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Vegan / Vegetarian Discussion - All Things Veg*n Forum

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Hey everyone!

I've been a Vegetarian for a good 11 years now. Recently I've wondered why I've never gone Vegan.

I went over the list on what contains anything to do with animals, and WoW. I can't believe the amount of stuff that contains remnants.
So my question is, How does anyone really be a Vegan when there are just so many things to watch out for?

Thanks for anyones help!

Responses (9)

  • Report Abuse

    Posted by happycowgirl at 12/31/12 14:14:53

    hi Kay~
    Yeah I think I know what you mean. Unless you're living completely off the grid, I don't see how anyone can avoid every single animal-derived ingredient and product.

    For example, do you know what bone char is? It's animal bone ash used in bone china and often used to make sugar white. It's used as the charcoal in aquarium filters. Bone meal is used in some fertilizers as a source of calcium. Or what about carmine? It's a red pigment from the crushed female cochineal insect. Reportedly, 70,000 beetles must be killed to produce one pound of this red dye. It's used in cosmetics, shampoos, red apple sauce, and other foods (including red lollipops and food coloring). I could go on and on giving examples because, unfortunately, animal products are all too pervasive in modern day products.

    I approach it by trying to be the best vegan that I can be. As I learn about a product or ingredient that isn't vegan, I try to buy the vegan alternative.

    Like you, I was vegetarian for a really long time before I went vegan. I regret so very much that I did not go vegan sooner. Becoming a vegan was one of the single best decision I've made in my life. You have no idea how much healthier you will feel (and be!). And the peace of mind and spiritual bliss it give me to know that I'm not contributing to the horrors of the dairy industry..that's priceless.

    Dairy is so addicting. It's a hard habit to break but when you do you will be so much happier and healthier! I wish you nothing but the best!

  • Longdrive's avatar
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    Posted by Longdrive at 01/01/13 09:25:37

    It's invariably difficult to follow HappyCowGirl as she's so clever and wise. (I wonder what she looks like?) But then I like a challenge: "What is a vegan?" No doubt there are all manner of definitions out there (I know that the U.K. Vegan Society has one) but - as an ex-lawyer - I know all too well that 'all embracing definitions' are never all embracing. Many would reply that it's a question of vegetarians don't eat this, and vegans don't eat that. But is it really? To some extent it has to be but surely it's much more? For example which of those two groups slaps their children, kicks their dogs, squats a fly, or hooks fish with rod and line? The answer could be either or neither. Which group member would watch their infant die rather than have the child injected with a medicine derived from animal cruelty? Likely both groups would choose to save their child? Labels can give some indication as to one's beliefs and lifestyle but never tell the whole story. My own view is that rather than attempt to fit into a group, and fully comply with their beliefs and ethics simply be yourself. Look at the important ways in which you live your life and follow your heart. You will then hopefully feel comfortable with yourself and think 'I believe that my behaviour was fair and reasonable and right for me where I'm at right now.' The only 'rules' are those which you choose to make for yourself. And, if you ever break them, then don't be hard on yourself. Have a re-think and move on. Hope that helps.

  • KaysPJs's avatar
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    Posted by KaysPJs at 01/02/13 14:06:12

    Thank you both for your answers.
    It's true what (Longdrive) said about general things that your morals would essentially take over once put into a compromising situation.

    And at (HappyCowGirl) Yes, living off the gris would be the way to go, and in the future I see myself growing and sustaining my own things, but now, living in a city, what can you really do?

    I'm the type of person that likes to go big or go home, so I wanted to know how hard this would be. I'm aware of many many products that affect animals. I'm just baffled now that I'm really looking around at how many products depend on these animals.

    I will do my best, and watch out for as many things as i can. This is the healthiest and most humane way to live a life.

    Thank you both for your answers.

  • Longdrive's avatar
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    Posted by Longdrive at 01/03/13 01:37:39

    KaysPJs: You are most welcome. Your post made me laugh, but in a nice way. "Go big or go home." As a senior competitor in long drive golf competitions that's the sort of expression we regularly use! I sense frustration within you. That is natural and to be expected. As we grow as people it is very much like making our muscles bigger and stronger in the gym. - there is a healthy small degree of chaffing and bleeding before we move on stronger and more capable. We question ourselves, we question the world, and often we may think "I really don't belong here!" Neither I nor anyone else can show you the best way forward, you will discover it entirely yourself. When we wake up in the morning, before the day fries our brains, very often there's an answer quietly sitting there in our heart. Listen.

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    Posted by alaina616 at 01/04/13 11:41:52

    I've been vegan for a year after 17 years of being a vegetarian. I love it, no matter how hard of a time I get from people. I wish I did it sooner too.

    The best way to avoid all those weird animal derived ingredients is to avoid most packaged and prepared foods. Hey most of them have so much salt and sugar you shouldn't be eating them regularly to begin with.
    I always read the ingredients, my 6th grade health teacher (whose name I can't remember) said if you can't say it or don't know what it is, don't eat it. To this day that is my first and foremost rule of thumb. On top that not buying anything with artificial and natural flavoring, unless the natural flavoring is in a product labelled vegan. I've also sat down and read list of ingredients that have some animal remnant in them. I committed to memory which of most common ingredients are vegan and which ones aren't. But since I can't be a walking encyclopedia of what's in everything, I stick to not buying something if I don't recognize an ingredient.
    Avoiding packaged and prepared foods means cooking, and cooking a lot from scratch. And vegan or not, cooking for yourself is the best first step to healthy eating. I find lots of recipes online. I now own many vegan cookbooks, on top of the vegetarian ones I already have.
    I try to stick to vegan restaurants or vegan friendly restaurants. I live in NYC so it's not hard. I always ask about what's in a dish, make sure to say no fish sauce at Asian restaurants. I stick to salads at places I am doubtful about.

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    Posted by JChan at 01/06/13 20:34:06

    Dear KaysP,
    Those are good responses to the "problem" you posed.
    I could only add this. Being vegan is not something you do to make you 100% free from animal use, living among humans the way we do today, depending on each other for all the needs in life! I think being vegan is a clear concept by which we are guided. If we happen to step on a bug, or a lizard, or even killed a small animal by mistake, it's OK. It's what we do with intent that mattered! For instance, before I realised that down is taken (well, actually ripped) from the body of a living duck I thought nothing of using down. But now, I am not a down consumer with vengeance! HOWEVER, I'm using down still because I still own some garments. I still use the leather couch in my office, and leather shoes. I'm not trying to be PURE that way being a vegan. But since becoming vegan, and having learned more and more about what animal products go where, no way I'm going to partake in paying another dollar to another person for something unethical. It's not that I can make the world a little bit more ethical, I have no such fantasy, but it's just that I know doing so does make me purer at heart, and that's good enough, being vegan. Best wishes.

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    Posted by VeganSally at 01/06/13 22:21:58

    I agree with Mr. Chan. I think it's what we do with intent that matters. And the rest depends on what we can stomach. For example, my boyfriend is a vegetarian. If there is meat accidentally put in his dish when we go out to eat he will eat it anyway. His view is that the animal died for it and it's disrespectful to that animal to have its flesh wasted. I understand his point of view, but I simply couldn't bare it. I could not eat it. Just tonight there was a dollop of sour cream included on my Mexican plate. I thought of the suffering the cow went through to produce that sour cream and it would make my soul vomit to eat it. Unfortunately, that meant it was wasted. The important thing is that your heart is in the right place and as you go along the decisions you make with intent are ethical and good.

  • Longdrive's avatar
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    Posted by Longdrive at 01/13/13 11:47:48

    VeganSally's post struck a chord with me. What a waste that an animal died for us, and then we spurn it in the form of meat. Yet, just like Sally, in every case I would be too disgusted to eat such. Most us vegans arguably develop a phobia about such matters. Phobias are OK up to a point, but we really need to know ourselves in order to control them. To what in particular am I referring? Well, a few weeks ago I attended a coffee morning / bring and buy (call it what you will) run by a vegan group in conjuction with an animal activist society. What I sensed there (but not universally within the room) was long standing anger, frustration, and resentment and general emotional / spiritual disquiet at how things were. Some of the visitors I spoke with gave the impression of being quite unbalanced. Do I naturally associate 'unbalance' with animal activists? Often yes, but not always. It's as though the cruel world has pushed some of them over the edge. Don't get me wrong. In my younger days I personally was heavily involved in matters which I will never detail, or even broadly admit to. And I still have great empathy in that direction, particularly as - in the U.K. - the courts can hand out 8 year terms for murder and 22 years for breaking into a vivisection establishment. But back to the point: We are all in our own little way freedom fighters, fighting for a better world for the animal kingdom. We are all potentially influential and capable of changing at least one other individual within our lifetime. If we do that then arguably that act alone has justified our incarnation. I request that we all put on friendly, constructive, faces and not appear as being anarchists. Even a severe grimace in a restaurant can potentially create that impression. May whatever each of you reveres bless you, and strengthen you to go forward wearing life's best possible mask. A mask which will please your audience, and bring them to their feet in applaus. Let's make the world more vegan!

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    Posted by ahimsa32fa at 02/01/13 05:33:50

    Yes, it's not quite as easy as some would have you believe. I've been working at it for 37 years! But every step in the right direction is well worth the effort!

    May I suggest my first book, "The Weaning of America", particularly the first essay, "The Case Against Dairy Products", and the final two essays, "Ethical Vegetarianism" and "What is a vegan?"

Keep HappyCow Growing Strong!

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