Language is more powerful than we realize when it comes to affecting social change. This post details all the various ways that have emerged to convey the concept of “vegan.” Excerpted from Powerful Vegan Messages by H. Jay Dinshah and Anne Dinshah @2014 by The American Vegan Society, reprinted with permission. Also available from The American Vegan Society.
Plant-based diet is one based on vegetables, grains, legumes, and fruit, with little or no animal products. It can refer to: 1. a vegan diet. 2. a diet derived predominantly from plant foods with the inclusion of some animal products.
Plant based usually refers to eating plants for health reasons with emphasis on whole, unrefined foods. It sometimes excludes added oil, salt, sugar, and most processed foods. Plant based may mean with or without transitioning to being completely vegan. When one understands the concepts of plant based, it makes no sense to pile a few animals on the plate. People also use terms such as “completely plant based” or “whole-foods, plant-based diet.”
Plant-sourced diet could imply that the source is always plants. It is a term less used. Some people use it to mean that plants are one of the sources, and also may use animal sources.
Plant strongTM is Rip Esselstyn’s trademark term popular for its athletic sense. It also can mean a diet mostly but not entirely from plants—a good powerful transition to vegan.
Total vegetarian used to be a popular term for people who were vegan in diet but may use animal products in clothing and toiletries.
Why Not Say Vegan?
Here are five top reasons why some people don’t call themselves vegan even when they are vegan:
1. Junk food. The health-promoting, plant-based people don’t want to endorse those who choose to be junk-food vegans—people who frequently consume unhealthy products such as soda and fries.
2. Radical. The term vegan is sometimes associated by the public with declared vegans who in the name of animal liberation commit violent acts that draw media attention. This is explained further in the book Powerful Vegan Messages, chapters Abolitionist Vegans and For Butter or Worse.
3. Not ready to proclaim. When one departs from the norm of the American way of eating as taught by parents and schools, there may be a fear of being alienated by family and friends. A term such as plant-based may be easier to accept.
4. Unable to be 100 percent. There is a fear that when one announces “I am vegan” that the “vegan police” will swarm down, pat down to the nonanimal-sourced shoes, inspect the car and find tires with a hint of animal products in them (How could one know that yet?) and find two dead bugs on the windshield.
One is hereby pronounced vegan if 99 percent vegan as long as one’s heart and conscience are guiding the best possible choices with all available information while one continues to learn. Make responsible choices 100 percent of the time.
5. Ethical component. This is the biggest difference between vegan and all the plant-something terms. Vegan implies a lifestyle with ethical reasons that accompany the completely plant-based diet. One should be able to proudly wear the term vegan.
Even if people prefer to describe their food consumption with another term, the animals don’t care that people are not eating them to preserve or improve health, sexual stamina, connection with the earth, or any other reason. When the animals are no longer being consumed, tortured, violated, or imprisoned, they will be happy people are vegan.
Ten Reasons Why You Should Call Yourself Vegan
Read, consider, and refer back to list after becoming vegan.
1. Be an ambassador for the true meaning of vegan. Promote a positive impression, not misinformed stereotypes. When you are healthy in mind and body, people ask what you do to look great, fit, young, and happy. Share ahimsa. You keep integrity in the word vegan.
2. Vegan reminds you of ahimsa. Commit to do positive projects to help the world. There are lots of ideas on later pages of this book.
3. You bring delicious food to social gatherings. Everyone wants to know the recipe and you can tell them that it’s vegan.
4. You are a normal person. You eat three delicious meals a day and might occasionally swat a mosquito. You interact with people who don’t always think like you but all can exhibit mutual respect.
5. You are true to the animals. You can look any animal in the eye and call that animal a friend and not dinner.
6. Vegan is one concise word that means a lot of good. Vegans definitely eat only from the plant kingdom. You make conscious, compassionate choices about the products you use.
7. Vegan is healthier. It is economically better, environment-ally sound, and ethically unassailable.
8. The pillars of ahimsa are integrated into your daily life. Ahimsa is an ancient concept referring to the non-harming or living beings, or nonviolence.
9. You decide to be vegan from thinking about the questions, and doing independent thought.
10. Welcome to the vegan generation. You have just increased the number of vegans by one and decreased the number of nonvegans.
- Read more about the vegan lifestyle in Vegan Living.