The Vegan Purist train is riding around town again, this time they are getting pissy at people who call themselves “Dietary Vegans” or “Plant Based.” These are people who don’t consume any animal products, but are doing it for health-reasons instead of ethical ones.
Due to these plant-based vegans being in it for the health, here is a stigma that these people are not REALLY vegan, because they might still use wool, or beeswax, or buy non-vegan shoes. This might be a topic of discussion, but with the extremely low retention rate (less than 20% of people remain vegan?) we don’t really have the ability to be extremely exclusive if we want to survive as a movement.
Ecorazzi made a post whining about how Health-based Vegans are “hijacking” veganism by not eating animal products, and… not eating animal products. That’s like saying someone who calls themselves a feminist but mainly talks about how awful and inhumane mass circumcision is is “hijacking” feminism. To hijack is to take over a word and use it for a different purpose, and I don’t see how “eating vegan” is a highly different purpose than not consuming any animal products, which most of us don’t do often anyways.
The thing is, and this is what should matter most, is that the animals, (you know, the reason why we are all vegans to begin with?) they don’t give a flying frick if you are vegan or health-based, ANY reduction in animal suffering is beneficial, even if it is a minor reduction.
And all this argumentation over nothing more than a simple word, an argument of SEMANTICS of all things, only works to drive away people who would otherwise be more comfortable with eating a fully plant-based diet, and then later on reduce or eliminate other animal-based products from their lives. All this arguing over a word does is make veganism look even more extremist than it already does, and all extremism does it hurt the movement, thus causing harm to animals.
So for every vegan that articles like that Ecorazzi one turns off, who then goes and eats cheese, eggs, or a burger, that is blood directly tied to their hands, and for noting more than a purist attempt at keeping a word from following the laws of language and changing definition over time.
Look at it this way: According to the original definition of veganism, “a person who does not eat or use animal products.” almost nobody, not even people who are currently vegan, are vegan. Because to not use ANY animal product at all requires a strict lifestyle change that is akin to living in a wooden hut and growing your own food, and hopefully that tree you cut down for your hut did not house a raccoon family, or your vegan license is revoked.
Bite Sized Vegan makes several wonderful videos portraying why it is dumb to try to be overtly strict as a vegan, and exclusive to people who would otherwise want to reduce the harm they have on animals, the environment, and their health. Or as I have said in a Tumblr post:
If we want more people to become vegan, it is best not to be so exclusive that nobody can practically BE vegan.
Getting upset about word usage doesn’t help veganism one bit. So drop it!
And I am not the only person who thinks this article is crazy either: every single comment in the comments section of the article all seem to be from vegans, and ALL of them are criticizing the article for being downright arrogant:
“If someone eats plant-based and calls it vegan, I’m not going to get upset. They’re doing far better than the other 98%.” Daniel
“If you’re truly interested in persuading others to make the switch to veganism, rather than criticize people for what you see that you don’t like, if you’d instead offer support & encouragement for what they’re doing that you do like, you’ll most likely have much better results.” Christine
“This author typifies the people who give plant-based living a bad name. Childish, rigid, sanctimonious, and generally obnoxious.” Non12stepworks
“I’ve been vegetarian my whole life and vegan for the past 4 years, but I’ve stopped using the term vegan. I can’t stand being associated with the high-and-mighty, no-compromise activist vegans like the author of this article. ” Christopher Porter