contain minute animal ingredients?”

Since its inception, the founders said that the practice of veganism takes it as far as "practically possible". We're living in a speciesist world and it is impossible to live completely free of products that contain animal ingredients. Vegans make an effort to avoid whatever products they possibly can that are animal-derived. However, most of us need to drive, we need refrigerators, and many of us use our computer to spread the vegan message. However, all food, supplements, vitamins, beverages we consume, toiletries, cosmetics, cleaning products, pillows, blankets, candles, clothing, shoes and accessories - can be plant-derived and not tested on animals. Just because none of us can live completely vegan, does not mean that we should not make the effort when we CAN literally protest animal exploitation by not funding it. Yes - to owning a car, but No - to leather shoes; hypocritical sounding? I don't feel I can actually survive without driving a car, however I can survive without having non-vegan wine in a restaurant. Do you see the distinction? I believe "doing the best we possibly can" really has to mean something. We are literally protesting animal exploiation by not being a part of the demand for it; it's direct action. One little non-vegan ingredient in a product is oftentimes - big business.

“I am plant-powered, but I can't afford to buy organic.” Am I vegan?

Yes. However, some vegans try to grow some food for themselves using veganic agriculture; which uses no slaughterhouse byproducts or animal ingredients, as well as no chemicals that are reaping havoc on our planet.

“I eat honey, but beside that no animal products.” Am I a vegan?

The general consensus is that vegans don't consume honey. Honey is easily replaced, and is derived from needless exploitation and harm to bees. Many believe insects to be sentient. Here in New Zealand, if I wanted to help the threatened bees of our planet to thrive, rather than bee-keeping them, stealing their honey and using them, I can plant Blue Borage flowers (Echium Vulgare). The bees get a buzz from this plant; and they hang around and pollinate all the fruit trees nearby.

“I don't buy fair-trade chocolate, and I sometimes buy products with palm oil, but otherwise I live vegan” Am I vegan?

You would generally be considered vegan, but some vegans maintain that you would not really be vegan. If you support the slavery of children near the Ivory Coast of Africa; where nearly half of all cocoa beans come from, by purchasing non-fair trade chocolate, you are supporting human slavery. Humans are animals. Many vegans avoid products of slavery; whether it be human or nonhuman slavery.

Palm oil plantations are stealing the habitat of orangutans and other wildlife. If we have this information and don't avoid unethically sourced palm oil (not a necessity and maybe not even healthy), our standard of veganism could be elevated. If we can avoid something that is harming animals easily enough, we should. We really do need to look into how the products we purchase are sourced. We have to read ingredients to be vegans. It's not too daunting. We live in the age of information. Knowing if something is vegan is a click away from our fingertips. (When I became vegan 33 years ago, pre-internet, it was a bit daunting to find out if products were animal-derived.) The greatest power we have is to NOT purchase products derived from animal exploitation. However, it is impossible to be pure unless you grow all your own food, veganically. When we buy fruit at the local farmer's market; the farmer probably kills his possums (here in New Zealand). Mice can get killed from harvesting the organic grains our family can get nearly impossible to totally avoid harming other animals. It's unintentional harm, though. Striving for 'vegan purity' is a worthwhile endeavor that some vegans are attempting, not because they want to be "more vegan than though" but because they care about changing the speciesist paradigm that is prevalent today. None of us is a perfect vegan, but trying to be - is a good thing.

“I'm vegan except I don't bother to check if my wine/alcohol is “fined” through animal ingredients.” Am I vegan?

It's fairly easy to source vegan wines/beers these days and there are online guides to help, so if you call yourself a vegan, but purchase products that use byproducts of animal exploitation that are easily avoidable, you're forgetting that it's not about our convenience - it's about sending the right message to those who profit off exploiting animals.

“I'm a vegetarian for 45 years.” Am I a vegan?

It's time to become one. I was a vegetarian before I became vegan, however since then I've learned that vegetarians still support horrific animal abuse. Veganism is the least we can do to show basic respect to other animals. It's not the end goal, but the first step. I don't promote or support 'vegetarianism' as a step to veganism, because I don't promote animal exploitation. If someone wants to be vegetarian as a step before becoming vegan, that is their choice, but I'm calling to people's conscience and soul - and asking them to become vegan, not vegetarian. Honestly, vegetarians that consume milk or eggs, or leather or wool, for example, literally fund extreme cruelty to animals. I wish someone spoke the candid Truth to me back then when I was a vegetarian 4 decades ago.

“I have a bird in a cage, but otherwise don't purchase anything that is not vegan” Am I vegan?

It would depend on if you went out and bought that bird from a pet store for your pleasure and/or if you would do it again, or you rescued the bird. Do unto other animals as you would have them do to you. If that bird CAN live in the natural environment and fly – set him/her free. Purchasing animals from pet stores supports their commodification and exploitation and is demanding them to be caught in the wild, have their wings clipped, or to be purposefully bred to live a life unjustly imprisoned in a cage. You may want to set-up a way where the bird, if he/she chooses, can fly back to your home for food, protection, and friendship - but can also fly freely in the sky.

“I eat totally vegan to help save the planet.” Am I vegan?

Opposing animal agriculture in order to save the planet is commendable. However, veganism is not just about diet, it's about basic respect for animals and extends beyond dietary habits.

“I am vegan so I can have sex with my vegan girlfriend.” Am I vegan?

Maybe, but I doubt you will stay vegan-for-life unless you “get-it” for the right reason. So use your love relationship with a vegan to help you understand the moral imperative of vegan living, so you will stay vegan whether you are with this woman or not, in the future. We can enter into vegan living through many different doors.

“I eat processed and junk food, basically, but I don't purchase any animal products.” Am I vegan?

Veganism is not a health plan, though vegans usually find themselves in good health. One can be a vegan and eat unbalanced. One can also be vegan, and then on top of that, be a health conscientious individual. There are unhealthy vegans and super-healthy vegans. Generally, vegans are healthier than the general public. Many learn more about health and nutritional requirements from becoming vegan.

“I don't consume any animal products personally, but I don't clean my dishes at night, which knowingly draws mice for the resident snake or cat to eat – it's a part of the natural order of things.” Am I vegan?

You would be considered vegan, however, some vegans will clean their kitchen at night in places where it would attract mice and cornering them where prey animals can easily get them. Hopefully, vegans live in such a way as to avoid harming animals in the environment and also helping them. In this case, you would be helping the snake or the cat, but certainly not the mouse, and I think it is best if vegans avoid, as far as possible, any involvement in the food chain mentality.

“I'm 90% vegan...I'm almost there.” Am I vegan?

To say you're 90% raw foodist is fine, but to say you're 90% vegan is not seeing the vegan ideal - correctly. In essence, it is saying that only 10% of me supports the exploitation of other animals.

“I'm vegan because I stand for non-violence.” Am I vegan?

Being vegan and being opposed to violence are totally aligned values. That is why animal rights activists that promote violence towards humans are really not in accordance with veganism. Veganism is a social justice and political statement of non-approval of the violence inflicted on other animals; and humans are animals. However, there are "militant vegans" who don't necessarily believe in non-violence, and yet they live without participating in nonhuman animal exploitation. Yes, they're vegans. The general consensus, however, is that vegans see violence as a part of the problem and not a part of the solution.

“I'm into vegan health and fitness, bodybuilding, running, etc.” Am I vegan?

It's intelligent to take your own health into your own hands. Being healthy and fit is good for you. But if you participate in animal exploitation in other ways beside diet, you would be an herbivore, pure vegetarian, plant-powered eater, or a raw-foodist if you eat raw foods. (There are raw-foodists who consume raw animal flesh, by the way. There are raw foodists who wear leather, use products derived from animals, and are therefore - not vegan.)

“I don't actively protest animal exploitation or attend demos and protests.” Am I vegan?

Just being vegan you actively protest animal exploitation by not being a part of the “demand” for it. However, being vegan is a moral baseline, just the first step. Getting involved with vegan education, protests, public speaking, vegan educational events - are encouraged and important for those who see veganism as a social justice movement, and want to help usher in change from our society's ways. The more we spread veganism, the easier it will be for everyone to live vegan...we will have more vegan restaurants, products and choices - as we reach for that tipping point when humanity has awakened to vegan living; the goal.

“I post dog-rescue info and actively work to help animals. I literally do more for animals than many vegans, but I'm not vegan?”

From my point of view, nobody does more for animals than those who live the vegan way of life. But you are welcome to be vegan too; it's not an exclusive club. In fact, we want everybody to join! Vegans believe all species, not just some, deserve basic respect and are working towards their rights being recognized. Vegans have stopped being a part of the demand for ALL animals to be harmed by humans. They are ushering in a new way of life on earth that will benefit all. However, there are many non-vegans who do help individual animals and we thank you for helping to save lives, adopt, and care for animals in need. That's a good thing. We wish you would see that all animals of all species deserve our help, which would result in becoming vegan.

“I don't care why someone's vegan...just that they're vegan.” Am I vegan?

In order to be a good vegan educator, you need to realize that since its inception, veganism has always been about avoidance of products derived of animal exploitation. The meaning of the word 'vegan' has been hijacked and made to be less than what it really is. The masses, including so called vegan outreach groups, have lowered the standard of the vegan ideal to meet where the masses can grasp it - so they think. I think the public needs to hear the real reason one becomes vegan, whether they want to or not. Of course, they don't want to hear that they daily fund abuse, slavery, oppression, rape, kidnapping, and murder. But – like it or not, they NEED to hear the truth. We are lifting the collective consciousness to the Truth of veganism. Then they will be equipped with the information they need to endure as vegans. This is not to say that we can't also educate about the many benefits and rewards that come with vegan living.

“I'm vegan, but I own, ride a horse with a bit and leather saddle.” Am I vegan?

The leather saddle, right off the bat, disqualifies you. Let the horse decide if your are someone who avoids animal exploitation and use, as far as possible. Are you using the horse for your own entertainment and enjoyment? Is putting a bit in a horse's mouth a right way to act as a vegan? Is putting the skins of another animal on the horse's back a vegan thing to do? I would think there are exceptions where the horse and the human are friends and the horse wants the human up there, bareback or with a synthetic saddle. Rescuing and befriending horses is vegan. We can walk with them, side by side, and then take them where they can freely run in a field, rather than riding them. Though some debate this issue, my perspective is that riding horses, donkey's or camels, or partaking in horse-drawn carriage rides - are not vegan practices.

“I'm vegan because of global warming – if the planet goes, we all go!” Am I vegan?

If you are vegan for global warming, I sincerely doubt you live totally vegan. You might EAT vegan as a protest to animal agriculture; possibly the biggest culprit in environmental devastation. Vegans don't fund zoos, seaquariums, circuses, dog or horse races, animal acts, pet shops and breeders, as well as boycotting the dairy, egg and meat industries, as well as wool, leather, silk, honey, pharmaceuticals, vegan and cruelty-free toiletries, cosmetics, and cleaners, products with animal ingredients, etc. - many of which don't correlate to global warming. Protesting animal farming for environmental reasons is a good thing, but it's not veganism...however certainly a big step in the right direction.

“I'm vegan but I purchase mainstream commercial dog/cat food for my rescued companion animals.” Am I vegan?

This is a difficult decision. Probably yes, even though you are directly a part of the demand for animals to be harmed. You might want to alter your decision to support the exploitation of some species of animals to feed your rescued dogs and cats. Cats are difficult; being true carnivores, though some are feeding their feline friends nearly vegan or vegan (one would have to be very careful). But dogs can live as long and healthy as their meat-eating counterparts with a supplemented, carefully balanced vegan diet, so why demand with your dollars for other species of animals to suffer for your furry friends? Please read my "Dogs Can Eat Vegan, Too!" essay and join 'Vegan Dog Nutrition' group on Facebook. But because some rescued animals literally can't eat vegan, and because of the serious undertaking of properly nourishing animals that are not natural herbivores on a purely plant diet, it brings this issue into one of the grey areas of vegan living. It's a difficult one for many vegans. Prominent vegan activists feel differently on this subject; there is not a general consensus.

“I'm vegan as a protest to factory farms and inhumane abuse towards animals.” Am I vegan?

If you avoid animal ingredients and exploitative practices, yes you are vegan, but in my opinion, you could evolve your reason. Rather than it being about “treatment” - make it about “rights”. ALL farming and using of animals is abusive! Become vegan to honor the inherent rights of all sentient animals, not because factory farms are cruel. Yes, they are horrifically cruel beyond conception, but turning 'a someone' into 'a something' is always cruel; no exceptions. There is NO humane animal exploitation. We can live beautifully as vegans, therefore it is unjust to harm those who are so similar to us that they are used in grotesque animal experiments to extrapolate findings to human anatomy. We inflict torture and death on other animals that feel much like we do. Being vegan is about respecting the basic birth-rights of all conscious, feeling, breathing animals. In other words, we would still be vegan even if animals were not bred and farmed in factory farms, but rather on small farms.

“I'm a raw vegan”.  Am I vegan?

If you eat all raw foods that are of plant origin, but you still buy and wear leather accessories and shoes; and exploit animals in other ways beside food - you would not be considered vegan, but a raw or live foodist. This may be healthy for you, and healthy for the planet, but veganism is also about what is healthy for other animals.

“I take it as far as eating a purely vegan diet and I identify with being a vegan.” Am I vegan?

Veganism is not a diet, but an ethical stance. It covers not using animals for food, clothing, entertainment, experimentation, labor, breeding, product ingredients, and other human uses of animals, which are all unnecessary, therefore humans use animals for their own pleasure. Our profoundly misguided society derives pleasure from the misery of other animals. Many long-time vegans prove that 'animal use' is unnecessary.

“I consider myself vegan but take my kids to the zoo for educational reasons.” Am I vegan?

Zoos are animal prisons. Animals are innocent – they don't deserve enslavement and imprisonment, or being 'objects' of amusement. Those who fund that, whether they call themselves vegan or not, are not yet vegan. There might be some unique case where a zoo is actually helping animals that would otherwise be harmed.

“I'm vegan but do use pharmaceuticals because they are necessary.” Am I vegan?

Yes, but only in emergency or serious health issues that call for pharmaceuticals. (Something like birth-control pills as mentioned in the comments would be left to the discretion of the vegan. Birth control is indeed important, but there are also non-pharmaceutical means of birth control.) Otherwise, the frivolous use of pharmaceuticals is not vegan. They are tested on animals (or have been) and may contain animal ingredients. You could go to a compounding pharmacy to have them compound what you need without animal ingredients, at least. Vegans try to avoid pharmaceuticals by using preventative health measures. Eating a healthy, balanced vegan diet with raw fruits and dark leafy greens, mild sunshine exposure on the skin, use of herbal medicinals, nutraceuticals and super foods found in health shops, periodic fasting, fresh-air walks and keeping active - often keeps the pharmaceuticals away! It has for me in my 3 decades of vegan living.

“I still wear my old leather shoes from my pre-vegan days because I can't afford to get new ones or throw away perfectly good things, but I won't buy non-vegan anymore.” Am I vegan?

Yes. Though I personally can't understand why you would want to wear the skins of tortured and murdered fellow sentient animals. Would you wear human skins? Modeling products of misery is not my conception of veganism, however if you have stopped purchasing animal products totally, yes you're are no longer a part of 'the demand' for using other animals for human desires.

“I just proclaimed myself vegan, but I didn’t go through my entire house and wardrobe to rid myself of every item containing animal ingredients, like candles, soaps, leather furniture, leather seats in my car, wallets, etc. And it would cost a lot of money to replace them all with vegan versions. If I still have my non-vegan possessions from before I converted, am I vegan?”

To know circumstances is important. If someone is homeless, destitute, and can’t afford to replace an old leather bag, but otherwise lives and shops vegan, yes they would be considered vegan. Try thrift stores, garage sales and flea markets for replacing non-vegan items. Certainly a car with leather seats might not be as easy to replace as shoes and accessories. For myself and many other vegans, I did rid my closet and life of all animal products upon becoming vegan. I don’t want to live with products made of the skins of other animals any more than I would live with clothing or furniture made of human skins. I find seeing leather shoes upsetting. My own little world is a haven from a speciesist society that thinks it has the right to make pillows, shoes and products out of the bodies of exploited, assaulted, oppressed, enslaved, objectified, fellow feeling animals. I want nothing to do with 'the animal holocaust' and certainly don’t want to model animals' skins. To me, that would be like a 'seal of approval'.


Rob Wakeman said...

Dear Vegans,

Get over your tired shibboleths and start helping animals. Stop trying to build a vegan Gilead and stop obsessing over your own purity. It's a fantasy anyway. Start building a future and stop excluding allies.

A vegan who cares more about animals than the definition of veganism

Wendy said...

Well, this would be enough to turn anyone off. Although in some theory I agree with much of this, I suppose it could be boiled down to a vegan is someone who actively refuses to the best of her ability to support the exploitation of animals.

Like, I do NOT consider Ellen DeGeneres vegan because she profits from exploiting animals. I think most reasonable vegans can agree on that.

But there's also this thing called the real world, meaning people may live in food deserts. People the world over are struggling just to survive in a way that many comfortable middle class and white vegans living in western(ized) countries cannot even begin to fathom.

In all honesty I can be as vegan police as the next person, but I wold argue that vegans necessarily do more for "animals" than some people who eat meat. Don't misunderstand: I hate being around meat, and meat-eating dog and cat rescuers, but if you've ever seen these people at work, they are some of the hardest-working people ever. For pay or not. To say that someone passively eating a veggie burger is doing more "for animals," as if that contains all species, than an active dog rescuer seems to have little basis. In some places it's easy to be vegan, but it's not easy day after day to deal with the stress of caring for and looking for homes for dogs, cats, guinea pigs, etc.

Or animal rehabilitators. Some are vegan, some are not. But they do a lot more for certain specific individuals than some vegans do.

Or maybe dog-and-cat rescuers and animal rehabbers do as MUCH. Does it make sense that they eat meat? No. Do I hate it? Yes.

But the tone of this post is really bothersome. I don't know why, because in theory I really agree with that definition of vegan. And yet it sounds too didactic, too much like all the answers are here. Maybe, for white middle class people.

(I don't suggest that the use and exploitation of other animals should NOT be stopped. It should. But if we EVER want to expand beyond preaching to our choir, we need to start seeing where the choir's coming from and work with them, not against them.)

Anonymous said...

Throw your birth control pills away, ladies! I'm sure the "use of herbal medicinals [and] nutraceuticals found in health shops" will do a bang-up job preventing pregnancy.

Anonymous said...

This blog entry is a blinding example of the circular firing squad problem the left in general and veganism in particular suffer from.

Seriously, a 31-point list where you microscopically define who gets to be holy?

This kind of attitude is like watering a seedling with gasoline. If you want veganism to grow, and thus maximize the benefit to animals, get over the fact that there are as many reasons to be vegan as there are vegans; that spreading veganism will take generations; and that where parents may choose veganism purely as a diet for environmental or health reasons, their children may take further steps when they grow up in a family where the idea of eating meat is strange.

vegangsterARNP said...

Veganism was backlash against the cruel practices of animal agriculture and all it's heinous acts of voilence, as well as cruelty of all kinds to other animals that were not humans. Veganism is a valiant ideology. Nowhere in veganism the philosophy do i see any mention of "i like" or "i want' or "me for that matter, EXCEPT to take "me" OUT of the picture and let the others who are not humans live their own lives.

Well done. Thank you for writing.

That being said, I still wish that people would all eat a plant based diet; even if they weren't vegans... but truly, that does stem from a selfish place as we know, and the latest fad diet could have them turning round and snarfing down carcass again...

There IS a difference people. don't shoot the messenger.

Rhea Parsons said...

Bravo Rob! This is just the type of thing that makes people turn away from veganism and ends up hurting the animals. Time and energy would better be spent spreading the message of compassion than defining who is and isn't a "pure" vegan.

M. (known as) "Butterflies" Katz said...

Well - gee thanks for all the negative comments.

Over and over on a daily basis I hear people refer to themselves as vegans, but they simply are not vegans. There needs to be someone to tell them the Truth of what a vegan is, clearly. And I'm that someone.

I think it helps animals more if I get vegans to actually stop being a part of the demand for animal use...rather than having themselves label themselves as vegan while still participating in animal exploitation. It's one thing to drive a car or have refrigerator or drive on roads...these are things we can't avoid at this point, but many vegans don't avoid things they could easily avoid.

Alex Strain said...

Only a POS would let some negativity from another person turn them away from being vegan. I am not a vegan to make friends. I am not a vegan to find a mate. I am a vegan because I would like to live a life where I am not an asshole. I am not okay with the abuse or death of anyone - human and animal alike. I am a vegan for myself, for the environment, for peace and for the animals. And no one could ever make me not be. Just because some vegan might say something I don't like? Ridiculous, lame and so f-ing disgusting. Veganism NEEDS to be defined now because of so many posers too. And the questions she answered are I am sure real questions.

Savannah said...

People simply have to realise that veganism is (for me anyway) based on the power to emphathise and to respect all that lives .... if you are part of anything that does unto another that you would not have done unto you.... you cannot be vegan. In this lifestyle you simply have to aspire to live as righteously and purely as possible. It goes wayyyy beyond a diet for sure. You have to feel complete compassion for all other sentient beings. Veganism is a clean and clear way of living and it is a learning process. Never stop educating yourself and others and always see the beauty in what you as a vegan are doing. Every truly ethical vegan is a link in the chain of change that this planet so dearly needs and deserves. Thank you for your blog.

Lisa Qualls said...

I totally agree with everything Butterflies says in this post. She is being honest about what veganism is. There is no reason to feel judged by the definition of a term. I feel inspired. I do not completely live up to some of what she says, so I feel inspired to do more. Thank you, Butterflies, for being such an honest, peaceful and non-judgemental speaker of truth!

Flavia said...

What is the strong objection to simply clarifying what "vegan" means? I don't understand this, especially from other vegans.
Seriously - what is your real objection to clarity and accuracy about this?

You say your objections are (and these are nothing more than your opinions, really) that "people will be put off," even going to the extreme of saying "this would put ANYONE off," and you say that it takes away from the Real Work of helping animals.

Let's examine this though. Isn't it arrogant and presumptuous of you to declare that large numbers of non-vegan people would be "put off," by this message? How do you know this? Do you conduct surveys or polls on this? If not, how can you make such a broad, presumptuous declaration?

You may have your opinions and fears about huge scores of people (or anyone, really) being forever "turned off" to becoming vegan by a blog post such as this. Can you not see however that it is nothing more than your projection of your own negative and fearful ideas about how to educate about veganism?

You say that this is beside the point, and wastes time, when we are trying to help or free animals. How does it do this though? Does it take any more time away from helping animals than say, the time you spend in your kitchens, making vegan cupcakes and vegan lasagna, and posting photos of your meals and recipes on facebook?
Does it take any more time away than say, posting cute animal photos on facebook?

If you're going to criticize a full time vegan and animal liberation activist in her practice of clarifying the real definition of veganism, at least be willing to examine just as closely, and be just as open to criticism, of your own methods.

Flavia said...

Why are you using words like "holy" and "purity?" This is not what Butterflies is talking about at all, and she says over and over again, in all her blog posts and all over facebook, how she does NOT reject people who are less-than-vegan, and if you take the time to actually read her posts and comments thoroughly, you will see how consistently respectful, patient, and kind she is, in the way she discusses these matters with people.

She isn't saying that if you don't check "yes" to all these points, get outta town, and you are useless and abominable. She is simply CLARIFYING what veganism is. That is all.

Wendy, you mention non-vegan animal rehabilitators and animal rescuers; mentioning only that they "eat meat."
However, that is not the extent of their condoning of, and participating in animal exploitation and speciesism!

They ABOVE ALL ought to be more aware of what "vegan" means. How they can rescue and nurture only SOME injured, abused, and dying animals by day, and then go home and bite down into a dead cow burger, and eat milk products from grieving, slaughtered cows, knowing that their calves were horrifically handled and slaughtered is BEYOND ME.

It's baffling beyond belief to me, actually. How can they not connect those dots? How can they help a suffering little fox who had his leg in a trap, and cry over his pain, then eat dead pig meat the next morning?

Can you not see the appalling disconnect here?!?

vegangsterARNP said...

You have done well. It is your blog. You can say whatever you want. Most vegans are whining about how much they love the latest "vegan" cupcake. AS IF a cupcake was vegan? No. A person is vegan. the cupcake does not take up ideologies.

And BTW vegans, most cupcakes are laden with palm oil. Do your research and stop making excuses.

vegangsterARNP said...

I forgot to add, Rhea, that I have gone to and used your site for some recipes, but you and more people like you could do more along the lines of speaking the truth about what goes on behind closed doors all over the globe with respect to the non human animals. I do not mean ANY disrespect, but just talking about food, is REALLY taking the message off the REASON people became vegans to begin with.

This is why when you go to my site, not only do you see some recipes, but first and foremost you get to see the reality that is hidden from all the eyes of man...and woman..

if we do not show the world, who will? vegans need to pardon my expression, "grow some balls". i in no way mean any disrespect in that comment, I am not sexist, and this disclaimer means to explain that it is just an expression. thank you.

vegangsterARNP said...

to lisa... beautifully said. That is how a person speaks who is inquisitive, willing to learn and wants to improve.

People get so offended. Well, how do you think the non humans feel? Nobody is being pushed from becoming a vegan by reading what veganism means.

Fabienne said...

To ALL of you who took the energy to come over here on this blog to spit on Vegans: I respect people and their way of living, why is it so hard for meat-eaters to do the same?

We don't come to you and lecture you, no we post it on this blog (for Vegans) to share what we believe and what feel is right.

You are discriminating and hurting. You violate the rules of respect and dignity.

If you share a different opinion, that's absolutely fine, no problem at all, but please remain respectful and discrete...

GDorn said...

A quick and easy test for whether you are 100% vegan:

Are you alive?

Yes? Then you're not 100% vegan. By living, you're causing harm to animals.

No? Did you have a green burial? If not, you probably caused harm to animals when you were embalmed or cremated.

Milli said...

Wow... The TRUTH has obviously hit some nerves! Keep up your "amazing" work M Butterflies. You would have made a huge difference in the lives of the people who asked the original questions. You have so much respect for ALL life on our little planet. Never once did you attack the questions with a tone that could have been construed as condescending or mightier-than-thou. You can hold your head high and I look forward to future "blogs".

Keep smiling,
Tanya Verrall

Alan O'Reilly said...

Well done Butterflies, very fair and balanced responses to these questions which seem to come up time and again. Why anyone would have a problem with an unequivocal view if the immorality of animal exploitation baffles me.

chichi said...

I am going to use this in my Veganism blog translated in Japanese. I needed this word's definition to be clear, since I see some Japanese vegans promotes fish, and claim publicly she live 80% vegan diet, and label themselves as new word, "Veganist" and they have a group called "Japan Vegan Community". I do not know where to begin about my country's misunderstanding of Veganism....

I really appreciate what you have done in this post. Veganism is commitment for life! I think what you do is really helping people to re-recognize to this philosophy and commitment once again, that will abolish animal usage as much as they can forever(if you really mean it), which ends up save a large number of animals unnecessary death. Some don't recognize that one person's lifetime vegan commitment has a huge positive impact to animal kingdom. I found it very odd sometime.

Anonymous said...

I think one has to be cautious about the strict black and white stance that seems abound in this essay. Condemning people because they are still within the 'grey areas' of veganism ican only ensure to cause separation and alienation within the 'tribe'.
Putting such strict definitions on a word 'Veganism' almost registers it as a religion with its tight boundaries and restrictions. I think we can all be real and tolerate the differences in people irrespective of the label - after all, their intentions are good. The fact that they don't contribute to killing animals is already a great step in the right direction. Let's applaud the small steps instead of expecting the unrealistic; after all, you were once a vegetarian. Have compassion and tolerance for those whose paths are not the same as yours is the key to support change.

M. (known as) "Butterflies" Katz said...

Anonymous, I don't believe we have time to applaud baby steps towards veganism. When I became vegetarian it was 4 decades ago, pre-internet, not the age of information...I never heard the word vegan. Times have changed, and the state of the world on every level from the animal holocaust, to environmental devastation, to unprecedented species extinction, to the rampant violence - all speaks to me that we don't have time to applaud baby steps...veganism is an ethical imperative. If the human species is to advance, they need to evolve to the vegan ideal. I'm just telling it like I see it. That doesn't mean I won't be friendly and loving to you if I met you. I'm just speaking my perception of Truth.

Edward J. Immel said...

I agree with your post, Butterflies.

The meaning of the word "vegan" is shifting in exactly the same way that the original meaning of "vegetarian" did. The first people to call themselves vegetarians were member of the Alcott House, a progressive spiritual community and school. (They coined the word some time between 1838 and 1841.) These vegetarians refrained from oppressing or killing animals primarily on ethical grounds. They refrained from consuming eggs and dairy. They objected to the use of animals for labor, entertainment, or any other reason. They taught that the "same divine law by which a man claims a right to live, equally extends to every sentient being" and "Man loses his purity, his real manhood, when he descends to the degraded work of oppression and death, whether inflicted upon a fly, an animal, or a man." If they had lived in the late 1940s or early 1950s, they would have been known as vegans. Today most people who identify themselves as "vegetarians" in the West eat eggs and cheese, wear animal skins, and use products tested on animals. Many, I've noticed, also often eat fish or chicken.

Similarly, the first vegans opposed the exploitation and murder of other animals in every way that they could, as their writings reveal, but last January I saw someone who identified herself as a "vegan" say that killing animals for food is fine. About a week ago I actually saw someone identify herself as a "lacto-vegan." At work I saw a "vegan" client with a pint of Ben and Jerry's ice cream. A famous "ex-vegan" said in an interview that, when she was a "vegan," she regularly gorged on eggs and dairy products. An ex-president is being described as a "vegan" who eats fish. It's happening all over again.

Why would anyone who is serious about veganism and animal liberation want to support or passively allow the similar degradation of the meaning of veganism that is happening now? It would mean compromising or discarding our principles at every turn and supporting the exploitation of other animals. It would mean spreading confusion about what we stand for and weakening our message. If we constantly lower our ethical standards and tell others "veganism means whatever you want it to mean," we will cease challenging people to do better. We might as well say, "Everything is vegan and everything is just fine." If we try to stand for everything, in the end we'll stand for nothing.

There was nothing wrong with the original meaning of the word. It was clear, self-consistent, ethical, and rationally defensible. It was inspiring. It's something worth defending. It was the clarity and vision of the first vegans that caused them to rapidly grow from a group of 25 individuals to hundreds to thousands. We need more vegans like that today.

Anonymous said...

[ Smiles ] Thanks for another great post, M.

I want to believe that people should know the concept of veganism by now; well if they didn't, they sure learned it by reading your post.

Please keep up the good work, my friend.

Flavia said...

Edward J. Immel, brilliant! I agree with your comments, entirely. I'm directing people to your comment here.

Amanda Jane said...

A brilliant post thank you.
The definition of vegan seems to confuse many people and to find someone that explains it clearly for everyone to understand is great.
For me I have always followed the basis set by The Vegan Society and anything else I can do above that basis.
But some people make claims, whether through understanding or not, to being vegan when they aren't.
There is nothing wrong with good intentions but real vegans do more than intentions.
For example, people believing fish aren't meat. Or that a Vegan can eat eggs from there own chickens and so on.
Just because you eat a vegan diet, it doesn't make you vegan. It just means you are a strict vegetarian, unless you cheat of course and then you aren't even a vegetarian.
I think it is these sort of people that might be upset by posts such as these. Maybe making them feel less than who they are.
So thank you once again for this post.

Amanda Jane said...

I think this post is brilliant and much needed. So many people seem to be confused over what veganism really is. Even when I started out I wasn't sure that I was doing it right. I wanted to do all that I could. Being vegetarian wasn't enough. I still felt that I wasn't doing my part.
Suffering is suffering and there are no excuses for that.
To be vegan is to be against any suffering caused by ourselves.
I agree with Edward but to me the original meaning of the word is still the same now as it always was.
To me the basis of a vegan is what it set out to be by The Vegan Society back in 1944. Even though they made a few amendments so that is was more than about diet but they was always against any animal suffering.
When I started out on this I have found out more and more of what is happening in the world.
My eyes have been opened as they say.
I wish I had this blog back then.
But I found out that I had the right views all along and to me that means I am proud to be Vegan!
But if I had slipped up somewhere along the way then this blog surely would have been the place to help me and let me know.
Renard is right. You would have thought people (especially those trying or claiming to be vegan) would know the concept of veganism by now.

timgier said...

The lines that we vegans draw between the what we will do and what we will not do (or buy, use, consume, take part in, lend financial support to, etc.) are arbitrary lines that we each justify to ourselves, without any objective way to justify them to anyone else. I guess if it makes us feel good, that's all that matters though, right?

LiveVegan said...

Good post MBK. Thanks I enjoyed it.

Anonymous said...

I like this article but agree most with the vegan ideology that presents as someone doing all they can to not participate in exploitation of animals. For me this means I drive a car, have kept a few sentimental handmedown leather items from my family, and I also buy products on a rare occasion that are not vegan. As a mother if four vegan children, every penny counts and sometimes I can't afford the more expensive, fair trade brand or vegan catfood, etc.. so while I appreciate some defining lines, I do not feel that not calling myself a vegan because of a few things I slip up on is necessary. We learn more everyday and do what we can. I teach my children what I know, and I can only hope they teach others. In the words of the late, great Adam Yauch, I'd rather be a hypocrite than a zombie. Ultimately promoting veganism with a little wiggle room to get started seems more proactive than being so strict.

Anonymous said...

The last anonymous comment is so very true! Everything she said, so perfectly. When it becomes an obsession it can take over your life and at one point I was so obsessed that I would have actual panic attacks if I thought there was even a minuscule amount of some kind of animal by-product and I would be angry at vegans that cheated or vegetarians that wouldn't be vegan. You can alienate a LOT of people by obsessing over it. As much as I would like to be all vegan all the time I just can't afford to pay 2 times the amount for my groceries every week when I work minimum wage, but I do the very best of my ability. I do not eat actual eggs, milk, or cheese etc., but some things just have those tiny ingredients and are sometimes hard to avoid when you aren't able to shop at specialty stores. I dont think this should make anyone less of a vegan, if thier intentions are good and they promote veganism and try thier best. Just remember for some people it does take longer and takes small steps. Even if you say you can go vegan just like that, maybe some people can;t, even if they do know that eggs/dairy cause cruelty. We can't rule out everyone that doesn't fit a perfect bill (theres at least one thing about everyone that isnt perfectly "vegan"), and although i wouldnt say to lower the standards of veganism or make vegetarianism the new vegan, I would say just be a little more accepting, empathetic, and understanding if you can, because after all we can't save the world, but just try to make it a little better every day in any way we can :)

veganjp said...

I think it only comes down to individual's challenge how to deal with the true veganism's definition. Some people are more obsessive than others, while others can be more relaxed about what they can do in the capacity as far as they can go, and still live happy vegan life without stress. Veganism philosophy itself should not be compromised in my opinion. I am not perfect either, I use bongo percussion as a musician (used animal's skin that is not mine to begin with), and I still have to feed my cat animal products after I tried to give them vegan cat food a several times. Yes, it's not ideal vegan thing to do, but so what? I maintain myself as a happy vegan. So just deal with it, and stop trying to bend Veganism's crystal clear definition to something that is not.

Thank you, Butterfly for the Great post!!! I appreciate you.

Flavia said...

There are a lot of comments about whether or not one should call themselves vegan, and whether or not anyone has the right to question someone else's claim to be vegan; in other words, objections to the "labeling."

As I see it now, this isn't so much about getting the "label" for yourself, or for someone else correct, but more about fully understanding what "vegan" means, the importance of that -- since there is such rampant misunderstanding about what it means!

Since it means avoiding, to the very best of our ability, ALL forms of animal exploitation, and since there are so many who have this wrong, and who are led astray by advertising and media, and misinformed others, many of those who identify as "vegan," yet who are NOT, actually, can go for many years continuing to unintentionally mislead and miseducate others about what it means to simply LIVE VEGAN.

It confounds me no end why there is such vociferous and strenuous objection to this clarification.

Those who object in this way, make the claim that it "scares people away" from veganism, but, as I see it, this is simply too broad a claim to make, since no one has real proof that this is true.

It also seems, from the steady and rather ferocious objections to this simple clarification, that we will not cease going round and round with this argument anytime soon. Some see the value in it, others don't. We can keep arguing about it, or not.

Shiyvah said...

Thank you for your post about Veganism. It's very good and answers a lot of questions people have about what they are possibly still doing that will contribute to harm animals. Defining Veganism is just that, to show what is wrong to do and why. I don't understand why some people were so mad about the answers you gave to the questions many people need answered. It's not about labeling people, the truth is that only vegans are really trying hard to avoid all animal exploitation. Trying to be a Vegan is good, but becoming actually one is even better. :)

Soledad said...

Dear Butterflies,

I liked your post very much, it´s simple and clear, and many of us really may have some doubts, so I appreciate you help us think about this important issues.

Nowadays the term "vegan" is overused, we need to set things straight.

I'm from Argentina and enjoy your blog very much, keep up the amazing writing!

M. (known as) "Butterflies" Katz said...

Thanks those who liked the post, Live Vegan and Soledad...that certainly helped.

Tim, I think the lines I drew here, for the most part, are what the general vegan community agrees upon. I may have put one or two of my own perceptions in, but these are just the basics that most vegans agree upon and/or live by.

RJ said...

I really don't think it's necessary to point out that all vegans are imperfect. I would like to know the vegan community supports people's efforts to become better vegans rather than chastising them for not fitting into a very narrow definition.

Also, if you want to include ALL vegans in open dialogue, allow people to comment on your facebook posts WITHOUT having to be your "friend" first.

M. (known as) "Butterflies" Katz said...


I am public on facebook, as far as I know anyone can comment or say anything to me at any time.

Karuna Veg said...

Excellent post Butterflies -- you are reminding us, as Edward Immel does in his comment, that we humans have a tendency to squirm out of taking responsibility for our actions, especially when they are culturally approved, as exploiting nonhuman animals is.

I believe it is essential that veganism be seen as a lifestyle that is based on motivation. As Donald Watson wrote, in coining the word vegan in 1944, "Veganism is a philosophy and way of life that seeks to exclude, as far as possible and practical, all forms of exploitation of and cruelty to animals for food, clothing, or any other purpose.

Veganism is the yearning to minimize the amount of cruelty and exploitation I am causing in the world. It is, I believe, closely related to the spiritual/ethical principle ahimsa, or non-violence, being, again, the yearning to minimize my violent actions. Purchasing animal-sourced foods, entertainment, and other products is violent action. It directly causes violence on many levels.

Thanks Butterflies for holding the vegan principle up for us to look at, and for demonstrating the ways that it plays out in the grey areas of our modern daily lives. This is important. Rather than being afraid or put off by this, I think it would be helpful to work together to bring this message to the mainstream.

It does take work to practice veganism - reading labels, saying no to lots of things -- and that's the beauty of it - it builds our awareness and character. Instead of being merely programmed robots going along with the cultural program and eating and doing whatever the corporations, media, and government dictate, we are called to think deeply, question, and do the best we can.

What a terrific adventure!! Thanks to you all for your inspiration!

Mel said...

Elitism gets people nowhere.

M. (known as) "Butterflies" Katz said...

What's really elitism is people thinking they have some right to use animals for food, clothing, products, entertainment, to experiment on, etc. - they think they are more important than other species of animals. That defines elitism.

I don't see this post as elitism, just truthism.

Renée MBM said...

I like me some truth. This post has buckets of it. Thanks for setting people straight. Doing one's best not to exploit and maim animals is hardly extreme. Slacking off, feeble excuses, demanding to be included in a group instead of actually doing something to earn it, consciously misrepresenting groups, and ye olde name-calling is more in the domain of elitism... Use plants, don't use animals. It's not quite M-theory.

steve said...

Thank you. I understand how some might be offended, but as a 30 month vegan who no longer goes to the zoo, buys any animal products and from time to time asks otherwise enlightened folks how they consider themselves peace loving when their meal died screaming, I am encouraged by the clarity you lay out for vegan definition. Some will feel squirmy at your close to home directness, but to be a valiant vegan in the days ahead, we need examined lives.
Thank you.

timgier said...

Butterflies, in my comment I referenced the lines that "we vegans" draw, meaning that I count myself among the number who draw those lines in arbitrary ways. It matters not how many vegans agree on where those lines may be drawn, if they are arbitrary, they are arbitrary. Now, maybe lots of people think that there's just no way they can live without their car or their computer, but certainly many people live without both and we could to if it was important enough to us. The simple fact is that it isn't important enough to us, which is fine, but we ought to at least own up to that fact instead of attempting to rationalize our inconsistencies away.

M. (known as) "Butterflies" Katz said...

Hi Tim, maybe they are arbitrary, and maybe I am rationalizing. I was basing it on the fact that I have never in 3 decades met a single vegan (and I am very in touch with the vegan community, as you know) who does not drive a car, based on the stearic acid in the formation of the tires. I have met people who don't drive or own a car because of environmental reasons, and I don't drive a lot for vegan and environmental reasons. It did not seem like a line that I was personally drawing since I've never met a vegan that took it as far as not driving a car. I was basing it on the general consensus of vegans.

Angie Wright said...

An excellent explanation. This will be so useful for non-vegans who are trying to understand an ethical vegans motives.
Ignore the critics. There will always be those who try to find fault. They probably wouldn't have the inclination to put forward these well reasoned arguments or the intelligence to do so. I agree with all the points. Angie xx

Anonymous said...

This is the main reason why I no longer call myself a vegan but a herbivore! I no longer care to associate with elitism or the vegan police.

M. (known as) "Butterflies" Katz said...

To the last anonymous person who left a comment. Anyone who IS a vegan would call themselves one. It is probably good that you call yourself an herbivore, because it's probably more honest. I wish all people who did not live the vegan ideal, those who just eat a vegan diet, would call themselves an herbivore. They would be telling the truth, and thereby not lessening the meaning of a vegan for others to be misguided by.

Anonymous said...

Driving a car, using a computer, etc. are not survival necessities and are no different than eating a steak butterflies so get off of your fucking high horse for you are not vegan. Oh i forgot, you are vegan because what makes you not vegan isn't applicable.

Anonymous said...

Like Anonymous (October 22, 2012 at 3:55 PM), I have dropped the self-identifying label of "vegan", and just say I eat a plant based diet. There's too much unwanted baggage associated with it - just like any religious, philosophical or political "ism", I found it undermined my individuality and replaced it with an artificial identification with an "in" group, a division of humanity (the last thing we need) and bringing these issues to the table whenever I so much as mentioned "I'm vegan". Let alone "educating" people about veganism - if you talk to someone for the sole purpose of converting them to your way of thinking, you have essentially reduced them from unique individuals to simply "potential vegans", and are treating them as a pawn to your agenda. This is a huge barrier to honest communication, and applies to any kind of evangelism for any cause.

M. (known as) "Butterflies" Katz said...

To the last anonymous comment: There is a difference between someone who eats a plant-based diet and one who is vegan. Veganism extends beyond diet; it's a way of life and it includes clothing, products, practices, and food. Those who call themselves vegan are committed to living without harming animals, as far as reasonably possible.

Unknown said...

The fastest and surest way to turn another away from veganism is to call any human a vegan and impart the lie of non-equality.

Anonymous said...

This was helpful, sort of.

What I disliked the most was how you (probably deliberately) tried to make your readers feel guilty over the simplest things.

This post made vegans seem whiny and "no fun", which I for sure know they are not.

Unknown said...

All these comments mentioning the truth.

We are alive.
We can't change our past.
The most important thing in life is life.
We are equal.
We are important.
We are human animals.
We are not our actions.
The truth is as important as life itself.

These are all truths that are eternal and that we share in common, bar none!

It's veganism and it's a lifestyle.

The fastest and surest way to turn another away from veganism is to call any human a vegan and impart the lie of non-equality.

Stick to the truth because the truth is as important as life itself.

Drop calling people vegans. There is no such thing, we are human animals.

We are not doctors. We practice medicine.
Johnny is not a bad boy. He did a bad thing.

Now, if you have problem with what I am saying here and want to continue lying that we are not equal then why should anyone listen to anything you have to say about anything if the truth doesn't really matter to you?

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry for all of you call yourself "vegan" because there is no way you could live in this world. You can't even live in your house if you are a true vegan. I understand for standing up against any cruel and inhumaine vilonce to animals, for those who believe in God, God put animals on this earth for a reason. To use them for food clothing and also friendships. Killing an animal in an inhumane is something people should stand for because there are very humane ways to do it. Use the resources that God has given to you.

M. (known as) "Butterflies" Katz said...

To the last anonymous person who left a comment, I feel sorry for you that you believe in a God that thinks it is okay to exploit animals for food and clothing, etc. - when we don't need to and can live beautifully without harming animals. Why would I want to believe in God that is violent and cruel. My God is vegan, nonviolent, and respects anyone sentient.

I don't believe something because it was written in a book from centuries ago by humans who we know error, but instead I believe what my reasoning mind, my soul, my conscience dictates...I follow a higher law...the law of Love and Truth.

Any religion or God that says it's okay to harm an impostor, not the real deal. Sorry.

David Wishengrad said...

Well actually M Butterflies, God does give us the animals to eat when there is nothing else. Many people confuse necessity with desire; necessary with unnecessary.

By Anonymous' logic, causing unnecessary harm to others is "okay" in God's eyes as long as you get something out of it. Necessary is not considered.

Anonymous said...

Decent list. Far from perfect, of course.

I personally wouldn't consider anyone who isn't actively looking to transition away from the use of an automobile in their personal lives to be a vegan. The damage done to ecosystems by the industry obtains the relevant fuel is irrevocable and responsible for decimation of many animal populations.

I think the rationalizations about the importance of a car are borne of weak will, rather than necessity. There are almost always step that can be taken to reduce or eliminate the need for a vehicle. Let's take the issue of commuting to work as a simple example
-If your workplace is within a distance of 3 miles or less and you are physically able, there is no reason you shouldn't be able to walk to and from work.
-If your workplace is within a distance of 20 miles or less, there is no reason you shouldn't be able to use a bicycle as a form of transit.
-If your workplace is outside a 20 mile radius from your residence, perhaps it's time to seek new employment in closer proximity.
-If seeking new employment is absolutely impossible, it's important to look at strategies of reduction, such as car-pooling, public transit, or telecommuting.

I think it's well past time for the "old guard" in the vegan community at large to reexamine how they approach the issue of motor transit. Taking a cross-country trip by plane or car to visit distant relatives certainly does NOT accord with a vegan lifestyle.

David Wishengrad said...

"I personally wouldn't consider anyone who isn't actively looking to transition away from the use of an automobile in their personal lives to be a vegan."


That is a lie. If must lie, then please do not discuss veganism as a Truth.

Anonymous said...

From your comment of May 7, 2012:

"It's one thing to drive a car or have refrigerator or drive on roads...these are things we can't avoid at this point, but many vegans don't avoid things they could easily avoid."

Who gets to decide what others can "easily avoid?" We cannot understand the challenges that other people face in their day-to-day lives. A person may struggle to live up to their own aspirations with regard to eliminating animal exploitation in her or his life. Should that person not be recognized for doing what they can even if they don't meet the standard for being a vegan that you've outlined here?

You say we cannot avoid driving a car or having a refrigerator, yet the anonymous commenter on September 17, 2013 writes:

"I personally wouldn't consider anyone who isn't actively looking to transition away from the use of an automobile in their personal lives to be a vegan."


"Taking a cross-country trip by plane or car to visit distant relatives certainly does NOT accord with a vegan lifestyle."

That commenter doesn't think *you* are a vegan.

I saw you mention "living the vegan ideal" in an earlier comment in this thread. Please consider that *nobody* can live the vegan ideal. One can only aspire to it.

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Unknown said...

Great article Butterflies. I am often torn between two things. Purity and accessibility.

1: I want to be as Vegan as possible, and uphold a high standard because I don't want the concept/word to become meaningless. It IS about the animals after all. It's not a diet, or for the environment. They are just good bonus reasons for being Vegan. (In actual fact, you can consume SMALL amounts of animal foods and still be VERY healthy, and do good things for the environment.)

And 2: I want to be able to tell people that being Vegan is easy. Because actually, it can be. But if we raise the bar too high, right from the get-go, it really actually does put some people right off, who might otherwise consider it. Fact.

To resolve this tension, I sometimes think of Veganism as a journey, or in terms of a spectrum of possibilities. I think the journey to compassion for animals begins with what I have come to term being 'Baseline Vegan'. I.e. you ditch animal foods from your diet, then gradually, progressively, eliminate other animal products from your life. The spectrum shifts from baseline to 'Ultra-Vegan' - which is perhaps where you are at Butterflies. (Although from what I hear, some of the Jain monks make the average Vegan look like cruel, heartless b*st*rds! Lol. They brush ants out of their path before they take a step, and wear dust masks so they don't accidentally inhale tiny insects....)

I think it's good to encourage people to take any step along a journey to living a better life. Even giving them praise for going Vegetarian, for example. But at the same time, telling them that it is just a step, and there are further steps they can take, what those steps are (dairy, eggs, leather, wool, etc.), and why they ought to consider taking them.

I think if we explain/articulate what the Vegan ideal is, and encourage people to even BEGIN to undertake the journey, we do a good thing.

Rome wasn't built in a day. We are ALL on a journey......

David Wishengrad said...

Clearly, the people paying for the needless slaughter bear responsibility for their actions. The actions are tragic and horrific. They are actions “thinking people” work to abolish.

But…If a person is reminded of The Most Important Truth in Life: Life is Most Important in Life, and denies this Truth or ignores this Truth, regardless if they live a vegan lifestyle or not, they have denied The Most Important Truth and as a result they bear the full responsibility for all needless killing on earth that occurs from that point on because they denied the Truth.

Here we have people like you stepping up and putting words together to help educate others and improve this world. The last thing I want to see is the ones working to make it better actually holding the responsibility for all future unnecessary deaths and suffering.

We cannot deny or ignore the Truth and not lie.

Those of us that have deep passion and love for the animals and continue to lie will have to eventually face the reality of what holding onto those lies really is: The responsibility of every innocent life life lost from the very moment of the dismissal of the Truth. What a terrible thing for someone who is trying to save lives to face. It can be more painful than death itself to realize that all your work was in vain and more people and animals died because we refused to check our ego at the door.

Veganism is a Truth. Calling yourself a vegan or implying to another that it is possible to be a vegan is a lie. Discard the Most Important Truth in Life you personally hold the responsibility for every preventable and needless case of suffering and death from this point on.

Anonymous said...

As a vegetarian making the transition to being a vegan, I did find this post to be a little harsh. I do agree with the theory and basis of being a true vegan. However, just as there are different classifications of vegetarianism, I believe that there are different classifications of veganism. Perhaps the post is written from the view point about what it is to be a true, nearly 100% humanly possible version of a vegan. I think vegetarianism/veganism a sensitive issue. I agree with some of the other commentators, I believe that the knowledge of such things like vegetarianism/veganism would be better accepted through compassionate/neutral messages. It shouldn't be a debate, argument, or negative/put anyone down... it's simply a matter of educating others about a topic that is important. I did like this post, it was informative but I view it as a post about true veganism. I'd love to just become a vegan overnight but it's not that easy for me. I'm also transitioning to low toxin and cruelty free. All three are pretty expensive and require a lot of research, time, and effort. It's a journey that's not easy and can be emotional at times. There is a negative ideology for veganism out there from people who don't understand/agree with it, but that can be changed. I appreciate anyone who tries (in their own way) to make a positive difference in the world. Perhaps it's because I'm transitioning from vegetarianism to veganism, that I may not have a clear idea of what veganism is. It's something I'm sure I'll learn a long the way. Where can I find more information to help better educate myself about veganism?

M. (known as) "Butterflies" Katz said...

Hello last anonymous commenter: Yes, I am talking about true veganism; the vegan ethic I learned about 35 years ago from a man who brought it over from the U.K. where it originated. In modern times, the vegan word is more popular - but the real meaning of veganism has become diluted. Anyway, it's great that you are on your way, and yes it takes time to learn, and we really never stop learning and veganizing. You can learn a lot from my website or from or - I'm very candid about real veganism and animal rights - sorry if it sounds harsh, I don't mean to upset anyone. But what is happening to animals is unnecessary and so unjust - that I can get very serious and detailed.

M. (known as) "Butterflies" Katz said...

P.S. That man, by the way, was the founder of the American Vegan Society.

Anonymous said...

Hi Butterflies,it's the last anonymous commenter. Thank you for taking the time to read and respond to my comment. Also, thank you for the clarification and the information on veganism. This post was really eye opening to me and I was shocked by some of the answers. Harsh wasn't the right word for me to use and I apologize for that. It is a strongly worded post, which isn't a bad thing. I agree with you, awareness does need to be brought to topics of worldy matters such as veganism and animal rights. You're just doing your part by advocating and it's appreciated.

M. (known as) "Butterflies" Katz said...

anonymous, that was sweet of you - made my day!

Ellen said...

I will preface this by saying I am not vegan. However I know people who are passionate advocates and I have read much, including this blog and comments. It seems to me that this world has evolved with a natural food chain that, for millennia, maintained a balance in nature. That's whether you're a Christian (God created the world and the animals to be of use to man and even Jesus, according to Biblical lore was a fisherman who fed fish to the masses) or a believer in evolution or natural progression. Our forbears (pre Industrial Revolution) had to rely on animals for transportation and farming and many other necessary practices, so they could not be vegan. If God, or Nature or Evolution meant for the world to be vegan, why are there animals who are carnivores and kill other animals in ways more cruel than our industrialized farming? I've read on other sites that any human use of animals is wrong. What about the important role played by homing pigeons, particularly carrying messages in wartime? What about service animals, such as guide dogs? Are we exploiting them by using them in this so valuable way to help humans who need help?
And even this blog admits that certain animals, like cats, require nutrients obtained only from meat (no doubt why their wild counterparts, lions and tigers, hunt other animals for sustenance). Why is this true in a world that is meant to be vegan?
I would be interested in views on these questions.

M. (known as) "Butterflies" Katz said...

Hello Ellen - to respond to your comment

I am seeking a vegan humanity before I am seeking a vegan world. Humans can be vegan. Animals in the wild can not. I am secretly in my soul hoping that we can have a vegan world, animals in the wild too - by evolution, not by murder, killing and violence....however, I am not seeking or advocating for that - at this point in evolution. I know humans can be vegan. We have evolved to this. Therefore my work is to bring about a vegan humanity. I also believe in feeding our rescued animal friends a supplemented plant-based formulation that has all their nutritional requirements. This is available - and all over the world. Costs more, but my ethics are more important that money.

Whatever people believe, Bible or religion or evolution - doesn't really matter. It is irrelevant. Humans can NOW, in these here times, live wonderfully as vegans...I have for 37 years (and 9 years veg before that). I have lived in vegan community where 35 people all went vegan at once or similar time and all got one got worse! It just so happens that vegan living is a panacea that has so many benefits to planetary healing, and a world gone mad with violence, etc etc. - The solution for many of our major problems; world hunger, global warming, rampant violence, greed, ill-health, environmental degradation - can all be majorly helped by everyone changing over to a plant-powered diet. The best thing that will happen is this horrific holocaust we humans impose on other feeling sentient beings - will end, at long last.

Jennifer Richards said...

good examples.

It's important to keep Veganism, vegan.

Not easy with all the phonies our there, who want vegan to mean whatever suits them.

The definition is fixed, and people should not try to ruin Veganism.

BTW anyone who says they are more interested in animals than the definition, clearly has a problem with the definition, which means they dont care so much about the animals as to care to be vegan!

Everybody's situation is different but people do need to be honest with themselves about what truly is compatible with Veganism.

I would take issue that conventional carsate too fast and heavy to be truly vegan (cars kill humans and animals, directly and indirectly, and using lots of oil is not truly vegan either as you are quite sure to be causing global warning, and it's inherent habitat destruction.

The definition is as much as is practicable and that is open to what you can reasonably achieve, but you must try!

The animal rights movement is now the animal exploitation movement, Veganism must remain, if the animals matter at all.

David Wishengrad said...

Got a high five with excitement from a man at work today. He felt very happy he hadn't eaten an animal in five days. He went to not killing knowing he could not be vegan, but with love and appreciation for himself being most important.

It (The Truth) works very well. In truthful fact, it's the only truthful thing that does work. Life is a truth. Eventually, if we people love the animals enough and don't die in the meantime, we realize this. What this means is we see how, by holding onto lies, we actually made it worse on the animals than the people killing them. Schindler's breakdown compares, but falls short on the count of lives lost over time to humans, the cost of lives to the animals, and the very possible loss of all life here if we don't get or priorities in order right now!

Priorities anyone?????
What is most important in life?????

Do you really want to stand there and watch it all go realizing you heard the truth and what needed to get done and received warning and still you chose the lie? If you really love the animals and make the mistake of forsaking the truth then it will hurt.

Do the best you can.

Anonymous said...

I don't eat animal products, and care deeply about animals..i don't really care what you call me, i sometimes refer to myself as vegan as it is shorter than "strict vegetarian"..but i have stopped doing that because i have a non-vegan friend who eats cheese and fish and shellfish who lectures me about not using products tested on animals.

David Wishengrad said...


You should care. When people choose to speak lies, instead o the truth, life usually gets hurt.

We have people who choose to love the animals and also choose call themselves vegan.

On one hand a large amount of these people think that they really are their action, which is not true. People are not their actions, they are life. The problem that this presents is that even though their heart is right, they have not learned the truth of who they really are yet and why they, and others, are always most important. It leads people into a position of false identity by striking at the very core of their true importance, by hiding the truth from them.

On the other hand there are some who understand that we are not our actions, but instead call it semantics or linguistics and attempt to dismiss the importance of the most important truth in life. While they realize that we are not our actions, they don't seem to have taken a count of how many people really believe we are our actions. Nor do they realize how detrimental it is to the human mind for a person to not know who they truthfully are.

This is why I believe any attempt to contradict the most important truth in life, "Life is Most Important in Life", is a huge mistake. That thing we are fighting for...LIFE... is the first self-evident TRUTH. We can't have one without the other. People need to know who they are and why, so that they better understand the how important other life is.

Most of the people living the vegan lifestyle who have discussed this subject with me at length have agreed 100% with what I am saying. The remaining minority found themselves contradiction their own words attempting to find flaw regarding this matter. A person can't argue that, "Life is Most Important in Life", is not true, using life. That's a contradiction.

Take care,


Kay. said...

Hi, I'm writing a blog post on surprising things that aren't vegan and I cannot find the answer to this anywhere, but then I came across your blog, so maybe you could help. I'm trying to determine what it is about refrigerators that makes them not vegan? Is it the same thing that makes computers not vegan, i.e. the minute amounts of animal products in the materials and glue?? Thank you in advance. Interesting read by the way.

M. (known as) "Butterflies" Katz said...

Hi Kay,

I don't know. I heard that in the past, but can't seem to find verification. I thought it was the coolant or freon, but not finding anything on that. Can't answer, sorry.