Vegetarian vs Vegan groups

October 14, 2010

Conrad asked me what I thought about vegetarian groups as opposed to vegan groups.  The truth is, I don’t really worry about it much.  Bonus lesson: I didn’t mention this in the video, but I can’t control their messaging any more than I can control Ford ads on TV, and I try not to worry about things I can’t control so I can focus on things that I can.  But that’s not the main reason I don’t think about these things very much:

I love reader questions, so if you have one, send it over! I will try to keep it on topic though, and I think this fits – it can be really frustrating to hear people’s confusion about veganism, but only if you let it.

Oh, and I just used PETA as an example, I actually haven’t looked at their marketing lately, so sub in whatever you want for that!

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Conrad October 14, 2010 at 9:18 pm

Wow, i feel famous!
Thanks for making a video regarding my question.
My thoughts:
You said: “most people dont really know the difference”. I would say thats because vegetarian welfare groups send out a confused message. On one hand they say that we shouldnt use animals, and then on the other hand recommend to eat free range eggs, and “humane” meat as better alternatives.
I feel large groups are scared to use the word “vegan”.
The other part of the confusion: people who are confused about vegan/vegetarianism end up looking at one of the large organization’s websites for clarification, and then they get the wrong idea about what our end goal is. People interested in animal rights are not going to go to KFC for info, but they may go to PETA. If PETA like organizations push for vegetarianism, and humane meat, people are going to think in those terms… and think of veganism as an unattainable/unrealistic ideal, rather then something easily doable. Veganism is made to look extreme, even by the large animal welfare groups.

Jason October 14, 2010 at 9:38 pm

My greatest wish is that outreach groups would study modern marketing, but my greatest fear is that they’ll do just that and start positioning vegan as crazy-extreme so that vegetarianism looks more attainable…

I still think people don’t know the difference because they don’t need to, not because it’s confusing – it’s like how I can’t tell the Orioles and whoever plays in Baltimore apart (yes, a joke to highlight how little I know about baseball,) but I think you’re onto something about what happens at the next step. I hope that people who get turned onto vegetarianism out of that confusion are just taking a tiered approach to eventual veganism once they get a handle on things, but obviously every case is going to be different.

Conrad October 14, 2010 at 10:03 pm

Hi again,
” I hope that people who get turned onto vegetarianism out of that confusion are just taking a tiered approach to eventual veganism once they get a handle on things “, that may be the cause IF large welfare groups were suggesting it that way… however from all that ive seen they push either vegetarianism, or if that too hard, cut down on meat, or if thats too difficult, eat free range humane animal products. I suggest we have a unified vegan message, and let people decide how they get there. Some people can go vegan in a moment, some need to transition slowly. We shouldnt be encouraging a round about way from the start. Let people know the true issues, and then let them figure the best way to get there.

David November 9, 2010 at 2:49 pm

Jason, your videos are rekindling some memories from my undergrad in psychology. If I’m not mistaken, you’re advocating a “Foot-in-the-door” technique to promoting veganism (get them in however you can and then up the ante later on).

Jason November 9, 2010 at 4:15 pm

David, I don’t know if I’m advocating that as much as hoping that this is how it’ll work out – I don’t have any control over the messaging of thousands of groups and individuals, so if the prospective vegan opts to go vegetarian instead, the best case scenario is that it’s a step on their journey to veganism and not a destination in itself.

Meridith November 10, 2010 at 7:59 am

I’m late coming across this post. When I saw the post’s title I thought about some of the frustrations I’ve encountered with my local “veggie” meetup group. It’s open to everyone but the group dynamic skews towards the confusing. There are people who will stage protests at KFC but continue to eat eggs and dairy. Or talk about how difficult veganism is but since PETA has said it’s not about personal purity to go ahead and have that piece of piece of candy that contains bone char refined sugar. My favorite is the self-identified pescatarian who says she lives in a meat-free house.

I understand that we come to veganism in a variety of ways, and I am in no way suggesting that there is a “right” way. However, based on my personality I like clarity and logic. It took me awhile but I finally got why there is a difference between vegetarianism and veganism. I imagine if I had joined that veggie group when I was still questioning things I’d probably still be eating animal products, and maybe feeling a little holier-than-thou because while I might wear leather shoes it’s in no way the same as those fur-wearing hags…

David Fairclough April 23, 2011 at 11:32 am

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Debbie November 18, 2011 at 12:35 pm

Came across this recently and it made me stop and think:

So – is this stuff okay for vegetarians or not? As a vegetarian, I’m quite used to not eating meat – I haven’t eaten it for 25 years and I find the very idea off putting. I don’t miss meat at all and don’t think I’d even want to try this stuff. How about other vegetarians – would you eat it or not? What about the people who want to be vegetarians but struggle with the idea of going without meat?

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