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Jul. 26th, 2010 | 03:00 pm
posted by: blueheron in very_vegetarian

One of the points that everyone seems to agree that we should work on for the community guidelines are definitions of the different types of vegetarianism, as well as a definition for vegan.

I have included my own in the comments. Other comments, clarifications or definitions are welcome. :)

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Comments {19}

Blue

(no subject)

from: blueheron
date: Jul. 26th, 2010 07:00 pm (UTC)
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A vegetarian is someone who does not eat the flesh of animals, or the by-products of slaughterhouses (such as gelatin). That is the very basic meaning of the word as it is used here.

There are a few extra points which are probably also worth noting: 1) vegetarianism deals pretty exclusively with what people eat, and 2) in common parlance, it is generally assumed that when one uses the word "vegetarian" they are referring to an ovo-lacto vegetarian, or a vegetarian who also eats eggs (ovo) and dairy (lacto), and likely things like honey as well. As is noted on the profile page, vegetarians do not eat chicken or fish.

"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. In dietary terms it denotes the practice of dispensing with all products derived wholly or partly from animals." (this quote is the official definition as put forth by the Vegan Society, who invented the word).

The key point that is worth noting here is that veganism is not a diet -- it involves all aspects of life.

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a bag of insecurities

(no subject)

from: bizwac
date: Jul. 27th, 2010 04:04 am (UTC)
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I would want to add something about vegan being necessarily an animal rights perspective, given that being 'vegan' for health doesn't really explain why one would eschew leather/wool/silk etc.

But this has caused contention in the past.
I'd also like it noted specifically that vegans simply do NOT use honey. Or hey, maybe there could be a definition of "animal" that people can refer to so they can see that when it is said the vegetarians don't eat animal, that includes fish because, hey, it's an animal, and that vegans don't use animal products, and hey, a bee is an animal!

I'm also curious as to what definition we would accept for a 'strict' vegetarian, given there are so many floating about.

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Hey starlet

(no subject)

from: freakshownia
date: Jul. 27th, 2010 07:02 am (UTC)
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Though it is possible to be a vegan out of environmental concerns, rather than an AR focus. At least, I know a few vegans whose primary motivation for going vegan is for the environment rather than the animals, but they still live completely free of all animal products and so are technically vegan.

I've read both that strict vegetarian is a vegan diet without the lifestyle, and a vegetarian who doesn't eat eggs or dairy (so might still eat honey). I don't know which is the "correct" one, if there even is one correct definition.

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Blue

(no subject)

from: blueheron
date: Jul. 27th, 2010 09:16 am (UTC)
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I don't know. The official definition is pretty clear that the reason for veganism is to avoid exploitaiton of animals. Yes, one of the benefits may be environmental, but that isn't one of the driving motivations.

My other concern with non-AR perspectives using the word vegan is that in situations of conflict, will their choice be to avoid animal use and cause "harm" to the environment, or the other way around? A vegan would avoid animal use, regardless.

This concern isn't just hypothetical. All of the "ex-vegans" that I know reverted to using animals after being presented with a situation that questioned their motivation, and in every case their motivation for being "vegan" was not based principally on animal rights.

In any case, I think that by sticking to the offical Vegan Society definition, we are pretty safe.

As far as strict vegetarian goes, I have some historical research on the etymological origins of the word "vegetarian". My understanding with "strict vegetarian" (at least the way that I used it before I considered myself vegan) was that strict vegetarian was used the same way that, originally, 'vegetarian' was used, and meant someone who did not eat any animal products, including honey.

When I get in to the office today I will dig up the etymological research and post that here -- it may not even talk about honey, in which case we can leave that as nebulous unless there is wider consent.

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virtualannette

(no subject)

from: virtualannette
date: Jul. 30th, 2010 11:57 am (UTC)
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I know you all hate this, but I still consider myself a vegan for health reasons. That was my primary motivation when I went vegetarian, and it's one of my motivations for staying vegan. That and because it's easy enough to be vegan as an American dwelling in a medium-sized city, so why wouldn't I?

Just because I consider myself a health-vegan doesn't mean I don't subscribe fully to the rest of the lifestyle. I do, because I do give a damn about animals too, as a secondary concern. And because it's a pain in the ass to be a half-vegan who eats the diet but doesn't do the other stuff because you have to spend all of your time explaining to people why you eat vegan but aren't vegan. And because I like to use natural products without weird chemicals in them that usually are ones not animal tested by default (also for health reasons), and because I don't like wearing wool and silk and leather anyway.

But the facts are, if someone asks me why I'm vegan, I cite health first and animals second. Maybe this makes me a selfish horrible person or "bad"vegan, but the health benefits of veganism are pretty vast, and I also think you're generally more likely to get people interested in making changes to their diet first (everyone wants to be healthy) and lifestyle second (after they learn more about the advantages their new diet has for animals, the planet, etc). Problems with my health is what got me into this in the first place, and I think it's a very persuasive argument for vegetarianism/veganism.

Anyway, I don't want to get into an argument or something (please no argument... I usually don't voice my point of view bc I'd just prefer to stay out of it)--I just think there should be less emphasis on motivation and more emphasis on the set of choices you make to define the term "vegan". We all have different reasons for why we make the choices that we do, and as long as we're in agreement about what those choices are in order to apply the label "vegan," that ought to be adequate in my opinion. I get really irritated when people make it into a motivation thing. Care about the NET EFFECTS and OUTCOMES not the reasons for bringing about those net effects.

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virtualannette

(no subject)

from: virtualannette
date: Jul. 30th, 2010 12:11 pm (UTC)
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And as a side-point, I don't particularly feel that it's anyone's business why I make the choices I do unless I choose to tell them. People have complex reasons for doing what they do, whatever their choices may be. So it is kind of rude that a blanket monolithic claims about vegan motivations are is being made here all of the time. I make choices by myself for my own reasons, just as we all do. I am capable of free thought. This isn't hive-mind here. I just wanted to clarify that I think it's largely an issue of principle on that count, for me, more than it is anything else.

vegan= eating vegan, living vegan. who cares why??

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virtualannette

(no subject)

from: virtualannette
date: Jul. 30th, 2010 12:24 pm (UTC)
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also by "here" i meant in vegan communities generally (online and off).

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Blue

(no subject)

from: blueheron
date: Jul. 30th, 2010 12:32 pm (UTC)
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Ok, let me put it this way: A lot of these people consider themselves "Health Vegans".

Motivation does matter because if your only concern is health or environment, there are going to be times when it will be more healthy or more environmentally friendly to not be vegan.

I don't think that animal rights necessarily has to be a primary motivation, but I think that it is still an important component to remain a consistent vegan. Without it, what is to stop a vegan from supporting zoos and circuses? Vivsection? Pet ownership? etc?

BUT, I don't think that it will be necessary for us to get into motivation in the definition that we post in the community profile. I think that we can, essentially, just leave it at the UK Vegan Societies definition, while pointing out that it is a lifestyle that extends beyond diet.

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Blue

(no subject)

from: blueheron
date: Jul. 30th, 2010 12:17 pm (UTC)
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This thread most certainly isn't the place to get into the argument, and I really do appreciate you voicing your opinion. :)

So my question is: do you have a problem with simply using the UK Vegan Society's definition? They are clear that the point of vegetarianism is to not exploit animals, and that the benefits are for non-human animals, human health and the environment. I think that sums up the various positions quite nicely, and so long as someone seeks to avoid exploiting animals in all aspects, I don't see why they wouldn't be considered vegan.

What I don't agree with is breaking it down into things like "health vegan", "ethical vegan" or "dietary vegan". IMHO, there is only "vegan".

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virtualannette

(no subject)

from: virtualannette
date: Jul. 30th, 2010 12:23 pm (UTC)
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Yeah. I have no problem with their definition. I guess I just don't like vegan groups always making it this huge "we are speaking for your reasons and motivations, and there can be no other reasons or motivations" thing all the time. That and I was due to go on a rant... it's been too long ;) haha

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Blue

(no subject)

from: blueheron
date: Jul. 31st, 2010 03:11 am (UTC)
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I certainly don't mind ranting, and I am a firm believer that debate (in the sense of honest dialogue) is one of the best ways to learn things.

So I really do appreciate you writing that above. :)

Regardless weather I agree fully with your position or not, one thing that it really illustrates is that we will have to be careful how we define it in the profile because it has potential to be a sticking point.

That alone is the single biggest reason why I am pushing for the Vegan Society definition, and not necessarily say, Gary Francione's interpretation of it.

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Blue

(no subject)

from: blueheron
date: Jul. 27th, 2010 09:19 am (UTC)
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I like the idea of just using the Vegan Society definition, with perhaps an explenation of the definition. I already mention in the explenation that veganism is not about diet as much as lifestyle, so perhaps there we should reiterate that the primary motivation, according to the original definition is to avoid exploitation of animals? (which is, by itself, an animal rights persepctive...)

And yes, I agree that maybe a definition of animal is worth incorporating -- both to clarify the fact that, yes, bees are animals, as well as to clarify the fact that, yes, humans are animals.

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alysonfun

for me, vegetarianism extends to lifestyle

from: alysonfun
date: Jul. 27th, 2010 11:20 am (UTC)
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i would hope that, like myself, other vegetarians don't buy leather or fur (the second hand debate should get its own post, perhaps).

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Blue

Re: for me, vegetarianism extends to lifestyle

from: blueheron
date: Jul. 27th, 2010 12:59 pm (UTC)
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We will definitely get to this debate some time (but not here while we are discussing policy :) ).

Suffice to say, many people eat a vegetarian diet for health or environmental reasons, not animal welfare concerns -- books like "Eat to Live", "The China Study" and "Diet For a Small Planet" are all examples of this.

The IVU has a list of definitions, but their section on veganism is all over the place and their vegetarian sections is inaccurate in some of their etymological points.

The UK Vegetarian Society has a slightly more terse, and, IMHO, more accurate description page (or at least, easier to get through) than the IVU. They make no mention of anything other than food. I still don't like their definition of "vegan", and I would substitute that with "strict vegetarian" or "plant based diet", and as such I think that we should definitely take the definition of vegan from the UK Vegan Society.

One interesting point of note is that the UK Vegetarian Society does not certify things as "vegetarian" if they contain eggs that are not free-range certified.

Edited at 2010-07-27 12:59 pm (UTC)

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(Deleted comment)

Blue

(no subject)

from: blueheron
date: Jul. 27th, 2010 05:25 pm (UTC)
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Yup. :)

Interestingly enough, while I also talk about the IVU definitions above, and how they are all-over the place and possibly even etymologically incorrect, other research posted on the IVU (http://www.ivu.org/history/vegetarian.html) details how the earliest meaning of the word was used to mean no animal products at all.

There is also talk, in the light of that research, about changing the IVU definition of vegetarian to the following:

"For the purpose of membership of IVU, vegetarianism is defined as living wholly on plant foods, whilst acknowledging that some member organisations may also accept the use of some eggs, honey and/or dairy products."

To do so will require a vote amongst all 120 member groups, which should go out later this year.

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Blue

Defining vegetarian and vegan in the positive...

from: blueheron
date: Jul. 27th, 2010 05:33 pm (UTC)
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I also though that this article on focusing on the positive (what we do eat, for example, not what we don't) is very interesting.

Other than the use of "veg*n" (this blog post spells out my distaste for that particular term), I think the article has some very good points to make, and we should keep them in mind.

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(Deleted comment)

vol_de_cleyre

Re: Defining vegetarian and vegan in the positive...

from: vol_de_cleyre
date: Jul. 27th, 2010 07:28 pm (UTC)
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Perhaps we should include Cde Vincent's post (or a summation with a link) as one of the reasons why we discourage people from using the word "veg*n" in with the community guidelines?

As far as the list of contentious issues... I would like to add "moral relitivism" to the queue.

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(Deleted comment)

Blue

Re: Defining vegetarian and vegan in the positive...

from: blueheron
date: Jul. 28th, 2010 12:29 am (UTC)
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I don't have time tonight, but tomorrow I am going to start compiling these over at the mod community: very_veg_mod (I will also actually set up that community...).

I think that you are right -- moral relativism really is going to be the root source of much of the disagreement!

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Blue

Re: Defining vegetarian and vegan in the positive...

from: blueheron
date: Jul. 27th, 2010 08:09 pm (UTC)
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I really like Vincent's style of writing.

He has a cookbook coming out soon as well, which is totally on my "to buy" list: New American Vegan.

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