Is There Such A Thing As An Ex-Vegan?

Incase you have missed it, or not been on Facebook for the past few days, Alexandra Jamieson has decided that she is no longer vegan, and proclaimed it to the world in a blog post titled funnily enough, I’m not vegan anymore.

Not surprisingly it has started all sorts of discussions in different groups and forums, and getting more than a few comments on the post itself. Some of the comments as you can expect have been a little less than pleasant, and others have been supportive of her, though most of those have come from people who are not vegan or claim to be ex-vegans.

This leads me to ask the almost obvious question. Is there such a thing as an ex-vegan?

Answering this question, I would have to say no. Because in all honesty, if you can become an “ex-vegan” you honestly never were a vegan in the first place?

Ms Jamieson’s regression does raise a few interesting points worth considering.

For example, after being vegan for 13 years and initially doing it for her health, why hadn’t the connection been made regarding the social justice aspect of veganism?

Of all the discussions I have had with those who are already vegan regarding the reasons why others go vegan, the common consensus is that those who do for health reasons are more likely to fall off the wagon so to speak, and revert back to eating animal products. If this is indeed true, it does point to a failure of ‘the movement’ to agitate, educate and motivate them to the other ‘parts’ of being vegan, thereby allowing them to come to the belief that it is just about them and their food choices.

Personally, I don’t see any reason why an individual who goes vegan for health reasons cannot make the connection to become a legitimate animal rights proponent.

Using myself as an example, as I openly acknowledge that I went vegan for health reasons after reading the book ‘Fit For Life’ though I guess that the difference for me was the ‘cut finger epiphany’ that I had which opened my eyes up to the actual plight of other animals. The epiphany probably had a greater impact on me because I had previously taken part in killing animals.

I am not suggesting that those health vegans go out and kill an animal or two to ‘make the connection’, what I am suggesting is that we in the movement take responsibility for ‘keeping these people vegan’ and opening their eyes up to the bigger picture of veganism.

Mind you, any reasonable person would have thought that after being vegan for 13 years, and having the high profile that she enjoyed, that Ms Jamieson would at least have done a little bit of home work on her own to educate herself about anything that is relevant to being vegan. Her failure to do so does indicate that she was only doing it for ‘herself’, and possibly to create an income stream, which she seems to have done. It could also be that with this blog post, Ms Jamieson is ‘re-inventing’ herself to become more ‘acceptable’ to a wider market. Could there be a paleo book coming out soon?

I should also point out that Ms Jamieson incorrectly quotes Ellen Degeneres by saying that Ms Degeneres mentioned she had been eating eggs on her show. What Ellen actually said was that she gets her eggs from someone who has backyard chickens.

If we take anything away from the article that Ms Jamieson has written it is that we should be listening to our bodies more, and taking the “morality, perfectionism and rigidity our of our food.” Well, if that is the case, and despite it being 08:00 as I write this, I feel like a beer and some chocolate cookies. Be back soon!

Sadly, and despite being vegan for 13 years, I really don’t think Ms Jamieson ‘got it’ and truly understood what veganism is actually about.

Veganism is not about making sure the animals that are used for food are killed ‘humanely’, nor it is about having a place where we can begin to have more compassion for ourselves and each other all the while forgetting to extend that compassion to those who are consumed.

All that this heartfelt ‘coming out’ has done is reaffirm Ms Jamieson’s place in the hostile food-culture that she seems to be against.

She has just re-affirmed that our diet isn’t about WHO we eat, it is about WHAT we eat; that if we attach warm and fuzzy labels to food and our behaviour like ‘humane’, ‘compassionate’ and ‘conscious’ it absolves us from all guilt and responsibility for the life that was taken; that our ‘wants’ are more important than the ‘needs’ of those who have no choice as to whether they become part of the animal agriculture industry.

23 thoughts on “Is There Such A Thing As An Ex-Vegan?”

    • In my 44 years, I feel like I’ve run the gamut of dietary preferences… and one thing I’ve learned is that using inflammatory language only serves to polarize the arguments. We can’t murder an animal because murder refers specifically to the killing of a HUMAN BEING. I understand that in your eyes, killing an animal is akin to killing a human being, but insisting that others see it your way only alienates those who might be able to see your point if they weren’t busy feeling defensive over being labeled “murderers”. I respect that you truly believe that we are murderers, but if your goal is to reduce animal suffering, you will first need people to listen to you. It’s nice to get the kudos from those in your echo chamber, but these people already agree with you so you’re not making any progress this way.

      • I do believe that you have missed the point that Marla was trying to make.

        How else would you like you and your necrovorous brethren to be referred?

        Also, whilst not speaking for Marla here, my goal isn’t to end animal suffering, it is to end animal use.

        • lol Alright Cameron, I get that you are the zealot… as I said, your position won’t sway anyone. It was good of you to demonstrate the point for me. Personally, I don’t mind being called a murderer or a necrovore?! LMAO… I’ve already been to veganism and back, so my skin’s pretty thick. I kill animals for food. I’m OK with that. =)

        • You may think that I am a zealot, all I did was ask a question as to how you would like to be referred.

          Do you live somewhere out in the wilds of the United States?
          The fact that you have a computer does not seem to indicate this. I would also be inclined to think that you actually pay someone else to kill those animals you are about to eat.
          If this is the case, you have those animals killed for taste.

          As you claim to have been to veganism and back again, it does reiterate the point that a lot of people are starting to make. You never were really vegan to begin with – just following a plant based diet.

        • I prefer not to dilute the debate by having it in two places and I’ve been pretty active in Alex’s forum- suffice it to say that I’m guessing you aren’t growing all of YOUR own diet either. In fact, among carnivores like big cats, everyone shares in the feast, even though only a few contributed to the kill. The criteria that vegans manufacture to define everyone else are at least creative, if not realistic.

          I would slaughter myself if I had the right set-up for it- as a child, my father would bring home chickens and slaughter them in the bathtub- but since I wish to take fewer lives, I prefer to stick to the large ruminants and cannot afford a tub big enough for a full size steer.

          It’s disingenuous to suggest you were asking a question. It was intended as an insult but wrapped up to look like a question. It’s a shame that you can’t ask a genuine, respectful question- as I pointed out in my first comment, if you want people to listen, you have to stop attacking them. The only people listening you are the ones who are already vegan. This makes your club exclusive instead of inclusive– which is sad to this ethical omni because many omni folks reach their ethical views via a vegan community. Attitudes like yours though simply repel people who might otherwise make choices to reduce animal food consumption and source ethical foods… leaving then typical conventional omnis.

          As much as I’m up to trading insults with you, I find my time is more valuable in forums where people are open rather than closed.

          Take good care, Cameron.

          ~Huntress

    • Paleo Huntress, I do believe that Ellen’s mother lives with her, and she has two dogs in her care as well, so it is entirely possible that the eggs could be for them.
      What is interesting regarding Ellen’s comments is that not long after everyone came out against her saying she wasn’t vegan, her personal chef was interviewed and he did say that Ellen was vegan.

      • I did some serious digging for more information and I think what’s even MORE interesting is that Ellen herself hasn’t clarified. For being such an outspoken and public vegan, isn’t it odd that she made the video clip private and that she hasn’t specifically stated that she doesn’t eat the eggs that she gets from her neighbors? I would imagine that a vegan would be pretty invested in being sure there was no misunderstanding.

        • Why does she need to clarify her position? To do it now after the initial comments were some time ago now would only bring to the forefront again. And to be perfectly honest, I think most of us have gotten over it and moved on to other things.

          The difference between Ellen and Alex Jamieson is that Ellen hasn’t made a name for herself through the promotion of veganism, nor has she written books dedicated to the subject.

  1. I’m not sure that the difference between Ellen and Alex really matters except that I think it took far more courage for Alex to admit to being an omni again. This is one of my favorite quotes.

    “I did then what I knew how to do. Now that I know better, I do better.”― Maya Angelou

    I’d far more inclined to talke the advice of someone open enough to learn, and to even risk being ostracized, than one fully steeped in doctrine and unmovable.

    And while I agree that Ellen most definitely didn’t HAVE to clarify, the woman appears to be an open book otherwise. She’s out about her sexuality, she’s out about her diet. Wouldn’t it have been a simple thing then to simply clarify? Not because she’s expected to, but rather because her fans were confused. I’ve seen her make corrections on her show over misunderstandings many times. Her silence in this case is puzzling.

  2. Paleo Huntress. I attempted to reply to your last comment on Alexandra Jamieson’s site but for some reason am unable to post, so I hope you will pick this up.

    Firstly, no I don’t mean self-sacrifice. I mean there is no sacrifice involved by either the animal or the person who slaughters it for food.

    Secondly, I actually think a lot and come to my own conclusions after researching anything that I may adopt as a lifestyle change. That I am vegan demonstrates this as it would have been much easier to just blindly follow the herd and accept without question the misinformation the meat, egg and dairy industries tell people daily.

    On the issue of where I get my food, I have found what an amazing amount of food can be grown in large tubs in the backyard. Organic, healthy and nutritious, and even a little bit left over for the possums (-:

    What people choose to eat or not eat is their own choice. As I have said being vegan is a life of constant learning, as it is quite frequent that products once vegan friendly are no longer. Animal products pop up in the most unexpected places hence the vigilance.

    But being vegan is about compassion and trying to live a life as harmlessly as possible. The animals who are slaughtered in their millions for food can’t express their pain, so it is up to those who like myself want that to end to be a witness for them. So when people post stupid comments that try to romanticise the killing, I will speak up on their behalf. If people bothered to find out, I suspect the majority except the most sadistic among us would change their diets. Why else do you think what goes on in the slaughterhouses, the egg farms, the dairy farms and so on is kept so hidden.

    If you choose to eat meat that’s up to you, but don’t expect people to stay silent when you post delusional comments.

  3. Kerry,

    Alex has closed her comments on that post.

    This is the last of what I’ll say to you on this topic.

    Insisting that the color blue is really red, doesn’t make it true.
    Insisting that wet is really dry, doesn’t make it true.
    Insisting that cold is really hot, doesn’t make it true.

    Words have meanings for a reason- if we all defined every word our OWN way, we’d be unable to communicate. So I get that you’ve redefined “sacrifice”, and so you will doggedly defend your own definition- but it STILL doesn’t make it true.

    “Sacrifice” doesn’t require consent- (just ask the THOUSANDS sacrificed by the Mayans or talk to Christians about sacrificial lambs). If sacrifice is something romantic in your mind, that is YOUR misinterpretation to work out.

    Best!

    ~Huntress

    • Thanks PH for your reply. I thought that the site was probably closed off so appreciate your confirmation.

      I’d simply point out that no part of your Wiki definition applies to killing animals for food. I have not remade a definition for sacrifice at all. Your example of the Mayans and Christians also was very different to killing for food, they were religious ceremonies sacrificing to a deity.

      Enjoy the rest of your day.

      • I haven’t been vegan for very long, so I’m not going to make judgement about ethics because I haven’t been challenged by health problems and I don’t know yet what I’ll do if that day ever comes. I was an English major at university though, and I can say that without a doubt, the term sacrifice applies here. When I plug it into Dictionary.com, the third definition reads,

        “3. the surrender or destruction of something prized or desirable for the sake of something considered as having a higher or more pressing claim.”

        I’m assuming some of this debate took place at Alex’s blog, but there were so many comments, I don’t think I encountered it. To say that animals are sacrificed for human diets would be the proper usage, especially if one believes that animal food improves their health, or in the case of a vegetarian who, wishing not to eat flesh, sacrifices the lives lost accidentally for foods eaten in place of animal foods. In the first case, taking animal life for improved health is considered more pressing, in the second case, taking animal life accidentally while avoiding the DELIBERATE loss of life is considered more pressing.

        The ethics are more complex, but the English is pretty straightforward.

  4. Thanks Fancy Vegan. I can see your reasoning but I would still suggest that a ‘higher or more pressing claim’ still doesn’t apply. I don’t think the English is as straighforward and it isn’t just about ethics.

    A ‘higher’ claim I’d think would be for a moral or ethical purpose, which certainly doesn’t apply here.

    On the second ‘more pressing claim’, there has been research over decades relating to plant based diets clearly showing we can live very healthily on vegan diets. The killing of animals is more about people not wishing to give up a food they enjoy. That I’d suggest is not a more pressing claim.

    I’d acknowledge that some communities living in extreme conditions, the Inuit for example, can rightly assign a more pressing claim given the environment they live in. They don’t have much choice.

    I know it is a matter of how you define, I still think it is wrong to state that animals are sacrificed for us. Perhaps this is a conversation that deserves a separate discussion thread to see what others think. I’d like to see some academics perhaps get involved.

    • Kerry,

      Is it possible that you are applying a morality filter to everyone else? I have young children, and if I had to choose between feeding them well and feeding them at all, the more pressing claim would be just feeding them. I don’t believe “higher” is a moral reference (the dictionary will usually specify morality when it is)– but one that speaks to where an item resides on your list of priorities. A person’s health is likely to be a higher priority than animal ethics. Is it safe to assume that you’ve fared well on a vegan diet? I imagine that it can be hard to have empathy for others if you’ve had no issues yourself.

      My mother has suffered with hypoglycemia for years and my parents went vegan with me. She would check her BG several times a day, and it was all over the map as a vegan- she can’t eat the most common starchy protein sources that vegans depend on and she can’t afford all of the fresh produce necessary to meet her needs without the grain and beans. She fainted once while driving and fortunately was stopped at a traffic light when it happened and was uninjured. Her inflammation markers were steadily rising and her doctor began to get concerned. She gets social security and uses food stamps. If your choices were, 1.) worsening health 2.) financial hardship 3.) give up veganism- who are any of us to say that she should put veganism above her practical and health considerations? My father seemed to do alright- but he eats what my mother cooks. My mother had a supportive doctor and she tried 2 different dietitians, one who was vegan himself.

      So really, how can you say it’s not a pressing claim without knowing each individual’s personal circumstances? You addressed the first piece, but not the second, “taking animal life accidentally while avoiding the DELIBERATE loss of life is considered more pressing.” There are many studies that show that compared to certain mean-containing diets, a vegan diet may take MORE lives in cultivating certain crops. If you choose to eat these crops instead of eating meat, because you can’t stand the thought of killing on purpose, and in doing so you kill more animals, that sounds as though you consider the lack of intent more pressing than the actual number of deaths.

      I’ve given this idea some thought– if this is done in the name of MY ethics or MY morals or MY comfort, can I even say that I do it for the animals? If it’s costing them more lives than an ethical meat eater might, is it about protecting them or protecting my ego and my personal code? I haven’t worked that out yet, but I do know that I can only walk in my own shoes and so I try to keep my judgements contained to my own actions. You say that eating meat is about taste and not wanting to give it up… but I followed the Atkins protocol a few years back, and it was far more challenging than going vegan. I don’t miss meat nearly as much as I missed potatoes and bread and rice and beans and pasta, then. I have heard that same experience from many low-carbers so it would seem that giving up starches is far more challenging than giving up meat, so though I respect that you believe it, I don’t agree with your conclusion that it’s about taste.

      I used to argue that there were only a handful of things any of us actually needs and that the claim that “I NEED this” was a dramatic exaggeration. (Food, shelter and clothing, right?) But now I realize that there is always more that is understood after the “I need…” statement. I need love to be happy. I need friendship to feel connected. I need a job to feel useful. I need intellectual discourse to feel challenged and to keep growing. I think it’s not at all unreasonable for someone to say, “I need animal food to be healthy” and for it to be absolutely true.

      Fancy

      PS. Today’s Inuit have the same access to imported foods as most of us- though not the same variety and not as much is fresh. I’ve been reading up on them lately, it appears that their health has steadily declined in the last half century as grain-based foods have been made more abundant. They are referenced a lot in defense of vegetarian ideals and unfortunately, their current diet doesn’t really reflect their traditional diet. (There was a really neat study done on a small island of Inuit recently where the obesity, diabetes and heart disease rate was almost 3 TIMES the national average). Researchers returned them to their ancestral diet, which included fish, marine mammals like seal, and seal blubber, and fibrous veggies and tubers– and the turnaround in their health was jaw-dropping. I was actually crying while I watched. It’s really not hard to understand why they’ve developed disease, having changed their diets so radically in such a short time. Availability or not, these people thrive on animal food.

      Hopefully, I will continue to thrive on plant food- but if that should change, my health will definitely come first.

      • Thanks Fancy Vegan. There is a lot in your post so I will attempt to respond to the issues raised.

        On the comments regarding your mother, sorry to hear about her health. However, there is a very big difference between prevention and cure. To be fair I did distinguish between our typical western culture and genuine need, and of course people have to make up their mind about their own state of health and the need to consume individuals. Often by the time people start to look at alternative ways of living it’s too late. For example, I have a P/T position as a trained colonic hydrotherapist which is a fantastic way to detox in a reasonably healthy person. But there are some contraindications where a health issue has gone too far. Someone with diverticulosis for example can get benefits from colonics, but if it has got to the diverticulitis (i.e. inflammation) state it is too late and that’s when surgery is pretty much their only option. For your mother, I don’t think diet alone was the answer. I’d have personally preferred to get her to a good naturopath rather than a dietition alone. I don’t know all her details but I don’t think going vegan made her ill, she was already well on the way and she needed other therapies to help her.

        On the issue of animals killed during harvesting, that is actually open to discussion. If you read what is contained here – http://www.animalvisuals.org/projects/data/1mc – it refutes those findings.

        There are several websites BTW making similar comments including Wiki.

        On the issue of the Inuit, they are physiologically different to us due to the extreme environment conditions. They also digest differently to us, to cope with the high fat etc which they largely need to survive the cold. However, they also have a life span about 10 years lower than the general Canadian population, they suffer a high incidence of parasite infection and the high consumption of fish and ocean going animals is seeing high levels of contamination of toxins such as PCB’s that get into the oceans. The depletion of fish due to over fishing and global warming will see that they will ultimately be forced to adopt dietary changes in the future in any case. As a general rule, cultures that have adopted a typical Western diet have all suffered because of the high sugar, highly processed typical Western food. the same thing happened to the Japanese and Chinese and Australian Aborigines to name just a few. I don’t personally think the introduction of Macca’s burgers is a good move anywhere.

        I don’t tell people what they should or shouldn’t eat, that’s their choice. But I will challenge some of the language and misinformation (which is huge) out there about veganism. I’d point out that veganism is not only about diet, it is a whole lifestyle. There is a difference between those who adopt a plant based diet for example but who continues to wear leather or silk or fur trimmed clothing. Being vegan is a moral choice, and the basis of going vegan is to recognise that animals have rights and should not be regarded as a product. My personal involvement with animals, whether it be my own commpanion quadrupeds or the animals I rescue in my wildlife rescue volunteering continue to show me how very little difference there is between us and them. You only have to see the possum mother calling for her baby, the mother duck behaving injured to entice a predator away from her ducklings, the snake caught in bird netting keeping so still as the rescuer carefully cuts the netting away recognising the attempt to help it. When a person decides truly that they can no longer use animals as we do, the rest falls in to place. I’m not saying it isn’t a challenge, it bloody well is and you never stop learning.

        Let me ask you this. A person who has a very strong sexual urge towards children might be said to have a ‘need’. It is a genuine one, albeit illegal, given that there is a very strong psychological makeup. Had that person been born a couple of hundred years ago, or in another of several countries, it would be accepted. Would you support that person satisfying their needs? Anticipating your reply, why would you not allow children to be abused for that persons need but think it’s OK for so many animals, many of them babies, to suffer horrendously. I don’t expect you to reply to that BTW, just pointing out that we should respect the rights of animals as much as we do children.

        On the health issue, I have never come across anybody who could show why they can’t survive on a GOOD vegan diet. Those who I have seen complaining have actually not been on a good diet, and when it comes down to it there is not a single nutrient you can get consuming animal products that you can’t get as a vegan. Yes I watch my health carefully and make sure my diet is providing me with all I need and yes I am in better health now than I ever was beforehand. At the end of the day the arguments from a health, from environmental, from moral and from an ethical perspective all point to going vegan.

        This discussion arose as a result of the meaning of ‘sacrifice’. I guess we will just have to agree to disagree.

  5. Kerry,

    Any time a person equates sexual desire for children with hundreds of thousands of years of evolutionary dietary adaptation, and suggests that surviving is the same as thriving, I know we’re in the realm of religion. You are correct, we will have to agree to disagree. Fortunately, I’m confident that the dictionary gets it right.

    Take good care.

    Fancy

    • Unfortunately you have both missed my point which is that neither can be considered a sacrifice, which is what the original discussion point was.

      River, I have no idea what the connection is with your comment and whether or not killing animals is a sacrifice. The comment was made that animals killed for food is a sacrifice because it serves a higher need. One which I disagree with.

      Fancy Vegan, I am taking a critical thinking approach to this and not a moral one. I still don’t think the definition applies.

  6. Kerry,

    “just pointing out that we should respect the rights of animals as much as we do children”

    We don’t allow adult humans to have sex with children- shall we also intervene when a mature animal attempts to mate with an immature one? What then? Do we lock it up to keep it from doing it again? Do we attempt to rehabilitate it? I wonder what the recidivism rate is on chicken rape… or cow rape? Perhaps we should punish these “animal abusers” with the death penalty when they “murder” other animals… and then, that would be “fair” and “just”– you know, like we do with humans. Then instead of eating them, we’ll embalm them, sit shiva or have a nice Christian service and drop them in the ground in little coffins– we’ll use the pasture that the cows graze on now, and call them “Shady Meadows” and “Peaceful Valley” cemeteries. What other human-centric qualities should be applied to animals? Should we put ‘life at any cost’ first? Perhaps put them on life support even when they’re in pain and dying? Should we disallow euthanizing? Should we build them special ramps and roadways to give them equal access to all things human? Should we care for them with a form of welfare? (call it “animalfare”?) Or rather impoverish ourselves treating them for cancer and buying them medication to keep them alive as long as possible?

    I have a very healthy respect for all living creatures, but we are not all the same. You are not helping the vegan position. You cannot separate yourself out from nature, no matter how much you wish you could. We depend on animals just as animals depend on us. The degree and specifics vary, but we cannot change that it is.

    river

What are your thoughts?

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