Should we be maintaining the integrity of the definition of veganism, or should we allow it to get watered down?
Supposedly there are pros and cons of both views. Once you set aside the rhetoric and hidden agendas, there can only be one answer.
There are so many “arguments” put forward by people who don’t want to go vegan that it is hard to keep up with them. The ones below are those that are commonly used.
- The “bar” for being vegan is set too high.
- That expecting people to give up ALL animal products is based on our need to be seen as “pure” rather than trying to help “the animals”.
- The easier we make it for people to say they are vegan, the more likely they will be to be fully vegan.
- The easier we make it for people to say they are vegan, the more people that people will say they are vegan. The more that companies see people going vegan, and the more likely they will be to invest money in creating vegan suitable products.
- The easier we make it for people to say they are vegan, the more people who will go vegan, and the more animals that will be saved.
While the above may hold some water with those inside the various anti-vegan echo chambers, reality is a little different.
Every one of the justifications above focus on the person, not the group we are supposed to be supporting.
Remember way back when, when everything was ‘green washed’?
Did that make people become more environmentally aware, and change their habits?
I don’t think it did.
While veganism is a club that everyone should join, throwing out the selection criteria cheapens the “brand” and does nothing to help it.
It also means that we are going against the virtues of veganism itself.
Let’s compare it for a moment to the Straight Edge movement.
For those who came in late, Straight edge is where adherents refrain from using alcohol, tobacco and other recreational drugs. (Some may take it further, though this is the starting point).
What do you think it would do to the meaning of being Straight edge, if it became fashionable to be Straight edge before breakfast?
Or, what about a 9-5 Straight Edger?
On the other side of the coin, what about those we are supposedly advocating for, “the animals”?
By saying those who consume animal (by)products can say they are vegan, we are saying that “the animals” matter, so long as it is convenient for us.
Something else to consider, and this is directed at those who want to say they are vegan, while still consuming animal products.
Why do you want to say you are vegan, when you don’t agree with what it stands for?
(I do understand that there are some people who do want to be vegan, yet are not able to. This could be because they live in food deserts, or that being vegan isn’t a financially viable option for them. If that is the case, the above question isn’t meant for them. It is directed at those who can afford to, and have the means to be vegan. They simply can’t be bothered, or don’t want to. Yet still want to wear the vegan badge).
In closing, expecting those who say they are vegan to actually be vegan isn’t about ‘purity’. It actually isn’t possible to be a 100% ‘pure’ vegan.
This is about avoiding the use of animal (by)products as much as possible and practicable, and maintaining some sort of integrity around the term “vegan”.
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