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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So I just wanted to start a thread on something that I've seen on this forum, on other forums, and out and about in my "real" life. I'd be very interested in hearing other opinions.

It seems like a lot of people are competing to be "the best vegan", though they won't say so in so many words.

For instance, perhaps one vegan will eat products that do not CONTAIN animal products but perhaps are made on the same machinery as something containing milk products. Perhaps one vegan will eat honey. Perhaps one vegan will continue to use a leather backpack because she bought it before she went vegan. Perhaps one vegan is a vegan not because they care one iota about animal cruelty, but because being vegan is much more sustainable and overall leads to more food for more people.

These are all topics I've seen blow up into HUGE fights. I'm talking "if this conversation were face to face someone would record it on their i-phone and send it to jerry springer because someone's getting hit in the face with a chair" fights.

I AM NOT INTERESTED IN STARTING A DEBATE ABOUT ANY OF THOSE TOPICS.

My question is, shouldn't we see fellow vegans as our friends, allies, and not our competition, who we have to prove to that "our way is better"? Perhaps you personally feel eating honey is evil. (And again, I'm not looking to start a debate on this.) If your vegan friend disagrees, why must a battle of epic proportions begin? I mean, I'm all for opening dialogues and sharing ideas, but when it becomes clear that you cannot see eye to eye?

Basically, the way I see it is someone who is "vegan-but-eats-honey" is doing MUCH MORE GOOD than our omni-vore friends. But it doesn't seem like it's the omni-vores we try to talk to. It seems like everyone wants to fight each other to be the most holy.

There are few vegans to begin with, why do we have to fight each other?

I understand the gut reaction of, "But she's WRONG!/But that's immoral!" I just want to remind everyone that NO ONE in the ENTIRE WORLD sees themselves as wrong/bad/evil. EVERYONE thinks they're right. But I wish people would keep in mind that THEIR morals are not EVERYONE'S morals. Wouldn't it be better to acknowledge the good in what people do, ie "well, she doesn't eat any meat or any dairy, so she's doing 98% better than most people, even if she does have honey?" Rather than have a huge fight about it?

And the same way that no one thinks their evil, not everyone has the exact same definition of vegan. So "That's not really vegan!" arguments don't really make much sense either.

Thoughts?
 

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Neither would I pit veg*ns against omnis. We're all in this together. For my part, I try to teach by example.

Yet an exchange of ideas is good. Fights, no, but discussion, yes.
 

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Vegan means no animal products, so by definition, honey is out.
But that doesn't mean that someone who only eats honey as far as animal products go should be persecuted, and you're right, it's insane that people keep starting fights or trying to brag up how much more vegan/egetarian/ethical in general they are
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Another person might define vegan to mean "not causing any pain/distress to animals" and argue that if insects can feel no pain, then it doesn't "count". I'm not saying that's necessarily what I believe, (and again, I don't want to start a debate about who's right or who's wrong), I only want to point out that not everyone defines vegan the same way. So if you define it differently from me, it doesn't make sense to measure me by your yardstick.
 

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It's great that honey-eating "vegans" and so-called dietary "vegans" contribute less to animal exploitation than the average person. Excellent. I don't have a problem with that, obviously. What bothers me is their use of the word "vegan". Words matter. If we don't challenge these people over the definition, then "vegan" will soon mean someone who doesn't eat animals except fish on Fridays, their mom's Sunday roast (because they don't want to appear extreme) and kebabs every Saturday night when they're too drunk to remember. And of course they can go hunting and fishing with their dad, because they are dietary vegans, not ethical vegans.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Well, if you want to "challenge" people over the word, you should know the Webster's definition:

vegan : a strict vegetarian who consumes no animal food or dairy products; also : one who abstains from using animal products (as leather)

You'll notice nowhere in there does it say you don't kill animals. Just that you don't eat them or use their products. So by the OFFICIAL WEBSTER'S DEFINITION I could own a slaughterhouse and be a vegan. You know, as long as I didn't eat it or use it. If I just killed it for no reason.

Most vegans take it to be implied that "not killing" is part of the definition. Some vegans interpret it as "not causing pain." Some interpret it as "not taking advantage of."

Like I said before, if your definition and my definition of vegan are not equal, there's no point in arguing about it. ESPECIALLY when NEITHER of our definitions match the dictionary definition.
 

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Webster is no authority on veganism. Who decides the meaning of a word? Maybe in this case it should have been Donald Watson who coined the term, and the Vegan Society that he (and others) founded. Ultimately, it's you and me who decides what words mean. It's decided by the common man (perhaps especially those who have "ownership" to the word) and our use of the word in our daily language. So yes, there is a point in arguing over it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
...I'm pretty sure the dictionary, is, indeed, the authority on the definitions of words.

I mean, you're basically telling me that you'e willing to argue with someone over the definition of a word when their definition doesn't match YOUR definition... and YOUR definition is right and the DICTIONARY'S definition is WRONG?
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Capstan View Post

Neither would I pit veg*ns against omnis. We're all in this together. For my part, I try to teach by example.

Yet an exchange of ideas is good. Fights, no, but discussion, yes.
Nice idea in principle but, quite honestly, in reality this doesn't always work.

Meat eating is not, with honesty, defendable.

I guess you could exchange dishonest ideas with meat eaters quite amicably. Try to exchange honest ideas with them though and out of neccessity (from their PoV) the fur is guaranteed to fly.

Slightly related; On another topic I unwisely quoted the old "great minds think in terms of ideas, average minds in terms of events and small minds in terms of people" addage.

Small minds actualy cannot differentiate ideas from people. Any idea that contradicts an idea a small mind holds dear is thus not perceived as an 'exchange of ideas' but as a full frontal attack on the small minded person his/herself.

Anyone in doubt over that should have a quick look through the currently active abortion topic where evidence of this abounds.
 

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Minor amendment to my previous post ..

Meat eaters can actualy be honest at one level and one level only.

Doesn't happen very often though as few people have the balls to be honest about being a selfish ignorant ass.

That usualy doesn't hold up very long as anyone who is proud of being a selfish ignorant ass in one way but doesn't like other people being selfish ignorant asses in other ways then exposes themselves as a hypocrite.

The number of people who will be honest about a selfish ignorant ass is very small in the first place.

The number of people who will be honest about being a hypocritical selfish ignorant ass is even less.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sªmªnthª View Post

...I'm pretty sure the dictionary, is, indeed, the authority on the definitions of words.
Dictionaries very often give good defintions. Sometimes different dictionaries give conflicting defintions. Which one is correct then? It's especially a problem with specialist or fringe group terminology. Would you really trust a random dictionary more than say, the Vegan Society or the Vegetarian Society, regarding the defintions of veganism and vegetarianism?

Quote:
I mean, you're basically telling me that you'e willing to argue with someone over the definition of a word when their definition doesn't match YOUR definition... and YOUR definition is right and the DICTIONARY'S definition is WRONG?
Yes, unfortunately, this is ultimately how words get their meaning. It's not decided by some kind of government committee or similar. Dictionary authors don't pull definitions out of thin air, they try to deduce them from the way the words are used in spoken and written language.
 

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Veganism isn't a competition. But it is a topic of morality, and therefore, who doesn't want others to be more moral? If you didn't think your idea of morality was correct, you wouldn't bother to follow it, so why wouldn't you want others to conform to it and improve the lives of others? I like to read debates, and debate, with like minded people because it helps my morality evolve, tests my ideas, and usually provides food for thought. Debating with people who already have similar core morals to you, allows you to debate the finer details. What's the point in asking, is honey or wool ethical, if you're asking it to people who think veal is ethical? You won't learn.

So, what I'm trying to say, is people debate but not to get one up on eachother, but because they're interested in eachothers oppinions.

The vast majority of people on this forum, and others I've been on, appreciate the efforts of all people reducing their animal consumption, and don't try to "compete". Most of the time, a debate will involve lots of people, and will end in just two or so people slinging mud, and the sensible and productive input of everyone else is forgotten. I don't think we should let those who shout the loudest speak for all of us. I don't think veganism is a compeition, and I don't think many other vegans do either.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Clueless Git View Post

Small minds actualy cannot differentiate ideas from people. Any idea that contradicts an idea a small mind holds dear is thus not perceived as an 'exchange of ideas' but as a full frontal attack on the small minded person his/herself.
Anyone in doubt over that should have a quick look through the currently active abortion topic where evidence of this abounds.
 

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Originally Posted by Indian Summer View Post

Webster is no authority on veganism. Who decides the meaning of a word? Maybe in this case it should have been Donald Watson who coined the term, and the Vegan Society that he (and others) founded. Ultimately, it's you and me who decides what words mean. It's decided by the common man (perhaps especially those who have "ownership" to the word) and our use of the word in our daily language. So yes, there is a point in arguing over it.
But the UK Vegan Society's definition isn't completely transparent.

From http://www.vegansociety.com/pdf/Arti...ssociation.pdf

In this Memorandum the word "veganism" denotes a philosophy and way of living which
seeks to exclude as far as is possible and practical all forms of exploitation of, and
cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose; and by extension, promotes the
development and use of animal-free alternatives for the benefit of humans, animals and the
environment.

What is 'possible' and 'practical' will differ from person to person, between cultures and in the different environments that a person has to live and eat in.

Ultimately, I think the people who are 95% vegans are doing as good a job as the 100% 'perfect' vegans (I use quotes because of course there are no 'perfect' vegans) - in fact they may be doing a better job, by illustrating a small amount of flexibility; showing that a vegan diet is doable and liveable in everyday life situations. I hate the snarky comments that sometimes follow on forums such as these when someone mentions that in the last year they have consumed half a teaspoon of honey ('but of course you are not a vegan', 'you can't call yourself a vegan' etc).

Let's learn to embrace others rather than denigrating them: by doing so we may find that instead of alienating others we encourage omnivores and vegetarians and veganish folks to embrace the cause of animal rights and veganism, and move towards veganism. Let's be honest: most people will not be vegan in our lifetimes, but if we can move 50% of the people 50% along the way towards it, then we will have achieved a massive amount of good for the animals.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by angie54321 View Post

But the UK Vegan Society's definition isn't completely transparent.

From http://www.vegansociety.com/pdf/Arti...ssociation.pdf

In this Memorandum the word "veganism" denotes a philosophy and way of living which
seeks to exclude - as far as is possible and practical - all forms of exploitation of, and
cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose; and by extension, promotes the
development and use of animal-free alternatives for the benefit of humans, animals and the
environment.

What is 'possible' and 'practical' will differ from person to person, between cultures and in the different environments that a person has to live and eat in.
Yes, defintely. It has to be somewhat flexible. The "as far as possible and practical" clause is one of the cleverest parts of the VS definition.

Quote:
Ultimately, I think the people who are 95% vegans are doing as good a job as the 100% 'perfect' vegans (I use quotes because of course there are no 'perfect' vegans) - in fact they may be doing a better job, by illustrating a small amount of flexibility; showing that a vegan diet is doable and liveable in everyday life situations. I hate the snarky comments that sometimes follow on forums such as these when someone mentions that in the last year they have consumed half a teaspoon of honey ('but of course you are not a vegan', 'you can't call yourself a vegan' etc).
Agreed! I'm sure I'm guilty of unknowingly consuming honey myself when eating out at restaurants and so on.

Quote:
Let's learn to embrace others rather than denigrating them: by doing so we may find that instead of alienating others we encourage omnivores and vegetarians and veganish folks to embrace the cause of animal rights and veganism, and move towards veganism. Let's be honest: most people will not be vegan in our lifetimes, but if we can move 50% of the people 50% along the way towards it, then we will have achieved a massive amount of good for the animals.
I agree, as long as it doesn't involve accepting completely ridiculous definitions of veganism that opens the door for vegan hunters, fishermen, slaughterers etc.
 

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Take this thread for example:

Poster identifies as a vegan but says they eat salmon, cheese and milk occasionally. I feel it is my moral obligation to point out that these are inherently unvegan things to do. Not knowing where the glue is sourced in their shoes in one thing, but directly, knowingly supporting the meat and dairy industry is something I can't ignore, and I will, nay must, call them out on it.

It's not a competition, but if someone is sending this sort of message out to omni's, we may as well all just give up and identify as flexitarian right now.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Indian Summer View Post

It's great that honey-eating "vegans" and so-called dietary "vegans" contribute less to animal exploitation than the average person. Excellent. I don't have a problem with that, obviously. What bothers me is their use of the word "vegan". Words matter. If we don't challenge these people over the definition, then "vegan" will soon mean someone who doesn't eat animals except fish on Fridays, their mom's Sunday roast (because they don't want to appear extreme) and kebabs every Saturday night when they're too drunk to remember. And of course they can go hunting and fishing with their dad, because they are dietary vegans, not ethical vegans.
I agree 100% with this opinion.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by m00ch View Post

Take this thread for example:

Poster identifies as a vegan but says they eat salmon, cheese and milk occasionally. I feel it is my moral obligation to point out that these are inherently unvegan things to do. Not knowing where the glue is sourced in their shoes in one thing, but directly, knowingly supporting the meat and dairy industry is something I can't ignore, and I will, nay must, call them out on it.

It's not a competition, but if someone is sending this sort of message out to omni's, we may as well all just give up and identify as flexitarian right now.
Exactly m00ch. It isn't that vegans compete, it's that there is so much falsification of the term due to uninformed or "slackers".
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Indian Summer View Post

Yes, defintely. It has to be somewhat flexible. The "as far as possible and practical" clause is one of the cleverest parts of the VS definition.

Agreed! I'm sure I'm guilty of unknowingly consuming honey myself when eating out at restaurants and so on.

I agree, as long as it doesn't involve accepting completely ridiculous definitions of veganism that opens the door for vegan hunters, fishermen, slaughterers etc.
Yes, it is difficult to know where to draw the line, but I would definitely draw the line at hunters, fishermen and people who eat dairy and eggs on a regular basis. I see a 95% vegan as someone who avoids animals products in general, but may consume small amounts (e.g. butter, honey) when eating out or when somebody else has prepared the food: but doesn't make a big fuss of actually asking the waiter/ess/host for a complete list of every ingredient and micro-ingredient contained. An example would be requesting a pizza without cheese, but not asking for the ingredient list for the base of the pizza (which may include a small amount of butter or egg). Doing this when in a group of friends makes veganism appear easy and more acceptable to the omnivores. Asking for a full list of ingredients can make veganism look difficult: others may admire you for sticking to your strict ethical standards, but may never want to join you. I look at everything from the animals perspective: I am not concerned what people call me (not vegan!), say to me, think of me -' I' am not of interest. If I can encourage 5 people to be 100% vegan in my lifetime that would be fantastic: if I can be responsible for 500 people cutting down considerably on their use of animal products that would be even better. (Both would be superb!)

FYI I went from a long time vegetarian to a vegan when this point (not sweating the small stuff) was illustrated to me: had the person I talked to been a member of the vegan police I would have probably stayed a vegetarian.
 
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