Successful veganism isn’t about the food

December 10, 2010

Erin called me out in the comments about last week’s newsletter, thinking I was advocating a progressively more restrictive vegan diet (and again Erin, thanks for the feedback and it’s not your reading, it’s my writing that’s to blame for the confusion.)

The truth is, you could eat nothing but mashed potatoes and vitamin pills for all I care, as long as the journey that got you there made sense.  The food takes up most of our attention, but being a longtime vegan is about so much more than that:

Like I said in the video, maybe it’s time to focus less on why people stop being vegan and more on why they stay. What non-food related vegan breakthrough did you have in 2010? Let us know in the comments!

{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

Amanda December 11, 2010 at 1:27 am

I think my breakthrough came in the form of being much more aware of how my decisions can greatly affect the world around us all. For instance, we wanted to adopt a dog. I wanted an abandoned doggie from the local shelter, my husband wanted a puppy from a breeder. After reading up on how for every dog you buy from a store or breeder, you essentially kill one in an animal shelter by not adopting that perfectly good animal. To me, it makes the decision easy….and to pursuade my other half, who says, “animal shelters are depressing”, I put a screen shot of the scene in “Earthlings” where the animal shelter dogs are being shoved in an outdoor gas chamber….. Needless to say, we’re going to the shelter this weekend.
I’m by no means a Marxist Feminist Vegan like some people, but I think just being more aware of how our desicions can impact the lives of others, and doing our best to live animal and people-friendly, we can make this lifestyle look easy, attainable, and better!

Erin December 11, 2010 at 12:50 pm

I’m going to cheat, because mine has to do with food 🙁
I ordered some vegan marshmallows from Sweet and Sarah recently, and bragged about it when they came on my facebook page. I hadn’t really thought much about gelatin, just that it was animal product, so I wanted an alternative. It was just a word to me.
A friend responded to my brag post by saying, “Why wouldn’t regular marshmallows be vegan?” Instead of just answering that they had gelatin, I did a quick search for what gelatin was made of. Bones, tendons, ground, …mixed with sugar to make sweets? The whole idea was so gross.
It was a reminder that the things I’m avoiding like gelatin are not just words with little meaning, they are disgusting things. I saw L-cystine in the ingredients list for some tortillas I was considering buying the other day. I literally thought of feathers. That’s not what I want in my tortilla.

My other moment was when I was looking for warm socks for my daughter and I since it is now about 1-10 degrees F on a regular basis here. So many socks had marino wool. I decided to look up marino wool and see if it really was all that bad. I read about PETA’s attempts to get suppliers to stop selling it. I read about the way the sheep’s butts are not just shaved, but the top layer of their skin is cut away so that they don’t get some kind of rot from flies and such because of how they are raised. It was an easy decision to find SOME other alternative after reading that.

It’s just a quick search here and there, and when you realize what is done to those animals, it’s a lot easier to make alternative choices.

Ryan December 11, 2010 at 1:36 pm

Being informed before having an opinion has always been importent to me; probably because I’m an opinionated person and I don’t want to seem like an ass. Being conscious of the specific form of suffering behind specific products helps me know I’m making the right decision. What galls me are the non-vegans who say they “don’t want to think about that.” I don’t see how the act of not thinking about something (be it animal suffering, human suffering, religion, politics, etc.) makes anything better.

nic December 11, 2010 at 5:27 pm

Jason, is right and has shown the difference between vegetarians and vegans , in my opinion a vegetarian lifestyle is not 100% pro animals and “half empty glass way of things , whereas vegans go all the way for animals , the planet , and their fellow man. when i undertook to becoming a vegan it was not for the diet alone but for the other reasons that are commonly cited.
vegetarianism is hypocritical , yes you save a few animals lives ,BUT it continues to take part in the world of animals cruelty by consuming eggs , dairy and wearing animals byproduct and using them in their toiletries .
again, we vegans go all the way , no half measure and full awareness of all the issues and taking no part in them and seeking their end
another great podcast by Jason that is always topical, and straight to the heart of the matter/issue

nic December 11, 2010 at 5:41 pm

to become vegan in the first place requires a light bulb moment and if you go with that moment and then never turn the light bulb off, you will be vegan for life. also being a vegan means keeping abreast of what going on around you , in your own community , country and internationally. ,it a journey for life not a short vacation
for me to switch to being a vegetarian or worse a carnivore is not an option it will never occur, period !! , why because i am on the vegan journey with a lifelong ticket, and i go along the way i take in the vista outside the carriage windows , stop off to explore and then get but on the the vegan express to mull things over and let the experience change and shape me

Jason December 12, 2010 at 11:17 pm

I’ve been on course all weekend and saw the comments via email but this is the first chance I’ve had to check in – thanks so much for the great feedback!

And if you’re still waiting for your non-food breakthrough, you’ve still got 3 weeks of 2010 left for it to happen!

Haley December 13, 2010 at 7:18 am

Beauty products!

I am in love with vegan alternatives for soaps, shampoos, makeups, lotions. My old stuff got pitched because I kept picturing shoving my face/hands/hair inside some poor animal and then going about my day.

Cindy December 13, 2010 at 11:10 am

You’re absolutely right, Jason. Being vegan is NOT just about food. For me, becoming vegan was a shift in my perspective …about becoming aware of how “all” our choices impact ourselves, our environment, our relationships, the central core of who we are and how we navigate life’s journey. For me, the 3-part reason for becoming vegan was: 1) for compassion; 2) for health; and 3) for environment. None is more or less important than the other. If I become “weak” about food – compassion kicks right in to give me support. If I become as sucker for good advertising and am tempted to make a poor product choice – the beauty of nature that fills my eyes also fills my heart and makes me “remember” why I do all this. And all this IS hard sometimes. It HAS to be about something deeper than “food” or it becomes ingenuine.

Lisa December 13, 2010 at 5:31 pm

Yay, Dax! I didn’t know about SpawnBetter.com but I think it’s a great idea. As a probable future vegan parent (the vegan part is definite, but the parent part isn’t), I hope to use this resource in the future. Thanks!

Mary December 14, 2010 at 10:35 am

Great video and comments. The way I think of it is that if it is only about health or weight loss through diet (and there’s a lot of evidence that veganism will help you be happy and lose weight), then as soon as some other “health” or “diet” information comes out, people will move on to that one.

However, I have used the “health and weight loss” argument sometimes to help people move to a vegan diet, because I figure that the more people who don’t eat animals, eggs, cheese, etc., the more animals are saved. But I agree with you, Jason, it’s so much more than the food and that’s what helps me stay on track.

I am an ethical vegan not a health and weight loss vegan. Therefore, it’s easy to keep in mind that what I do is because of who I am (I really have no choice). I do it for the animals. I do it because I love my pets and see what personalities they have and believe that if they personalities, so do pigs, cows, goats, chickens and all the others raised for food and other things. As soon as that light went on and I saw it this way, it became a no brainer. I’m certainly not perfect by any means, but I’m on the path, and people like you, Jason, and those who are willing to comment, help me stay there.

Molly Horn December 18, 2010 at 1:07 am

2010 is when I became a vegan, so that alone was my breakthrough. But the defining moments for me were reading about the pollution runoff from factory farming, watching some of the undercover videos released by Mercy for Animals, seeing “Earthlings,” and reading “Why We Love Dogs, Eat Pigs, and Wear Cows.” I think if I can continue to do these same things, reinforcing the knowledge of how horribly the animals are being treated, whether I want to watch or not, I should have no problem remaining a vegan.

Though I am a vegan for health reasons also, that is the area that is the hardest to maintain. It’s easy to be an ethical vegan. It’s easy to be an environmental vegan. Maintaining the motivation to be a purely health vegan is very difficult. As others said, the minute some new health claim comes along, a person will waver. Or, in my case, someone sets a plate of hummus and naan bread in front of me, all pledges to eat a perfect diet go out the window. :-/

Kris January 25, 2011 at 3:58 pm

I am one of those people who have had many off and on again relationships. I am committed this time because I have a daughter now and my reasons don’t just include me. I read Animal Liberation when I was younger which spawned more vegan inspirational reads but I would always have lapses. It wasn’t just because of the time and money factors although they were big reasons for the lapses but little information, lack of knowledge how to nutritionally do it and apply to my lifestyle while also having such low self esteem in the kitchen from all my culinary mishaps.
What has gotten me back on my wheel? Food Inc., Foodmatters, The Future of Food, The Beautiful Truth, No Impact Man, The Gerson Miracle and the lost goes on. There is a movement out there and I’m not alone. I can do this and I can also represent the community.
I must instill good eating routines in my daughter!

Jason January 25, 2011 at 4:09 pm

Thanks Kris! It’s funny, I was just talking about the importance of strong “reasons why” this morning, and children can certainly fill that role!

I don’t know how old your daughter is, but you might find value in our sister site http://spawnbetter.com which covers vegan parenting.

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