On Keeping “Vegan” Pure
Kelly wondered whether the term "vegan" is "worth fighting for" given the latest trend of seemingly oxymoronish (waiting for that one to hit Webster's) terminology from the mouths of people who want to find a way to use animals, yet make it appear that they're not. Okay, that's not what she wrote, but that does seem to be what's occurring. A while back I tweeted that Bittman's VB6 (Vegan Before 6) should be called CB6, or Conscience Before 6, but VB6 does describe what he's doing in a sense. Before 6pm, he doesn't eat animals. Meanwhile the average omnivore across the street from me could call herself VBM, Vegan Between Meals. What about Bittman's shoes and suits and household products, not to mention those of the woman across the street? Is vegan a diet?
People who don't understand what veganism is should, in my mind, be corrected when the opportunity arises. In restaurants, when shopping for clothing or shoes or cars (and during Triple Crown season), I do think that's all worthwhile. Although as we all must realize, that shopping and dining you're doing is dicey, as you'll never be completely vegan. There will always be something, and we cannot control everything. But I hope you will agree that by not eating or wearing animals or products that use or were tested on sentient nonhumans that you know of, and by not participating in or promoting events that use animals as entertainment, you are doing a world of good for the planet and the creatures who live here.
The comments about the things I might not have known about, or cannot avoid, thereby making me not vegan, are usually made in an attempt to start an argument and reveal me as a hypocrite. I don't personally believe that if you can't do something one-hundred percent, you shouldn't try at all, but there are certainly things we all can do if we believe animals aren't ours to use. And they're all pretty obvious. As for the less obvious (gelatin in tires? didn't know that), there's only so much you can do, and each person has to draw their own line in the sand. Maybe sugar processed with bone char isn't worth boycotting a restaurant over. Maybe it is. Arguing about that line with other vegans, though, doesn't interest me. I'd rather trap a feral cat and have her spayed. Or educate my neighbors about the alternatives to poker at the dog track (and of course, about dog racing). Or bake some vegan cookies for a vegetarian friend who's convinced that she cannot survive without eggs and butter.
I think that vegan is worth fighting for as a word. What I'm worried about are the words and phrases that are causing problems among vegans, not between us and non-vegans (like VB6), because I fear these arguments are taking valuable time from important advocates for sentient nonhumans.
I'm not saying give up on "animal rights," either. I'm merely saying you can't tell someone they're wrong when "correct at the moment" is the best you can ever shoot for when it comes to language because correct is defined by a majority. It's not a judgment or an accusation, it's just an explanation. I'm not talking about morality here, I'm talking about language. And the real question is, is there thought–or is there morality-without language?
But enough of that, where do you stand on the sugar/restaurant issue?