Sunday, October 01, 2006

One big happy veg*n family!

Jeff asked about the term veg*n used in this blog. At the risk of sounding naive and/or having tomatoes (organically and locally produced, of course) thrown at me and/or committing an herbivore faux pas, I've decided to answer him. As opposed to avoid the question with a vague, non-confrontational answer and a quick, "Oh, look! Is that a peanut butter chocolate bomb over there?!" Not that I've ever done anything like that before, of course.

In my writing, veg*n is used to mean vegetarian or vegan. So why don't I just say "vegan" or "vegetarian?" Because, while vegetarian is pretty easy to define, vegan gets a little tough sometimes. There are fundamental similarities in all types of veganism, such as no dairy and no eggs, upon everyone agrees; however, there are many, many, many tenuous variations to what a vegan diet is to an individual. It is because of these varying definitions, that I hesitate in labeling anything “vegan.” What can I say, I have an irrational fear of offending people :)

Of course, I'm not saying that I agree that someone can be a vegan, but still eat cheese. Just as one can't claim to be a vegetarian, but still eat fish. What I am saying, is that beyond the no cheese, no eggs, no casein, no brand new leather Barcalounger, things get a little fuzzy.

I know vegans that strictly adhere to an organic diet, as the use of pesticides and insecticides does not reconcile with their definition of vegan. There are others that will not buy new products made from leather and suede, but will pick up a pair of secondhand leather boots at the thrift or from their neighbor's trash. Gasoline comes from fossil fuels, which come from dead animals. Additionally, the process by which oil is retrieved is quite disturbing, if not deadly, to animals' habitats; so driving a car may not be the vegan thing to do for some people.

Personally, I struggle with the organic argument, and that's where I find safety in labeling dishes as veg*n. Pesticides and insecticides not only kill bugs, but also leak into the waters and grounds on which an even greater variety of living things (people too, even!) depend for their lives.

As far as I’m concerned, none of these vegan definitions are wrong. If you're making some kind of effort to eliminate some kind of unjustness from your plate or from your closet, then rock on. Compassionate and conscientious consuming on any level is never wrong. Besides, we all know that the old “that’s not vegan because _____” could go back and forth for a long time, and could get pretty tedious, time consuming and technical, right? “Hey, the french toast isn’t vegan because on my walk to the bakery to buy the bread, I bet I stepped on and killed some bugs.” Ugh. No thanks :)

I’ve been a vegetarian/sometimes vegan (I like the term veggiesaurus) for 17 years, which has given me many opportunities to learn and meet all kinds of veg*ns, very few of which had the exact same ideals as another. Simply, I prefer to use the term veg*n because I feel it is inclusive of all the wonderful and crazy veggie, animal, environment and health loving brothers and sisters out there. It really is better if we stick together, don’t you think?

Clearly, this is my opinion and mine alone. What's that they say, "Opinions are like... nostrils: Everyone's got 'em" ;)

I love hearing what others have to say, and lucky for that, veg*ns are a lively bunch:

6 comments:

frekur said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
frekur said...

m, it's very interesting that you posted this.

lately, j and i have been thinking about soy cheese and whether it is necessarily wrong to eat it when it has casein in it. normally, we don't purchase items unless they contain no animal by products at all, but j mentioned that supporting the companies that produce products that are sort of... on their way to being vegan, is better than not at all.

i tend to agree, but still feel awkward buying those items.

lately, my definition of being "vegan" has been such that i don't buy products containing animal by products, but if someone else does, i'll eat it. (cheese at justin's party.)

that's really crappy isn't it? :)

it's always an interesting discussion and one that i enjoy taking part of. thanks for posting this! :)

wheresmymind said...

Hey...I appreciate the comprehensive answer!! My wife is a "Fishetarian" and I still don't understand all the labels. I'm relatively easy to classify under omnivour :)

Jenn said...

wow - what a complicated world we eat in !

Vicki said...

"It really is better if we stick together, don’t you think?"

Yes. I couldn't agree with you more!!! :o)

JAM*tacular said...

L (frekur), I don't think that's crappy. Actually, what you're doing is a great example of intentional and compassionate consuming - always willing to learn more and always adapting in light of that knowledge. Brilliant, I say! :)

Mikaela