Explaining your veganism: "ethics" or "personal ethics" - VeggieBoards
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#1 Old 04-02-2012, 07:04 PM
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I am surrounded by people who ask what my reasons are for being vegan. I usually answer, "all of the above; for every reason you can think of." I then explain: "very much for health, but I have a serious ethical problem with factory farming, and that's how it started."

Now, I am thinking, as I read this new Sparkpeople cookbook intro, what if I just said, "ethics"? Seems like my listener would think I presumed to have a higher ethical code than they and they would feel defensive.
But then, if I said, "personal ethics", it may let them off the hook and potentially rule out the possibility that they view veganism as something they should consider.
What do you think? Is the word "personal" too excusing to the listening party, or is it a respectful preface to the term "ethics"?

You must be the change you wish to see in the world. - Gandhi

Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle. - Plato
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#2 Old 04-02-2012, 07:30 PM
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My friend has a Filipino wife and just got back from the Filipines. He said they eat so much fish that it is impossible for the ocean to sustain their demand. He said he saw so many fish farms. I have read so much about farm raised animals and fish on here and get why it is so bad. I personally don't have a problem with someone catching a fish in the ocean and eating it. Just my own feelings. Not to digress, but I guess I did. Sorry, I don't know why that thought got in my head. I don't get much greif when I say I eat vegetarian because I play it off as a temporary health thing. I have gone on several work lunches and people seem really cool with it.
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#3 Old 04-02-2012, 07:43 PM
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To avoid the defensive responses I say: I just don't agree with the animal agriculture industry. Using the "I" seems to prevent the instant omnivore bingo responses but the phrase allows those who are genuinely curious to ask for more details. I do this when I really don't feel like having a debate with someone about how I eat.
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#4 Old 04-02-2012, 09:51 PM
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"For ethical reasons" sounds fine I think. Sometimes I'll say "because of the cruel treatment of animals in the farming business" or something like that.
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#5 Old 04-02-2012, 10:57 PM
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I'll say for ethical reasons and leave it at that. Though I don't discuss it and very very few that I work with know I'm vegan. If I say for ethical reasons and that offends someone. It was not my intent and I have no control over how they take something I say. Especially when I meant no malice.

I'm actually becoming pretty weary with the whole vegan thing. Not my personal commitment to being vegan. That remains. And I find it easy. I'm just tired of the whole "vegan community" idea which I have found to really be a bunch of B.S..
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#6 Old 04-02-2012, 10:57 PM
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I just go with what's most honest. I'm very hard line about the ethical issues so I'll say "ethics" and not "personal ethics" and I'll say "I'm opposed to animal abuse" not "I'm opposed to the current state of factory farming". I believe it's a moral obligation for everyone to stop eating animals and I believe there are basic moral truths so to me the phrase "personal ethics" would be dishonest. I'm also opposed to the killing of animals for food regardless of how well those animals were treated pre execution so citing factory farming as a main objection would also be dishonest for me.
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#7 Old 04-03-2012, 04:17 AM
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I don't think it really matters - in my experience nobody has ever taken offensive to me saying I'm vegan for ethical/moral reasons, or that I think it's wrong for people to eat animal products. Most grown up adults know that different people have different ideas about what is right or wrong, and just because they do something you don't believe in/agree with, doesn't mean it's a personal affront or judgement on them.

For me, adding the "personal" is too close to the "it's a personal choice if somebody wants to use animal products" idea which really isn't what I believe in. I believe that for the vast majority of people, it's wrong for them to use animal products. I don't think there is anything wrong with saying that. Personally I'll only say that specifically if I am asked, but often people do ask because they're curious, and I've never had someone offended by what I've said. What I usually say when asked why I'n vegan is "I believe that I shouldn't cause animals to suffer if I don't need to, and since it's easy not to and I don't need to, I don't" or something along those lines.

I think a lot of people worry unnessersairly about how people will react to them being vegan. Most people are just curious - what do you eat? have you always been vegan? are your parents vegan? do you think you'll always be vegan? etc. Just be yourself - you don't feel the need to question exactly what words you use when you talk about your other oppinions or beliefs or ideas, so why do it with veganism? There's this big emphisis on being a GOOD VEGAN in the (online) vegan community, as if we're all walking talking one person adverts for veganism 24/7 - I think it's really silly. We're just people, just be yourself.
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#8 Old 04-03-2012, 12:00 PM
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I think a lot of people worry unnessersairly about how people will react to them being vegan. Most people are just curious - what do you eat? have you always been vegan? are your parents vegan? do you think you'll always be vegan? etc. Just be yourself - you don't feel the need to question exactly what words you use when you talk about your other oppinions or beliefs or ideas, so why do it with veganism? There's this big emphisis on being a GOOD VEGAN in the (online) vegan community, as if we're all walking talking one person adverts for veganism 24/7 - I think it's really silly. We're just people, just be yourself.

even when being myself would entail me saying "stfu you selfish prat" every time i hear an omni say "i could never give up meat, i like the taste too much" for the billionth time ?

auto correct can kiss my ask
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#9 Old 04-03-2012, 02:24 PM
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Originally Posted by AlainWinthrope View Post

I just go with what's most honest. I'm very hard line about the ethical issues so I'll say "ethics" and not "personal ethics" and I'll say "I'm opposed to animal abuse" not "I'm opposed to the current state of factory farming". I believe it's a moral obligation for everyone to stop eating animals and I believe there are basic moral truths so to me the phrase "personal ethics" would be dishonest. I'm also opposed to the killing of animals for food regardless of how well those animals were treated pre execution so citing factory farming as a main objection would also be dishonest for me.

Avoidance of the word 'personal' is simply going to make you sound holier-than-thou; after all, the omnivore will likely not think of your 'ethics' as anything more than 'personal ethics' anyway. This is no jab at you, but I'm sure you are aware as to what this would sound like to a non-vegan. As an atheist who takes a particular interest in moral philosophy, I will admit that I find it rather difficult to establish objective morality without appealing to some deity. I continue to function in society the way I'm expected to for the most part, but I'm not entirely convinced that the ethics that I believe in are anything more than my own creation or simply in the best interest of the species I belong to. To me, it's fairly obvious that we ask ourselves questions that have no real answer (ie: what is the meaning of life?). At the very least I think it may be unfair to expect the general population to be able to sort these things out and arrive at the "right" conclusion.
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#10 Old 04-08-2012, 06:03 PM
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I would say something that leads a little more in-depth to your beliefs. You could say, for instance, "I don't believe we should use animals for our own purposes or keep them as property". I've long said "ethical reasons, environmental reasons, and health reasons" and people usually say "oh" and then go onto something else like the dietary details or something completely different. It's almost as if they brush it off and forget about it. The above statement could lead into a deeper discussion which could ultimately do more in changing the way someone perceives the issue. Honestly, I haven't tried saying something like the above statement for very long. It could also paint you as someone who is radical and make people defensive. I really don't know, but I'm going to try it out more often.
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#11 Old 04-08-2012, 06:35 PM
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I try to avoid telling the people I work with that I am vegetarian, since once they find out, they get really ugly and judgemental. When they ask why, I just say for personal reasons. So I think the best bet is to not tell them at all, because what business is it of their's anyway?
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#12 Old 04-09-2012, 04:43 AM
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Originally Posted by jentlytread View Post

What do you think? Is the word "personal" too excusing to the listening party, or is it a respectful preface to the term "ethics"?

The only true respect we can ever show people is absolute scrupulous honesty.

If a person does not give a **** outside of benefit to self then to say 'personal ethics' would be respectfull.

If a person does give a **** outside of benefit self and they say "personal ethics" then they are as big a lying mud-monkey as the lying mud-monkey meat eaters that they are lying to.

Ultimately to be a lying mud-monkey shows no genuine self respect and without genuine self respect there is no genuine respect for others.
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#13 Old 04-09-2012, 11:09 AM
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I explain to people that I started for health reasons and that the more I've learned about factory farming, etc. the more I realize that it's not just about personal health but health of the enviornment and planet and prevention of animal cruelty (Thoush my actual response is generally more eloquent that typed.). I feel like I don't want to just say something like "ethical reasons" because I feel like anyone who asks has a sincere question and that by explianing myself and that, yes, we can actually eat a lot of things, that I'm giving someone information and potentially raising awareness to something that effects both vegans and non-vegans alike.

That said, I don't think anyone is going to mince your words if you use "ethical" or "personally ethical" reasons. Say whatever you feel is most comfortable for your life situation.

Remember that not getting what you want is sometimes a wonderful stroke of luck. ~ Dalai Lama

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#14 Old 04-15-2012, 08:34 PM
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I've always said that for me,it's a matter of mercy and compassion,and explain very briefly about how I discovered the truth about animal agriculture.
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#15 Old 04-15-2012, 10:32 PM
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Originally Posted by jentlytread View Post

I am surrounded by people who ask what my reasons are for being vegan. I usually answer, "all of the above; for every reason you can think of." I then explain: "very much for health, but I have a serious ethical problem with factory farming, and that's how it started."

Now, I am thinking, as I read this new Sparkpeople cookbook intro, what if I just said, "ethics"? Seems like my listener would think I presumed to have a higher ethical code than they and they would feel defensive.
But then, if I said, "personal ethics", it may let them off the hook and potentially rule out the possibility that they view veganism as something they should consider.
What do you think? Is the word "personal" too excusing to the listening party, or is it a respectful preface to the term "ethics"?

I think it depends on the listening party. It's been my experience that some parties will react differently to the "ethics" message depending on what kind of people they are. I've been able to tell most people in my social group why I'm a vegan when they ask and they react to the message fine, there's usually very little weirdness.

At work however, it can often be a different story because I work in the medical profession and those people like to think of themselves as very dedicated, compassionate and caring people. Some of the more co-dependant nurses who's personal worth and self-esteem is entirely wrapped up in "caring" for people seem to become very threatened and sometimes begin to treat me differently when they find out that I'm a vegan because they interpret my ethics as me starting an "I care more than you do" competition which nurses don't like to lose. And the whole thing is silly because prior to them knowing this info about me, I got on well with these people.

So, I would have no hesitation in replacing the term ethics with "personal ethics" (even though I'm not fond of it) in situations where I have to maintain good working relationships with people. Other situations, I'd just say ethics.



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Originally Posted by offthahook View Post

even when being myself would entail me saying "stfu you selfish prat" every time i hear an omni say "i could never give up meat, i like the taste too much" for the billionth time ?



Yes, one has to employ one's mouth filter from time to time, doesn't one. They don't really want to hear us being ourselves.

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#16 Old 04-16-2012, 12:55 PM
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I usually say something like "... because I'm not willing to support cruelty, I believe torturing animals for profit is not only bad for animals but it also does humanity a huge disservice. On top of that, a vegan diet makes me feel awesome!" The last bit is delivered with a smile! I don't believe in watering it down too much. If people take offense, it's their problem. They shouldn't have asked. I personally find their excuses for the continued enslavement and torture of animals pretty disgusting, but I put up with them. They have to return the favour and get a dose of truth sometimes. Only fair!

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#17 Old 04-16-2012, 01:01 PM
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The concept of "personal ethics" makes no sense to me. So you believe in an ethical code that only applies to one person, subscribing to ethical norms like this:

"stabbing someone in the neck is wrong, if the perpetrator was born on the 17th of July 1980 and their name is A.G."

What attributes does the individual person, and his/her moral agency, have, that make those ethical rules only apply to that one person?

Note that believing "personal ethics" to be conceptually confused is by no means the same as believing in something called "objective morality" -- that would be a fallacy.

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#18 Old 04-16-2012, 01:26 PM
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I became a vegetarian 28 years ago for ethical reasons. Oddly, my very recent conversion (slowly... I am down to four dairies per week), has been for health concerns.

Every man takes the limits of his own field of vision for the limits of the world. -Arthur Schopenhauer
The need to be right is the sign of a vulgar mind. -Albert Camus
No great deed is done by falterers who ask for certainty. -George Eliot
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#19 Old 04-16-2012, 01:32 PM
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I usually say "Ethical reasons" but if I'm talking to someone that may not understand what I mean, then I say "Because I'm against animal cruelty/ exploitation."
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#20 Old 04-16-2012, 03:10 PM
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I say, "Do you want the short, medium, or long answer?"

Short: "Because it makes me happy, and makes sense to me, so I do it." (seriously, who can argue with this?!)

Medium: "Veg diets are healthier, especially in terms of heart disease, diabetes, and cancer risk. Plant-eaters have a much lower environmental footprint than meat-eaters, which is important to me. I have ethical problems with killing in the absence of need, and I absolutely refuse to support the cruel practices of industrial animal agriculture. So there are a lot of reasons plant-based diets make sense; but basically, it's just really satisfying to have my actions and my ideas match up. I like for my actions in the world to be consistent with my values; and food choices are part of that."

Long: "Let's sit down and visit for a while..." And then I tell 'em! :-)
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#21 Old 04-16-2012, 05:02 PM
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I say, "Do you want the short, medium, or long answer?"

Short: "Because it makes me happy, and makes sense to me, so I do it." (seriously, who can argue with this?!)

Medium: "Veg diets are healthier, especially in terms of heart disease, diabetes, and cancer risk. Plant-eaters have a much lower environmental footprint than meat-eaters, which is important to me. I have ethical problems with killing in the absence of need, and I absolutely refuse to support the cruel practices of industrial animal agriculture. So there are a lot of reasons plant-based diets make sense; but basically, it's just really satisfying to have my actions and my ideas match up. I like for my actions in the world to be consistent with my values; and food choices are part of that."

Long: "Let's sit down and visit for a while..." And then I tell 'em! :-)

I mean...it does not get better than the medium answer. That is perfect.

You must be the change you wish to see in the world. - Gandhi

Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle. - Plato
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#22 Old 04-16-2012, 05:09 PM
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Just ask them, "Why aren't you vegan?"
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#23 Old 04-16-2012, 08:20 PM
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The concept of "personal ethics" makes no sense to me. So you believe in an ethical code that only applies to one person, subscribing to ethical norms like this:

"stabbing someone in the neck is wrong, if the perpetrator was born on the 17th of July 1980 and their name is A.G."

What attributes does the individual person, and his/her moral agency, have, that make those ethical rules only apply to that one person?

Note that believing "personal ethics" to be conceptually confused is by no means the same as believing in something called "objective morality" -- that would be a fallacy.

I completely misunderstood this when I first read it... the last line was helpful. Now that I get it, I think it's a great point.
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#24 Old 04-16-2012, 10:53 PM
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When I am asked "why are you vegan?" I respond, "For animals, the planet, and human health."

Generally, they will follow-up with another question that lets me know what they are most interested in/ curious about. So that let's me know what direction I need to take the conversation in order to have the greatest impact on the person with whom I am speaking.

That said, I am an imperfect advocate and will not make the most of every single opportunity presented. In fact, I might mess things up a great deal. But I try.
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#25 Old 04-17-2012, 09:43 AM
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even when being myself would entail me saying "stfu you selfish prat" every time i hear an omni say "i could never give up meat, i like the taste too much" for the billionth time ?

I've only just seen this, but YES! If that's the kind of thing you'd say than say it Don't bite it back for the sake of giving out some perfect-vegan-image.
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#26 Old 04-19-2012, 10:01 AM
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when I get asked I say
"for the animals"

and they look at me like I have two heads and ask..what about them?!
It's like they don't even recognize that their meat comes from an animal with feelings...
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#27 Old 04-17-2015, 08:47 AM
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Originally Posted by RichieFruitbat View Post
I usually say something like "... because I'm not willing to support cruelty, I believe torturing animals for profit is not only bad for animals but it also does humanity a huge disservice. On top of that, a vegan diet makes me feel awesome!" The last bit is delivered with a smile! I don't believe in watering it down too much. If people take offense, it's their problem. They shouldn't have asked. I personally find their excuses for the continued enslavement and torture of animals pretty disgusting, but I put up with them. They have to return the favour and get a dose of truth sometimes. Only fair!
Wow- This is an old thread. However, here goes.... I really like this comment. Definitely believe every situation likely needs to be handled differently. The few people that have asked "why" usually are sincerely interested... People who don't ask after I've let them know I'm vegan, don't give a s%*&. Btw, is it "I'm vegan" or "I'm a vegan"? Hope you all are still standing vegan strong! Peace
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