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Branch from the "do you cheat on your lifestyle" thread.

Continuing discussion from: http://vegweb.com/index.php?topic=19076.0 (do you cheat on your lifestyle?)

I will copy my post.

I had an idea last night that I think goes with this thread:
OK, assume that the world gives up living on an animal-based diet and everyone is vegetarian/vegan. The global economy completely changes; places that were once used to rear animals for slaughter become cornfields. My question is, in your mind, what happens to the animals? (This is ideally, not necessarily realistically.) Since our economy gives these animals their short, brutish lives ... what happens if we decide to do without them? Do the thousands of beef cows get moved to an animal sanctuary? Do we put them in zoos? Keep them as pets?

I am trying to picture it in my mind I can't really think of anything. (Probably because many of these species have been domesticated by man for centuries ... it would be weird to release them into the wild.)
Ideas?

In my mind, a lot/most of these animals (realistically) will die. No, they most probably can't survive anywhere but their horrid environments in which they came from. I guess everyone would try to save as many as possible, and give them a wonderful remaining life, but that could only be a select few. Our society has created them, and they would die without us. Thankfully, in this hypothetical situation, no more would be created for such a purpose! I guess they could just live on these cornfields. Could we keep big pastures for them? They could live there until they die. Also, why all corn? I want big...avocado fields, or something.

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Anyway, I honestly think there is a whole lot being blown out of proportion/misunderstood here. (and I'm not meaning that in a way to minimize or devalue anyone's feelings) We are all people communicating. I said over and over that I'm not saying that I'm any better than anyone else, or "I hate you", or whatever. I'm "speaking" my opinion, as everyone else is. Obviously, I'm going to hold the same opinion as some, and not as others. Period. I mean, if we were all sitting around in a room talking, it would play out the same (without as much time to think of what to say..and hopefully without as much misunderstanding).

Also, I want to clear something up. I won't speak for her, but I don't purposely conspire with KMK (or anyone else) against anyone, or to say certain things. We agree 98% of the time, and THAT'S why we are good friends (in part, of course). It's not that we are good friends, so we must agree all the time. Just because we hold the same opinion, it doesn't mean that we are banding together to overthrow anyone.

Re: this favorite business-Isn't it obvious that we're all going to like certain people more than others. Maybe it's just me, but I don't like every single person I meet, and I definitely like some people more than others. IRL ( ::)), I don't pretend to like certain people, and play like we're good friends, but I also don't personally attack others, or say hateful things to them. I guess I don't understand why it's so surprising, and such a horrible thing, that we might not ALL like each other. I don't really have a problem with someone not liking me (online at least...In life, I'd be like, WHAT is wrong with you?!) I also know that on other forums, they have threads talking about how much they love certain members, and so forth. We don't do that, and we don't personally attack each other.

eta before posting in reference to CW's post: I understand that those situations arise, and must be extremely difficult for those that encounter them, but that's not at all what I was talking about in my original posts, and regarding the big picture of it all. Those are extreme situations that arise, and I assume can't be avoided. That's not the same as choosing to eat/do something not vegan, but wanting to be vegan, and justifying it (or not).

Yeah, I see what you mean.  It's just a basic philosophical difference then. 

It doesn't make a difference to the animals if we feel really bad for them and don't do anything about it.  I'm not sure if I put those other things--racial identity, religion, and orientation--in that same bucket, because the only person with a stake in my racial identity, for example, is me. 

Personally, the direction I go with everything in my life is--how can I make my actions align more with what I believe?  If I believe that I should be eating more healthfully, or doing more to help others, or whatever the case may be--and I'm not acting that way, then it's time for introspection.  If I put more weight on those feelings than I did on the actions--if I let those feelings suffice--I would never improve myself outwardly.

No one is taking inventory of our feelings for the big record book of life.  It's our actions that have a larger impact. 

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Oh! I had another thought, too:

If you have enough people self-identifying as vegan who don't necessarily follow veganism in the "pure sense," how does that alter the meaning of the word "vegan"?
Two parallels: a person of mixed race who identifies as Hispanic, or a bisexual who identifies as a lesbian.

It seems that, in being more inclusive (that is, in depending on internal instead of external methods of definitions) we could subtly change the overall mode of veganism. See what I mean? I think PPC brought this up in the earlier branch of this thread ... she said something about "being XX% vegan," and using that to clarify one's beliefs. But if you have a bunch of people who are all, for example, 95% vegan (and I think we do have them in this forum!), and are all saying "I'm vegan," doesn't that mean that "vegan" means something different than we thought it meant?

That's sort of convoluted ... but I think you get what I'm saying.

The reflection of this is raw foodism, which accepts (I think) 75% raw content in the diet, instead of 100%. Obviously "strict veganism" isn't the same; for that, we have the term "freeganism" which seems derogatory to me. (This is like calling a person who identifies as black as  an "Oreo" or a lesbian-identified bisexual a "lipstick lesbian" or "gay til' graduation.")

Thoughts?

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So, that person should say (in my opinion), "I eat vegan most of the time," or "I eat vegan 75% of the time" to be clear.  Also, eating is only one piece of the puzzle.  If you go out and buy leather, but you eat all vegan foods, there is some kind of disconnect there. 

But if you have a bunch of people who are all, for example, 95% vegan (and I think we do have them in this forum!), and are all saying "I'm vegan," doesn't that mean that "vegan" means something different than we thought it meant?

Yes, if they are conveying to others that a vegan is someone who eats cheese 5% of the time.  For the average Joe Shmoe, the definition of "vegan" arises from his experience with vegans.  As we know, some people think vegans eat fish.  We know what it really means, but to others the definition might as well be "someone who doesn't eat most animal things except fish sometimes, or something crazy like that."

Again, we know that it is a pain in the ass when people think a vegetarian is someone who eats fish or only white meat or meat once a week.  That's not accurate.  If a chicken eater wants to call himself a vegetarian, go right ahead, but it's not really helping the bigger picture.

Also, sexual orientation and race are not really parallel because those things are about personal identity but not a cause or a movement--a lesbian wouldn't really be able to convert other people to lesbians, and a Hispanic person can't encourage people to be Hispanic.  But I would wager that most veg*ns do hope that more people follow their lead--even if they don't really actively participate in vegan outreach, they probably believe the world would be nicer if more people were veg*n--that's why they chose this path.  Veganism aligns with some outward goal for society, sexual orientation and racial identity do not.

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Quote:
OK, assume that the world gives up living on an animal-based diet and everyone is vegetarian/vegan. The global economy completely changes; places that were once used to rear animals for slaughter become cornfields. My question is, in your mind, what happens to the animals? (This is ideally, not necessarily realistically.) Since our economy gives these animals their short, brutish lives ... what happens if we decide to do without them? Do the thousands of beef cows get moved to an animal sanctuary? Do we put them in zoos? Keep them as pets?

Regarding this, because I'm slow: I know a couple of people who will frequently say to me, "Well, you're so keen on everybody being vegetarian, but have you thought about the fact that we're breeding animals and if we all stop eating them they'll have nowhere to live? And what about the farmers who'll lose their jobs?"

I usually respond with, "Yes, but do you see the entire world going vegetarian next Wednesday?"

Assume that the world gives up eating factory-farmed meat over the next twenty to fifty years. If I understand supply and demand, fewer animals will be bred year by year because the demand for their meat will decline. Eventually you'll have about six bored cows in a pen playing poker with the farmer while they wait for an order for rump steak which will never come - muahahahaha!

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i dont think having a bunch of people that consider themselves XX% vegan, changes the definition of what being vegan is.

it reminds me of the writer, Mark Bittman, that has been encouraging people to "go vegan til dinner"... so let's guesstimate they're 66% vegan.  that's cool with me, any reduction of using animal products is great!  but, if they sit down to a big steak dinner, i wouldnt say that they're the new definition of what vegan is... because they're obviously not.  

if that was the case then:

66% would be the new 100%..

33% would be the new 50%..

if those were grades, 66% would be a D.. that's quite a curve.

if i looked at someones dinner plate and 1/3 of it was corn, 1/3 of it was rice, and 1/3 was meatloaf.. i wouldnt consider it a vegan meal just because it was 66% vegan, and i really doubt anyone else would either.  i don't think any definitions should be changed.  just do what you feel comfortable with.

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So, that person should say (in my opinion), "I eat vegan most of the time," or "I eat vegan 75% of the time" to be clear.  Also, eating is only one piece of the puzzle.  If you go out and buy leather, but you eat all vegan foods, there is some kind of disconnect there. 

Veganism aligns with some outward goal for society, sexual orientation and racial identity do not.

I disagree with you on these two points. (I cut them out of your post, hope that's OK.)

1. This contradicts the idea of there being a spectrum of veganism (again, self-identified). I do agree that veganism constitutes more than just one part of a lifestyle. But, for example, one of the authors of Veganomicon wears leather. She's not 100%, but she is considered a spokesperson of the lifestyle. There is more than one person on the forum -- besides just me! -- who identifies as a vegan and doesn't have a 100% vegan lifestyle. We use beeswax in our lipgloss, unwittingly ingest chicken stock, and hang onto our old belts and shoes. None of us are perfect, but we all believe ourselves to be vegan. (In fact, I daresay that there is no such thing as a 100% vegan, just as there is no such thing as a 100% anything.)

2. Sexual orientation and racial identity in and of themselves do not change society; they are the components of society. You're right about that. However, I think that being vocal about one's orientation and race, and talking about them, does have an outwardly directed goal for social improvement. In that sense, they're not really different from veganism. I say I'm vegan; I educate people on veganism and try to spread awareness of alternatives to a meat-based diet. Even if I'm not perfect, I am demonstrating a diversion from the norm. The fact that the word "vegan" is in the mainstream now is proof of this; do you think that all the people who made that possible were 100%? Not a chance.

And again, we're back to the line between accepting what there is, or upholding a certain standard. Is it enough to be vegan if it's only for weight loss? Or do you have to give up everything and start over from scratch to fulfill some abstract set of rules? I understand that part of the vegan community does not dictate the rules to the rest of it (as in, you're not vegan enough, or your reasons are wrong, etc.). I am jut perpetually amazed at the variety of reasons people have for choosing this lifestyle, and the ways they incorporate it into their lives.

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ppc, we answered br's question opposite ways, but I think we really agree?  Like you, I wouldn't agree that a meal is vegan if it has a vegetable.  And I think that if people are going to eat vegan meals 2/3 of the time, yes, it's a good idea for them to say they eat vegan 66% of the time.  That's perfectly clear.

In my response, I am saying that the definition changes if people who eat vegan 75% of the time go around saying "I'm vegan."  And when I say that it changes, I mean that the popular perception of what "vegan" is watered down.

I think we agree?  Maybe not?  I don't really know.  But I agree that no definition should be changed.  But, improper use of the definition will have the effect of changing it over time in the public mind, which is a negative thing.

Also, +1 to Catski.  I'm not really concerned with farmers losing their jobs over time anyway.  Guess what, industries change with time.  You don't see a heck of a lot of blacksmiths anymore.  And I wouldn't be sad if working in the tobacco industry was no longer profitable.  Not all industries are destined to stick around forever.

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You Guys bring up good points, while I consider myself a vegan 99.99% of the time, I guess some of you probally think I should call myself a vegetarian..I eat totally vegan at home, but when I'm outside the home and can't find Vegan options, I'll go vegetarian, also I use soy creamer at home, but if I'm out and want coffee and soy creamer isn't available...I'll have half and half.
I don't own anything made of leather or fur,I don't buy anything tested on animals,  and all of my clothes are 100% cotton..so I guess my question to you all is...what would you call my lifestyle...Vegan or vegetarian?....I don't offend easily, and would really appreciate your feedback...

Potatohead, If I were you (and since you asked), I would say "vegetarian" or "I eat mostly vegan" or "I'm on my way to being vegan" or "I'm transitioning to veganism," or something like that. Obviously, if you aren't planning on transitioning to being vegan, then you wouldn't want to say that.

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It sounds like you two are on the same side to me ...

I am really wary of saying XX% vegan because I feel like the transition to veganism is gradual for many people. (I notice that a lot of the folks on this site were vegetarian first, and they certainly weren't born vegan.) I feel like saying there is an acceptable percentage ignores a lot of people who are  actively transitioning to veganism.
Although, I suppose, you'd call those people "vegetarians." But that skips the individual's right to call him or herself whatever he or she wants.

I think that the definition of anything becomes "watered down" over time. It's a lot harder to define feminism now than it was 100 years ago. It's also a lot harder to define "conservative" or "liberal." I have no doubt that "vegan" is on the same track ... which in my opinion is a good thing. When some idea is so widespread that it becomes part of the mass cultural consciousness (i.e. when it is no longer a subculture or a countercultural movement) -- that is when it has succeeded.

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Or do you have to give up everything and start over from scratch to fulfill some abstract set of rules?

But the rules are not abstract.  They're not even rules anyway--they are a description.  

Jo Stepaniak talks about this in Becoming Vegan more succinctly than I can (2000, pg. 7-8, via Google Books).  She says:

"If vegans focus on the larger picture and avoid the obvious animal products and byproducts, then being vegan becomes much more practical and attainable.  There are hardly any food or clothing items which a vegan needs to compromise, because convenient substitutes are readily available.  When there are no vegan substitutes at hand, most vegans can simply do without.  Making nonvegan choices when animal-free options exist is not vegan.

"An individual can still practice the central tenets of veganism even though basic compliance has not yet been met.  However, technically speaking, this person would not be vegan.  She or he might be "transitioning to veganism" or be a "total vegetarian."  Because vegan is a descriptive term that is neither favorable nor pejorative, interpreting vegan as positive or negative is a personal judgment.  The word itself is neutral.

"Some people who aspire to be vegan or vegetarian label themselves as such even though they do not explicitly observe the principal criteria of these practices.  Take, for instance, the chicken-eating, fish-eating, just-no-red-meat-eating "vegetarian."  Regrettably, this has created confusion regarding the definition of vegetarian and has led to the misuse use of the term by the media, health care practitioners, and the public.  Such deviation renders the term meaningless.

"Vegan is not a rank nor a badge of excellence....It's significance lies in its accuracy...."

Also, I think it's kind of irresponsible for someone who is a spokesperson for veganism to wear leather, but then again I didn't know this, so it's probably not as if she goes around advertising it.  

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I think that the definition of anything becomes "watered down" over time. It's a lot harder to define feminism now than it was 100 years ago. It's also a lot harder to define "conservative" or "liberal." I have no doubt that "vegan" is on the same track ... which in my opinion is a good thing. When some idea is so widespread that it becomes part of the mass cultural consciousness (i.e. when it is no longer a subculture or a countercultural movement) -- that is when it has succeeded.

Oh, I disagree entirely.  It has succeeded when....the whole world is vegan?  Again, actions and results over sentiments.  I have no idea.  I mean, realistically, that probably won't ever happen.  If a bunch of people are familiar with some bs, watered down definition of veganism, that just goes to show that the original cause is lost. 

The term vegan was created in the first place to distinguish an avoidance of meat in the diet from an avoidance of animal products in the entire lifestyle.  If we now consider vegan to be "an avoidance of most animal products when it's convenient, but sometimes it's ok to use them if we are talking about really nice beeswax candles or specialty cheese or the chicken pot pie your mother made," then we need to institute a new term. 

I wouldn't consider a "weight loss vegan" a vegan.  That person eats a vegan diet, but presumably still isn't concerned with leather and wool, for example.  But I still think that person is doing a lot of good for herself and animals. 

When I first became vegan, I said I was "trying veganism," until I could fully figure out what it means to be vegan.  I didn't want to call myself that before I figured out where all these animal ingredients were and how I could avoid them.  And by doing that, I pushed myself to be a better vegan.  I was insistent about it too--people would say, "Oh, I heard you are vegan," and I'd say, "No, not yet, but I'm trying it and learning about it."  If I had just called myself a vegan when I was sort of halfway there, I might have just called it a day and said, "Well, I'm vegan now!" and I wouldn't have learned about animal products in makeup, or the cruelties of the wool industry, or all those other things.

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yeah kmk i think you and i agree.

br - i totally feel that people should be accepted for whatever stage they feel like they are at.  i definitely havent always been vegan, i was vegetarian for about 11 years first, and before that i was a kid that would get plain double cheeseburgers at fast food restaurants (NO veggies allowed!).  the guilt got to me and i just stopped eating meat.  when i decided to go vegan, it was definitely not overnight.. i tested the waters first.  during that period if people asked about it, i would say that i was vegetarian using up my nonvegan stuff, but any new groceries i purchased were vegan.  also, i used it as a learning experience for eating at restaurants.  i'd order my portobella sandwich with no cheese, no mayo, etc. and when it came with the bun buttered i'd set that part aside, and eat the rest of the sandwich.. logging that as something id need to remember for the future. 

i don't agree that something is a success just because its been watered down enough to be a part of mass cultural consciousness.  i don't think 66% should equal an 'A'.  if veganism were a celebrity, i wouldnt want it to be paris hilton.  i think we can do better.  at least id like to think we can.

sure - people have the right to call themselves whatever they choose.. but i can call myself 'swine flu' all i want, and it doesnt make it true.  
;)

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Oh, I agree that the standard shouldn't be watered down. Not at all. I think it's people who are sticklers who end up defining an ideological movement in the long run. (If you don't think veganism is an ideological movement, stop reading, because the rest of my point pretty much depends on that.) I think that there's an essential "veganism" that we all live up to -- it's the mythical 100%, if you will.

However, what I'm saying (maybe this wasn't clear in my post) is that the definition of the word does change over time, and we as individuals don't necessarily have control over that. For all you know, 66% vegan will be "vegan" in the future, and there isn't a lot you can do about it. I'm not saying this is right. I just think that it's inevitable, and I accept it as part of the evolution of both the term and the society that employs it.

I think the same thing is true of other social movements; I cited feminism before, which I think it a comparable example. "Feminism" certainly doesn't mean what it did originally. If we held up the modern feminist with the original feminist, they'd have very little in common. There are so many incarnations of that belief now; many of them disagree with one another, although they all exist under the same umbrella.
I contend that veganism, like feminism, will undergo more than one incarnation; that it will change its meaning in order to survive over time; and that, 50 years from now, it will be accepted as part of the mainstream, but that that new form will be different than what we have today.

I think that in terms of long-term change and overall awareness, this constitutes success. (Because when an idea is static and inflexible, it dies out.) I realize that your standards are different -- you seem to be addressing the individual level, instead of the global one. But I think the two can exist in balance.

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so in 50 years from now, when i go to buy a amy's burrito that's labeled "vegan", should i probably assume that there's eggs in it?

eta:

also, if 'vegan' is going to be the new 'vegetarian', what do we start calling people that don't eat eggs, milk, or cheese?  extremist vegans?

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However, what I'm saying (maybe this wasn't clear in my post) is that the definition of the word does change over time, and we as individuals don't necessarily have control over that. For all you know, 66% vegan will be "vegan" in the future, and there isn't a lot you can do about it. I'm not saying this is right. I just think that it's inevitable, and I accept it as part of the evolution of both the term and the society that employs it.

We do control that.  As representatives of veganism, we control that by how we portray ourselves to others and how we throw about the term.

I don't think awareness equals success.  I think it's certainly commendable/significant if we are noticing that the term "vegan" appears in pop culture more often--that makes dialogue much easier.  But like ppc said, we don't want some half-assed representation (i.e. Paris Hilton, haha) of veganism.  We can retain the meaning of "vegan" and make it appealing to a broader population.

I mean, let's think about it....who controls the public perception of "vegan"?  Well, peta, unfortunately....vegan celebrities to a small extent..... news coverage, which is often skewed......but mostly it's the vegans that people know.  At least, in my experience it is.  And WE are the vegans people know.  And when we do things like swine flu's ppc's potlucks and such, where we DO maintain this high standard for ourselves (for example, a potluck with no cheese and with vegan wine), we perpetuate that "stricter" notion of veganism in a positive way.  We control how the term vegan is used--I mean, we're the ones using it.

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also, if 'vegan' is going to be the new 'vegetarian', what do we start calling people that don't eat eggs, milk, or cheese?  extremist vegans?

xxxxxxxxxxHARDxCORExBADxASSxVEGANSxxxxxxxxxxx

That's a good point though.  We got "vegan" by cutting the crap out of "vegetarian", right? 
So now what?
Vean?
Vn?

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I do think "we" control the meaning of veganism. But the fact that I call myself vegan, and you call yourself vegan, and we don't agree about this goes to show that:
1. "vegan" means more than one thing, and
2. no one definition is true

If "we" (and I assume this is the Royal We?) don't want "some half-assed representation" of your beliefs, then maybe you need to accept that there is more than one meaning, and more than one way. Because last time I checked, there are a lot of "half-assed" vegans out there, trying to represent their beliefs in a positive, progressive way.

It's flexibility that enables something to evolve and, hence, survive. (I think we can all agree on that; it's pretty obvious.) I don't know what we'll call vegans in the future; I don't think it matters. I am only pointing out that the definition, the practice, and the belief are not as narrow as you're portraying ... and, by being open to that, you're not necessarily "weakening" the system.

Hardcore? Maybe. But it doesn't have to be a pissing contest.

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probably a silly question but .... would it be ok if you bought an amy's burrito labeled vegan, got it home, looked at the ingredients and saw 'egg'?

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I wouldn't eat it, if that's what you mean.

The burrito example works now, but I'm talking about the long-term implications and evolution of the word "vegan." I guess we're talking about different things.

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If "we" (and I assume this is the Royal We?) don't want "some half-assed representation" of your beliefs, then maybe you need to accept that there is more than one meaning, and more than one way. Because last time I checked, there are a lot of "half-assed" vegans out there, trying to represent their beliefs in a positive, progressive way.

There isn't more than one meaning.  I defer to ppc here:

sure - people have the right to call themselves whatever they choose.. but i can call myself 'swine flu' all i want, and it doesnt make it true.  
;)

I mean, along the lines of the burrito....if you told someone you were vegan, and they served you something with whey in it because they thought that vegans sometimes eat that, wouldn't you be pissed?  I would.  Not at that person, but at the misconception.
Clarity and simplicity are so important.

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