What Does It Mean To Be Vegan?

Vegan was originally defined in 1944 by Donald Watson as:
Veganism is a way of living which excludes all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, the animal kingdom, and includes a reverence for life. It applies to the practice of living on the products of the plant kingdom to the exclusion of flesh, fish, fowl, eggs, honey, animal milk and its derivatives, and encourages the use of alternatives for all commodities derived wholly or in part from animals.
Pretty cut and dry right?  I thought so too.

The definition has been under some scrutiny in forums around the vegan community and I'm working on figuring out why.

As more and more people become vegan for different reasons this definition seems to be bent and molded to conform to others lifestyles, rather than them working to meet the definition.  We all have our personal reasons for choosing this lifestyle, but I feel that for us to most effectively convey the powerful message behind veganism we should all be speaking the same language and play by the same set of rules.

What if you aren't an activist or a vegan preacher?  What if you're vegan solely for health reasons, not for animals?  Why would any of this matter in your corner of the universe?  If all of us are consistently saying the same things and asking the same questions about the goods and services that we use and consume everyday, corporations will have no choice but to listen to us and make more things vegan friendly.  In turn, making all of our lives easier and the planet a little bit better place to live.

I don't intend for this to become an issue of "I'm more vegan than you," or a call to arms.  It's my way of clarifying my thoughts on this issue so the readers of this blog can have a better understanding of where I come from and my thoughts on this issue.

If you feel that I'm out of line, wrong, or have something to add please post in the comment section.  I would love to hear what you have to say.

Stay Vegan!

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The Voracious Vegan said...

What a great idea for a blog, very useful and informative. I'm taking a tour through right now and enjoying it immensely!

Zucchini Breath said...

I wonder about this also.

I was reading a random blog a few weeks ago, the writer said, "well, I eat honey but I am still a vegan." No, no, you aren't. A beegan, maybe, or a vegetarian but vegans are people who strive not to harm any living creature, take great pains not to exploit or use animals or the products that those creatures make. Bees do not spend all day making honey so you can sweeten your tea.

Call yourself vegetarian or a raw foodist, but not vegan. She said, "well, the definition of vegetarian has changed to include people who use milk and eggs, why can't the definition of vegan change?"

We already have the term vegetarian to describe what you do and it is valid and commendable. Calling yourself a vegan and using honey is like putting on a green shirt and calling yourself a Boy Scout. You just aren't a Boy Scout and you are making the Boy Scouts look bad.

Then she said she didn't want to debate it and she was still calling herself a vegan and deleted all of my comments.

I'm gonna go read more of your blog now. Cheers to you!

Stay Vegan! said...

Well put. This goes to the point I made up top about people bending the "rules" to fit their lifestyle. I applaud any effort people make to eat less meat, but the path of least resistance isn't always the right path to take.

You can call or label me whatever you want, but I know that veganism was a goal that I set for myself a few years ago and I do everything I can to meet and exceed that goal.

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