What is veganism – a reminder

In recent days, I’ve seen many comments on posts and pages making suggestions about how to be more persuasive about veganism; how to make it more ‘appealing’.

  1. ‘You should be telling people to watch < film about human health>’;
  2. ‘You should be talking about how animal agriculture is destroying the environment‘;
  3. ‘You should be sharing articles about ‘vegan’ athletes or celebrities’;
  4. ‘You should be posting recipes’.


It is certainly true that eating a plant diet has many proven health benefits and is known to reduce the risk of the killer diseases caused by the poor and inappropriate diet followed by the majority of those who consume other animals, lactation, eggs and other substances derived from their bodies.

But veganism isn’t about humans and their health. It’s rather sad and says much about our view of our fellow humans that so many think that only by appealing to our self interest can we understand the concept of justice and be persuaded to behave with basic decency. I’m sure it’s true for some, just like I’m sure that it’s only the risk of punishment that prevents some from committing crimes, but even if it was true for every single person, human health benefits are not what veganism is about.


It’s also true that meeting the consumer demands of those who are not vegan are resulting in practices that are destroying the environment and are the leading cause of the changing climate that places every single one of us in mortal peril. But terrifying as that is, the desire to halt the Armageddon scenario, while it is consequentially connected to global consumption patterns, is not what veganism is about.


As for athletes and celebrities, apart from the sad fact that not everyone who claims to be vegan, actually is vegan, following celeb culture, fads and diets are not what veganism is about.

Recipes? There are thousands of sites and pages for that. The world doesn’t need another recipe page. While those who suggest posting recipes instead of ethics mean well, showing people how easy it is to eat a plant diet, making it all about human convenience, is not what veganism is about.

Suck it and see

Apart from anything else, I am always aware of the very real risk of reinforcing the mistaken perception of veganism as a diet.  This perception needs no additional reinforcement whatsoever at a time when there are so many ‘why not try it out’ programmes running, making it all about us, all about our interests, all about our convenience.

I simply don’t believe it’s possible to try out justice, try out being a decent human being for a week or two, before deciding it’s not for us and going back to the way we were. I believe people are  far better than that.

But everyone needs motivation. So, after looking at all the things it’s not, let’s revisit the beating heart of veganism, the starting point.

The vegan believes that if we are to be true emancipators of animals we must renounce absolutely our traditional and conceited attitude that we have the right to use them to serve our needs. We must supply these needs by other means. If the vegan ideal of non-exploitation were generally adopted, it would be the greatest peaceful revolution ever known, abolishing vast industries and establishing new ones in the better interests of men and animals alike.

~ Donald Watson (2 September 1910 – 16 November 2005)

Animals. First. Foremost. Central. Always.

That is the original definition of veganism. And it’s about animals.

That’s our motivation; our motivation is the desire for justice for all sentient life in a better world. ‘[W]e must renounce our .. attitude that we have the right to use them to serve our needs.’ Veganism couldn’t really be any more simple or easy to understand.

The issue that we must address is not how we treat our unnecessary victims. It’s the fact that we have victims when it is unnecessary. Once we, as individual consumers deal with that at the checkouts, everything –  including our health, our impact on our shared environment and all its knock-on effects – will flow directly from our changed behaviour.

A better world starts with each of us and it can start today. Be vegan.

Further reading: Just published 18/05/2019 – Do motives matter?

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17 Responses to What is veganism – a reminder

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  12. Nicola Rose Streak says:

    Brilliant post and totally with you all the way. Veganism has many benefits but first and foremost veganism is an animal rights movement and begins with ethics. I have been vegan for 3 years and am just starting my blogging journey to try and encourage others and have open discussion. I went vegan for the animals. I enjoy veganism so much I couldn’t imagine being any other way. I find people tend to stick to veganism more easily when the focus is about helping the animals and the planet. God knows I can’t stop myself eating (vegan) ice cream, biscuits, chocolate for my own health but I could never stray from being vegan for the sake of the animal! Keep it up. x


  13. Becky says:

    I’m only 7 months in my only regret is not opening my eyes and changing sooner.when people ask why? The only answer i can find is nothing will ever taste as good as knowing not a single living sentient creature died to feed or clothe me.simple.

    Liked by 3 people

  14. Karen says:

    I love reading your posts and am new to my journey (only 3 months) I’ve cried I’ve shouted and can’t believe that I never knew the cruelty behind any of this! It’s taken me so long and I hurt everyday!
    I struggle with fiends with family and I get it can take time but seriously… this is monterous what is happening to these poor animals and I can’t get my head around why it doesn’t stop!

    Yet how can I be feeling like this when only a few months I was eating chicken and eggs and drinking milk! So I’ve slways got that argument behind me. I feel so frustrated and alone where no one understands what vegans go through on a daily basis. This stuff is serious and damn right wrong on so so many levels

    Liked by 3 people

    • Hi Karen – thank you so much for getting in touch and the kind words about my writing.

      I feel for you, as I’m sure, will every vegan reading your words. We can all empathise with the trauma that you’re feeling. It’s like waking up one morning to find that although everything in the world looks exactly the same, your understanding of it has changed completely. What was known, accepted and familiar can suddenly seem very dark. To this day it still bewilders me how I could possibly have been oblivious for so long. My refuge when I felt that way was to write, which I obviously still do. Maybe your pain will find a way to express itself.

      But whatever happens, although you can never un-know the truth, the pain will get less as time goes on. I am glad that I have online and real life friends who are vegan. I hope you find such friends because they are a great comfort and help us all feel less alone. Sent with my warmest wishes.

      Liked by 2 people

    • Susanne says:

      Thank you for being openhearted and openminded and letting yourself be vulnerable enough to allow yourself to confront this madness. The moment of awakening is brutal. And the months following it, too. But you will learn to cope. You have to learn to cope, so that you can help the animals. You need to take good care of yourself, otherwise you can’t help them. If you ever need support, please never hesitate to reach out. Most vegans will be glad to help you along. Me too. All the best wishes to you. 🙂 ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  15. Shannon says:

    ‘Try out being a decent human being for a week or two.’ I think that pretty much sums up ‘trying’ to be vegan! It’s do or don’t. Nothing in between. Great post .. again. Keep at it, please. 😀

    Liked by 3 people

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