"To the extent reasonable and practical" - VeggieBoards
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#1 Old 05-17-2009, 09:29 PM
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One of the definitions commonly used for veganism is the avoidance of all animal products, to the extent reasonable and practical.



My question is this: Is the "reasonable and practical" clause one that is entirely a matter of social convention, or is there some objective standard?



After all, with reasonably little effort, one could avoid watching all movies for entertainment, due to the gelatin in photographic film. With reasonably little effort, one could avoid purchasing novels, due to the glue that might potentially be used in the book binding.



For the really strict vegans who will not eat anything unless they are 100% sure of the origin of all the ingredients, do you make a distinction between animal products used in food, versus animal products used in other stuff?



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#2 Old 05-17-2009, 10:07 PM
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This is a great question! I am a very new "almost Vegan" so maybe you did not want me to respond. I love the examples that you gave and it is really making me question it. Eventually, I would hope that I would be able to cut all ties with all products directly or indirectly related to harming animals. Ideally, avoiding those things would be what I would like for my life. Right now, it is not realistic as I am not knowledgable enough about the subject. I am also in school and living with relatives so it would be imposing my beliefs on my grandmother if I would ask her not to purchase cable services or other related services. Also, I have to buy books for college(most of which are not available online). I would like to try to cut out all ties with animal products to the extent reasonable and practical for my current life situation. In the future, those circumstances will change and I will be more strict. I am really looking forward to hearing the responses from other people.
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#3 Old 05-17-2009, 10:39 PM
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Eventually, I would hope that I would be able to cut all ties with all products directly or indirectly related to harming animals.







I don't think cutting "all" ties is possible, since animals are killed even in the process of harvesting of crops for our vegan diets. Not to mention animal products used in stuff like the break fluid in cars and the tires in bicycles. Or the animals killed in the production of electricity and the construction of roads.



Therefore, we have the question of where we should draw the line.



Furthermore, there is also the concern that if we are too strict, then we end up scaring people away from moving towards veganism, hence hurting more animals in the process.



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#4 Old 05-17-2009, 11:00 PM
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I don't think cutting "all" ties is possible, since animals are killed even in the process of harvesting of crops for our vegan diets. Not to mention animal products used in stuff like the break fluid in cars and the tires in bicycles. Or the animals killed in the production of electricity and the construction of roads.



Therefore, we have the question of where we should draw the line.



Furthermore, there is also the concern that if we are too strict, then we end up scaring people away from moving towards veganism, hence hurting more animals in the process.



-Eugene



That is very true. Maybe I should have said, "as many ties as possible". Maybe that's what the definition of veganism means...that is the reasonable extent that is mentioned. There are certain things that would be extremely hard to avoid. Everybody draws the line at different points. I am still unsure of where the line should be. I don't think we will ever know every single thing that has animal products in it.



I would not want to appear to be so strict that I scare away people, but I would want to do whatever I could to help save animals. People do not have to know the reason why I would choose not to buy books or to grow my own food. I know people who grow their own food because it's a cheaper way to get food. My point is, they do not have to know that it is because I'm Vegan.
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#5 Old 05-17-2009, 11:01 PM
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Sorry for the double post. Where do you draw the line with Veganism? What are your personal views about this topic?
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#6 Old 05-18-2009, 12:01 AM
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My line is drawn where I want it to be drawn. If I were to avoid watching a film because of the gelatin found in film, it would accomplish absolutely nothing. If anything it would be destructive because non-vegans would think that I am really limiting myself by being vegan.



There is no set standard because it is a grey area.
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#7 Old 05-18-2009, 12:03 AM
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I draw the line at the limits of my knowledge, if I know that a product has an animal product element and I know there is a vegan alternative is available then I will use that. This is pretty easy to do for food, drink, clothing and household goods, so I think for most people they would be able to achieve this.



Absolute purity is impossible to achieve. And I agree that if you start preaching that to others then you will lose possible converts, it's hard enough making my supportive friends think I'm not a freak let alone the general public.



If you can avoid the main things like food, clothing and household products tested on animals these things are not difficult to do, you help the animals and hurt the abusers by withdrawing your financial support.
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#8 Old 05-18-2009, 10:56 AM
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I think that statement exists to acknowledge the fact that it isn't possible to 100% avoid the use of animal products, or cross-contamination from animal products, as the world is not a 'pure' place like that. We can do our best to avoid deliberate use of animal products, but none of us can guarantee that we never use anything which has involved animals, such as gelatin in films, or insects that might have accidentally been killed when the plants we eat were harvested, or if a friend gives us a ride in their car which has leather seats.



I think where it comes into play depends on the situation, it's not something that can have definitive pre-determined rules and it's just a case of using your common sense. Say if you had a medical condition, and the only medication available to treat it had been tested on animals (well, I guess that applies to pretty much any medication) or was only available in capsules coated with gelatin, taking the medication wouldn't make you not veg*n as the alternative would do more harm than good, you can't do a lot to promote veg*nism if you're ill because you didn't take your medication.



In contrast, I don't think (and I know no-one is suggesting this) that it's a get-out clause, like if you're vegan and someone offers you non-vegan cake and you know they're going to be offended if you don't eat it, it's not an excuse to eat the cake on the grounds you don't think it's 'reasonable and practical' to refuse.
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#9 Old 05-18-2009, 12:04 PM
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I think that what is reasonable and practical for one person may not apply to another. Let's take two situations into example:



Person 1 is a single woman living in a big city with almost door-front access to public transportation.



Person 2 is a single mom of three children, two of which are young, who lives in a rural area as it's cheaper for her and they have no public transportation.



It could be argued that person 1 could avoid the use of tires (which contain animal by products) and it would be "reasonable and practical" whereas it may not be for person 2, especially if there is no real room for walking/biking around her area either.
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#10 Old 05-18-2009, 12:26 PM
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Trying to avoid contributing to animal use is one reason I try to buy everything second-hand. I know that I cannot avoid everything, but I figure if I am buying it in a thrift store, I'm not supporting the industry that produced it, and that's enough for me. (Though, I still won't buy thrift store leather as it is much higher in the ick factor for me than some glue I don't even see in a pair of shoes or a book.



I do not find it much of a challenge to avoid eating animal products. The way I see it, both Nature and food-producting corporations encourage us to avoid animal products by having the most health-producing foods to be animal-free. A whole foods diet (and by diet, I mean what one eats every day--not some lame attempt to temporarily lose weight) is far healthier for us than anything that involves closely reading labels.
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#11 Old 05-18-2009, 12:37 PM
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Trying to avoid contributing to animal use is one reason I try to buy everything second-hand. I know that I cannot avoid everything, but I figure if I am buying it in a thrift store, I'm not supporting the industry that produced it, and that's enough for me. (Though, I still won't buy thrift store leather as it is much higher in the ick factor for me than some glue I don't even see in a pair of shoes or a book.



I do not find it much of a challenge to avoid eating animal products. The way I see it, both Nature and food-producting corporations encourage us to avoid animal products by having the most health-producing foods to be animal-free. A whole foods diet (and by diet, I mean what one eats every day--not some lame attempt to temporarily lose weight) is far healthier for us than anything that involves closely reading labels.

Great post! I completely agree with this and I try to do the same things

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#12 Old 05-19-2009, 03:38 AM
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There have been many excellent replies. But, what about examples such as watching movies, despite the gelatin used in photographic films. I go to the movie theatre all the time, as do many other vegans. Yet, going to movie theatres is clearly avoidable. It is a form of entertainment, not a life necessity.



Of course, I can justify my decision to watch movies on the grounds that the use of gelatin in movie reels does not in any significant way increase the profitability of the slaughterhouse, and no additional animals are killed to produce it. Gelatin is a byproduct of the meat industry, and if it was not used in stuff like movie reels, then it would just be thrown away. If everyone stopped eating meat, then the byproducts would no longer be dirt cheap, and non-animal alternatives would quickly replace them.



On the other hand, avoiding movies arguably requires less effort than avoiding all the obscure non-vegan ingredients in food. And I have to admit, I don't avoid all the obscure ingredients in food either, and I can make a similar argument to the one above.



Though some vegans do avoid all obscure animal ingredients in food, and they are very adamant about doing so. So, what is the distinction between this, and watching movies (or reading novels, etc.)



And it is not a matter of simply avoiding all the animal products that we recognize, and justifying our actions on the grounds that we do not "intentionally" use animal products. After all, I know full well that the film in movie reels contains gelatin, so my act is definitely intentional.



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#13 Old 05-19-2009, 03:43 AM
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I



....

Furthermore, there is also the concern that if we are too strict, then we end up scaring people away from moving towards veganism, hence hurting more animals in the process.



-Eugene



Ding! Ding! Ding!
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#14 Old 05-19-2009, 03:51 AM
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Yes, but then we still have the question of what level of strictness ends up scaring people away from veganism. Insisting on the avoidance of movies probably falls in that category. But what about avoiding all obscure ingredients in food? Does all the discussion on VB about which obscure ingredients are and are not vegan scare away potential converts who are browsing through the website as guests?



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#15 Old 05-19-2009, 04:00 AM
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Its really a personal journey, IMHO. Its also a gradual process. One cannot expect to flip a switch and turn 100% vegan overnight. Even those with the best intentions will need to learn about animal products and remove them from their lifestyles as it suits their individual situation.



Whats important is the indivual effort. I look at meat eater who decides to eat one vegetarian meal a week as someone making an effort who is to be applauded. There are also lacto-ovo vegetarians who, again, are making an effort that suits there situation. In the vegan realm there are varying grades as well. I've met seperatists who've managed to create a lifestyle that virtually elminates all animal products from their lives, but again, its a complete life change. Many vegans do what they can when they can but cannot or will not go the seperatist route.



My personal philosophy is to lead as normal a life as possibe to show omnis that a vegan lifestyle is not difficult nor is it shutting yourself away from mainstream society. Its my belief that if we can convince more people to adopt a lifestyle that limits use of animal products than things like vegan film will become a reality sooner rather than later. (actually there's a digital cinema near me where movies are shown with no film involved....).
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#16 Old 05-19-2009, 04:09 AM
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The "reasonable and practical" clause is there so that you do not drive yourself crazy. Being vegan is not about being perfect; you cannot live your life in a corner because you are afraid of using or consuming something that once came from the body of an animal. All you can do is avoid animal products to the best of your knowledge, without being unreasonable. What is "unreasonable"? Unreasonable is not going to the movie theater with friends because the film may contain gelatin. Unreasonable is refusing to eat in restaurants because you do not have full control over the ingredients. Unreasonable is not playing football with your family because the ball is made out of leather.



We all draw our line in different places. But we all have to live. We can't spend forever fretting about the obscure ingredients so much that it keeps us from enjoying life.
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#17 Old 05-19-2009, 04:27 AM
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My veganism is tied to ethics and politics, mostly.

So I use those lenses when "drawing a line".



Using a leather wallet, for example, sends a massage about how I use animals for pleasures as benign as keeping my change. Besides the inherent use of animal products, using animal products publicly, as in a wallet, or a jacket, is also political in nature since it is public. Leather underwear... well that's a different story. j/k



So I take that same issue with many other products and issues. I try to avoid monodiglycerides in bread, well, because I can. I avoid all the big vegan no-no's like whey, honey, silk, wool, lanolin, bone-char sugar, etc.



But when the usage is really marginally political, like tires on buses or on my bike, or movies, or the cable housing in my electronics, then I don't really worry as much. I find that those industries use animal products marginally due to the larger use of dairy, eggs, leather, and flesh. On top of it, the connection to animal use is so tenuous, that the political connection is forced. That connection is pretty direct when it comes to animal flesh, or circuses, or dairy. As such, avoiding theaters would only be supported by my urge to be internally consistent, rather than politically consistent.



As such, I'm rarely concerned with self-perfection. I just do as much as I honestly can every day.



The line I draw does move a tiny bit, but that change would be imperceptible to anyone but me. However, even when I'm "stricter" than at other times, I still use my bike, drive cars, and watch movies on premier days at the cine. But I've never knowingly consumed eggs, whey, animal flesh, or bought leather, wool, or silk while vegan.
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#18 Old 05-19-2009, 04:46 AM
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Its really a personal journey, IMHO. Its also a gradual process. One cannot expect to flip a switch and turn 100% vegan overnight. Even those with the best intentions will need to learn about animal products and remove them from their lifestyles as it suits their individual situation.



Whats important is the indivual effort. I look at meat eater who decides to eat one vegetarian meal a week as someone making an effort who is to be applauded. There are also lacto-ovo vegetarians who, again, are making an effort that suits there situation. In the vegan realm there are varying grades as well. I've met seperatists who've managed to create a lifestyle that virtually elminates all animal products from their lives, but again, its a complete life change. Many vegans do what they can when they can but cannot or will not go the seperatist route.



My personal philosophy is to lead as normal a life as possibe to show omnis that a vegan lifestyle is not difficult nor is it shutting yourself away from mainstream society. Its my belief that if we can convince more people to adopt a lifestyle that limits use of animal products than things like vegan film will become a reality sooner rather than later. (actually there's a digital cinema near me where movies are shown with no film involved....).





I fully agree with the general principle you outline, and this is one I have been advocating myself for many years. But again, there are no guidelines as to specifics, which is what I am after.



For example, some animal advocates claim that simply the act of stating "I am ethically opposed to killing animals for food" scares people away, as it is too radical of a concept, and that we should instead focus exclusively on the needless suffering inflicted on animals due to our current use of factory farming.



I don't believe that this scares people away, and I believe that the opposition in principle to the killing of animals for food (and not just the way it is done) is a core principle which we should not abandon -- even while we continue to inform the public about what goes on in factory farms.



On the other end of the spectrum, we have animal advocates who believe that, both in public and in private, we must avoid all food unless we are 100% sure of the non-animal origin of every last ingredient. Now, I feel this does have the potential to scare people away. Yet, these other advocates deny this, and they insist that this too is a core principle veganism which they can not abandon. Furthermore, they would argue that veganism is about doing what is right, not doing what is popular, and that they will not water down their principles in order to attract more converts in the short term, and their strength in their convictions will attract more converts in the long term.



I don't agree, and hence my question about gelatin in movie reels, as it was directed at vegans with this type of opinion.



And back to the original question: What level of strictness is the right balance, both in advocacy, and in personal conduct?



Some people feel that avoiding a cheese pizza (a blatantly non-vegan item) in front of non-vegans is too radical, and will scare people away. Other people feel it is perfectly OK to inquire whether or not the bread at your host's home contains animal derived glycerides, and they feel that you would be hypocritical in calling yourself vegan if you did not decline the bread without inquiring.



Personally, I think avoiding cheese pizza does not scare people away, but that avoiding bread does. In fact, I am concerned that a lot of the discussion on VB about ingredients has the potential to scare away people browsing the website. But then again, I could be wrong.



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#19 Old 05-19-2009, 04:54 AM
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Note, I don't think of "politics" as pandering to the public.



I think that doing the right thing is much more powerful message than "making veganism seem less radical".



Thus, I think that eating a cheeseburger to make other people more comfortable is rarely the right thing to do. I think that a vegan being less vegan so that others feel comfortable is the wrong approach.



I think that veganism is more about showing that a person can thrive. Add in the practicalities of living in a complicated world, and veganism becomes even more appealing.



I don't think that the goal is to convert people. I think that the goal is to end animals usage.
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#20 Old 05-19-2009, 04:57 AM
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I avoid all the big vegan no-no's like whey, honey, silk, wool, lanolin, bone-char sugar, etc.





I think this is a good example of how different people have different lists of what they consider to be the big vegan no-nos. I don't consider bone char sugar to be any more of a big vegan no-no than the gelatin in movie reels. And I actually just had to Google "lanolin" to find out what it is, as I did not even recognize this term. As for all the other items on the list, there are lots of people who identify themselves as vegans, yet don't always avoid those items.



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#21 Old 05-19-2009, 04:58 AM
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My overall message is: 'this feels right for me and I find it easy. Perhaps you can find whats right for you and will also find it easy'.



Instead of raising a difficult bar for someone to jump over with strict guidelines I'm trying to get people to move in that direction in whatever way suits them, wether its just eating one veggie meal a day or going all out vegan. This helps remove the excuses people can construct (ie its too hard!) too prevent even moving towards vegetarianism.
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#22 Old 05-19-2009, 05:03 AM
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I don't think that the goal is to convert people. I think that the goal is to end animals usage.





One requires the other.



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#23 Old 05-19-2009, 05:09 AM
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One requires the other.



-Eugene



Most likely, but necessarily.



I figure, it is best to keep the eye on the ball, rather than on all the steps to get there. As we get closer, who knows, the steps might need revising, but the goal won't.



I've seen this sort of incremental logic lead to some inconsistencies and problems. One is with politics. Some people fighting to end slavery were abolitionists, but thought it was too much to ask for full abolition right away, so they started arguing that Blacks should go back to Africa along side abolition. Well, after a while, pushing for abolition purely was too difficult, so they pushed forward with sending people to Africa. Soon, they were abolitionists in name only, in league with people who were certainly all about slavery.



So while from our perspective, it may seem that human should all go vegan, and while I agree that this would be a great thing, my real goal is for animals to no longer be used by humans. That's different enough to say they aren't the same.
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#24 Old 05-19-2009, 05:12 AM
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My overall message is: 'this feels right for me and I find it easy. Perhaps you can find whats right for you and will also find it easy'.



Instead of raising a difficult bar for someone to jump over with strict guidelines I'm trying to get people to move in that direction in whatever way suits them, wether its just eating one veggie meal a day or going all out vegan. This helps remove the excuses people can construct (ie its too hard!) too prevent even moving towards vegetarianism.





I think there is also a danger in placing the bar too low. For example, I don't think that it is a good idea to praise someone for spending one day a year without eating meat (i.e. the National Meatout campaign). I think this just reinforces the idea that giving up meat is hard. It is like having a national "Don't kick your grandma down the stairs" day.



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#25 Old 05-19-2009, 05:14 AM
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I think this is a good example of how different people have different lists of what they consider to be the big vegan no-nos. I don't consider bone char sugar to be any more of a big vegan no-no than the gelatin in movie reels. And I actually just had to Google "lanolin" to find out what it is, as I did not even recognize this term. As for all the other items on the list, there are lots of people who identify themselves as vegans, yet don't always avoid those items.



-Eugene



I think that those folks who avoid less than I do are still vegan. I draw my line as far as I can do it, but that's from a point of history, access, and ability that differs from others.



However, some things are so negligibly easy to avoid that I think that it would be ridiculous to say it falls under "vegan". Things such as lanolin, or whey are impossibly easy to avoid, whereas certain medications that are needed for certain people to thrive, well, those would certainly fall under "OK" in my book.



It helps me clarify things when I see veganism as a political action. Then, it becomes similar to campaigns to end sweatshop labor, for example. Just about every item of clothing we wear is made in sweatshops. That doesn't mean that it doesn't matter what we wear, it just means that we try our best. Often, given access and funds, it is impossible to avoid. But when at a Sweat-Free campaign, it is best to leave the worst offenders at home (Nike, for example, even though they are just as good/bad as any othe company), and wear out the New Balance. It is about image, but it is also about how we frame the issue.



Avoiding the vast majority of animal products isn't an inconvenience at all. It is a shift of mindset that is hardest. However, avoiding interacting completely with all animal products gets to the point where the political message is obscured completely, and where the discomfort increases exponentially. While there really isn't much discomfort for waiting for a movie to go to DVD to watch it instead of on film, that marginal discomfort seems really trite compared to the impact and connection people make between seeing a movie and the variety of materials the reel is made from. That connection is much less tenuous, but equally easy to avoid in the case of wallets or shoes.
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#26 Old 05-19-2009, 05:19 AM
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Such things such as lanolin, or whey are impossibly easy to avoid.





Movies are easy to avoid. Yet we go to them anyway.



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#27 Old 05-19-2009, 05:24 AM
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I think there is also a danger in placing the bar too low. For example, I don't think that it is a good idea to praise someone for spending one day a year without eating meat (i.e. the National Meatout campaign). I think this just reinforces the idea that giving up meat is hard. It is like having a national "Don't kick your grandma down the stairs" day.



-Eugene



Why do we need a bar at all? Again, I'm happy for people to just look at what they want to acheive and to evaluate their ethics. If after doing this they decide to make a small step towards vegetarianism then thats great because this could lead to another step and so on.



The road to vegetarianism is a personal one and each vegetarian has their own motivations and reasons for going down that path. I want to help with that journey and not put up barriers for that journey to begin.
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#28 Old 05-19-2009, 05:26 AM
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Movies are easy to avoid. Yet we go to them anyway.



-Eugene



And film is used to expose the horrors of animal cruelty to wider audience...
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#29 Old 05-19-2009, 05:33 AM
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Why do we need a bar at all?



Because it is possible to be so concerned about not scaring people away by pushing them too hard, that we instead end up reinforcing their decision to continue eating meat.



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#30 Old 05-19-2009, 05:33 AM
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And film is used to expose the horrors of animal cruelty to wider audience...





I was referring to movies for entertainment, not movies to expose animal abuse.



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