Hi readers! It’s Monday which means that it’s time to reenter the work week. As I begin to refasten my thinking cap, I can’t help but have some thoughts around the press surrounding Bill Clinton’s entrée into “veganism” (which actually first starting coming to press in 2010.) I have incidentally left my diet of of the blogosphere until now– not for any reason in particular, but because being vegan is simply a matter of course for me. My diet is not my identity or something that is always top of mind, except when an article like this comes out.
I am writing this post in order to continue dialogue around what it means to be vegan. I will be the first to admit that I don’t believe that labels are useful when held to rigid standards, after all, veganism is a social construction and is defined differently depending on who is doing the defining. Although many people in the vegan community would disagree with me, I believe that there is no one way to define veganism. With that said, I personally react to the label being used when someone is actively eating eggs or animal flesh, even if “just once a week.” That’s my own bias based on my definition of what it means to me, to be vegan.
I am curious to learn more about the nuances of what it means to be vegan and how the definition differs from person to person, so please do chime in!
My girlfriend posted a link to the AARP article on my Facebook “wall” this morning (or is it a timeline? I can’t keep up!) In response to the link, I wrote:
Ooof. I’m not sure how I feel about all of the publicity around this. I like that he is reducing his intake significantly as that has a huge impact. People go vegan for many different reasons. Billy started out due to health reasons. I went vegan because my heart hurts when I think about the fear response that animals endure before they are killed. Neither reason is better than the other, but because the label (for me) implies compassion, the weekend omnivore thing (have read that he eats eggs, fish and turkey from time to time) sends a message that I’m not comfortable with. With that said, I applaud him for taking charge of his health for both himself and his family– as a result, animals lives are saved. I wish the title read: “Bill Clinton Reveals How He Became Veganish”
For me, veganism means abstaining from animal flesh, fish, dairy and eggs. It means doing my best to avoid animal by products. Attending to my personal ethics surrounding promoting compassion and non-violence extends to all living beings. I choose to eat honey and take a Lanolin based vitamin D supplement for personal reasons. Does that make me “so not vegan?” What do you think? What does veganism mean to you? I know this topic is heavily charged. Diet is very personal and it astounds me that the vegan community, a community that often preaches compassion can be so self righteous and condemning. Please be respectful of one another in the comment section.
Please do share your thoughts.
Recent news articles on Bill Clinton’s “vegan” diet:
Mercy for Animals (see pages 2 and 3)
“What is it that should trace the insuperable line?… The question is not, Can they reason? nor, Can they talk? but, Can they suffer?” —Jeremy Bentham
“There is no fundamental difference between man and the higher animals in their mental faculties.… The lower animals, like man, manifestly feel pleasure and pain, happiness, and misery.”
“Truly man is the king of beasts, for his brutality exceeds them. We live by the death of others. We are burial places.”
—Leonardo Da Vinci
“Poor animals! How jealously they guard their pathetic bodies…that which to us is merely an evening’s meal, but to them is life itself.” —T. Casey Brennan