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Member since: Sat Aug 7, 2004, 10:55 PM
Number of posts: 4,187

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The obsession with terminology.

Despite my plant-based diet, I'm not vegan either because I can't convince myself that plastic is good for the environment and, by extension, for the animals that depend on that environment. Leather shoes last for years if you take good care of them. My down comforter allows me to turn off the heat at night, and my wool clothes allow me to keep the heat down during the day. The native plants in my garden are there to provide food and shelter to wildlife. I compost to reduce the amount I send to the landfill. If there were an environmentally friendly alternative to down, wool, and leather, I would go for it. But none of that matters: I'm not vegan because I don't fit the 1944 definition of the Vegan Society of the UK.

A consumerist vegan does much more harm to animals than someone who eats an entirely plant-based diet; uses down, leather, and wool; avoids plastic bags and bottles; and rarely buys anything. But terminology-obsessed vegans are more interested in preserving the terminology than in reducing animal suffering overall. The harmful effects of plastics were not known when the term "vegan" was coined, but that doesn't seem to concern anyone. Even religions evolve, but veganism doesn't.

What we need is a term that combines environmentalism and veganism. After all, you can't be a true environmentalist if you eat animals, and you can't be all that concerned about animals if you use plastics. I am so tired of having to provide a long explanation every time an omnivore asks me whether I'm vegan. The sad thing is that they seem curious but lose interest the moment I tell them I'm not really considered vegan because I wear leather shoes. I think, from now on, I will simply say I'm an egan: someone who understands that animals depend on the environment.
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