10 Ways to Be Vegan: The Options for Veganism

If you’ve ever been curious about starting a vegan diet, but feel like it’s too limiting, I have some news for you: there’s more flexibility than you might realize. In fact, in today’s post I’m talking about 10 Ways to Be Vegan, just to give some ideas. If you’re interested in more information on vegan diets, listen to my podcast episode talking about Vegans Who Eat Honey. Or take my survey to learn what kind of vegan you are!

If you think it's too rigid for you life, look at this post on 10 Ways to Be Vegan for ideas on how you can incorporate more vegan into your everyday diet and living.

Did you see the news that Beyoncé and Jay-Z ended their vegan diet? Let’s see, this is starting to sound familiar: celebrity starts vegan diet only to ditch it the next month. How is this even newsworthy? Of course, it’s easy to jump to conclusions that a vegan diet is just too hard, but truth be told, Beyoncé and Jay-Z only only committed to a 22-day challenge in the first place! Jay-Z is quoted as saying when he started his Vegan Challenge that he didn’t know what to expect when the vegan challenge was over. Would he stay on the plant-based diet or become a semi- or part-time vegan?

It’s interesting to watch celebrities and their diets, but in reality what we do every day matters the most. That’s why I’m sharing this post on 10 Ways to Be Vegan.

Vegan by Degrees

That article about celebrity vegans got me to thinking (always a dangerous thing). Can a person be vegan by degrees?

Then I thought about some of the conversations I’ve had with folks recently. People who started a vegan diet but found the day-in, day-out commitment to be less than palatable over the long-term.

And all this thinking led me to a conclusion: you don’t have to be “whole hog” to be vegan. Um, I think I  violated a major vegan law just by saying that.

In fact, after even more deep thoughts on the subject, there are very few people who are 100%, full throttle vegans in the first place.

Vegan Extremes

Let me explain. If the definition of vegan is to eat or behave in a manner that causes zero animal suffering, then it’s nearly impossible for the average city dwelling person to be 100% vegan.

Tires, for example, have animal products in them. You can choose not to have a car, but does that mean you won’t ride in any vehicle that has tires? It’s hard to imagine most people making that choice.

Thousands of small animals are killed each year in the harvesting of grains and vegetables. Does this mean to be completely vegan you must grow your own food? Like I say, for most city-dwelling, air-breathing folks, that’s a tall order.

Even for those who are so committed to veganasm that they choose to walk on dirt roads and resist the glares of their neighbors by planting their front yard with vegetables, is that truly something they expect from everyone around them? That would make veganism such a hardship that would severely limit the number of people who could or would adopt it as a lifestyle.

And when vegans shun leather for synthetic materials, is it worth noting that some of those synthetic materials are made from products not so good for the environment (such as petroleum-based polyester products)?

Mainstream Vegan

I’m not actually arguing against becoming a vegan. What I am suggesting, though is that it’s nearly impossible for most of us to be 100% vegan. So that’s why these 10 Ways to Be Vegan came to mind.

Once the average person realizes it’s nearly impossible to live in the every-day world and be 100% animal cruelty free, then it’s easy to understand the concept of Vegan by Degrees. The thing is, there are already many different kinds of vegans in the world. I’m going to share some of these here with you now!

10 Ways to Be Vegan

There are many ways you can slice and dice a vegan lifestyle, but here are 10 Ways to Be Vegan that I’m sharing with you today:

  1. Dietary Vegan – These are folks that don’t eat meat, dairy, or eggs, but are not as picky when it comes to things like leather or non-food animal-based products.
  2. Ethical Vegan – Ethical Vegans also don’t eat meat, dairy or eggs, but they take it to the next level by steering clear of animal-based products like leather.
  3. Green Vegan – They may appear the same as an Ethical Vegan by following the same lifestyle, but they do it for a different reason. They avoid animal products because of the impacts that industrial farming has on the environment. A good example that comes to mind for me is Jane Goodall. I read that she chose to give up meat and dairy after visiting factory farms and seeing how the animals were treated and understanding the impact this has on the environment as a whole.
  4. Raw Vegan — As the name implies, Raw Vegans eat their food, well, raw! It’s a strictly plant-based diet and they don’t eat anything that’s been cooked over 105F. If it sounds too restrictive, you should just see some of the amazing meals they prepare. It can be a time-consuming way to live, but there’s no doubt it’s healthy!
  5. Plant-Based Vegan — The main difference I see between a Plant-Based Vegan and other vegans, is that they’re picky about the source of their food. Whereas a dietary vegan may feel free to eat processed foods, such as non-dairy cheeses or processed veggie burgers, a Plant-Based Vegan will eschew processed foods for whole foods such as beans and legumes.
  6. The Paris Vegan – Otherwise known as the “Paris Exception” this diet’s poster child is the philosopher Peter Singer who describes it this way, “If you find yourself in a fine restaurant, allow yourself to eat what you want, and if you have no access to vegan food, going vegetarian is acceptable.” Translation? Eat vegan daily, but when you find yourself in a tough spot, don’t beat yourself up for going vegetarian.
  7. VB6 – Food writer Mark Bittman is the author of the book VB6: Eat Vegan Before 6:00 to Lose Weight and Restore Your Health for Good where he encourages a strict vegan diet (including no meat, dairy, or processed food) before 6 pm each day. After 6 pm you can eat whatever you want (but within moderation). For Bittman, who had been diagnosed pre-diabetic, this solution helped him avoid a lifetime of medications.
  8. Weekday/Weekend Vegan – Some people have adopted a lifestyle of being vegan on weekdays and eating whatever they want on the weekends. Following this kind of eating plan may work better for people who are not ready for a full-time commitment.
  9. Virtually Vegan — This is the category of vegans that don’t eat meat and for the most part avoid dairy. They don’t buy eggs or milk, but if a trace amount of dairy happens to be in their favorite 12-grain bread, they’re not going to worry about it. They also aren’t worried about using honey. You know, if you think about it, honey is a very natural sweetener and bee keepers are very motivated to take good care of their bees. Virtual Vegans probably live a high percentage of their day avoiding animal products, but they’re not going to sweat the small stuff.
  10. Travel Vegan — My daughter created this one and I think it has some serious merit. A Travel Vegan is someone who is vegan most of the time but makes exceptions when traveling. One of the benefits of travel is exposing yourself to new experiences and cultures. Most cultures have their own music, traditions, styles, and they even have defined dishes. Just as you take in the sounds and the sites of these new cultures, you may choose to take in their food as well. Your avoidance of these foods could hamper your experience; limit your world view. So, for example, if you’re in France, a Travel Vegan would enjoy a croissant. If they’re in New Orleans, they’d have a beignet. It’s part of the experiences of those cultures.

Bivalve Vegan

I recently had a discussion with Diana Fleischmann, an evolutionary psychologist, who introduced me to the idea of a Bivalve Vegan. It’s a vegan who eats oysters and mussels, aka bivalve.

You might be wrinkling your noise at the thought of this but Diana raises some very good arguments for this diet. For example, the fact that oysters and mussels are classified as animals is controversial. That’s because they fall into a category that doesn’t necessarily meet the definition of an animal. In addition, the nutrients provided by bivalves offsets specific nutritional deficiencies presented by a vegan diet.

Vegan Equivalent Diet

In addition to the Bivalve Vegan diet, Diana spoke to me about how you can make minor tweaks to your diet and be 90% equivalent vegan (as far as reducing animal suffering). Interestingly enough, a lot of people will tell you to give up beef, but Diana suggests that you give up chicken instead. Her reasoning is that you may heat hundreds if not thousands of chickens in your lifetime.

Think of all the suffering that is involved with that.

However, if you give up chicken and only eat beef, you will eliminate lots of chicken suffering and in your lifetime you may eat the equivalent of one cow. You’ll need to listen to our discussion to get a better idea of Dr. Fleischmann’s points on this, but it’s an interesting discussion and one you might want to think about on your diet journey.

Check out my discussion with Dr. Fleischmann on Defining Vegan via the Namely Marly Podcast.

10 Ways to Be Vegan Infographic by namelymarly.com

A Vegan Lifestyle is About Choices

Another way of looking at it is this 10 ways to be vegan post: a vegan lifestyle is about choices. At some point in time you’re going to have to make a decision about what percentage of veganism you can afford or be happy with.

For me, that 90 – 95% range works just fine. On a day-to-day basis I don’t eat any meat, dairy, or eggs. I even read the labels on my garments and shoes and do my best to avoid the ones made with leather and angora..

But I stop there. I don’t call the manufacturer to find out if the glue that was used in the shoe I want to buy was made from animal products. And I don’t ask the server if the bun that comes with my veggie burger has egg in it.

I also won’t wear white after Labor Day. That’s just disgusting!

Oh wait. That’s not a vegan thing.

Vegan Social Situations

There’s been times when family or friends go out of their way to make me a vegan dish. How nice is that! For example, my sister makes this delicious rice broccoli casserole for Thanksgiving each year. Then she started making a special batch for me and my vegan crew. I’m fairly certain the soy cheese she uses is the one that has trace amounts of dairy in it.

Can someone please tell me why a soy-based cheese would have diary in it?  I mean, aren’t most people who buy soy cheese wanting to avoid dairy?

Anyway, I refuse to make an issue out of it and eat it with the gusto and love it deserves. In my mind, any other reaction would be rude. Imagine someone going out of their way to make something special for the vegan in their life. Then imagine them receiving a lecture or patronizing comment about how the cheese they used was only 98% vegan. Really?

Besides, my sister can still beat me up. I don’t want to push her over the edge.

Oh the Guilt!

I know there are lot of well-intentioned people who really want to make a vegan lifestyle work. The problem is when they feel a tremendous amount of guilt over not staying strictly vegan 24/7. I hope this list of 10 Ways to Be Vegan helps shed some light on some of the options available. Also, here’s something I say — don’t live your life in some box abiding by restrictive, arbitrary rules.

Do the best you can every day. That’ll do.

Some days are not so good, but other days are great and those are the ones to focus on and strive for. If giving up mozzarella feels like pulling out a fingernail, then just relax about it.

Everything is about balance. Overall, you know you’re making decisions that are so much better for your body, animals, and the environment. My mom loves it when I say this so here goes: It’s all good.

Either I’m brilliant or my mom is easily amused. Anyway, with time your taste buds will catch up with you and you won’t even crave mozzarella cheese anymore. Or maybe you will and you’ll choose to have some from time-to-time. Again…it’s all good. (I love making my mom smile).

No Shame

And this leads me to my final point. There are some in the vegan community that are highly critical of anyone that doesn’t follow the exact same form of veganism as they do. They don’t eat white, refine sugar because it was processed using bone chard. So they think you shouldn’t either.

Someone commented on my site that Palm Oil isn’t vegan because it destroys the habitat of certain animals. So, now you’re a spoke on a tire of evil if you have Palm Oil in your diet. Or they think you shouldn’t wear shoes with any amount of leather in them.

Freud refers to this type of thinking as Narcissism of Minor Differences. It’s where two groups have overlapping ideals and goals but there is ridicule because of hypersensitivity to minor differences. It’s a thought process grounded in negative self-identity. I’m presenting this post on 10 Ways to Be Vegan, to show other approaches and reach out to more people as a result.

[Add-on Note: If you need examples of the kinds of shaming behavior I’m speaking of, feel free to look at the comments below from this post on 10 Ways to Be Vegan – there are plenty of examples there now. I am following Dr. Brené Brown’s advice (see her quote below), which is why I’m not responding to the negative comments that follow this post.]

“Don’t try to win over the haters; you are not a jackass whisperer.”
— Brené Brown, PhD, author of Daring Greatly: How the Courage to be Vulnerable Transforms the Way Live, Love, Parent, and Lead.

Creating Vegan Community

In the end, I think we should be embracing an attitude of community. I prefer an inclusive, expanding circle to an exclusive, restrictive one. I respect people who make decisions based on their own thoughtful process…as long as they don’t try to control mine. That’s what we like to refer to as judgmental, shaming behavior. It’s just gross.

Do you get the idea of what I’m saying? If you’re curious about veganism but don’t think you could do a 24/7 thing, you have options. In fact, you have several. I hope you’ve found this 10 Ways to Be Vegan post illuminating.

Veganism should not be an ideologue way of living. That makes it seem more like arbitrary guidelines. It should be about you finding your authentic swing and chiseling away at the parts that are inauthentic. That’s a quote, by the way, from one of my favorite books, The Authentic Swing, by Steven Pressfield, the author of The Legend of Bagger Vance.

So, here you are: 10 Ways to Be Vegan. Look at it as ten ways to give veganism a try. Is there one of these that sounds best to you?

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79 Responses to 10 Ways to Be Vegan: The Options for Veganism

  1. Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU for posting this! Sometimes, like all good things, veganism can be taken to the point of legalism and extremism that just makes everyone feel ashamed and guilty. I know I’ve struggled with those things myself. Reading something like this makes veganism accessible, authentic, and approachable. Great post!

  2. Shame on you. Only ONE kind of vegan, the kind that avoids all suffering and is against all oppression for ethical reasons. You cannot redefine words just because you WANT to, to fit into a group of which you clearly do NOT. Ugghhhh. Shame on you. You bring embarrassment to true vegans as a whole.

    • There’s one definition of veganism and if you actively choose to support the dairy/meat industry then you’re just not a vegan. I myself try to eat as vegan as I can but I’m not 100% there yet. I don’t tell people I’m vegan though because I’m not. If we try to redefine the word it becomes meaningless and then suddenly the real vegans get served cheese at a restaurant because the last vegan that was there ate it.

    • Hi Caitlin. Thanks for your kind and considerate comment. We may not agree on this one area, but it sounds like we agree on so much more so that’s great! I don’t see veganism as having one definition. Some are dietary vegan but don’t take on lifestyle elements. If someone eats 90% vegan, can they not say they’re vegan? In my mind, if someone chooses to be vegan after 6 pm each day so they want to say they’re VB6, I love it! Or if they’re vegan except for when they travel so they refer to themselves as a Paris Vegan, I love that too! Personally, I refer to myself as a Secular Vegan because I love practicing this way of life, but am not into the dogma that surrounds it. I guess having grown up in a very dogmatic religious group, it’s a huge red flag. I think we have much more to gain from being inclusive so that’s the way I approach this. Again, I appreciate your comment and celebrate that we’re on the same page with so many areas.

  3. Some usual stuff … However if your not really vegan then your not vegan… Just use some vegan stuff some of most of the time! It’s impossible to be 100% cruelty but that is what vegans aim for! Whilst palm oil is vegetables most vegans would see the devastation of the forests where the orangtans are displaced as animal cruelty . Anyway abolitionist vegan is vegan… Whether people achieve that or not is another matter!

  4. You are either vegan or not (actively trying to make every effort to avoid any animal procuct) or you are not vegan. There are no degrees of vegan, or bad vegans, part time vegans blah blah. Just vegan or not. To say otherwise is to lack an understanding of what veganism is.

  5. With all respect, I don’t understand the logic of this blog. We can be perfectly approachable, accessible, and authentic as vegans without needing to invite people to use animal products. If people find different ways of approaching and transitioning to a vegan lifestyle then good for them, but why subvert the very premise of veganism by creating categories that include animal consumption? Allowing for eating meat and dairy defies what a vegan is; someone who eats meat and milk shouldn’t be called a vegan any more than someone eating meat and fish would be called a vegetarian. Why paint that as shaming or elitism? It is simply adhering to the basic principle of veganism as it has been established since the 1940’s: that we don’t use or consume animals.

    We do live in a world inundated with animal products, but creating stretched comparisons isn’t a good way to deal with it. There’s a big difference between calling manufacturers about the glue they use in retail products vs. asking your waiter if something is vegan (I’d bet the egg is in the veggie burger, not the bun). Why not use your sister’s casserole as an opportunity to share some information about veganism? At the very least, you had literal years to bring up in conversation that some soy cheese has dairy in it (they add the milk protein casein because it makes it more “melty” in a traditional sense).

    Not to sound rude, it just seems to me that in many instances here you are conflating avoiding “shameful, judgemental behavior” with avoiding potential controversy. Being a vegan in itself will be controversial to many, but that doesn’t mean we can’t have thoughtful, respectful dialogues with people to help them understand our view.

    • Thanks for your comment John. I’d like to point out that this post, in and of itself, is an example that I’m not avoiding conflict. Also, you seemed to have jumped to a conclusion about my family. My sister lives in a very small town, far away from the kinds of grocery store that sells dairy-free cheese in their aisles. When my sister drives so far out of her way and makes a special dish for me (and my family), I choose to honor and respect the effort she made.

  6. Great post! I highly doubt REAL vegans live in glass houses. Going vegan has always seemed hard and unrealistic to me. For people struggling with health issues and curious or wanting a new eating lifestyle, this post is much less intimidating to the vegan world after reading!

    • Thanks Hollie! Your comment means a lot. I’m so glad you found it helpful and that veganism seems less intimidating to you now.

    • The vegan world? More like the normal world. This article is not about “the vegan world.” It’s about ways people can fit more plant based foods into their life stye.

  7. Thank you for writing this! I’m thinking of doing one for misogyny just like this. Just like there are so many ways to do a little bit to be kind to animals, you can do your small part to oppose how women are mistreated around the world–from showing respect to all women to providing simple procedures for women that foster home and social harmony. To think that some people have the nerve to criticize anyone’s behavior just because it doesn’t measure up to some impossible standard. Shame, guilt? Whatever. Every bit counts and we all have to live our lives our own way!

    P.S. I’m smiling along with your mom. I think the cows are too!

    • Hey there TRV! So glad you left this thoughtful comment. Let me know when that misogyny post is done – I’d love to read it!

  8. No, there are not “10 Ways to Be Vegan”. Like others have said, you either *are* or you are not. Why put any kind of label on yourself if you’re not striving to be the best (label) that you can be? Just call yourself a vegetarian and be done with it. It may be impossible to be 100% vegan, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try your best to avoid animal products at all times if being “vegan” is your goal. If one is *striving* to be vegan, there’s definitely nothing wrong with taking steps and learning (or educating yourself) along the way.

    The only reason veganism may seem “exclusive, restrictive” is because society has set it up that way by putting animal products in everything imaginable. As a vegan (as defined by Donald Watson, who coined the term), I take a stand against animal exploitation in hopes that one day we *won’t* have to constantly question the ingredients in everything (“food” and non-food) and that one day animals will no longer be thought of as simply another commodity.

  9. You are either vegan or you’re not. You can’t just try to change a definition tour convenience just to atrract more people,you’re sending out the wrong message and causing more confusion then there already is. Also you can’t just brush off constructive criticism as the “HOLIER THEN THOU ” attitude just cause someone does’nt agree with you. This post is causing so much damage to the animal movement, is that really what you wanna do?

  10. This is an amazing post, Marly! Thank you so much for covering this topic! We don’t live in an all or nothing world but when it comes to food there seems to be so many all or nothing options that leave people (like me) feeling so guilty! I appreciate the encouragement to find the balance that’s right of me on an individual level instead of trying to fit myself into an already define diet mold that may be unattainable my me and my family! You rock!

  11. I am so glad that you posted this! I haven’t actively been doing so but I beat myself up over accepting a meal at a dinner a while back that I saw had cross-contamination (which would have been an instant, albeit rude, NO THANKS) with shrimp. Not a huuuge deal, but I’m glad that other people aren’t driving themselves crazy (or trying not to) just because of small things that impact quality of life and ultimately cause a kind of burnout. I spent 6 years eating that way, and it is not fun or sustainable, but definitely finding the right balance I think matters, and yep, just like you said, being patient with yourself and take it a day at a time.

    • Thanks, Jessica! I’ve talked to so many people like you over the last year who actually ended up leaving their attempts at a vegan diet because they thought it was too hard. I think this post is important to show that we have options. I’m so glad you agree.

  12. I don’t agree that all those definitions could be called “vegan” but you know what? I don’t care about labels and definitions. As you said, “do the best you can every day. That’ll do.” It’s not my place to go around passing judgements on other people. It’s my job to ensure MY actions don’t bring unnecessary harm and only I get to determine how feasible certain actions are. And I honestly believe had there been more supportive and realistic people like you, with non-judgemental info like this, when I first went vegan, I would have done it a LOT sooner. Thanks for sharing this and please don’t let the nastiness deter you from your good work x

  13. This is a terrible post. Are there ten ways to be a human being? No. A human being has ONE definition, and being vegan has ONE definition. You can’t change it because it doesn’t suit you. If you HAVE to have a label, make up a new one. If you can’t commit to being vegan, why do you need people to think you’re ALMOST vegan? Why can’t you just be happy with your choices for your lifestyle and forget about advertising it.

    I don’t expect non-vegans to become vegan just because I’m vegan (it’s MY choice), so please don’t try and convince vegans to become non-vegan because it makes you feel better.

    • After reading the comments, I understand why vegans have such a bad reputation. My fiancé agreed to go vegan if the family can eat whatever whenever we eat at a restaurant. By having this option, 3 people are eating vegan 90% percent of the time versus 1 person eating vegan 100% of the time. More animals are being saved. It’s crazy that some people would shame others despite the possibility of saving more animals by considering compromises.

    • Hi Amber. First, let me say, I love your name. Second, congrats on finding such a unique solution that works for your family. That is amazing. And I agree with you so much! Having this option allows your family to be vegan most of the time. I mean, who is to say what percentage of vegan is vegan? Roger Federer only wins like 52% of his shots on the tennis courts yet he is regarded as one of the greatest tennis player of all time. And no one who knows tennis would argue with that. So what percent of vegan is right? Ah, I’m very passionate on this topic so I’ll take a deep breath and be glad for your lovely comment!

  14. I like this! Myself first became plant based for health, then ethical vegan after watching Earthlings. However, as Colleen Patrick Goudreau says there is no vegan perfection. Its all about intention. So cut yourself and others some slack. Its tough to be vegan in this non-vegan world.
    I wanted to also point out that I see merit in actions taken by vegans who will call to find out chance of animal by-product in what they are buying. It makes companies notice what needs change if they want vegan business. Myself, after nearly 3 years, just now started to fine tune my other-than-food purchases. Mostly because there are so many budding independent vegan businesses who really, really need our support. Its so easy to shop online!
    Ps Eath Balance is vegan!!

    • Thanks for your thoughtful comment Grace. I agree that it’s important to cut ourselves and others some slack. I have yet to meet a perfect person in any regard.

  15. Veganism is NOT about choices.
    NONveganism, in ANY form, causes victims. Whenever there are victims, it is no longer a “personal choice”.
    Veganism is about the animals.
    You are either causing harm to them , or you are not.
    There is no gray area.
    There is either suffering, or their isn’t suffering.
    Since when is it okay to cause “a little less suffering”?… it’s okay when people stop caring about others and only care about themselves and their “convenience”.
    How narcissistic of you.
    Your convenience or comfort is more important than someone else’s LIFE???
    You need to take a serious look at your morals.
    Veganism is not about YOU, or about ME, or about CHOICES…..
    It is about the animals. Period.

  16. Veganism isn’t merely a matter of dietary preference, it is a philosophy which regards any form of animal use as immoral. As has previously been said, you are either vegan or you are not. A moral position is not something you can adopt or drop as fancy takes you. Articles such as this shamefully give the preferences of exploiters greater priority than the suffering of the exploited.

  17. This sounds like one giant cop out to me. If you don’t want to be vegan, don’t but trying to idealize and break it down into degrees is misleading at best. If you don’t truly care to follow what is a vegan diet and lifestyle then leave the label at the door. Vegetarian might be a better fit or perhaps you could say you mostly don’t eat eggs, dairy or milk. Giving a free pass to poor decisions that do nothing for the animals is shameful.

  18. The only kind of vegan is an ethical vegan. Some ethical vegans may embrace raw foods or reject processed foods or even be raw, but veganism is strictly about not consuming any animal products for the animals. That’s why the word was invented. If you wear wool or leather, you aren’t vegan at all, period.

    Anything short of the above is not veganism. It’s fad diet BS.

  19. By definition veganism means not eating anything that meant an animal had to suffer and die to provide it, not wearing anything that an animal had to suffer and die to provide and not using animals for entertainment or any other purpose. It’s all about the animals and not about personal preferences if those preferences require an animal to suffer and die. Even if you live a life-style that is 90% to 95% vegan you still aren’t vegan. A vegan cares so much about animals and the planet we all live on that they are willing to forgo tastes and pleasures that they used to enjoy and find new tastes and pleasures that are cruelty free. It might take a while to transition to being fully vegan or you might achieve it over night. (Some do, but it took me 30 years of being vegetarian before I looked into things properly and saw that being vegan was the only choice.)
    There is help available for anyone who wants to go vegan but doesn’t know where to start. There are videos that will break your heart, 30 day pledges to support you through the first month with daily emails to help and encourage and there are groups on facebook. You don’t have to do it alone. You CAN do it.

  20. Erm, no. Just no. You’re just trying to justify your lazy attempt at a mostly plant based diet. You either are vegan or are not. You cannot be a perfect vegan and avoid cars and grow your own produce and such, but we attempt to do the best we can. Simple as that and is clearly what you are not doing.

  21. Either you’re an ethical vegan or you’re not a vegan. There is no such thing as a part-time vegan, an after-six vegan, a pesco-vegan, a “practical” vegan (Carrie Underwood is “famous” for this as she won’t send food back if it “accidently” contains an animal product), etc. There is no such thing as a dietary vegan or a plant-based vegan. That’s called being on a plant-based diet, as nothing other than one’s food intake is changed. It angers me deeply when media posts news about another celeb “going vegan” when all they’re doing is going on a temporary plant-based diet …. usually it means free advertising for a soon-to-be-released CD.) STOP IT. CALL IT LIKE IT IS. If it’s not about the animals and the environment and it’s just about YOUR health, you’re not a vegan. Get off the bandwagon.

  22. bullshit article this is easy ethical vegan is the only proper interpretation of vegan stop trying to put vegans down because you feel guilty

  23. Dietary choices do not make one a vegan, but they sure exclude one from using that term. To be inclusive, we need to consider other animals in our community; otherwise, we are nothing but speciesist. Despicable cruelty should never be tolerated.

  24. Wrong. You’re vegan or you’re plant-based. There are no nuances to veganism but there could be to the degree to which you are plant-based. If you don’t choose to be vegan so be it but then just call yourself plant based. Is that so hard or confusing?

  25. I saw this comment on FB and thought it addressed things perfectly:

    “You don’t get a certificate for purity when you become vegan. If you are looking for perfection (in yourself or others), you have forgotten that being vegan is about manifesting compassion – not a means to become 100% pure. There is no such thing in our imperfect world. The animals need us to aspire to compassion not perfection.

    Don’t Do Nothing Because You Can’t Do Everything. Do Something. ANYTHING!” – Colleen Patrick-Goudreau

    I might add that you can start by manifesting compassion to others who might find being vegan more of a struggle than you might.

    • Thank you SO much for this comment, Liza. It’s beautiful in and of itself. Love that quote too. I might have to hang that up by my desk because it really says what we all need to be reminded of. Compassion towards each other is so important. Thank you!

    • I really love your blog Marly. I will have to peruse more when I have a bit more time. By the way, I found the link to your blog on Heather Nicholds Facebook page.

  26. I took your advice and read through the comments to get examples of shaming. And shaming it is indeed. It’s the equivalent to saying I’m not Christian because I use birth control. Puh-leease. I absolutely love this post; it expresses my views perfectly. There IS such a thing as being mostly vegan or varying by degrees, and I hate that people have made the definition into a radical all-or-nothing concept. I WILL not call a restaurant ahead to see if their bread contains dairy, and if my mom makes me a specialized dish on Thanksgiving but unknowingly included dairy in it, I’m not gonna turn it away — helloooo, there are starving people in the world. Talk about first world problems. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

    • Thanks, Sarah. I agree entirely. Black & White thinking is more affiliated with an ideology if you ask me. Hey, I understand some people like to apply very rigid rules for their lives. Requiring others to comply with those rigid rules in order to be a member of “their” group is not a very inclusive or sustainable approach.

    • Thanks for sharing on your FB page. Sorry you were subjected to crankiness as a result. I recommend some good dark chocolate. 😉

  27. Hey, everybody: “Seek first to understand, then to be understood.”

    So here goes: Marly, thanks for making some important points with this post. Thanks for the message that we should do the best we can. It sounds like you’ve encountered people who didn’t project that message, and those encounters may have prompted this post. I get that, and I share Liza’s (and your) appreciation of Colleen Patrick-Goudreau’s message about the importance of manifesting compassion (to ourselves, and others).

    I also want to say, to the advocates who have left critical comments for Marly, I get why you’re unhappy. You see veganism as a justice movement, a struggle against exploitation and oppression, and you’re worried that Marly’s post might be obscuring that point for those who don’t have the same awareness.

    That said, I wish that everyone, especially vegans, would post only respectful comments, never demeaning ones. I wish all advocates were expert already in Nonviolent Communication techniques. I wish, but as you know, that’s obviously not the case. So Marly, I hope you can understand the fierce and loving impatience that’s behind some of these criticisms—and I encourage everyone to work on finding more effective ways of expressing themselves in online commenting, and in real life too. It’s not easy, I know.

    Before I sign off, I want to share an essay that’s had significant influence on my own thinking. I’m addressing everyone now—Marly and your readers (including those who have expressed criticism here!)—I hope you’ll read this, and see what you think. It’s a short essay by Matt Ball that presents a common-sense, results-oriented approach: (Note from Marly – this link was no longer working and I couldn’t find the page she was alluding to: I’m hoping this one is close enough): https://veganoutreach.org/why-vegan/

    Here’s a key excerpt, for your convenience:
    – – –
    Our guide shouldn’t be an endless list of ingredients, but rather doing our absolute best to stop cruelty to animals….This moves the discussion away from finding a definition or avoiding a certain product, and into the realm of effective advocacy – advocacy in the broadest sense, in every aspect of our lives. In other words, the focus isn’t so much our personal beliefs or specific choices, but rather the animals and their suffering.

    If we believe that being vegan is important, we must recognize that being the most effective advocate for the animals is far more important! The impact of our individual veganism – several hundred land animals over the course of a lifetime – pales in comparison to what we have the potential to accomplish with our example. For every single person inspired to change their habits, the impact we have on the world doubles!
    – – –

    Also, you might appreciate this page with a collection of several other people’s views about the meaning of “vegan” via vegan outreach.

    Thanks again, Marly, for making some very important points with this post. I love how you blog to share your favorite vegan recipes. You do a fantastic job showing that vegan living can be delicious and joyful. ♥

    P.S. Since you’re also passionate about people and their names, you’ll surely enjoy meeting Melanie Joy, the author of Why We Love Dogs, Eat Pigs, and Wear Cows! Do you know of her work? This is an extremely helpful video I’ve been recommending to vegans: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gnQSP6f9iAY

    • Thanks for your thoughtful opinion. It’s good to see the different perspectives on such a sensitive topic.

  28. Thanks much for writing this! It perfectly sums up the way that I feel, and I know it’s not a popular thought with a large portion of the vegan community! Really great read, well written!

    • So glad this was helpful, Kristen. There are a lot of options for people who are considering adding more vegetarian/vegan meals!

  29. Oh, brave move tho. Being vegan kinda separates you from most of the society in some way and now this article probably separates you from most of the vegans. Although I don’t agree with all you wrote I still find this a good and important article. People need to accept that this are never just black and white.

    Britta

  30. Thank you, thank you, thank you! I resisted going vegan for so long because of the nastiness of so many vegans I saw. Then I saw Colleen Patrick-Goudreau, and realized it didn’t have to be that hard! Thanks for being brave!

  31. Marly, Thank you for this blog and keeping things easy for those trying to be vegan. Its hard in a black and white world where even among the very few vegans we do our best to make our own kind feel guilty with minor upsets. Reading your blog has lightened my mood and given me hope. I am all for being a reducetarian and believe that every step counts. Personally very much a veganish – ostrobeegan 🙂

    • Hi Ishita. Thanks for your note! I’m with you all the way. Since it’s nearly impossible to be 100%, then one has to draw the line somewhere. Why not draw it in a way that allows yourself a little grace. If you’re like me, my line bends and moves, like a tree in the wind. If the tree didn’t sway it would break! So there are times when I find it very easy to be high percent vegan, like the summer months when I’m eating lots of smoothies and salads and fruits, etc. Also, you should listen to my podcast episode with Diana Fleischmann where she talks about Bivalve Vegan. I think you’d really enjoy her perspective.

  32. I LOVE THIS! Thank you. Everything you wrote is spot-on. Vegetarian-ish 16 years and vegan-ish 12 years and still going strong! Of the 10 types of vegans, the “virtual vegan” is the one I am closest to, although I did do a “travel vegan” for the beignets with my sweetheart in New Orleans!

    • Thanks, Rachel! I’m so glad to know there are other veganish grey-minded (aka, not black or white) folks out there! I like the virtual vegan too, but have dabbled in being a travel vegan as well. Beignets with your sweetheart just sounds like the best of times! And why would we want to restrict ourselves from moments like that.

  33. This is the most annoying rubbish I’ve ever read. You’re either vegan or you aren’t you can’t change the definition just because you lack the willpower to not abuse animals. Most of those the 1-10 “degrees” are just described as “omnivores” if you want to label yourself vegan then do the legwork and be vegan. You’re all just making it difficult for us to eat out….no wonder people think we eat fish, honey and eggs!!!

    • Ah, Mandie, thanks for your comment. It appears you are looking for a different site. There are several of them out there so I encourage you to go them instead. This site is for secular vegans, non-dogmatic folks. Thanks!

  34. It’s a thoughtful post for example if nobody can be 100% vegan then that means ethical vegans are by definition also transitioning vegans like your ten different kinds so perhaps the word vegan shouldn’t be used by anyone at all. I didnt know Peter Singer said thatthank you so much , he is a great animal rights activist and an intelligent moral philosopher ie able to debate very logically. I have asked dictatorial vegans who exactly are you being vegan for? It cant be for the animals because your condemnation actually puts people off going vegan even vegetarian

    • Hi Ben. Thanks for your thoughtful comment. I want to flip your idea and say this: maybe we’re ALL a little vegan! Yes, I like the sound of that! Every time someone eats a vegetable or a fruit or a bean, or an avocado, or uses almond milk, they’re a little bit vegan.

      I’ve started using the term Secular Vegan lately, because I’m not dogmatic about it. I want to be inclusive rather than exclusive. And, in fact, recently I heard the Freudian term, Narcissism of Minor Differences. It’s basically where people attack others who are basically in their same group, over minor differences in approaches. If someone isn’t 100% the same as them, then they are the enemy. It’s basically a form of self-loathing, in recognition of their lack of ability to be 100%.

      Someone wrote a blog post about me and how I’m a terrible person for writing this very post you commented on. To me, it’s a great example of Freud’s term. I agree with you, it’s not a way to attract people to your movement. Like my momma always said (and probably yours too), you get more flies with honey than vinegar. Guess what? All the dogmatic vegans just lost their shit because I said honey.

  35. I’m strictly vegan myself but….. I am hopeful many others will be too.
    Some find it so hard (now us vegans think,we are spoilt for choice) but I know there is always something they struggle with, not least of all availability and finances. Then there’s that thing… ie bacon or cheese, something. Many are in and out for a while. I’m sure we all get where we’re going in the end. This post offers encouragement and help. And I applaud that. I do budget recipes and I try to help,and encourage that way. No room for anger.

  36. I liked this post. I didnt like the shame on you egotistical comments from some readers . Iwould like to see the term pragmatic vegan ,mmm that could be me you know. You are in line with Peter Singers views on veganism and thats good enough for me thank you

    • Hey Ben. I think you and I are on the same wavelength because I’ve started referring to myself as a secular vegan. In fact, I’m working on a book on this topic now. I like pragmatic vegan too. Because either way, we need a “non dogmatic” way to be vegan. And hey, being in line with Peter Singer is quite the compliment. Thanks!

  37. From a previous comment I would just like to add from now on I will use NMD abbreviation Narcissism of Minor Differences to respond to gruelling comments from over zealous critical comments from the vegan police so thanks so much for letting me know about this Freudian term

  38. Anything less than completely vegan, 100% of the time, is not vegan. You don’t get to choose to pay for the murder of animals only some of the time, only on weekends, past 6pm (wtf btw??) and call yourself a vegan. You may be on a plant-based diet, but veganism is more than a diet. It’s a lifestyle.

    • It’s an impossible standard, 100%. The wheat, the oats, the maple syrup, all causes harm to animals in some way or another. If you eat almonds, they are made through the efforts of bees that are transported around the country to pollinate various fruits and veggies. At some point, it’s about making a choice. If I can’t be 100% what works best for me? I respect that your choice may be higher than mine, but it doesn’t make me any less vegan. Basically, I refer to myself as a secular vegan because I don’t get into the dogma. It’s a huge turn-off for most people anyway, but it’s just not my style. I enjoy being vegan. I like eating vegan food. I like the way my body feels when I eat vegan. I like having a lighter carbon footprint as a result. I like that the way I eat causes less animal suffering. That’s where I stand, unapologetically.

  39. Marly, AMEN to all of the above. I couldn’t have said it better. It’s normal that not 100% will agree with what you said just like it’s impossible to be 100% vegan but I agree with you 100% 😉 I define myself as vegan but I live in France and I have 5 chickens so I eat their eggs and I eat cheese from time to time but I always buy my cheese from farmers that make them themselves and treat their animals the right way. I do own a leather sofa and a leather jacket and… IT’S ALL GOOD! I make a difference in this world and that’s what really matters. The more I cook vegan for my friends and family, the more they do so themselves. I see a lot of shaming in the comments and that’s just so sad. Thanks for making it easier for people to change to a vegan diet or lifestyle. You make this planet a better place. MERCI 🙂

  40. This describes plant based people or vegetarians ….. This does not describe vegans. You need to look up the definition – vegan is much more then just diet and is a belief system. What you have written does not apply to vegans in any way!

    • Hi Sammie. I’m sure there is SO much we agree on, but this is one area where we don’t. I choose to focus on the areas we agree and to respectfully choose to agree to disagree about this. It’s why I call myself a secular vegan. Because I respect others’ choices, but at the same time choose a more compassionate form of veganism for myself and champion that approach for others as well.

  41. As a Deaf Vegan, I truly appreciate your post. Thanks so much! It can get very isolating as a Deaf Vegan especially when vegan events rarely provide interpreters, and I can’t just bump into people making new friends. If they want to be friends with me, they will have to learn American Sign Language, which often doesn’t interest them beyond knowing curse words.

    The Deaf world is very diverse, and it is impossible to find a Deaf Vegan community in one place. All of us are spread all over the world, so. When I attend a Deaf event, I usually become a vegetarian (hence the “Paris Vegan” term). It is not fair to assume that all Vegans come from the same culture. Some cultures are very family-based and community-based. It is not fair to compare some vegans to the others especially when they may have challenges in their lives not experienced by the others.

  42. Lisa, I’m so sorry to read about your lack of access. For years, I found vegetarian events and restaurants had no clue what to do with wheat-allergic me. Now they’re full of gluten free options. Have you requested ASL interpreters at vegan events? They need to know there are communities being excluded!

  43. Hey Marly,
    thank you for this lovely article!
    The Vegan Lifestyle is getting more and more interesting for me at moment but I still enjoy eating meat. The VB6 seems to be a really cool solution for this. From there I maybe could progress to the weekday/weekend vegan. 🙂

  44. I am amazed by the lack of respect that people are displaying toward someone who so obviously cares for animals and the environment itself. Not to mention, you probably hit a nerve with people who don’t realize about the thousands of hidden animal derivatives in *things* they use on a daily basis. Bring out the pitchforks!! 

    I live in a rural town with no stoplights, retail chains, and a main street less than a mile long. The only comment I’ve ever received about being a vegetarian is that “I look like a vegetarian” and this is from folks who eat meat, raise livestock, and are not ashamed of it. We accept each other much like I accept the Coyote who came in my yard this morning to steal my chickens. We don’t have the same values, but we have learned to co-exist and find a common ground.

    After reading some of these posts, I can only imagine how a vegan would react if they knew that I raised chickens and guinea fowl (who free-range from dusk to dawn), and have been happily married to a “meat-eating” spouse for 20+ years who loves my vegetarian cooking. That said, I don’t eat dairy, but I have no problem sticking an egg or two in a dish, or my daughter baking with them, or sharing with my neighbours. My hens are PROUD LAYING MAMAS!!

    Anyhoo, loving animals more than I do people is why we live off the grid and why I don’t eat them. And instead of damning people for thinking outside the box, we should applaud everyone who chooses to use a fork (or chopstiks!) over a knife. Regardless if its one meal a week, 3 meals a day, or 7 days a week.
     
    In my opinion, veganism is much like politics and religion. Full of rainbow coloured vistas, gray areas, and a bit of black and white. Not everyone adheres to the same theories which makes us unique *human beings*. If extremists expect for people (meat-eaters and non-alike) to respect animals, perhaps they should take a good look in the mirror and ask: “How can I encourage people to switch to plant-based meals and to not use animal products without berating them?”

    Ironically enough, I found your website on the PETA website as they featured your “Crockpot Bulgogi Jackfruit” recipe. So Marty, you must be doing something right even if the PETA gods approve of your work 😉

    Keep up the great work and thank you for the inspiration!


    “The worst sin toward our fellow creatures is not to hate them, but to be indifferent to them: that’s the essence of inhumanity.” 

    -George Bernard Shaw

    • Thanks so much, Holly! I can tell already that you and I would be buds if we lived in the same area! I grew up in a small town so the description of how you live sounds so familiar. In fact, my sister still lives in a small town and guess what? She has chickens too! Michael Pollan (author of the book Omnivores Dilemma) talks about how much better it is for the environment and even the flavor of the eggs for chickens to be allowed to roam and eat things besides the feed given to them in factory farming. I love your approach to your family and the way you treat others in your life. You are SUCH an inspiration. Thanks for making my day. I will come back and read your comment often!

    • Thanks Yarn Girl! I think we’re on the same page. I just talked with someone this weekend who described herself as mostly vegan but occasionally eats outside of that. I believe they refer to that as flexitarian or part-time vegan. I’m happy to meet and great people wherever they are on this journey!

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