So what is a vegan?
Veganism is the practice of minimizing harm to all animals, which requires abstention from all animal products, such as meat, fish, poultry, eggs and dairy products, as well as other animal-derived products, such as honey, gelatin, lanolin, wool, fur, silk, suede, and leather.
- Dietary vegans abstain from eating meat, dairy and eggs and other animal-derived substances (Same as a plant-based diet).
- Ethical vegans not only follow a vegan diet (plant-based diet), they also extend the philosophy into every area of their lives and have a strong belief that no animal should be used by humans for any purpose, including even the extension onto their pets diets.
Some even go as far as not owning animals on the basis of opposing speciesism.
Veganism is a belief system that no animal should be harmed for any reason to better human lives, that we are all equal.
So what is a plant-based diet?
A plant-based diet consists of foods derived from plants including vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds, legumes and fruits, but with few or no animal products.
Individuals on a plant-based diet do not directly abstain from using animal products (outside of their diets). Plant-based dieters still buy leather, honey, wool, fur, silk, suede etc.
Plant-based dieters usually abstain from animal products in their diets for health reasons as if they were to extend their diet habits into other areas of their lives they would become 'vegans'. Using the term 'vegan' means the individual is against animal cruelty in all areas of their lives and are aware of all practices of animal cruelty.
So what's the difference? Veganism is a belief that extends to every aspect of an individual life, whereas plant-based diets only go as far as diets. It is not a belief.
So then, what's a vegetarian?
The term vegetarian is now such a widely used word to describe a large array of diets. A traditional vegetarian diet is the abstention from by-products of animal slaughter and many people object to eating meat out of respect for sentient life. A vegetarian diet eliminates meat, fish and poultry but generally allows eggs and dairy products.
The more specific types of vegetarianism below:
- Lacto-ovo vegetarian: Eliminates meat, fish and poultry but allows eggs and dairy products.
- Lacto-vegetarian: Eliminates meat, fish, poultry and eggs but allows dairy-products.
- Ovo-vegetarian: Eliminates meat, fish, poultry and dairy products but allows eggs.
- Pescetarian: Eliminates meat and poultry but allows fish and sometimes eggs and dairy products.
- Flexitarian: A mostly vegetarian diet that incorporates occasional meat, fish or poultry.
Vegetarian diets do not abstain from consuming or wearing other animal-derived products such as honey, gelatin, lanolin, wool, fur, silk, suede, and leather.
What are our beliefs?
We are vegans. We eat a vegan diet but are not extremists by any means. If something is labelled “may contain traces of milk, eggs etc” we still buy it. It is made on the same production lines so must state this by law. These products can come either from a vegan company that sub-lets the same facility as a non-vegan company or a non-vegan company that has a vegan product line using the same equipment. We still buy these products and support these brands as we believe it is beneficial to the movement.
When we went vegan, we did it overnight. We watched all the documentaries and were horrified and have not looked back since. We do understand for some people, making the switch is not as easy, everyone's situation is different and we fully understand that.
Here are some examples on how we aren't "strict vegans"
- We don’t waste anything - we have a couple of items from before going vegan that we still use today. For example, I still use my puffer jacket which has duck down in it. I have had this jacket for over 4 years and didn’t see the point in replacing it or throwing it out. I also have a couple of pairs of leather shoes and boots that again, I have had for around 6 years.
- Second hand clothing - If I was at a market and saw some good condition leather shoes or belts I wouldn’t not buy them because they have cow flesh, but more so I am not going to waste them. These are second-hand items that are either going to be thrown out or used again.
- My dogs food - I feed her normal dog food. Because I am a “bad vegan”. In New Zealand, we don’t yet have our own vegan dog food range. Once we do, I'll be on board with it but at this stage, I can’t justify spending over $90 to get V-Dog shipped to my door from America. I also sometimes buy her cow hooves for dog treats - these to me are by-products that would have been thrown away if not for human consumption, so I hold no stigma against that.
- I’m sure there are other things that are “bad vegan” but at this stage, cannot think of what they are.
People changing their diet is a step in the right direction. Whether it’s due to health related issues, animal welfare, finances or ethically. We want to support individuals choices and applaud and encourage everyone to become more plant-based. It doesn’t matter what your background may be, you have the power to change either all at once, or incrementally over a period of time. You have to find what works for you and your situation.
Every person has an impact and we are socially responsible for educating as many people as possible. Meat-free-Mondays, Veganuary and meat-free May are all movements recognizing the challenges associated with going more plant-based and everyone needs to band together and encourage people, rather than slandering vegans and non-vegans for doing the wrong thing.
Heavy Meat Diets Have Huge Environmental Impact
As vegans, we reduce our carbon footprint by not consuming any animals or animal by-products. Food production is responsible for about 25 percent of the greenhouse-gas emissions affecting global warming. Producing meat has a much larger climate footprint than fruits and vegetables. Bovine (cows) in particular, produce methane when they burp so beef and dairy production, in turn, have a far greater environmental impact than chickens and pigs.
“We don't need a handful of people doing zero waste perfectly. We need millions of people doing it imperfectly.” - Anne-Marie Bonneau
I think it highlights what we should be doing as a whole, instead of slandering vegans who are not “perfect” and discouraging people trying to make a change. We need to inform people of what it truly means to be vegan, that we are not some right-wing extremists with unattainable ideologies.
Be compassionate, for humans too.
We are human just like you, and once upon a time, we ate animal products, yet were revolted how other cultures ate other animals we didn’t. We too, paid for a burger and cried with joy when a cow escaped the slaughter truck and ran to freedom. We too, watched Black Fish and cried our eyes out for the whale kept in captivity against his will, yet paid people to keep farm animals in worse conditions for our food. We too, had pet chickens and loved them so much, yet ate chicken for dinner without question. We too, claimed to be animal lovers, yet ate them and tortured them for so long. We too, from the beginning were indoctrinated by the industries we trust, by our families, by our society, by the Television, the media and so on.
We are in the new millennium, a time a knowledge, we have all the right resources to win this fight and teach people how to be kind to all animals, to be compassionate. It doesn’t matter what walk of life you have come from, you can make a difference and the time is now.
Thank you for taking the time to read,
Love - Britteny