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Not Vegan Enough



Ever been told, directly or indirectly, you're "not vegan enough?"

Yeah. Me too. Even though I run a vegan/animal rights blog, a vegan/animal rights Facebook page, visit and donate to places like Farm Sanctuary, and haven't consumed any meat, dairy, or eggs in well over 2 years and counting.

But you see, this morning, I posted a simple Instagram of a box of Oreos, captioned as "Some days, this qualifies as a #vegan breakfast."

I expected a few of my omni friends to be surprised that Oreos were vegan, or for them to make a few lame vegan jokes. I even anticipated a possible hint of judgment with a "that's not so healthy" kind of comment. But no.

My omni friends chimed in with good humor, like "I approve." or "I need a box of these!"

Instead, it was my 'pure' vegan friends who chimed in to remind me just how non-vegan the Oreos really were, and ipso facto, how non-vegan I was.

"They're notoriously noted as vegan but they have bone char," the first one said.

So I took the time to explain that bone char is not a focus of mine, because I worry far more about demand than cheap byproducts that are only used because the demand for meat and dairy still exist. I also explained that bone char is not in the final product. Some sugar manufacturers just burn bones to "char" and then use it as a filter. But without knowing the brand of sugar that every last company out there uses (which changes often to the lowest bidder), it would be impossible to know what was processed with bone char, from hard candy to sweet tea. To me, it's just not realistic. If I'm buying a bag of sugar, I'll choose the brand of organic, non-bone char, sugar. But when it comes to picking up a drink or a cookie, I will not devote hours of my day to research sugar that may switch manufacturers by the next week.

I went on to explain that I don't worry about things like cross-contamination by sharing a griddle. Again, my veggie burger being cooked next to a hamburger doesn't create more of a demand for hamburgers. And requesting such (unless due to a true allergy), is pretty off-putting to restaurants that don't want the hassle, as well as our friends when they invite us over to a barbecue.

No sooner did I explain all of this did another add their two cents.

"Haven't had Oreos since finding out they use palm oil..."

Sigh. Big sigh.

I get it. Bone char = bad. Palm oil = bad. GMOs = bad.

But here's the catch.

Gasoline = bad. Coal = bad. Slave labor = bad. Pollution = bad.

The reality is that I'm sure we'd all like to not have any contribution to any of the above. But the reality is that anything we harvest or take from the Earth will have a lasting, and often negative impact. So whether I'm buying something with palm oil that may be from a region that harms orangutans, or I'm buying something with soybean oil where the workers were underpaid or abused, I can't truly know.

Being vegan is about doing the least harm that you can, within some scope of reason. Knowing that everything we do, and choose, has repercussions. To do NO harm would mean no electricity, or smart phones, or computers, or driving. Because no matter how green, eco, or vegan you make anything, it's still coming from somewhere and impacting something.. even if we never bear witness to it.

Sure, this all makes for lively discussion in a vegan group or forum, so have at it. But when mingled with an audience of omnivores, consider the fact that they already think going vegan (or even vegetarian) is too hard. Posting such comments, trying to catch other vegans not being "vegan enough" is a detriment to the movement as a whole.

If you are really concerned about char, and GMO soy, and palm oil.. okay. You search those labels and call companies to find out their sources as much as you want. But don't set the bar so high that nobody can pass muster. Don't be the pushy, asshole vegan.. even to OTHER VEGANS.

In sum, unless every cookie you've eaten in the last year was homemade by your vegan grandmother, and every ingredient was grown by a vegan on a local organic farm, and delivered by a vegan on a bicycle.. we really shouldn't be pointing fingers at each other. Or for that matter, the smart phone you're likely reading this on better have been made by a group of monks, comprised of all recycled goods, shipped to you with carbon offset vouchers, and a rainbow. Because the reality is that for nearly everything we consume, we're putting money into CEOs and corporations that don't share our values, even if the product itself does. So, we should be focused on what we can do. And that's being approachable to 'outsiders.' To showing them that being vegan is relatively simple and delicious. That they don't have to give up everything they ever loved. We'll win a lot more hearts and minds with that approach.

And just for the record, major animal rights organizations agree with me, and these articles are worth a quick read:

Peta: A Note About Small Amounts of Animal Products in Foods
Vegan Outreach: How Vegan?


Comments

  1. I love you more than ever for this post! Yes yes yes!!! :)

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  2. Awesome post! So thankful for fellow vegans who think this way. One of my favorite quotes... "Always be the vegan you would have wanted to meet before you were vegan" -Kathy. www.veginspired.com

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  3. Well said! Veganism isn't a purity contest and it hurts the vegan movement when we treat it as such.

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  4. I am with you on this. But on the other hand I would never have become vegan if people didn't investigate then publish the origins of our food. I want to always be open-minded to change, even if it's uncomfortable. Meanwhile: thank you. Because yes, I prefer to support people wherever they are - not finger-point.

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  5. If you actually investigate the issue, the odds are that any random sugar is more likely to be vegan than nonvegan. The trend is to stop using bone char so there's that. Then also there are other sources of sugar that don't require the kind of refining that uses bone char or the newer methods, such as sugar beet. So all in all the numbers are in vegans' favor.

    I'm like you that I don't really worry about bone char in sugar as an ingredient, only when I buy a bag of sugar. It's impractical and a waste of time.

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    1. You're right, and actually, more than likely, sugar is going to be beet sugar which is GMO, than sugar that has been filtered through char.

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  6. Well written - thanks so much.

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  7. Thank you for this! This is me.

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  8. Thank you for this post! We all just do the best we can. Judging the level of one's veganism is counterproductive.

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  9. Can I get this on a T-shirt? ��

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  10. Can I get this on a T-shirt? ��

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  11. Hell yeah!! Fantastic post! I couldn't agree more.

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  12. This post gives me life. Thank you!

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  13. Thank you thank you thank you so much for writing this. I often find myself holding back on recipes and posts for House Vegan because I'm not in the mood to be chided for using something that *may* contain bone char or palm oil attained through deforestation. I love the passion and enthusiasm people have to do as little harm as possible. I have it too. However, shaming others for how much they do or don't do just makes veganism look impossible. Which it highly isn't. I'd rather have someone feel ok about giving up all meat, dairy, eggs, and honey because they can still eat their favorite junk foods than not even try because something may have bone char.

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  14. I disagree with the Peta article in the link ("A Note About Small Amounts of Animal Products in Foods") but I totally agree about not shaming other vegans about other issues. It's great to educate people about palm oil, GMOs, slave chocolate, etc. But don't tell vegans that they are not vegan because they are less aware of other issues.

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  15. Well said indeed. The only true way to know the effects of all of your activities and consumption is to make and do everything yourself.

    So vegan-nazis, you best move to the countryside and start living off the land: just make sure you don't use any electric/oil/gas-powered machines in the process and don't import anything which has been moved by a machine or by animals (pretty much leaves you with fetching something on foot). I imagine that you'll be consuming a very repetitive and restricted diet if you want to be a purist. Grow up and get a grip on the bigger picture.

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  16. I've never commented on any vegan article because the one time I did- attacked. I've had to block fellow vegans on social media because something I did at the time offended them and their choices. I'm medically vegan. I'm still kinda new to the game, 2 years in. I don't practice ethnically veganism as far as clothing, shoes, or material things but food I do. I try to be very earth friendly too. Either way, while point is you said everything in your post that I've ever wanted to say! I'm for whatever anyone wants to do in their own efforts to help the world whether it be to be vegan, vegetarian, or even meat eater. Their choice and it's none of my business. But I'll say being attacked by other vegans has made me that way even more. I'd rather offer helpful insight as to why I am and allow them to choose to follow than bash them for their choice and why they should change. Ugh I could go on and on lol. Seriously thank you. And I enjoy my boxed, canned, homemade, oiled up, whatever, however vegan foods! Lol! God lets be BFFs! Lol

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    1. I am allergic to all meats (57 years of being careful) so I have empathy for you. We are really lucky because of all the great products out there for us now. The writer doesn't ask for grills to be cleansed or not buy fries that have absorbed meat grease in a commercial fryer. I wish more people would so businesses would "clean up their kitchens. McDonald's uses 2 fryers in some countries to accommodate dominate religions. Wish they would do that here.

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  17. Well said! Feels like you snatched that right out of my own head :)

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  18. So well said! I couldn't agree more

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  19. Amazing! Thank you so much for this!

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  20. Hallelujah Thank you for writing this. Sincerely, a vegan who is tired of other vegans being a$$holes.

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  21. Mommy PR you've been "into it " 2 yrs!!! You're "medically" vegan?? No you're not. Please do not call yourself vegan if you only eat vegan and choose to wear the skin of animals and what ever else. No wonder you were attacked by ethical vegans. Call yourself plant based and you won't have a fight. You are not vegan. You're not in it for the animals but there's hope. Maybe one day soon you'll come to realize we should not eat, use, exploit or wear our friends.

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    1. Oh, shut the hell up. If you used technology to write this, you support slave labour. You also support being insufferable.

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    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    3. Claudette, that's a perfect example of the very asshattery this post warns against. Oh, the irony...

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  22. I have never really liked calling myself vegan because well, I didn't even know that sugar had bone char in it, or that tattoos aren't vegan or most razors. And I have a few wool and leather items that i cant afford to replace. I am trying to do better, and not use animal products, and I am working on educating myself on these matters, slave chocolate? to simplify my diet I am going raw vegan, which makes it a lot easier to steer clear of animal products. I like to say that i practice veganism. I am devout, but not perfect.

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  23. Replies
    1. Beautifully said! I tried to make similar case to some vegans (since I'm only vegetarian) about everyone having a cut off point and as you said, the purest vegan is "failing" in other areas so they need to let it rest. I'd love to repost this to them but I don't want to get into it. Most vegans I know (including husband and son) aren't like that!

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  24. Yes! On point, this is exactly the kind of crap you get from omnis. We Don need to tear each other down. In fact, we need to do more educating and living by example instead of tearing anyone down. It is the only way to actually change minds.

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  25. Yes! On point, this is exactly the kind of crap you get from omnis. We Don need to tear each other down. In fact, we need to do more educating and living by example instead of tearing anyone down. It is the only way to actually change minds.

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  26. As for Oreos specifically, a closer inspection of my purchase once i got home today ( a keener set of eyes was required), revealed 'may contain cows milk'.

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    1. Which is an allergy warning due to shared equipment, not an ingredient. Equivalent to "contamination" in a restaurant setting. Neither increases demand for animal products.

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  27. Love this post.why can't people be happy for our efforts instead of being the F'ing vegan police? Let's support one another instead of finding flawsm Geeezzzz

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  28. Love it! My thoughts exactly, but with way more better words and stuff... ;-)

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  29. Totally agree with you! It's not about being perfect, it's about doing the least harm.

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  30. Totally agree with you! It's not about being perfect, it's about doing the least harm.

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  31. Yes yes yes !!! Doing less harm also includes ourselves and our bro's and sisters. Great post. Thanks.
    I Love the odd Oreo from time to time. hell even my bicycle is probably not that ethical if I truly investigated it's origin :)

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  32. I sat nodding a reading and smiling, thank-you for such an intelligent read!! you can only do so much, I keep telling myself that everyday.

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  33. I sat nodding a reading and smiling, thank-you for such an intelligent read!! you can only do so much, I keep telling myself that everyday.

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  34. Good thing that you weren't posting this on another food forum full of the late anti-sugar religion; would be a trigger for a lot more bashing...
    Doing good and wanting to do better for whatever personal reason is always commendable in my opinion. However, people become awful the minute they go fundamentalist (in ANYTHING) ending up doing more harm than good...

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  35. I don't take PETA's word for anything since I learned what hypocrites they are.

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  36. People like you are the reason I am frequently ashamed to admit that I'm vegan, I don't want to be associated with the likes of you! To: C'est moi Claudette

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  37. LOVE THIS I get why vegans are so passionate, but there gets a point that it comes across do extreme and negative that the very people we should be encouraging just switch off... How is that good? I hate the 'you're not vegan enough' army. We should be positive about all the little things people do to support the movement rather than knock each other down

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  38. LOVE THIS I get why vegans are so passionate, but there gets a point that it comes across do extreme and negative that the very people we should be encouraging just switch off... How is that good? I hate the 'you're not vegan enough' army. We should be positive about all the little things people do to support the movement rather than knock each other down

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  39. This exactly! Nothing drives people away from even considering a vegan diet like the vegan-assholes you describe. Honestly, I think vegans are their own worst enemies.

    Everyone is entitled to draw their own lines and they can decide for themselves whether or not they want to use the label vegan. I absolutely loathe the move-vegan-than-thou crowd. Stop try to push people out of the vegan clubhouse!

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  40. This is such an important post. I have started a blog about 'one step at a time' towards plant-based diet, environmental action, and general love of self and others. May I have your permission to quote and link to you blog post? My blog is redlines.me just FYI.

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