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Why do you think people say they are veg*n when they aren't?

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Old 07-26-2008, 08:16 PM   #136
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That's great and I'm happy for you but you can easily just ask for non-meat, chicken or fish dinner rather then mucking up the definition!
I sympathize with a lot that's been said, but I think that is too much. He asked for the vegetarian menu or option. He (or she) didn't declare himself a vegetarian. If someone then assumed it, they're the one with a problem.
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Old 07-26-2008, 08:36 PM   #137
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I sympathize with a lot that's been said, but I think that is too much. He asked for the vegetarian menu or option. He (or she) didn't declare himself a vegetarian. If someone then assumed it, they're the one with a problem.

Too much to specify 1 of 3 options in order to not confuse the definition? I don't think so. What is difficult is being vegan and having to explain no animals at all (yes fish and chicken are animals), no dairy (yes whey is a dairy product) no eggs or other byproducts. My whole point is that with clear concise definitions it would be easier for everyone - veg or not.
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Old 07-26-2008, 09:51 PM   #138
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I personally don't see any problem with a non-veggie ordering a veggie meal or option. Heck I eat in vegetarian restaurants all the time cause the food is damned good! But that doesn't mean I'm proclaiming myself vegetarian any more than eating chicken kung pao means I'm proclaiming myself Chinese.

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Old 07-26-2008, 09:55 PM   #139
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^^^ I'm all for people ordering veggie meals as often as possible - don't want any confusion on that!
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Old 07-27-2008, 01:13 PM   #140
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I've found this a very interesting conversation overall. I speak as one who stopped eating red meat at age 13 and chicken at age 18. (I'm now 41.) During that time, sometimes I've eaten fish and sometimes I haven't, and I admit, it is usually easier just to say I'm a vegetarian (because for many years I have been) or to say, I'm mostly vegetarian but occasionally eat fish. I understand the desire for pure definitions, but with the vast range of things that people eat, for all kinds of reasons, I just don't think that's going to happen. When I was younger, I used to have to explain and defend my decision over and over again, but now, not so much. I appreciate that.

I've spent a lot of time in India, where many people are vegetarians, and the definition of vegetarian there is that you don't eat eggs either. So, if you're getting breakfast on a train, the non-veg option is an omelet, and the veg option is a vegetable patty or something like that. (At dinner, it's more likely there would actually be meat in the non-veg option.) And even within the non-veg population, Hindus don't eat beef and Muslims don't eat pork, so the meat that is readily available are usually limited to chicken, mutton and lamb. I really appreciate that vegetarian food is available everywhere, that there's always a veg. option (and there's no question--there won't be any meat in it or any eggs, and that's that), and that no one thinks it's any kind of big deal or needs to ask you why you don't eat meat. Sometimes people are surprised that a Westerner doesn't eat meat, but not even that much anymore.
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Old 07-27-2008, 02:23 PM   #141
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Too much to specify 1 of 3 options in order to not confuse the definition? I don't think so. What is difficult is being vegan and having to explain no animals at all (yes fish and chicken are animals), no dairy (yes whey is a dairy product) no eggs or other byproducts. My whole point is that with clear concise definitions it would be easier for everyone - veg or not.
You can't really be saying that it's not ok to choose the vegetarian menu unless you point out that you're not really vegetarian. Personally, I think it would be ridiculous to hold up ordering because you have to stop and explain that you're ordering vegetarian food, but you feel you have to point out that you're not vegetarian.
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Old 07-29-2008, 01:18 PM   #142
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You can't really be saying that it's not ok to choose the vegetarian menu unless you point out that you're not really vegetarian. Personally, I think it would be ridiculous to hold up ordering because you have to stop and explain that you're ordering vegetarian food, but you feel you have to point out that you're not vegetarian.
I don't think anyone is suggesting that anyone need explain themselves every time they order a vegetarian option, I think what people are saying is it would be better to not identify yourself as vegetarian to people that you eat with when you may on occasions eat fish or chicken or whatever meat in their presence. At least not with a bit of explanation so as to avoid confusion. Not really a huge deal to me, but it would help preempt those annoying questions or the inconvenience of constantly having to explain exactly what "vegetarian" or "vegan" means. I have had people ask me if I will eat chicken or fish after I tell them I am vegan.
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Old 07-29-2008, 05:15 PM   #143
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hmmm, holier than thou attitude is so not very nice
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Old 07-29-2008, 05:32 PM   #144
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hmmm, holier than thou attitude is so not very nice
No one has been holier then thou.
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Old 07-29-2008, 05:41 PM   #145
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I would say if you think the attitude is 'holier than thou', then you haven't read the thread.

And on the 'vegetarian menu option' thread, I think that if you ask for vegetarian options, then it doesn't mean you are declaring yourself a vegetarian. One restaurant I go to occasionally has an awesome vegetarian menu that has things that aren't on its normal menu. Although I went there before I stopped eating meat, I would look at the vegetarian menu for further options.

One of my favorite moments is when I told someone I didn't eat eggs, they asked if I was vegetarian.
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Old 07-29-2008, 06:43 PM   #146
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I worked with a guy for several years whose wife and daughters were vegan. He's not quite as strict with his diet as they are, so he doesn't consider himself a vegan, even though he eats that way the vast majority oof the time. He does consider himself a vegetarian even though on extremely rare occasions he does eat fish. From what he said, their household is 100% vegan, but a few times a year, mostly around holiday time he eats something outside of the house that his wife wouldn't approve of (it seems they have a bit of a "don't ask, don't tell" arrangement).

Even though I know he will occasionally eat fish, I still consider him a vegetarian, especially since I've never actually seen him eat fish (or any non-vegan food for that matter, except a bite of cheesecake at a holiday party that prompted the discussion). I realize that for some vegans "never means never," but it in terms of practicality, I would consider him vegetarian, if not vegan. Even if it is only two or three times a year, I suppose eaing dairy, eggs or fish, does technically by strict definition make him "not a vegan," and maybe even "not a vegetarian," for practicality's sake I would consider him both. At least in the sense that if I were inviting him to dinner (with or without his family) I would not assume to serve eggs or dairy or fish, just because he says he eats those on rare occasion. I would serve a vegan meal (assuming he's the guest of honor and not one of many. If it were a huge gathering, I would make sure there were a few vegan options).

Considering that this guy probably has fewer than six meals a year that are not vegan, and maybe two that aren't vegetarian, I have no problem with either the terms vegan or vegetarian being applied to him. Though I understand that some might. I don't think that it's this guy, though who is muddying the definition.

In part, it's people wanting to be vegetarian and vegan, and maybe not living up to their own expectations for themselves, or they may change those expectations. Can a person "have been a vegan" for only six months. I think the way we use the term, it can be safely said that many of us would say yes. That a person can have been a vegetarian and/or vegan, just as one could have been (but no longer be) an omnivore.

Now, how often can the status change legitimately? If I do not eat or use any animal or animal products during the summer months, am I an omnivore October through May and a vegan June through September? I'd say no. However, can a person be a vegan, and "slip" either because they're not yet skilled or disciplined enough to eat as cleanly as they'd like. How many "slips" negate vegan or vegetarian status? How many times can a person "become" a vegan or vegetarian? If it's a finite number, then what seperates a recurrent vegan/vegetarian from an omnivore? Is it the number of times (then what's the number) is it the intent, is it the duration (and what is that duration).

If I decide to become vegan or vegetarian, can I start "calling myself" so right away, or do I need to wait a certain amount of time? If I slip, do I have to start calling myself an omnivore again, do I have to say "I'm trying to be vegan?"

Often giving up meat and animal products is a process, and I think there will always be those people caught in the middle of a process. As a result, they may be using the terms incorrectly, imprecisely, prematurely or inappropriately, or people observing may do it for them. I'm not sure that much can be done about that.
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Old 07-29-2008, 06:56 PM   #147
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Kaplods - that was a fascinating post. I think that labels are convenient, but they have their problems...labels of all kinds, not just the labels around food, eating plan, etc.

This post made me consider all kinds of labels, how I use them, and how they may be applied to me. Definitely interesting and eye-opening!
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Old 07-29-2008, 08:28 PM   #148
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kaplods - One reason I don't say I'm vegan is because of some minor 'slips' that weren't really slips. Now of course someone can eat something because they have a craving or desire once in a while and obviously they have their own reasons. My own reasons are that I have an eating disorder (big surprise). Sometimes my brain 'rebels' and says 'eat this, eat this, eat this'. I'd tell myself that I know dairy is bad and a decent amount of dairy would probably send my stomach into convulsions. So I slipped (ok fell) into milk chocolate.

Chocolate, sugar and all that can have a strange hold on us, me especially when I go whacky. Next time, I hope that even if I do go crazy with food, that I choose something better or hopefully I won't go crazy with food again. I do love chocolate and milk chocolate was always one of my favorites though so I can't say I will never have another piece of chocolate that contains some dairy although I do plan to stay away from milk chocolate.

The other reason I would say is I am pretty careful with making sure milk or eggs aren't in products I eat but sometimes I am not as diligent as I'd like to be. Some people are great at making sure that nothing they eat has those 2 things but the real truth is I eat out and sometimes I just do the best I can. Like eating out at an Indian restaurant and asking if there is yogurt/ghee in an item but never really being 100% sure or eating a veggie burger at a restaurant and accepting that it might have a little egg in it but it is the only option or something like that.
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Old 07-30-2008, 11:45 AM   #149
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Great post with some great questions kaplods. I love that you think these things through so thoroughly.

In my mind (and I'm sure not everyone would agree, this is just how I've worked it out) there are essentially 2 kinds of vegans, dietary vegans and ethical vegans. Now this is not to say I think dietary vegans are somehow inherently unethical or less ethical people or anything like that, but their primary motivation for eating a vegan diet is for health or other reasons, not ethical concerns relating to animals. A dietary vegan might wear leather or occasionally eat not vegan things.

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Originally Posted by kaplods View Post
Considering that this guy probably has fewer than six meals a year that are not vegan, and maybe two that aren't vegetarian, I have no problem with either the terms vegan or vegetarian being applied to him. Though I understand that some might. I don't think that it's this guy, though who is muddying the definition.
I would call this guy a dietary vegan. I don't know him or his situation, but it sounds like veganism is something he does mostly for his wife. But since he apparently is not ethically opposed to eating animals and animal products (or at least not enough to prevent him from consuming them occasionally) I wouldn't consider him an ethical vegan.

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Now, how often can the status change legitimately? If I do not eat or use any animal or animal products during the summer months, am I an omnivore October through May and a vegan June through September? I'd say no. However, can a person be a vegan, and "slip" either because they're not yet skilled or disciplined enough to eat as cleanly as they'd like. How many "slips" negate vegan or vegetarian status? How many times can a person "become" a vegan or vegetarian? If it's a finite number, then what seperates a recurrent vegan/vegetarian from an omnivore? Is it the number of times (then what's the number) is it the intent, is it the duration (and what is that duration).
For me, it is all about intent. If a person is seriously opposed to the commodification and exploitation of animals for food and other products and decides to do everything they can (within reason) to avoid all animal products, by-products, products tested on animals, boycott entertainment that exploits animals, etc. I would call that person an ethical vegan. Now that isn't to say vegans don't make mistakes now and again. I was at a picnic munching on some chips a few weeks ago when my label reading radar went off, and sure enough there was lactose in the dill pickle flavored potato chips (why? I have no idea). I don't consider myself "not vegan" for occasionally making these errors. In a world where rubbers and plastics may have rendered animal products in them, even driving a vehicle with tires could be "not vegan" strictly speaking. It's all about being aware, educating yourself, doing the best you can, and above all giving a hoot. Vegans are not apathetic to the suffering of the living, breathing, sentient beings we share the world with and will do what they can to avoid contributing to that suffering.

The original meaning of the word vegan as coined in 1944 by Donald Watson, founder of the UK Vegan Society, is as follows:

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The word "veganism" denotes a philosophy and way of living which seeks to exclude as far as is possible and practical all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose; and by extension, promotes the development and use of animal-free alternatives for the benefit of humans, animals and the environment. In dietary terms it denotes the practice of dispensing with all products derived wholly or partly from animals.
So it would seem the original meaning of the term vegan meant ethical vegan, not dietary. That's not to say I think dietary vegans can't think of themselves as a type of vegan, I think they are, but I think it also should be noted that their brand of veganism deviates somewhat from the original intent.

I know a lot of people struggle with many issues when giving up animal products of any kind at any level, they can be external and internal, and quite complicated. I don't want to point fingers of blame or judge, I am far from perfect myself and went through my own complicated adjustment period before this way of living became relatively effortless for me. I wish I were a more informed consumer, I wish I never bought frivolous things manufactured in Asia, I could stand to devote more of my time and resources to charity and helping others in my community. It's all a process and we do what we can, and make our own priorities. I applaud anyone who cares about the world and its inhabitants and at least tries to make informed choices to make this a better place for everyone to live. I think we all know there are far too many people who just don't care.
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Old 07-30-2008, 12:42 PM   #150
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But again, at times, it's easier to ask for the vegetarian option or menu than to go through all the exceptions to my diet. :P
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Originally Posted by Fat Chick B Gone View Post
That's great and I'm happy for you but you can easily just ask for non-meat, chicken or fish dinner rather then mucking up the definition!
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I don't think anyone is suggesting that anyone need explain themselves every time they order a vegetarian option,
Perhaps you can see where it rather looked that way. But I'm quite glad if that is not what is being suggested.

The thread has been most interesting, lots to think about, certainly.
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