Vegan 101


 

Definition Of Veganism

“Veganism is a way of living that seeks to exclude, as far as possible and practicable, all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing and any other purpose.”  Veganism is primarily known as a diet, but it’s much more than a diet, it’s a way of living.

What’s the difference between Vegetarianism and Veganism?

A vegetarian does not consume animal flesh (beef, chicken, fish, lamb, pork, etc…) where as a vegan does not consume flesh AND animal by-products like dairy, eggs, and honey. Vegetarianism is primarily a diet. Veganism is a compassionate lifestyle that extends beyond what we eat to the clothes we wear, the products we use, and the entertainment and organizations we support. So if it came from an animal, or an animal was used and abused in the process, that would not be considered vegan.

So what can Vegans eat?

While the prospective of going vegan might seem daunting at first, you’ll soon learn that the vegan diet consists of a wide variety of delectable plant based options. You can veganize just about anything. We have vegan pizza. We have vegan yogurt. Hell, we even have vegan honey. But let’s start with the basics. What is vegan? All fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes, grains, seeds, and beans are vegan. We can use these basics to create just about anything.For example, instead of cow’s milk, we can have soy, almond, hazelnut, coconut, rice, or even hemp milk. Not only are there a wide variety of vegan foods, but they’re better for you than animal products.

What’s wrong with eating animal products if they weren’t killed?

Even if we are not literally eating an animal’s flesh, consuming their by-products still contributes to the animals enslavement, suffering, and their ultimate death. Using animals for our own purpose contributes to the objectification of animals as property. Animals exist for their own reasons. They are not here for us to use and exploit. Veganism is about coexisting with the animals and the environment, not using them for our own gain. Most people would describe themselves as “animal lovers,” but this is what’s described as a kind of moral schizophrenia. We love dogs and cats, but we eat cows and chickens, wear rabbits and foxes, test on rats and mice, and cage elephants and whales. We are not only conditioned to accept that this is normal, but we are detached from the process of how that steak got on our plate. That detachment is purposeful. If the agriculture industries allowed the world to see what really goes on behind the doors of a factory farm, that an egg laying hen is debeaked, mutated to lay an egg a day, kept in a cage the size of your ipad, and slaughtered after a year when she’s no longer able to produce eggs as fast—more people would think about not eating eggs. Which is bad for their business, so part of their industry requires you not knowing what you’re contributing to when you buy a carton of eggs. Over 56 billion animals are killed every year for human consumption. For every vegan and vegetarian out there that’s one less life that has been lost.

 


 

What should I expect going vegan?

There is a learning curve to veganism because of how much our society is inundated with animal cruelty. The longer you’re vegan, the more layers of veganism you discover. It goes beyond understanding ingredients on food labels to more complex issues like palm oil and parent companies that test on animals. However the most difficult transition of veganism you will most likely encounter is not what products do you buy or what to eat, but how your non-vegan friends, family, and acquaintances treat you. Vegans with a support system or a vegan veteran that you can to turn to for advice will have more luck transitioning and sticking with veganism. It’s hard feeling like you’re alone.

 


 

Communicating Veganism With Omnivores 

There really is an art to articulating veganism. I don’t believe in staying silent, and I never will be silent, but I do believe there is a right way and a wrong way to talk to non-vegans about veganism. I cannot stress how important it is to know the facts. It’s not just for yourself, it’s for educating other people. People cannot argue facts. They can justify an opinion, but they cannot change the truth. “But meat taste good!” is not an argument. It’s an opinion. However guarded and defensive someone may be, they are listening. It’s how you talk to them that counts. Even if you can’t get them to open their eyes, holding your own and being respectful will make a difference.

The sheer idea of veganism might not even cross someone’s mind. You have to always remember that. For some people, taking the extra effort to read the ingredients on a label is just a waste of time. They just can’t be bothered. You know how you make people care? You inspire them. There’s nothing wrong with showing the truth about animal products. Don’t ever feels as though you should be silent, but I encourage you to think about the kind of warnings you hear that you think are annoying. What is it about them that turns you off?

My mom used always remind me about using sunscreen. I wouldn’t listen. “Yeah, yeah. I’ll be fine.” Then she skin cancer from all her years in the sun. They caught it early and  she’s fine, but it made you think. I finally started paying attention because it could happen to me.It’s a shame that it took that much of an extreme to open my eyes, but I use that example because that is the exact same mindset as someone who just doesn’t even consider what their actions are to the animals and the environment.

Your behavior is just as important as what you say. Even if your point is valid, being a snob, or overtly aggressive, will completely deflate your case. I see this happen all to often and I think people forget that how they’re perceived is just as important as what they say. Vegans are a minority. Discussing veganism with an omnivore may be their only encounter with a vegan. Consider yourself a diplomat for veganism because that encounter might shape how they perceive all vegans, as unfortunate as that sounds. So if you find yourself discussing veganism, don’t make those listening to you feel bad. Remember what inspired you and pass on that fire of positive change.

 

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