Vegan means vegan for a reason
Vegan means vegan.
Every single day we see another mainstream misuse or misapplication of the word ‘vegan’. The tipping point for me was this sentence from a recent article about vegan trends posted by The Metro:
Whether it’s a bid to lead healthier lifestyles, be more considerate for the planet or save money, more people are opting for plant-based choices.
In a ‘news’ story titled Vegan restaurants, meal ideas, recipes and more – the hot trends coming for 2017 and specifically in the section designed to explain to the reader why more people are exploring veganism, the author doesn’t mention animal protection or compassion.
Vegan does not simply mean plant-based eating (although that is obviously part of veganism). Vegan is not a term to be co-opted by mainstream media and people pushing ideas or topics that are unrelated to veganism.
The power of veganism rests, in part, with the rigidity of its meaning. A meaning that vegan activists need to work hard to protect.
Someone who chooses to live vegan has committed to remove use of, or dependency on, animal-derived products as much as they possibly can in order to reduce harm and suffering to non-human animals.
If you don’t follow that train of thinking or living, you are not vegan. Simple.
This is not an attack on non-vegans. I used to be one and some of the people I love most on the planet are not vegan.
This is to clarify that vegan means vegan.
I believe that protecting the term vegan is an important form of animal-centric activism. Vegan is a strong identifier with a clear message that is too valuable a tool in the fight for animals to be watered down or mis-applied. We use it to apply pressure to non-vegan businesses, we use it for identification purposes, and we use it to mark real compassionate change.
We don’t use it to mean plant-based eating trends devoid of animal consideration. It doesn’t mean that and never will.
Yes, you can eat plant-based food in a vegan restaurant and not be vegan and yes, I think that is a good thing. Yes, you can go to a vegan event but not be a vegan. I spend my whole life trying to make non-vegans do just that.
Of course I welcome non-vegans to my events and celebrate the proliferation of vegan-suitable products, but I will not give up the fight to define what vegan means.
It exists as a narrow term for a damn good reason and that reason is to improve outcomes for animals.
And if you want to write a story about why people are vegan but not mention animals once, there are a few of us who will passionately point out where you have gone wrong.