Charlotte Willis looks at what defines us as vegans and what it means to be vegan.
Being vegan in the 21 st century. It’s a lifestyle often riddled with multi-dimensional complexities, as well as tacit social the regulations and expectations. How do we characterize such a complex, multi-faceted expression? And if certainly we are going to be able define veganism, should we be willing to be resilient in welcoming others whose characterisations and lifestyle alternatives don’t exactly coincide our model conception of the “vegan”?
Redefine your description
Vegan. Noun. A person who does not eat or use animal products.
This definition is the very first part that pops up if you type “define vegan” into Google. Now, that seems like a quite simple, clear and meaningful interpretation of veganism to me. And as reluctant as I am to go pigeonholing myself into a societal grouping, this description seems pretty discern on. I don’t, to my knowledge, operation or consume any animals or swine produces- hence I am vegan. So far, so good. But that’s about as simple a description as we’ll come across in this journey of what it means to be vegan. For reasons of more, availability and ethical standpoint, it seems everyone’s interpretation of living life as a vegan, is as unique and individual as the person who distinguishes as such.
Working with various online the organizations and benevolences in the vegan fluctuation, I’ve recognized first-hand how specific individuals can become exceedingly hostile, judgemental and cogent in their own views of defining what exactly a vegan food is, sometimes to the phase where the sheer force of their contention is rather detrimental to the cause of helping inform others. In knowledge, this is something which Veganuary ambassador, Chris Packham, highlighted in his Guardian belief segment this February. He writes, involving its own experience of sharing his Veganuary journey on Quaver: “…Because I haven’t shown all livestock farmers are evil, and because I’m not perfect, I too received vitriol from ultra-vegans … People told me I can’t be vegan and have my bird-dog, Scratchy. The intolerance of ultra-vegans is so off-putting. You’re never going to acquire an proof by reviling and maligning people.”*
He has a point. Who are we to evaluate others who have pets, or still wear leather coats or shoes that were purchased decades ago? What realizes these “ultra-vegans” said he believed that they have the right to criticise others, or pick loopholes in the choices of individuals who are actively trying to become vegan? Surely, in this case, the simple-minded accomplishment of attempting to define veganism with finite and exacting principles to abide by is counterproductive to its exceedingly cause- spreading and encouraging awareness.
While I’m a huge proponent of proudly instilling spirit behind your minds, there comes a station where we need to draw a line in the sand and look at the various subtleties of grey-haired links with veganism. After all, we follow an fantastically category and compassionate food. One in which we actively decide to show respect and love to animals and the environment in which we cohabit as a world civilization. Should it not be situations where we extend this respect to our fellow human beings? The global vegan society is both diverse and international, with a variety of countries and ethnicities, all of whom have their own interpretations and opinions of ethnic standards for vegans. We all exist under the same unifying term and dine at the same plant-based table signal “vegans only”.
Veganism: is it simply the food you dine?
So let’s explore how we would go about characterizing vegan. Firstly, if you’re looking for a straight forward the categories of veganism, you can ogle no considerably. The simplest explanation of veganism states that the meat and suck that we eat on a daily basis must be free from animals and animal-based ingredients. This seems simple enough. But is it enough?
If you remove all swine and animal-based nutrients from your nutrition, there will be very little in the way of passive distres inflicted upon animals. What’s more, for some vegans who define themselves by measure of their diet alone, being plant-based is an initial stepping stone in a passage towards a ended vegan life. One prime example of a vegan who has blossomed on her outing is that of the improbably popular influencer Grace Beverley( @GraceFitUK ). She began her navigate into veganism as a plant-based eater , not wanting to call herself vegan before she was able to adapt a number of aspects of her lifestyle to suit the claim. In an interrogation when Grace first became plant-based, simply over a year ago, she clarified: “I do feel there is a difference( between vegans and plant-based eaters) and that I am somewhere between both. I am very awareness about cruelty-free cosmetics. I grew plant-based for ethical and environmental reasons, so I repute I’m more on the vegan area of plant-based.”
Grace now describes herself as being “vegan”, and is a true preach of vegan cosmetics, workout supplements, grace concoctions and much more. Some more established vegans was suggested that a plant-based food is the first step towards a vegan life, and perhaps this is correct. Therefore, it is important that the established vegan community be encouraging and welcoming towards plant-based eaters. Veganism, after all, begins and ends with the highly nutrient we all put on our sheets, so surely this is sufficient to satisfy a explanation?
Veganism: is it “peoples lives” you guide? Well , not quite.
It’s the classic example of where do I outline the line? As someone who admittedly opened veganism without sacrificing a second thought to the environmental the advantage of a plant-based diet, my current dress of using a bamboo toothbrush and trawling the internet for silk-free close-fisteds and lingerie are not quite what I foresaw my future vegan life to consist of. Yet here I am, attempting to go zero waste and buying simply organic fruit and veg- what happened !?
Something changed in my buying decorations, and as I learnt more about the huge, prejudicial human impact upon the earth, I knew there was more to living an ethical life than taking animals off my plateful. I opted to transition towards a terminated feel of concern in removing animal makes from lifestyle commodities, and trying my best good to ensure my life starts minimum negative impact upon the environment. As such, we might look to the Vegan Society’s definition of veganism: “Veganism is a acces of living that seeks to eliminate, as far as is possible and practicable, all forms of exploitation of, and inhumanity to, animals for food, clothe or any other purpose.” **
This sort of definition is available at much reading, and sometimes can result in the establishment of holier-than-thou individuals who said he believed that veganism must be implemented in their mode, or not at all. While it’s all well and good to educate others about certain moral/ ethical issues that vegans might associate with, approaching these topics in a positive and encouraging manor is certainly more effective than a forceful, black and white approach to absolute veganism. As a community, we should be accepting of all individuals whom are attempting to transform their omnivorous foods, warts, mistakes, slip up and all.
Veganism: it’s all of the above, and more
Perhaps we should take more of an aspirational approach when defining ourselves as vegan. Instead of nit-picking amongst ourselves in a particularly she-ate, he-ate hostile combat of one-upmanship, we would best spend our time and acts creating an all-inclusive and welcoming vegan parish. One in which we all strive to do our best in living as honest and compassionate a life as we can feasibly control, and one in which these efforts are unanimously judged to be sufficient. Perhaps we should all take a leaf out of Derek Sarno’s book. The co-founder of Wicked Kitchen describes his approach to veganism as compassion-focused and effortful: “I believe in the dream of the word veganism, I live what I would call more like’ compassionism’, or at the least I try to practise tendernes when I can, as much as I can, given the tools and ordeals that I have acquired. I’m not excellent. I do my best and I reach mistakes.”
What’s clear, is that there is no longer a excellent aim of rules to characterize a vegan. The terribly where, how and whys involving all things vegan was starting to criss-cross over one another, as the next generation of vegans and animal love invent new and exciting lexicon and spaces by which they choose to conduct and define their lifestyles. There isn’t a vegan I know who doesn’t make an error or two every now and again , nor is there a vegan I know who would claim to be perfect in their self-conscious, ethical life. In a contemporary world, it’s near enough hopeless to escape all forms of animal exploitation or environmental trauma- and that’s something we all need to accept , not argue about. Be contented in being imperfect, remaining in the knowledge that your efforts are the best that you can invent at this moment in their own lives, and that is enough to define yourself as: Vegan.
Vegan. Noun. A collective group of individual life alternatives which centre on the omission of swine concoctions, flesh, dairy, eggs and fish from dietary uptake. The adaptation and interpretation of which is subject to individual inconsistencies based on personal belief, but centres upon sorrow and effort to be as kind-hearted to the environment and other living world as possible within their implies. See Too: Flexi-vegan. Plant-Based. Eco-vegan. Junk-Food-Vegan. Raw-Food vegan.
* Source: The Guardian: “I did Veganuary, and now I’m standing. Here’s what I’ve learned so far”- Chris Packham: www.theguardian.com/ commentisfree/ 2019/ feb/ 03/ veganuary-vegan-food-farming
** Source: The Vegan Society: www.vegansociety.com/ go-vegan/ definition-veganism
Charlotte is a freelance journalist and health writer who has worked with the Vegan Society and other online vegan brochures. Her fields of expertise and interest include vegan nutrition, holistic healthcare, mindfulness and fitness. She is currently experimenting and studying the various links between nutrient and mental health while pursuing a doctorate grade in counselling.