Veganism is not a diet
No, veganism is not a diet choice. It is not a set of food choices made for health reasons or because we “just don’t like the taste”. A vegan diet is just one part of a broader vegan lifestyle.
The definition by The Vegan Society that coined the term is:
Veganism is a way of living which seeks to exclude, as far as is possible and practicable, all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose.
Going vegan is making a choice to stop using living beings as commodities and objects, and to recognise their emotions, intelligence, complex social lives and inherent right to protection from violence that we all have through the merit of being born.
Veganism isn’t an argument for welfarism and just “treating them better,” it’s an argument that we have no right to use them as commodities at all. Because it’s not how we use them. It’s that we use them.
As 150 billion animals are slaughtered for food every year despite evidence that meat is bad for us, vegetarian diets are good for us, and animal agriculture is a leading cause of climate change, it’s clear why keeping them off your plate is the most obvious step in protecting animals. But the jig doesn’t stop there.
Animal by-products, cosmetic animal testing, medical research, trophy hunting, domestic breeding, captive animal entertainment and racing are all examples of the inherently violent attitudes we have towards animals. They all harm animals by treating them as commodities for human gain, and therefore they are all non-vegan.
Going vegan is realising that they are here with us, not for us. To the best of our ability within the constraints of our society that has been built on the back of animal abuse, we attempt to abstain from exploiting animals however we can.
This means taking lifesaving immunisations and medication that required animal testing by law, but researching vegan alternatives and abstaining from animal tested medication when it’s not needed. It means adopting domestic animals to save them from euthanasia, but still choosing not to support breeders and to advocate for animals being wild wherever possible.
Veganism is taking a no bullshit approach to the use of animals for human gain, drawing a line in the sand and saying just because it’s legal doesn’t make it right. We discard social norms to discern right from wrong for ourselves. We value life, we recognise suffering, and we take responsibility for our impact on others.
Veganism is not a diet and never has been. It’s a moral stance on the treatment of animals. Please don’t confuse the two.