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Honest Vegan Questions

I have a question about veganism for anyone interested in answering it. It is serious, no joke, just a question that is not meant to be rude.
Do vegans draw a line at a certain kind of animal products that they will not consume? I realise that more often then not, vegans will not consume animal bi-products, and that certain vegans will not eat even eat honey.

My question is where do you draw the line?

I was thinking when harvesting my garden the other day about the amount of insects that die just in my small little garden. Durring harvesting it is inevitable that insects die, or loose their habitats. Is there a line drawn in veganism that says that these animal deaths are acceptable, because it is not the product being consumed??? It seems that in mass farms entire eco-systems of small life forms are killed durring the harvest process mainly as the result of said harvest.

Anyway just a question that I am interested in learning about.

It just seems to me that you could never be a true 'vegan' the more I think about it...
response 28.Jun.2004 18:12

Reclus

Well, obviously one can never completely abstain from causing harm to living animals, you may accidentally step on an ant or something. This is not the point with adopting a vegan diet. It has nothing to do with pointless metaphysical questions like "well, what if plants feel pain too, then could you eat them?" The point, for vegans like myself, is that reducing to the fullest extent possible your consumption of animal products is beneficial for the environment, for your personal health, and for earth's creatures, within the context of an industrialized/post-industrial society such as ours. There are plenty of websites where you can find more information, like PETA's govegan.com and such.

Its simple really 28.Jun.2004 18:31

Marwanimus

Im a vegetarian and plan on going Vegan when its possible for me. Unfortunately my parents are non supportive. The way I look at it is this way. First I would like to say the last post is right. Secondly I do what I do for ethical reasons first and health second. I dont really seperate these. But I started because I learned about all the fucked up things they do to animals etc. I wont eat eggs because of the way the treat chickens to get these eggs from them. Debeaking is one example. But if I had a super huge backyard I would try to get some hens and when they lay eggs that arent fertilized. I would eat em! because it would be a waste not to. Really you just gotta take the idea of veganism and follow it closesly but simply apply your ethics and ideas to it. There are no set in stone rules from people you have to take. Its about your health and your concernes for our fellow souls.
I hope that helped. Good luck

Anarchy Equality Peace

Off topic, but.. 28.Jun.2004 19:52

A contradiction in terms.

Marwanimus writes "Anarchy Equality Peace"

For whatever my opinion is worth these three things can't be achieved together.

Everyone I have ever met has a different vision of Anarchism, but they all have one common thread. They all exclude themselves from the Anarchy.

You could dissolve every corporation, world, federal, state, county, municipal government, every club, cult, religious institution, political party, movement, and backyard neighborhood barbecue party today, and within a year some turd would float back up to the top and impose his/her will on everyone else.

Its just human nature. Roaming bands of fascist nazi motor cycle gangs terrorizing the country size with nobody to stop them.

They will club you in the head, rape your spouse, and enslave your children. Remember, there iwill be nothing illegal about their actions, because anarchy rules supreme. They don't share your version of anarchy, just their own. No laws for police to enforce, no police to enforce laws. Hell they may even put you on a spit and cook you for dinner.

Groups of ex-million-aires or new ones in a larval state will band together and fuck the rest of us with no control on them at all.

I can take 50 people at random off of the street, put them on a deserted island, and within one month, a leader will emerge amongst the group, and he will have enforcers, and the rest of the people will fall in line or starve. I guarantee it.

I think equality and peace together are about the most anyone can hope for.

. 28.Jun.2004 20:14

Libertarian

Marwanimus is right on. Thank you for your honest down to earth view. My family has chickens, horses, goats, cats, dogs. They care for the animals, the animals provide love(cats) protection (dogs) transportation (horses) eggs(chickens) and milk(goats). The views I read and hear from the ALF/ELF are so frickin urban it is hard for me to swallow them.

Love Peace Anarchy

(when and if the proto fascist uber troll bikers come to take down the anarchist utopia, I will be there with my thirty ought six rifle to take the karma for killing them.)

Libertarian 28.Jun.2004 20:36

?

So much for Love and peace, but I do agree, and you do make my point.

also I think its 30-06 pronounced "ought"

keep it well oiled and handy..

That's food for thought 28.Jun.2004 21:39

eek

Ok, yes, bad pun. Shame on me.

My understanding of veganism is, because meat/egg/dairy production is so highly mechanized, the process is unthinkably horrible for the animals involved, so you must not consume the end result (no meat, no egg, no dairy). Also, a vegan diet is far better for your health than steak and eggs. That's my understanding, though.

In industrial agriculture, like comparing all things standardized vs. crafted, the quality is lowered. In the rush to grow plants and animals the fastest, corners are cut. Seriously, compare organic produce to the shit they sell at Safeway. Compare hardwood lumber (grows slow) to softwood lumber (grows fast). Likewise, if you're going to "bulk" an animal quickly as possible, the added weight isn't going to be actual meat or anything, it's going to be FAT. Yuck.

Again, this is what I got out of it. Of course, if it's about the whole "all life is sacred" bit... obviously, you can take that line of thought pretty damn far. If that's the only reason, it's best not to do it. Do something, though.


(Re: A contradiction in terms- yes, that IS off topic.)

Evolution 28.Jun.2004 21:51

Bart

Anthropologists call man the "wolf-ape" because we evolved as hunter/gatherers cooperatively hunting big game just like wolf packs do. The only difference is they have teeth and claws and we have clubs and spears. I am very sympathetic to wildlife and hate the idea of killing animals but how do vegetarians justify the fact thgat we have been hunters for 99% of our time on earth?

omnivores 28.Jun.2004 22:23

glassguy

Hey Bart,
In asserting that humans have been hunters for 99% of our existence as a species, IO get the impression you are asserting that humans are carnivores. I think an examination of our dental equipment suggests that we are omnivores.
We have been hunter/gatherers for 99% of our existence. I suppose the Inuit would be considered hunters, but that is a niche they have evolved into. As their population is dwarfed by more temperate homo sapiens (intemperate indy trolls excluded), they are the exception, not the rule.
I've been a vegetarian for decades, but can't seem to get far enough out of the mainstream to go vegan for long.
Utah Phillips, a personal hero, pointed out that in life, you'll generally get farther being likeable than being talented. There is a parallel to food fascism here. Being vegan is really morally correct, and really a healthful lifestyle, but becoming a food fascist tends to alienate one's self from a lot of decent people who might follow a good example when done with a minimum of sanctimonious self-righteousness.
I understand that many buddhists who adhere to vegetarianism will eat meat if served to them out of politeness and gratitude to the host. I don't, but I always feel kind of self conscious causing friends to go out of their way to accomodate my culinary narrow-mindedness.
Good thread. Thanks for asking the question.

Chimps do it too. 28.Jun.2004 22:42

wow

I watched documentary on human evolution and they showed (using IR, from helicopter overhead view) chimpanzees hunting meat.
The chimpanzees left as a hunting party. The older ones were in charge, and made the young ones wait. The older ones setup a textbook ambush and had young ones drive their quarry (a small tree monkey) towards the older ones where they made the kill.

the "hounds to the hunters" It was like watching any experienced hunting party, be it wolves, lions, killer whales or humans.

I never knew chimps were anything but vegetarians except for what they gleaned from the occasional termite mound.

And you are correct, we are omnivores. (most of us anyway)

Sexual dimorphism 28.Jun.2004 23:21

Bart

Youre correct Glassguy, humans are omnivores but the farther north you go the more meat is eaten by natives. Eskimos' diet is almost 100% animal derived and tropical natives get most of their calories from grubs, tubers and nuts. This has a physical and behavioral evolutionary effect. Northern native tribe males have much more influence and power over women than African men do. Males are also physically larger than women for hunting and defensive purposes as men are almost totally responsible for hunting and defense of the tribe. Women, with their 9 month gestations are much too valuable as reproductive units than men to risk in hunting and defense.
But the bottom line is that even tropical tribes eat significant ammounts of meat for high quality protein and it seems a very deep human drive to do so. However, it might be that vegetarianism is a new evolutionary step taking place.

As a Vegan 28.Jun.2004 23:30

Stay Away From:

Organic apples as most that you will find in the store have been coated with beeswax. Also (not sure if they still do since I dont go there anymore) Lucky Lab used to use gelatin (or was it Isenglas, the stomach lining of sturgeon) to clarify their beer. Either way it makes their beer unveggie. Being a beer drinker and a veggie, I know how important it is to inquire about the beer. Do your research

being vegan isn't a religion 29.Jun.2004 00:11

or at least, it shouldn't be

Just as there's no one way to be a vegetarian, there's no one way to be a vegan. If you define being vegan as consuming no animal products, you immediately get into metaphysical, semantic, and ontological gray areas. What is an animal? What is a product? What does consume mean? Can I walk through an art gallery and "consume" a painting that was painted with a sable brush?

This is a question that only a fanatic critic or the misguided could ask. It completely misses the point of being vegan, which (in my view) is focused on working towards a rational response to the world we live in and its often complete disregard for other species. Questions about whether you can call yourself a vegan if you eat no animal products but wear a leather belt that a friend gave you a long time ago are trite and meaningless, in my view. This isn't Atkins ... no official stamp of approval needed.

Should you discard the belt and add it to a landfill? Give the belt and its karma to someone less fortunate who can't afford to make distinctions about what their clothes are made of? Drop it off at a thrift store and try to match it with a willing buyer? I'm no expert, but as far as I can tell the used belt market is pretty slim. Who wants uncle bob's dirty belt that has the first notch worn out? It makes great practical sense to wear the belt yourself, until it wears out. Then find something you like better.

Let's talk about how ubiquitous animal products are in the world. Take a good look around your house. Have a 35 mm camera? Matches? Plywood under the floor? A fire extinguisher? Cement walkway? Asphalt driveway? Do you have contact lenses? Have allergies? Ever been vaccinated? Then you, my friend, are most likely a consumer of animal products, no matter what you eat or wear.

There are cattle byproducts in photographic film (mainly gelatin) and matchstick heads. Glue made from cow's blood is commonly used to make plywood. Protein extracted from hooves and horns goes into fire extinguisher foam. In France and Switzerland, incinerated meat and bonemeal can be added to cement. Asphalt can contain fatty acids. Catalase, a bovine liver enzyme, is used in contact lens care products. Epinephrine, commonly used in allergy medications, is from a cow's adrenal gland. Vaccines are grown in fetal calf serum, and many antidotes (such as for snake bites) use horse serum. Your car or truck tires may have cow oils added to the rubber. Hell, even nitroglycerine is extracted from cow fat.

So if you aren't dressed in animal skin and are pretty sure you're not eating something that once breathed on its own, and still find the need to question whether you are truly vegan because your chef (vaccinated with non-vegan vaccine) may have travelled over non-vegan roads on a bike with non-vegan tires to light a burner with a non-vegan match to cook your quasi-vegan meal, you're fucking missing the point. You could spend that introspective energy on something more personally and socially beneficial, such as turning to other aspects of your life (housing, commodity production, energy use, transportation) and trying to figure out what's best for you there.

anarchy + equality + peace = the ideal society 29.Jun.2004 00:32

Marilyn

in response to "Off-topic, but..."

you wrote: "within a year some turd would float back up to the top and impose his/her will on everyone else.

Its just human nature. Roaming bands of fascist nazi motor cycle gangs terrorizing the country size with nobody to stop them."

nobody to stop them? do you really think they'd be able to get away with this? if we lived in an anarchist society, and this happened, it would be up to people banding together to stop these bikers you speak of. people would have enough common sense to realize what this would do to them and take action, as a large mass, to stop it. nothing can happen unless people let it happen.

nothing can happen unless people make it happen, either. this is the reason bush isn't getting impeached, and this is also why we're slowly shifting into a dictatorial society. no one's doing anything because they assume someone else IS. ideals will always be ideal until someone has the balls to make them happen. i truly believe in anarchism, and i'm doing all i can to let others know that it's more than just an ideal, it could, one day, be a reality. i ask anyone who reads this to please learn more about it.

Where I draw the line 29.Jun.2004 10:06

big apple bob

When I became vegetarian in June of 1994, I drew my line at vertebrate flesh. I still ate eggs, dairy and shellfish. Over the next 4 years I gradually dropped more and more of these animal products from my diet. I now keep a fairly strict vegan diet. I do have one major exception for the typical vegan diet in that I still consume bee products. I feel that the medicinal products available from these are way too healthy to give up.

I also avoid leather products, and a friendly shoe store told me that animal leather is labeled "genuine leather". I have been able to find vegan shoes and sneakers in regular stores by simply reading the labels and occasionally manufacturer catalogs. A great deal of belts, wallets and similar items are actually synthetic leather, so if it doesn't say "genuine leather" it isn't and is actually vinyl.

I chose a vegetarian diet when I learned about the health benefits of a diet high in unsaturated fat for preventing diabetic complications. In addition a friend taught be about miso and how the microorganisms in it are like a vegan cultured yogurt. These help your body get up to 90% of the vegetable protein that you eat, which is a big improvement over the typical 50-60% absorption rate for vegetable protein. This simple food product was the secret to the awesome strength and endurance that the Samurai are famous for, they could live for extended periods with a small supply of miso, rice and seaweed. My insulin requirements decreased almost 40% over my first veggie year, and I've had no regrets.

Occasionally I get flack from others who insist on challenging my beliefs and pointing out what ever they think is wrong with them. It usually starts with a question about why I don't eat animal products. I don't go strong at first when asked 'why?' I try to just say it seems better for my health, as well as being karma free and better for the environment. If my initial answer is challenged then I talk about how my heath is way better since I've been vegan, my digestive tract is much happier and I go regularly each and every morning. I also point out that meat and dairy production are not priced fairly with milk getting price subsidies, and cattle ranchers get cheap water and even cheaper grazing rights. This is in addition to all the petroleum that a pound of meat requires as well as how it takes up to 16 times as much grain to produce one pound of beef compared to one pound of vegetable protein. So I feel I'm leading the way into an era when energy and water will be more scarce, which will eventually make meat much more expensive to produce.

It is hardly human nature 29.Jun.2004 14:05

grandma

The patriarchy has not been around forever and although we may be victims of it, following the leader under threats of pain or death are not our godright.
Have you ever heard of The Chalice and the Blade, Sexual Pleasure, The Partnership Waqy by historian Riane Eisler? They trace the partiarchy back to its roots and also discuss what life was like before under partnership between men and women. Eisler is one of the few historians doing this work.

I have worked in a few collectives of women where there is no 'leader', but everyone has a chance to lead and partcipate in a spontaneous way. The work goes well and at the end of the day you feel energized because you worked as a real group in cooperation out of free will, not because you were threatened with humiliation, criticism, being ignored or losing your job. It does work and it can work, but we need to get used to listening to other people, dealing with our insecurities about 'losing' control, and letting everyone have a chance at being 'leader' of the moment. This often happens at protests.

Starhawk is someone else who writes and teaches about partnership.

It's great to hear people talking about veganism. I personally, have been vegan and raw for three years and it's one of the best things I've ever done!

thoughful comments 30.Jun.2004 07:18

me

In response to one of the questions posed here at the beginning of the thread "what about all of the insects that are killed":
In VietNam (I think, it is)there is an annual ceremonial observance (in the Buddhist faith, or maybe I'm thinking of the Jains) that remembers and aknowledges all of the insects and tiny creatures that were killed accidentally during that year. The bugs who were stepped on, critters who were accidentally ridden over, plowed under, or whatever.
I've always thought that this was a nice tradition. It gives respect to the tiniest members of our world, and gives us a chance to reflect on and feel remorse for even our most inadvertant actions. Then we can move on and not worry so much about it as we go about our daily lives. It's just not possible- especially in these modern times- to avoid a certain level of *violence* (if you will).
As someone else here said, there are much bigger things to spend our time worrying about (really), than how many insects we may kill.
At the same time, if you are taking reasonable care and giving thought to your actions (ie. being vegan), that's conscious living, and most people aren't.

To Bart 30.Jun.2004 09:07

what to eat

Bart,

We don't have to justify that we have been hunters for 99% of our time on earth. We now have a choice no to survive by feeding on animals. That choice is healthier for our bodies and for the planet. I think the question is whether we have free will. Will we take that choice? Will we make a decision that benefits ourselves and the planet?

Logic dictates that just because something was done in the past, it is not necessarily "good" or necessary to continue it.

vegans taste better 30.Jun.2004 12:47

strongbad

thanks big apple bob for your insightful post.

Being vegan is a personal choice, but just remember, karma catches up with everyone....

Veganism 30.Sep.2004 14:58

Cheryl

This is a very difficult issue. Their is a religion called Jainism. In this religion, it is impossible. When you drink milk, you are drinking bacteria. It is living. I am vegan/vegetarian. I do everything I can do to stay closer to vegan; but realistically, it is impossible to never be free from problems.