View Full Version : There is no such thing as a dietary vegan

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Jul 1st, 2005, 08:29 AM
As most people know, vegans avoid animal products as much as possible, not only in their diet: veganism is not only about food.

The term 'dietary vegan' has been used at least on one occasion, on one page of the site of a vegan organization.

I've also used the term myself, in the past, to distinguish between vegans and people who live on a plant based diet. Then I realized that if I use the term 'dietary vegan' to describe people who eat vegan food, but are not really vegans (they may eg. be hunters), I just achive the opposite effect of what I want.


Because I give the impression that there are two kinds of vegans, which again gives the impression that the vegans who are not a vegans are also vegans.... :).

Let me explain:

When people add the word 'dietary' before the vegan, it is because they know that even if you are living on a plant based diet, you don't need to be a vegan. If vegan would mean 'living on a plant based diet', there would be no need to call someone a 'dietary vegan', right? If 'vegan' only was about diet, the word 'dietary' wouldn't need to be there at all. The word 'dietary' is added because vegan is not only about diet.

So the intention behind using the term 'dietary vegan' was good. But it has a built in, negative, side effect. It creates an idea that both vegans and dietary vegans (who are not vegans) are vegans.

If 'dietary vegans' are vegans too (which users of of the expression 'dietary vegan' obviously didn't mean, since he added the word 'dietary'), at some point some people will use the word vegan about people who eat plant based food, but who might go hunting in the weekends.

So, while I, and everybody else who knows a little about the history of veganism, agree that 'vegan' is NOT only about diet, let's not attack vegan newbies for misusing the word 'vegan'. It's better to contact that (info@vegansociety.com) organization, and try to discuss the situation with them.

Are there people in that organization who want to change the meaning of 'vegan' to something else that it has always meant? I don't think or hope so. Therefore, IMO it would be a lot better to avoid the term 'dietary vegan', because it can create the idea that there are two kinds of vegans, which again in the future will mean that the word vegan can be used about people who don't fit with the original and - by far - the most common used definition of the word.

We had a poll in 'Veganforum 1', which showed that less than 1 out of 10 used the word 'vegan' about someone who was living on a plant based diet only, which confirms that the original meaning of the word is well known and used. I'm originally from a small town in a small country without any vegan organizations at all, and even in that little town, many years ago, people knew that veganism was about more than food, it was about respect for animals.

Let's not change that.

Jul 1st, 2005, 09:26 AM
This is written by Joanne Stepaniak (http://www.google.com/search?client=safari&rls=en&q=Joanne+Stepaniak&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8), writer of The Vegan Sourcebook and many other books about veganism and vegan food:

The neologism "dietary vegan" has been used to describe "total vegetarians" - people who avoid all animal products in diet only. This term is problematic because it distorts the meaning of "vegan" by narrowing it down to issues related solely to food. Veganism is not about food; it is about reverence for life. By minimizing it's substance, we diminish the word's value. With this fandangle term, "vegan" loses its defining characteristics and ultimately becomes meaningless. What, then, differentiates "dietary vegan" from "total vegetarian" or "total vegetarian" from "vegetarian"? Suddenly we have a confusing, oxymoronic set of useless vocabulary that confounds all who hear it. Not surprisingly, the misinformed masses emerge, vigorously defending the language they believe is accurate and fitting. http://www.vegsource.com/jo/essays/namegame.htm

Jul 1st, 2005, 03:56 PM
FYI - For most non-vegan peeps in the US Vegan IS just about diet and it's very frustrating. I haven't figured out how to go about changing it on the whole yet...At a picnic with my boyfriend someone asked me about being vegan and I said yes. Later a conversation was begun about laundry and I said something about how I hadn't been able to do any since I didn't bring any detergent with me. His mother got upset and said there's a brand new box of tide in the laundry room. It was difficult to not sound rude when explaining that I will not use that stuff...and some of the people in his family are "vegetarian" and "Vegan" supposedly!!!!


Jul 1st, 2005, 10:14 PM
I still own some old clothing products with animal products from before my turn to veganism..but I only wear them around the house. I won't be buying any more.

Jul 3rd, 2005, 09:21 PM
The label thing is a big ball of snakes.

I have some leather DM's I've had for absolutely years, and it would be a waste to get rid of them, but to wear them technically makes me not vegan.
However, when there's a work AGM or something and we have to tick menu sheets, I'm not about to write anything other than vegan on it.

To a point, I think people should have more freedom to call themselves what they want, without recrimination. I think it's odd when someone says they're 90% vegan or something, as they are basically saying that to do non-vegan things is the norm for them, not an unusual event. However, what am I?
If I ticked vegetarian, I'd get dairy, and so what to do?

Jul 5th, 2005, 12:05 PM
I have some leather DM's I've had for absolutely years, and it would be a waste to get rid of them, but to wear them technically makes me not vegan.
Precisely the same story with me! I've been musing as to whether I should donate them to charity and buy a vege-"leather" pair of boots instead, but I can't really afford to at present. I may have to hang on until a birthday rolls around.

Jul 10th, 2005, 02:34 AM
I agree Korns, the term dietary-vegan doesn't make sense, given that veganism extends further than diet. It would make more sense for someone to say that they follow a vegan diet wouldn't it? Then they are not claiming to be vegan, they are just eating what a vegan eats (for whatever reason).

Jul 10th, 2005, 07:47 AM
There's just one point, brought home to me recently as I read Pamela Rice's book "101 reasons why I'm a Vegetarian". She is writing for omnivores, and although she is a vegan herself, somehow I think it would muddy the waters by raising the subject of veganism. First get them to stop eating meat, then move on. If she pushed the vegan barrow, which is not a dietary matter, it's going to be too complicated for many newbies.

Jul 11th, 2005, 02:13 AM
Personally, rather than say dietary vegan, it would maybe just be better to say "strict vegetarian" or "vegetarian". Unless, well, there's a problem w/ that.

To a point, I think people should have more freedom to call themselves what they want, without recrimination

Nivvie--I really do agree w/ you. I think this was the number one problem my husband had when I decided to stop eating or using animal. He holds one particular view of what veganism means and what perhaps other people think of vegans. I feel that I don't want a label or whatever to be a limitation of myself in the way others see me but I also want freedom to use the label to at least partly define what I believe in. I believe that we shouldn't eat or use any product derived from animals. Those may be competing concepts, but, well, look at my name ;) I'm always trying to find balance in my life and others.

Jul 11th, 2005, 09:43 PM
The term is okay by me, it simply states that diet is the only aspect of their life in accordance with veganism. Quick and simple to the point that they may well wear leather etc and have no ethical reasoning behind their choices, only health/diet selfish concerns.

realfood neil
Jul 12th, 2005, 06:41 PM
When I turned veggie and was still wearing leather boots I asked myself what I would do if I was wearing the skin of a human, I would definitely give them a burial. This is one of the standards I use to see if I am doing the right thing. I remember that leather is made from animal skin and the animal deserves respect even after its death no matter how long after.

Jul 13th, 2005, 07:54 AM
I'm extra evil. :D
I'd wear human boots. We remove cadaver skin (donated, or course) to use on burn victims, I'm quite used to the stuff. I know the animal didn't donate it, but I suppose my feelings about death ceremonies is that they are for the living, to help them.
I have left strict instructions for my funeral, but the chances are the living will ignore them.
I wish I could sue from beyond the grave....

Jul 13th, 2005, 08:09 PM
I have left strict instructions for my funeral, but the chances are the living will ignore them. I wish I could sue from beyond the grave....
Interesting! Would it be impolite to enquire further?

Anyway... Back to topic, I don't see anything wrong with the term 'dietary vegan'. It does exactly what it says on the tin, possibly even more, but it's clear they don't want to consume anything animal-derived. I wish we could just say vegetarian, and the lacto-ovo-people can get a new name for THEMselves. Even though the term vegan does incorporate all aspects of non-animal exploitation, I think primarily it came from the term vegetarian, and as such, the most important feature of veganism IS diet. I mean, for me, I would be far more upset if I inadvertently consumed a food item that contained something animal in it than if I accidentally wore something made of something using some animal by-product, for example. I hope this does not make me a bad vegan.

Michael Benis
Jul 25th, 2005, 07:23 PM
I think that the society that shall be nameless coined the term for new members for precisly the reason others have identified: many may make the choice to "go vegan" but still have a large wardorbe of shoes, belts, pullovers, scarves and jackets that are not vegan, including presents from friends and relatives that have sentimental value etc. so they can't decide whether or not to wear them out, sell them or give them to charity or whatever. They may also not have enough money to go out and buy a complete wardobe all at once. Likewise they could be delaying things while working out their own decisions regarding any compromises between vegan clothing and biodegradability etc. I can imagine the society not wanting these people to be in limbo, having traditionally always been a support and information organisation (a role that's easier for them now thanks to Viva! taking up the campaigning banner); so they left the door open for "dietary vegans". Also, as AbFab says, the terms does what it says on the tin, even implicitly suggesting one might want to go further and take things to their logical conclusion by removing the "dietary". It's certainly a better compromise than the very sticky solution adopted regarding honey in the past.

Anyway that's my tuppence-worth in my first post.

Is there anyone here in contact with anyone from the old Vegan Cafe in Kentish Town back in the seventies: Sue, Malcolm, Keith, Marijke, Richard, Cat? It would be nice to hear how they're getting on.



Realfood Mary
Jul 25th, 2005, 07:25 PM
Why would the society remain nameless? :confused:

Michael Benis
Jul 25th, 2005, 07:44 PM
Why would the society remain nameless? :confused:

I didn't name them (with what I thought was a little tongue-in-cheek humour) out of respect for Korn's decision to focus more on the term than the organisation; (he wrote "The term 'dietary vegan' has been used at least on one occasion, on one page of the site of one vegan organization in one certain country").

I don't think the organisation actually wants to be nameless at all:)

My main point was I suppose to agree with what Korn wrote ("people knew that veganism was about more than food, and about more than the vegan itself, it was about respect for animals"), since I believe "dietary vegan" makes it clear that vegnaism as a whole is about more than diet. At the same time I attempted to try and explain why at least one organisation (which may or may not be the same one Korn was thinking of) uses that term as a means of categorising whether new "subscribers" are vegan members or non-vegan supporters, namely to include people who have at least taken the first step. I combined the two because it seems to me to indicate the term has more than one positive aspect to it, while I nevertheless agree with Korn's caution (as does the literature of the organisation itself).

I hope that's clearer, though if anything it now seems more contorted. Obviously time for my dinner...


Aug 13th, 2005, 01:35 PM
:eek: I am a dietary vegan. The most important thing for me is not eating animal products. Not wearing animal products is important too, but a little tricky.

I donít know how to stop wearing wool in the winter(30 minus celcius), because then I would have to wear synthetic fabrics, wich arenít as warm(or are they?)

I have no pets, and I have never gone hunting. But I also feel that I have no connection with animals what so ever, so I just tend to leave them alone, and hope that they leave me alone. I am also afraid of dogs and other animals, so thatís a reason too. I donít hate animals, but I donít love them either.
Trying to eliminate ALL animal products in the household or whatever/daily life is of course something I would like to do, but first I need to figure out ways to be a dietary vegan.

I think dietary vegans should be allowed to call themselves vegans in situations such as ordering food at restaurants, and with people who only have ďvegetarianĒ and ďveganĒ in their vocabulary. I dont even know anyone familiar with the term vegan, they donít even respect my wish to be a vegetarianÖ

Aug 13th, 2005, 04:46 PM
Hi, Berta the Aspie

I too think the most important thing for vegans is to refrain from eating all animal products. I have not found it too difficult to stop buying other items, such as clothing and accessories/footwear that contain any animal products either, but I appreciate that itís easier for some of us depending on where we live, and our own personal circumstances. I donít think England ever gets as cold as minus 30 degrees Celsius, but in the winter, Iíve found a good fleece (synthetic, obviously, not wool!) and lots of layers keeps me warm and snug. I also have a couple of coats that I describe as my Ďsleeping-bag coatsí that are not made of wool, but are soooooooooooo warm sometimes I am baking inside! Lovely, when itís cold and rainy/snowy outside.

Anyway, for many of us, it is one step at a time, and a continuous learning curve, so start with the diet (it can be hard enough to manage that, let alone anything else) and then take it from there.

I just wanted to say that I for one have no problem with anyone who considered themselves primarily vegan in a dietary sense to state that they were vegan, as it does make life easier in restaurants (when they even know what a vegan is, which sadly they still all donít) and other situations regarding food and your diet.

Best of luck.
Stay warm!

Ms Gryff V3G4N
Aug 25th, 2005, 10:23 PM
To be perfectly honest I think the term 'Dietry-Vegan' is fine as it clearly states that the person is NOT completely vegan, and is only vegan in the dietry sense, which is therefore not calling themselves a vegan. It is also much simpler to say than ' a-person-who-doesn't-eat-anything-with-anything-to-do-with-animals.'

Aug 30th, 2005, 08:02 PM
I see nothing wrong with the term 'dietry vegan' either.

Some dietry vegans don't see themselves as vegitarians because vegitarians can eat battery eggs and dairy milk and still be called vegitarian. Also I found when I called myself vegitarian before I was totally vegan (because I was still giving into cravings occasionally) people kept giving me food with eggs and milk. This happened less when I told people I was vegan.

Kiva Dancer
Aug 30th, 2005, 08:30 PM
I don't have problem with the term "dietary vegan"

But I do have problem with people who believe people who are veg for health reasons are selfish.

Ms Gryff V3G4N
Aug 31st, 2005, 08:05 PM
Surely being a vegan for health reasons is better than not being vegan at all?

Sep 1st, 2005, 11:53 AM
I don't think that 'health' vegans are selfish, but if they follow a vegan diet for health reasons, someone could then persuade them that eating fish twice a week will do wonders for their health, then what? I guess it depends whether vegan diet or health wins the argument.

Sep 20th, 2005, 11:54 AM
Back on the World Vegan Day forums (RIP) this subject of what is vegan and who is really vegan and who is not really vegan just won't stop comming around.

We all have to come to terms that none of us are pure vegans. We all compromise our veganism and will always have to all the time we live in a society that use animals. :(

Someone else's 90% vegan is no more an act of hypocrisy than your 98% vegan, or his 99.999% vegan. (The computer you are using stop you being 100% anyway).

A "dietry vegan" is not a non-vegan or a definition of a vegan - it is a minimum requirement. In the same way a Christain does not have to do all the things a Christain should do, they just have to abind by the minimum requirement of believing in the divinity of Christ. Dietry veganism is our baseline. None of us are going to be an absolute vegan, its impossible, so we have to draw a practical line somewhere.

Of course, if any of you want to change the VS requirement for joining the society, then by all means put a new statement forward to it. Perhaps "diet and clothing", perhaps "diet, clothing and cosmetics" but you will still end up with a term like "a dietry, clothing and cosmetic vegan".

We could go along the lines of stating veganism as an aspiration (which is how I see it), but as a practical definition it very problematic without a baseline requirement. It would be easy for a soley aspirational vegan to say "well, am a vegan and I do eat beef, it just I have not got very far along the road to pure veganism". :eek:

Sep 20th, 2005, 03:35 PM
I don't think that 'health' vegans are selfish, but if they follow a vegan diet for health reasons, someone could then persuade them that eating fish twice a week will do wonders for their health, then what? I guess it depends whether vegan diet or health wins the argument.

Suppose thats possible. Depends how Gullable they were. Before I became vegan mum said I should be eating 12 eggs a week. To make up for the lack of dead animals. I was also told last time I tried going vegan that I needed more calcium that was only found in milk. As I wasn't really informed at the time. Not online at the time and their isnt much about Animal rights at all in braille and hardly anything about veganism. Plus being surounded by meat eaters sure didn't help.