People often use this as a reason for the killing and consuming of animals. Sentience seems to be defined as an awareness or consciousness of the surroundings. It seems to be based around the ability to feel emotions and things like pain and happiness. A big part of animal rights is the reduction of suffering, so being able to prove and show that animals are sentient and feel pain (whether emotional or physical) is important.
We know that many animals have very similar brains to us, as well as central nervous systems and other various things that we use to sense the world around us, form bonds with those around us, use languages to communicate and more. These indicate that other animals (nonhumans) may be just as sentient as we are. Many of them even experience the world in different ways that we are not able to fully comprehend or understand at the moment.
Think about the animals you have had in your life; about the puppy who yelped when you accidentally stepped on her; the cat who purred when you gave him attention and pats; the cow who ran up to the gate when she saw you, hoping for some pats; the old cat who knew how to open every door; the dog who would cry when you were late coming home. Animals in our care ask us for food (think, meowing) and get excited about play time (think about tails wagging). They also look to us to take care of them when they are not feeling well. These are very much indicative of emotions, awareness and sentience.
I hear this one a lot. Some people seem to think that because veganism is based on nonhuman animal rights and considerations that it does not have affects that go further than this. Veganism has a lot of 'side effects' that are beneficial for human animals. For myself and many of the vegans I have met, our veganism as a philosophy has caused us to extend our compassion further to humans and the environment and we aim to create a better world for all the inhabitants of Earth.
Part of the reason that I went vegan to begin with was because the meat, dairy and egg industries tend to waste so many resources and I thought that instead of feeding grain and other crops such as soy to animals then eating the animals... Why not just eat the crops? We already produce enough food to feed the world but we don't distribute it properly; inequality gets in the way and a large amount goes to feeding animals in factory farms. There are many other ways in which veganism helps humans (not to mention that humans ARE animals).
Thank you to badveganwolf on tumblr and their post 'Vegans for Humanity' that partially inspired this post. I've tried to include a few more things and fill it with a bit more information relevant to Australia.
We are the vegans. You will be assimilated.
Perhaps that's a bit harsh, but we all should acknowledge that normally, we vegans are trying to get as many people to stop killing and exploiting animals as possible. In this push to do so, we sometimes forget that not everyone has the ability to go vegan. Some people have health problems, some people don't have access, some people don't have any control over what food they are provided.
Sometimes, we vegans can be really dismissive and angry when people attempt to tell us why they cannot be vegan. I've done this. I thought that people were just making up excuses or lying because they "don't really care about animals". This attitude can scare people away from doing what they can, associating with vegans, getting information from vegans or re-joining the movement after a lapse. I think that all of these things have negative consequences for the nonhuman animals.
I put a call out on tumblr and asked people who have been, want to be and/or currently are vegan about any times that they couldn't be, and what reasons they had. I've copied the responses below and kept all of them anonymous. You may not believe their stories or think that they have a legitimate reason, but I ask you to trust that these people know their own bodies and lives and situations better than you do.
I also ask that instead of blaming individuals who have tried their best, we try to fix the things that have caused them to not be able to be vegan. For example, show friends and family how easy it is to be vegan so that they are more supportive of children or other people in their care's choices. Or try to improve food access however we can by donating to local grassroots organisations that set up things like food gardens. Or organising deliveries of vegan food to people who can't leave their house or access vegan food. Or challenging attitudes that can influence a person's mental health (e.g. media representation of bodies in the case of eating disorders). Or donating to scientific research to help various biological problems. I'm sure there are many more ways that we can improve food access, alternative clothing and the treatment of each other in order to decrease the number of animals being killed and exploited.
From Veganfart on tumblr
In high school at age 16 my Dad made me quit my job and refused to buy me food. I lost a lot of weight and my mom became worried. i was worried. a little over a year into being vegan, I stopped. I ate a snickers out of desperation, and I never really liked those anyway. I nearly threw up it was so rich. I started to eat cheeses and whatever bread was in the house. Never meat again, no eggs, no milk. Pretty much just cheese since the only thing my dad bought was frozen pizza or lasagna. This happened in 2004 in the southeast United States.
It took me almost two years to be at a place where I not only wanted to but could financially afford to be vegan. My main deterrent honestly were militant vegans who told me things like “you were never vegan if you stopped” and “you will never be a vegan again, even if you eat vegan you don't get to use that word”. I finally said screw it and went for it. I've now been meat free for over ten years, and vegan for a majority of that. When I hear those sort of negative vegan comments from others I give it to them good. A person's veganism is their own choice, with their own reasons, and their own journey. To make it a black and white issue pushes others away. What good does that do for animals, for a persons health, for anything except your own ego?
Even if you don't have a reason and just fell off the wagon for giggles, it's okay. If you come back to it, that's what matters. What matters is the times you do devote yourself to the life. Because in those moments you are making a difference.
That's my opinion at least.
From Aliveagaintoday on tumblr
I stopped being a vegan during my pregnancy because my WIC checks wouldn't substitute the dairy and egg products (they did give me soy milk though) & I was too poor to not use them. I'm back to a vegan diet now and so is my 4 year old! :) I never did go back to eating meat though. Only eggs and cheeses, sometimes milk if they couldn't substitute for soy that month. No matter what happens, I don't think I could ever go back to eating meat.
I am in my first semester of away-from-home college and I’m having a horrible time finding a job (~20 applications, 1 rejection, 2 interviews) so I’m relying on my Mom and sister to buy food for me since I don’t have money and that means non-vegan food.
in regards to your "wannabe vegan" thing i want to be vegan and i have been for over a year except for a few days every couple of months when i have to stay with my parents because they disapprove and won't supply vegan food for me so i have to settle for vegetarian but im hoping when i go to uni in a few months time and am fully supporting myself then i will be able to finally be 100% vegan
Hello, I came across your post about ex vegans and I had an issue where I had to stop following a vegan diet because it was becoming dangerous to my health and I really want to go back!
So yeah I can't be vegan because I was diagnosed with anorexia a couple years ago and I'm supposed to stay away from monitoring the food I intake at all, even if it's a psuedo diet, like veganism. ummm I also have a clotting disorder and anemia which means I need to eat at least some red meat.
When I first started, I felt great. For the first 6 months things were really good but as time wore on my health began to deteriorate. I have a mental illness - part of that is disordered eating. Partially from a residual eating disorder as a teenager and partially from my medication destroying my appetite.
Without medication I would spiral out of control, so I couldn't stop taking it for my own wellbeing.
One night I had overdosed on my medication and went to hospital - Not by choice, but because on top of THOSE issues my body has trouble absorbing nutrients as well as processing them. (I'm STILL getting tests done to sort that out.)
They had found that I had lost so much weight from not being able to eat as much as I need to (and subsequently not getting enough calories) that not only was my BMI at 14.9 (The healthy range is around 20) but I had a protein deficiency. Something that when I was vegan, myself and many other vegans would tote around as being "IMPOSSIBLE" to get. "Only 5% of people can even GET THAT!" ... I was the 5% apparently.
I DO NOT blame veganism itself for my failure. It could have happened with any pattern of eating - and I agree with the principals of veganism. I don't feel like I can safely call myself an animal lover - but I do recommend and defend veganism quite regularly and I'm doing my best with the little amount of food I can eat and afford to gain weight back so I can go back to veganism without medical professionals threatening me with readmission to hospital for my disordered eating (It's not fun there. If I was readmitted I'd be eating non-vegan anyway.)
I try my hardest to cut out animal products where I can - I have almond milk in my cereals, try bread crumbs to top casseroles instead of parmesan, get tofu options instead of meat in noodles, nuttelex instead of butter, plain crisps instead of flavored ones, gluten free/dairy free/egg free pasta - that kind of thing.
I eventually plan to get back to veganism, but until then I am trying my best and encouraging those around me to use alternatives and cut out meat from their diets. Just because I can't fully "commit" doesn't mean I can't talk to others about it.
Have a story you want to share?
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This is more of a tumblr thing than anything I've encountered offline. Vegans get told that they have 'vegan privilege' and to 'check their privilege' when they try to engage in conversations (or arguments) about veganism and people going vegan. It is usually used in response to the claim by many vegans that anyone can go vegan, a claim that generally dismisses things like disability, illness, location, access, and many other things that may affect a person's ability to go vegan. There are many privileges that people talk about when trying to deconstruct inequality, discrimination, power, oppression, institutions and similar things. Vegan privilege is not one of these things though. It does not exist.
I've heard this argument a few times. It's pretty rare nowadays for me, but I thought I'd look at it anyway. I cannot speak for all vegans and I am only speaking for myself based on what I have learned.
There are a few parts to this myth that I'll be looking at in this post:
1. The 'ownership' of another being
2. How some animals are designated 'pet'
3. Breeding of animals for human enjoyment
If you're in Australia and considering adopting, I have put together a list of shelters. These ones are no-kill, or attempting to become no-kill as far as I know.
A vegan lifestyle is not cruelty-free. It does avoid the exploitation and use of animals as far as possible, and in that area it does not fail. Many vegans take their compassion further afield than nonhumans and include the environment and other humans. This means acknowledging some of the ways that humans and the environment are exploited and destroyed for many things that we use. In part one of myth #5 I talked about cocoa, palm oil and diamonds. In part two, I'll be talking about two more things that are not cruelty-free but are vegan. These are coffee and plastic.
This myth is used by people who wish to justify their continued exploitation of cows and other nonhuman animals. It seems to involve four main assumptions, which I will attempt to address in this post.
Assumption 1: There are no wild cows
Assumption 2: There are no animals alive today that we don't eat
Assumption 3: No animal that humans have eaten has ever gone extinct
Assumption 4: It would be bad if domesticated cows went extinct
This is one that you see echoed a lot by people as soon as they hear you're a vegan (or even a vegetarian) “but where will you get your protein?!”. Most people seem to think that protein is only found in meat. Luckily for us, they're wrong. There are many different sources of protein and it's easy for vegans to get their RDI (recommended daily intake) of protein. It is, however, important to eat a variety of foods throughout the day in order to get all the different essential amino acids. In this post we'll look at why protein is important, how much you need, how much vegans tend to get, different amino acids and how to get them, and food combining.
Often vegans will describe their food, clothing and other items as 'cruelty free'. However, something that is vegan is not necessarily free from cruelty. It may still be made using exploitative means. It may also still result in animal deaths. It may even contribute to harming the environment. It may cause the displacement or death of indigenous peoples, or disturb the ecosystem. The following items (cocoa, palm oil and diamonds) are considered 'vegan' because they don't exploit animals or contain animal products. However, I would personally not consider them to be 'cruelty-free'. Many of the vegans whom I have the privilege and pleasure of knowing also consider human rights and the environment in their consumption choices. I'm only going to give you an overview of each of these items but there are links to more resources and I hope that you find this post informative. I am doing this piece in 2-3 parts because it is so long and there are many vegan food and other items that involve exploitation of humans, destruction of the environment and killing of animals. Part 1 covers cocoa, palm oil and diamonds. Part 2 will cover coffee and plastic. If I get some more suggestions I will do more posts.
This is a point that comes up a lot in conversation. People seem to use the 'vegans are rich' argument as a way to dismiss all ethical, environmental and human rights arguments to do with veganism. If vegans are all rich, it's obviously a bad thing because poor people cannot do it, right? The ability to be vegan does rely on things like access to money, education, shopping centres, travel options and more. People can, however, be vegan and poor. There are rich, poor, middle class, lower class, etc. vegans. We're a diverse bunch. There are poor people out there who care about animals and who do their gosh-darned best not to exploit them. Not all poor people are the same, just as not all vegans are the same. I'll first show you some demographic studies that have been done on animal rights and welfare supporters. Then I'll talk about organisations and groups like Vegfam, Food Not Bombs and Hare Krishna Food For Life, who provide free vegan/vegetarian food to those in need. Then we'll look at freeganism. Then I'm going to wrap it up with a little bit about myself, plus a fun little poll. I hope you're ready for this.
A big thank you to my friends for proof-reading my posts.
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