The Baby Vegan – Finding Your Line {Guest Blogger @Wannabe_Veggie}

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I found going Vegan to be incredibly easy. No, really, I did. I started off as a Vegetarian for most of my youth, but when I married a meat lover I went on to eat meat. When I did become a Vegetarian again I found myself consuming less and less dairy products without paying attention. So making the leap was pretty simple to do. After all, what was I really losing?

But one thing I have found some difficulty with is the label. I don’t know if you have noticed, but for much of the Vegan community there isn’t much of a consensus on what isn’t a Vegan. There is plenty of information on what makes one: someone who doesn’t eat or use anything that comes from a living, feeling creature. So no meat, dairy, honey, leather, etc.

This seems so straight forward at the face of it, but what happens when you fall below the standard? What are you called then?

The Invisible Line

Not too long ago I came across a series of tweets from a very distraught young woman. She said that she just found out something she ate once a week was meatless, but contained some powdered milk product. I remember one of the updates clearly:

“Turns out I was never #Vegan, can’t stop crying. #Gutted.”

From what I can tell she had done everything else right. She gave up all animal products consciously, bought with the purpose of being cruelty free, and campaigned for awareness (based on other tweets in her feed).

Did the fact that she was accidentally eating something every once in awhile with milk really mean she wasn’t Vegan?

This, folks, is what I like to call “the invisible line”. It is invisible because no one actually knows where it is, or where it is placed. Just that it exists, and that if they cross it they risk being seen as “less Vegan” than the rest.

Finding Your Line

It is very important as a Baby Vegan not to feel intimidated or bullied by this unseen menace. Because in the end, the only person who can decide where that line is placed is you. You, the person who has made the courageous choice to lessen your impact on the environment, to not be a part of animal cruelty, and to do something amazing for your body’s health.

My own line is not the same one many people are going to take. I am meat free all of the time. But I am dairy-free only 95% of the time. Does that make me less of a Vegan? Well, maybe to some people, and I admire those who are able to keep themselves 100% animal product free all the time. But I am not ashamed that I am not one of them, because I see the good in the choices I make almost all of the time.

That is why I found it so easy to become a Vegan. Because even though I am making a massive choice in how I live, eat, shop and look at the world, I’m doing it the way that works for me. I am finding my line.

Don’t be afraid to find your own, Baby Vegans.


Oli Anderson is a freelance writer and owner of The Wannabe Vegetarian. She is new to the lifestyle, but eager to promote both cruelty free living and environmental resource reduction. She can be contacted by email here.

26 thoughts on “The Baby Vegan – Finding Your Line {Guest Blogger @Wannabe_Veggie}

  1. Oli,

    I almost feel bad commenting but if you knew me better, you’d know I’m not shy about expressing my opinions. If you were over for dinner (vegan, of course), I would tell you these things in person but since you’re not …

    I don’t believe in “almost vegan.” In the example you mention a woman who was heartsick about ingesting something milk-based on ACCIDENT and I assume once she found out … she immediately stopped. From her reaction, you can clearly tell she was devastated … and with good reason.

    In order to be vegan, truly vegan, you need to be 100% vegan. And, yes, vegans make mistakes and may actually eat bugs on unwashed lettuce at times but these are unknown and, therefore, not avoidable. Vegans will never eat meat or drink milk.

    Being 95% vegan is being 0% vegan if something is eaten (or worn) intentionally. Vegans cannot consume animal flesh or milk knowingly and still sleep at night. The moment you make a decision to eat (or support) animal cruelty … is the moment you are no longer vegan.

    With this said, you can say you try to subscribe to a vegan diet. You are trying to be vegan. You are an aspiring vegan. But you’re not vegan.

    Thank you for your post and I hope we can generate some spirited dialogue around it.

    Eric

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    • I think that is where the idea of the line truly comes in. Because it is a divisive issue in the community, and I know a lot of people would agree with you, and many others would disagree. Which is why I also think it is important to tell the ones just merging into the lifestyle (whether they choose to stick with Veganism or move back into the less restrictive Vegetarianism) that their own decisions are going to be more relevant to their lives than how others choose to define them.

      Which is probably why I don’t mind when other people don’t think I am Vegan because I might eat cheese on a pizza on occasion. Especially given the newness of the lifestyle for me. I am very much a Baby Vegan in terms of timing, having literally just made the leap into the lifestyle. We all need our cushion and comfort zone, and that one is mine.

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      • Good luck with your journey. From someone who went from 100% omnivore (literally eating steak and chicken wings one night) to 100% vegan (cutting out ALL meat, fish, dairy, eggs, and honey the next morning) … I’m really not one to judge. Few people can do what I did. When, and if, you’re ready to truly commit to veganism … you will know. It will be clear as crystal to you. Took me over a year before any of it made sense and another 6 month before I became compassionate.

        In due time. In due time.

        Happy to have you as a guest blogger and hope we can collaborate more in the future.

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  2. Tonks

    I think it’s easy for a lot of people to get on their high horse about this issue. Personally, I find that I don’t WANT to eat dairy or eggs, now that I’ve been vegan for a while. Unfortunately, for some weeks this summer, my food options have been “eat what you find in the trash” or “starve,” meaning I’ve eaten some non-vegan things to survive, but I never, ever purchase them or even eat them if I have any other option. I also can’t afford to replace my (lone) leather purse, my leather car seats, or my tested-on-animals cosmetics right now, although I do plan on replacing the purse and makeup as soon as possible.

    Honestly, I feel like the people who can afford to go 100% vegan 100% of the time and immediately buy a new vegan car and wardrobe and everything else really need to examine their privilege before jumping down anyone else’s throats. It’s not a competition. We’re all doing the best we can to save animals and the environment, and judging someone and telling them they can’t use the label because their best isn’t quite good enough is just silly. Given how many people make way more money than I do and still insist that they’re too poor to go vegan, I’m pretty amazed I’ve done as well as I have with a food budget of about $50 a month! If someone takes issue with me pulling the meat out of tossed-out sandwiches from work and eating non-vegan bread because I don’t want to starve, they’re welcome to send me money for groceries.

    Anyway, I agree with you, Oli, that we should focus on the good that going vegan (even just 95% vegan or whatnot!) does rather than nitpicking over minute details. I try to just worry about my own life and let other people worry about theirs. Life is too short to argue about how good a vegan someone is or isn’t. I think we would be much better off sticking together and changing the system that makes it so difficult for so many people to be “real” or 100% vegans. Come on, folks, we’ve got a planet and a crap-ton of animals to save, and we’re busy arguing over labels? Surely not…

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    • I am sorry to hear about your situation and had a very long-winded response ready to send (with my finger over the mouse button) and then deleted it. Thank you for your comment and please, by all means, keep commenting on my blog!

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    • Tonks, I love this comment – very well said. I think that being vegan is all about your personal situation. I’ve struggled with the concept of replacing everything I own that’s not vegan because this just seems so wasteful to me (and extremely pricey, as you pointed out). I’m not planning on buying more products that are leather, I just don’t think it’s feasible to get rid of my leather products right now. To me, it’s all a process and you do what’s right for you. I think labels are exactly that, labels. They don’t mean anything when you truly look at someone’s intentions and their personal beliefs.

      I didn’t want to call myself vegan for the first few months because of this – I was afraid that if I accidentally ate something that wasn’t vegan that I would be called a phony or fake. People need to get off their high horse and be grateful that there are individuals like you who are being as compassionate as what’s in your reach.

      Thank you for sharing your story – it’s inspiring to know that with little means, you are still making a major impact on the world! And thank you to Oli for posting this and starting this discussion! By the way, I find it’s funny that we have similar names (my nickname is Ali) and similar blog names!

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  3. A new category of vegan should be opened to people who use eggs, dairy, or some kinds of meat ONLY if it can be produced and obtained without cruelty, which would be hard to even do. People who eat unfertilized eggs from organically fed, truly free range hens who live on small farms and are lovingly cared for by their people should fall into that category . I know hens like that. It’s possible to get those kinds of eggs. I don’t know how hens truly feel about being separated from their eggs, though. That must be rough. If you could take eggs only from narcissistic mother hens who lack the ability to truly love anyone, even their own eggs, it might not be a big deal.

    Getting rid of labels altogether would reveal very quickly who is vegan for the privilege of the title and who is vegan out of conviction. Could “eco-eater” be considered a category? Ultimately, it all comes down to how much harm you cause the earth as a whole by your decisions. I know people who only eat organic, but never consider how their organic meat is raised or killed, don’t recycle, and give not a thought to the environment as they buy their fancy organic goods in plastic packaging and drive them across town in their Hummers. They are in it strictly for their own health.

    Also, is a true vegan only obligated to draw the line at animal cruelty? As far as I’m concerned, physical or psychological cruelty to human animals makes one a poor vegan. Turning a blind eye to social injustice and human trafficking also makes one a poor vegan, regardless of the level of commitment to “perfect” veganism.

    I’ve just come to the conclusion that vegans should label themselves according to skill level. Black belt, aspiring, adept, expert, shitty, master, and beginner are some examples.

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  4. “If you could take eggs only from narcissistic mother hens who lack the ability to truly love anyone, even their own eggs, it might not be a big deal.” ~ Love this.

    “Could “eco-eater” be considered a category?” ~ Love this, too.

    “I’ve just come to the conclusion that vegans should label themselves according to skill level. Black belt, aspiring, adept, expert, shitty, master, and beginner are some examples.” ~ Fucking awesome.

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      • It’s not ironic if it’s your own blood, especially considering that many vegans are already sacrificing their own health by staying uninformed as to the more obscure, but nonetheless detrimental drawbacks of the common vegan diet. The prestigious sound of “Blood Pact Vegan” makes me question my own motive for wanting it. Better stay away for the sake of humility. Would the idiots who accidentally kill their infants in the name of their own irresponsible and ignorant versions of veganism be considered “Blood Pact”?

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  5. perrilove

    This is why my husband prefers to call himself “plant-based” vs. vegan. I think he actually gets somewhat frustrated with me when I tell people we’re vegan. The label means so many different things to different people. According to most (what I like to call “hardcore”) vegans, like Eric – of course I mean this in the most loving way!, I would not be considered vegan either. Just like the guest blogger mentioned, there are “lines” and everyone has theirs. Dave has his rare “cheats”, like eating fish maybe 2-3 times a year especially when he’s on a dive trip and there are very little other options. And I will still eat things with honey. And neither of us have made the leap into getting rid of all leather, silk, etc. Maybe someday, but right now, we are happy with the line we’ve drawn. Life is a journey, not a destination and to the extent we are trying our best to make ourselves and our world a better, healthier place, the better we are for it. I do have to admit though, after reading this blog on a daily basis, I am seriously re-considering calling myself vegan and may start calling myself “plant-based” instead 😉

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      • perrilove

        Awww, thanks Eric 🙂 Blows me away when I think about where you were on the topic of veganism way back when compared to where you are now. An amazing transformation!

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      • Yeah. It has been an incredible journey. It’s one of those lifestyle changes that seemed for foreign to me just 19 months ago and now it’s so much a part of me.

        Last time I saw you was the week before we went vegan. In the early days of being vegan, I truly thought I would starve to death. Complained endlessly about having no food options and felt like I wouldn’t survive.

        And now I thrive. Eating more than I ever used to and everything I eat is good for me (except French fries, but fuck it). I feel better and look better and AM better than I was “back then.”

        Thanks for supporting me and my MeatyVegan life.

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  6. perrilove

    Haha! I remember those days of you bitching on an almost daily basis about your lack of options and how much you were craving chicken wings! Like you, I have found that I actually eat a MUCH wider variety of foods than I ever did before going “plant-based”! And without experiencing it myself, I would’ve never believed people who told me their taste buds have totally changed after not eating animals over time. But it’s so true! And I’m with you on the French Fries (and other occasional junk food treats)…life is not worth living if you don’t say “Fuck it” every once in a while and indulge in junky vegan yumminess 😉

    Lastly, for the record, I will always and forever be one of yours and Jens biggest supporters!

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  7. Meaty Vegan's Partner in Love and Ethical Veganism

    In my experience knowing both dietary and ethical vegans, dietary vegans tend to be in it for themselves, ala Forks Over Knives, purely for health reasons. Animal products are not healthy for human consumption. Ethical vegans tend to be more holistic in their approach to living a vegan lifestyle. Ethical vegans are not only dietary vegans, but also compassionate people trying to do less harm to other people, animals, and the environment. Ethical vegans tend to ascribe to the practice of nonviolence, and generally are animal rights advocates and educate themselves about the complex global interrelationships our economic choices impact. Dietary vegans generally purchase animal products such as leather and toiletries containing animal products or that were tested on animals. Ethical vegans do their best to avoid being economically complicit with the system of oppression that affects our brothers and sisters in developing countries, our animal friends, and delicate ecological systems. Some ethical vegans are also anti colonialist in their beliefs. Ethical vegans would never consciously eat cheese made from cow’s or goat’s milk, while dietary vegans may partake in cheese eating every once in awhile. An example of a dietary vegan is Bill Clinton. An example of an ethical vegan is Alicia Silverstone. Regardless of anyone’s reasons for leaning towards veganism, we all are trying to be better humans. Even if dietary vegans “don’t get it,” they are still making choices that save animals’ lives, are healthy for their bodies, and have a lesser impact on the environment. No vegan is perfect, that includes you Meaty Vegan.

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    • I still have an issue with someone standing next to me at a dinner party as I eat broccoli florettes and cauliflower, staring at the ranch dressing — wishing I could just dip it ONCE.

      While the person standing next to me, a dietary “vegan” can stuff cheese cubes in his mouth and drink a gallon of ranch dressing and still be considered (a dietary) vegan?

      Not fair. Totally not fair.

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      • Anonymous

        Meaty Vegan,
        Ignorance is ranch dressing bliss. Since you are no longer ignorant to the systems of oppression humans have created and maintained, you are choosing not to dip your vegetable in a dressing containing animal products because you know the source of that food comes from a place of suffering and killing. It’s your choice, Meaty Vegan, and you are choosing to live a more compassionate life.

        Like

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