Veganism is not about… (1)

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This is an expansion of a small part of the 1st Vision: Vegan World Learning Call: Veganism 101 I did today. I sincerely apologize to those who were not able to make it because of technical difficulties. I did not receive any notifications until after the call ended. And I am still receiving notifications to join the meeting until now. Actually, the learning call went really well and even extended a little beyond 5:30 Philippine time. 

That first learning call was simply an introduction, an overview for newbies and the vegan-curious. There will be many other topics to explore, and I am hoping to conduct these calls every other month and will be inviting guest speakers to share their line of expertise related to veganism. Looking forward to doing the next one in March 2020 and seeing you there!

We hear about veganism all the time and maybe most of you know what it is about. But as a vegan and animal rights activist myself, I am still continuing to learn and even unlearn decades of programming about animals and how humans treat and view them. So I value any opportunity to learn and share about veganism. In fact, I pursue both and give my valuable time, effort, and resources as I believe that humanity needs to make the shift and help transform the world and soon.

So while people have an idea about veganism, there are still a bunch of misconceptions about it that I would like to explore here. There will be a part two of this post later next week.

Veganism is not a diet

This is the most common misconception about veganism. And partly, vegans like me are to blame. We want people to see that eating vegan is healthy, not boring, and definitely yummy so we post about it on social media (I have an album on Facebook which I started really late when I only have a half kitchen in Cambodia). The food photos going viral on various platforms are colorful, appetizing, and looks healthy and creative. The last decade saw the boom of social media, and that is also the decade that food porn was born. I myself do not call posting vegan food as food porn, but awareness-raising and social media advocacy #notfoodporn. 2019 was said to be the year that veganism went mainstream, but I feel it is only on the food aspect of it. Many other aspects, like ethics and animal rights, sustainability, and mental health are not yet fully explored. So let’s face it, people see veganism as being about food, which it is not. In fact, vegans maintain that animal-based food is not food at all, but dead animals, or their secretions. It is about not eating animals for food. So it is up to vegans to find ways on how to bust this misconception and bring clarity about veganism, which is about animals.

Veganism is not just a fad

Since many people think that veganism is a diet, many people also misconstrue it to be a fad that will die a slow death, or maybe even a quick death like keto did. People seem to think that it is just a novelty that many would get tired of after some time. On the contrary, respecting animals’ right to live will always be right and true, even if many people don’t practice or subscribe to it. Veganism has been an age-old practice, long before the term was invented by Donald Watson in 1944. In truth, veganism is growing and becoming mainstream and will be the norm rather than exception after some time. So what are you, an early adopter, late adopter, or a laggard? The only regret of many vegans (like me again!), is not being vegan sooner. And real vegans are vegan for life, so this is definitely not just a fad, no matter if it looks like that on social media. Veganism is the future, the future is here, and it is here to stay.


Veganism is not a privilege

It doesn’t take a lot of disposable income and privilege to be vegan. So many people on tight budgets have done it. And I have done it and enjoy being vegan without breaking the bank. Anybody could be vegan, no matter one’s economic situation, race, sex, age, religion, culture and tradition, and yes, even location. Look for hacks of cheapskate vegans like Kuripot Vegan, vegan on a budget, and budget recipes to see that it is not only possible but actually even cheaper. And when people talk about costs, I always say, when food is really cheap (like many animal-based processed food) that one needs to look more deeply. It could be that it is inexpensive because of externalized costs, and the externalized costs are often found to be the cost to one’s health, the cost to the environment, and of course, the cost to animals. They had to pay for it with their lives! And that is the most priceless cost of all.

Veganism is not about your health

Ok, I did say just a second ago that eating animals have externalized costs to human health, and now I say that it is not about your health. Yes, you read it right. Veganism is not about your health but it could be about your health. It matters what kind of vegan food you eat, and your health will be determined, throwing in some factors like genetics, environment, and pre-existing health conditions, among others. Since veganism is not a diet, vegans may practice any of the following: junk food vegan diet, whole food vegan diet, raw vegan diet, fruitarian diet, inedia or maybe a host of other unnamed plant-based diets. So while a vegan diet is generally healthier, it does not ensure optimum health if vegans do not follow a varied and balanced intake of plant food and nutrients. What veganism really is, is about the health of animals, not human health. However, as proven by numerous studies, a well-balanced whole food vegan diet is best for human health. Its the most awesome fringe benefit you could get! Veganism wants animals alive and healthy and not suffering in exploitative conditions because of human greed. That should be really clear and understood.

“Veganism is a way of living which seeks to exclude, as far as is possible and practicable, all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose.”

Veganism is not about purity or perfection

As the definition of veganism states, veganism is not about being perfect but a seeking as far as is possible and practicable to exclude all forms of animal exploitation. There are a lot of questions about this as this definition could be abused by people wanting to dilute the true meaning of veganism. Unintentional harm is not exploitation nor cruelty. In our daily lives, we harm animals without or knowledge, like when we accidentally step on an ant, or a worm dies in the process of harvesting plants. This does not apply to animal flesh-eating though. Eating animals constitutes intentional harm, cruelty, and exploitation. Commodified animals are artificially bred for profit, raised in heart-breaking conditions, and slaughtered, and mind you, humane slaughter does not exist.

Veganism is not about giving anything up

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Veganism is definitely not about giving anything up. Love dairy? Look for plant milk and plant cheeses. Sweet tooth? Get honey alternatives. Want meat? Grab yourself some tofu, seitan, tempeh, or meat analogues. Want to be fashionable? Sashay in vegan leather, faux fur, or even save the duck to make you feel warm, instead of or using down.  Want to have muscles? Vegan gains! From my experience, It was harder being vegetarian ten years ago than being vegan today. Almost everything could be veganized now.  Yes, even foie gras and caviar. Whatever it is, for anything else not yet vegan, vegans will find ways to veganize it and even create very similar substitutes without exploiting animals.

Finally, veganism is not about humans

If we think of veganism to be about humans, we lose sight of what veganism is actually about, which I will never tire to say, is about animals. I’m not gonna expound on this just because veganism is not about humans and thus this misconception does not merit any more space in my blog.

So that’s it for the first part. I will write the second installment of this post next week. Please watch out for it, and if you feel inclined, please share this with your family and friends who do not have an idea about veganism. #src



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