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Stop Blaming Veganism for You Not Being Vegan

By on July 29, 2014

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vegantrashtalk-lg Lately (again) some ex-“vegans” are in the media proclaiming their love of eating animals. The usual reason for them going back to exploiting animals, though they still maintain their love for them, is they listened to their bodies and their bodies told them that they must eat animals or they will perish. Or something very close.

Sometimes their bodies talk to them by making them lethargic and hungry all the time; other times their bodies speak to them in their dreams and tell them to eat the flesh, muscle, and tissues of cows. Seriously. That’s some sound medical science, right there.

If I listened to my body, I’d subsist on tequila, chocolate, and vegan cupcakes. Luckily, I also have an intellect and a heart, one of which advises me to have a well-rounded diet, and the other advises me not to take the lives or property of fellow sentient individuals. If I listened to my dreams, well, that would be a nightmare.

And what is it with the ex-“vegans” who eat the flesh of a person and are magically cured of whatever plagued them? I hate to inform you, but there is no Vitamin Meat. Let’s keep in mind that obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, and high cholesterol are all at epidemic levels in the United States. Let’s also keep in mind that at best one percent of the population is vegan. I think it’s fair to say that eating meat, dairy, and eggs does not equate to being healthy.

Literally every week some plant-based diet blogger goes public, declaring that they were wrong, eating animals is awesome, and not unethical. Or they are careful to point out that now they only eat happy meat now.

Of course the media jumps all over stories of ex-“vegans” because it fills their desire to paint veganism as unrealistic, unachievable for mere mortals, extreme, wacky, unhealthy, you name it. And they really sink their teeth into stories where the hero happens to directly blame veganism for their eating disorders.

One ex-“vegan,” whom I shall call The Blonde Exploiting Animals for Money and Fame, went on a long juice fast and felt great, so she decided to become “vegan,” i.e. eat a plant-based diet. And because she was young and attractive, she got a lot of attention online and realized she could make money off of the backs of animals by selling t-shirts. She ate a plant-based diet for one year. Then, when her body told her to eat animals again, she went to the media, painting herself as a victim of veganism: veganism caused her eating disorder.

I must make two things very clear. First, veganism is not a diet. Veganism is “a way of living which excludes all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, the animal kingdom” that recognizes that nonhuman animals have the right to bodily autonomy and the freedom to not be oppressed or exploited by others. Second, eating disorders are very serious and prevalent mental illnesses in our culture. I do not in any way want to minimize how destructive they can be to the person with the disorder and those who love them.

It’s clear from reading her blog that she had an eating disorder well before she ever started eating a plant-based diet, and like most of these highly vocal ex-“vegans,” ate an extremely restrictive plant-based diet. They are very forthcoming about this fact, because they believe that restrictive diets are purer, cleaner, more perfect.

Guess what? This fixation on perfection and purity ultimately becomes onerous, tiring, annoying. It becomes hard to maintain. No wonder when they “listened to their body,” it told them to eat a damn cupcake and move on. It’s not veganism’s fault, it’s these bizarrely strict, out-of-balance diets that exclude so much of the variety, diversity, and fun of vegan foods.

I view this as a symptom of exaggerating the health benefits of plant-based diets. When we focus on weight loss, clear skin, shiny hair, detox, increased energy, great sexual prowess, perfect health including never getting cancer, heart disease, diabetes, or other chronic diseases, when we say eating a plant-based diet will make you attractive and popular and help you live to be a hundred years old, we make it very attractive to people with orthorexia, body dysmorphia, or low self-esteem. (Who the hell wants to live to one hundred? I digress.)

And lets face it, the health and vanity angle is pretty much all we hear about in the culture about veganism – certainly not the ethical position.

We must also look at the dozens if not hundreds of “vegan” and plant-based diet “gurus” who help to perpetuate these exaggerated health claims and distract us from the ethical message. Some have no initials after their names indicating any education or training, and others have multiple initials but are still out to demonize vegan food. You see them everywhere, from social media, to health webinars, to VegFests, to your email inboxes. They are the ones touting a plant-based diet that is highly restrictive. No oil, sugar, or salt. Gluten is the devil. Soy will give you man boobs, or breast cancer. Cooked food is poison. Green smoothies are bad for you. Fat will kill you. Nuts will kill you. You must cleanse. You must juice. You must fast. You must do 80/10/10. You must pay for my coaching, my books, DVDs, cooking classes, weekend intensives, etc.

What all of these gurus have in common, aside from making money off of people’s vulnerabilities, is that that they perpetuate the idea of their brand of restrictive diet as the perfect diet, the magical diet that will turn you into a supermodel, help you find the perfect mate, shield you from disease forever, and more.

When the gurus, ex-“vegan” bloggers, and those who follow restrictive diets publicly shame perfectly good and sometimes healthy foods, they create a lot of confusion about what is vegan and what is not. Mentoring people for The Thinking Vegan, I have seen this confusion firsthand. Is gluten vegan? Yes. Is oil vegan? Yes. Can I eat processed foods? Yes.

Ethical vegans, who may or may not care about reaching perfect levels of health or having a bikini body, frequently endure attacks for eating processed foods, oil, cooked food, baked goods, etc. We’re accused of harming the movement unless we look a certain way. I’ve covered this topic multiple times and don’t need to revisit it here.

The last thing we want to do as vegans and activists is to give the impression that a plant-based diet is highly restrictive. The average person already perceives our diets as restrictive just from omitting animal products. As an ethical vegan, I don’t give a shit what you eat, as long as you aren’t eating animal products. What you eat or don’t eat is your business and should remain that way. It’s important for us to stay focused on the nonhuman animals who are confined, tortured, mutilated and killed for people’s tastes, pleasure and traditions: not health claims, demonizing perfectly good foods, and perpetuating restrictive diets.

 

 

 

 

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Comments

  1. Ulrike Bialas
    July 29, 2014

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    I remember how annoyed I was when Natalie Portman started eating meat again when she became pregnant, and the press congratulated her as finally having chosen the sensible, responsible path. I feel like you can only be the „I finally came to my senses“-ex-vegan if you saw veganism as a diet, which, like you said, it isn‘t. If you see veganism not as a diet, but the only ethical way to live, then your fatigue, eating disorder or whatever other problems you have would never cause you to „examine“ your veganism, but the actual physical, behavioral, and emotional factors behind your issues. As you said, it‘s ridiculous to blame your health problems on veganism or the other way around to thank your return to meat for your health. And if some study did come out that said „Vegans have a lower life expectancy“ or something similar, it wouldn‘t even cross my mind to stop being vegan, because I don‘t see veganism as an option to be dropped or resumed as new „evidence“ emerges.

    And I‘m completely with you on exaggerated health and beauty claims distracting from the ethical message which is so much more important, because a) it‘s by far the more valid one and b) once you‘ve internalized the ethical position, it‘s more likely to permanently keep you vegan than some health promise that may or may not come true and whose non-occurrence may cause you to disappointedly drop veganism.

    • Kat
      July 30, 2014

      Leave a Reply

      I’m not sure I understand. There are distinctions of veganism, correct? Dietary vegans, ethical vegans and environmental veganism may all have different reasoning, but ultimately are all walking parallel. I HAD cancer and through a lot of research decided to become a plant-based Vegan. In the course of my vegan-tenure I have been blasted by ethical Vegans for “not really being a true Vegan”. Not fun in a world of meat and dairy eaters. I felt a bit lost.
      Well, I’m cancer free thank you- and I attribute that to my eating habits. I am wholeheartedly a support of Veganism but am not a supporter for judging others for their choices. I think both sides of the matter need a little more love in their lives.

      • Gary Smith
        August 5, 2014

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        Kat, I’m happy that you are now cancer free. Great news. There is a distinction between a vegan, who makes the choice to not eat or use animals for ethical reasons and someone who chooses to eat a plant-based diet. Just as there is a difference between someone who chooses to eat a kosher diet does not make them Jewish or someone who chooses to eat a Paleo diet does not make them a caveman.

      • Amanda
        August 6, 2014

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        Hey Kat!
        Just wanted to talk to you about your cancer situation.. there’s a girl in the Rawtill4 group (https://www.facebook.com/groups/rawtill4/) who has cancer. I think since you’ve been through it yourself, you could be a big help to her! Her name is Lauren Hollingsworth.
        Just wanted to mention that ;) have a great day!

    • Gael R Murphy
      July 31, 2014

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      Ignore what movie stars, models, musicians, and other media hungry people do. Don’t make heroes of strangers. We know veganism is not about them, or us, it’s about ethics and the other animals.

      • Nate
        August 3, 2014

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        I don’t know about that. Gary Yourofsky is pretty awesome. :]

    • Scott
      July 31, 2014

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      Natalie Portman probably talked with Gwenyth Paltrow and figured that she and her baby would be healthier with eating meat again. There is a community in Alaska called Ionia, where everyone is vegan/macrobiotic and where my friend is the middle child of 13 healthy children born to a vibrant-healthy woman. Never touched meat. It is important to know about the energetics of the foods that you eat, especially in communities where Veganism is considered ‘unusual’ and our resources for support are limited. Understanding and using what we know about the five transformations of energy allows us to eat in accord with the natural systems that birthed their forms, and to stay in ideal health (including spiritually because we no longer kill unnecessarily to eat.)

      • Anita
        August 2, 2014

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        So glad you said that. Several of my acquaintances say, “Well what about the Eskimos? They don’t have fresh veggies and fruit available to them, only seals and whales. They don’t have any way of being vegan.” It’s unconscionable to me to take a life for my eating pleasure, or skinning an animal for my own vanity. I call myself a vegan of conscience. Can’t change that and have never felt better. Again, thank you.

      • Corinna
        August 5, 2014

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        wow, and I’m serious when I ask this….but how does one become vegan in Alaska? I remember watching a couple of shows thinking “I could never live there because I wouldn’t be able to be vegan”

        • Donna
          August 16, 2014

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          Yeah, I used to think that Alaska was no place for a vegan but there’s a vegan group in Anchorage and they have vegan potluck events.

    • Karen
      August 9, 2014

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      Great article and great response.

  2. Steven Todd Smith
    July 29, 2014

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    Excellent job again, Gary! You always express, so eloquently, the thoughts that furiously swirl around my head when the above happens. It’s SO important to make the distinction between LIVING a vegan life (completely, based in belief and values and unconditional and conscious compassion) and EATING a plant-based diet (for health, for fun, just food-based). Squares and rectangles, squares and rectangles. Thank you for the post. Vegan for life.

  3. Nance
    July 29, 2014

    Leave a Reply

    I disagree with the conclusion. I strongly feel that ethical vegans should make sure they get enough vitamin D, B-12 and iodine, not to mention other necessary vitamins, minerals and protein, so we shine as healthy, strong and living proof that animals are not necessary to human survival and health.

    • Kezia Jauron
      July 29, 2014

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      In what part of the article does he say not to take vitamins?

      Unfortunately convincing people a vegan diet is appropriate for “human survival and health” leads us to the very problem this article defines. How about this: a vegan diet is necessary to animal survival and health?

      • Den
        July 29, 2014

        Leave a Reply

        I suspect Nance disagreed with this part of the OP: “As an ethical vegan, I don’t give a shit what you eat, as long as you aren’t eating animal products. What you eat or don’t eat is your business and should remain that way. ”

        I also disagree with that, or at least think it too unclear. As an ethical vegan I care about the suffering of other animals, including human animals. A person that eats plant based without getting a sufficient intake of B12 will harm her-/himself and we should try to decrease or prevent that harm by giving good information and advise about the importance of adequate B12 intake. There are several concentrated B12 pills suitable for vegans on the market.

        • Gary Smith
          July 29, 2014

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          The post is not about health. It’s not what supplements or nutrients vegans need to be concerned about. There are plenty of other blogs focused on health where people can find that information.

          • claire
            August 15, 2014

            Hello, I’m an ex-vegan vegan. Meaning, I was vegan, then ex-vegan, now vegan. I went vegan for two years over ten years ago, somehow I had never heard of B12, after two years I was sick and run-down, I was convinced to eat a piece of fish by my mum, I felt better. Now I know of B12 and am vegan again, for two years and feel alright. Maybe the information was less prevalent then, or perhaps I wasn’t looking hard enough. I didn’t sign up to blogs or whatnot. But I just recently met another vegan who felt like shit and had never heard of B12. I told her about it and said to read Virginia Messina’s book. So, I dunno – it might still be pretty common for people trying to be vegan and not really knowing the basics of how to stay healthy on it…?

          • claire
            August 15, 2014

            http://www.theveganrd.com/

            FYI :)

    • Teed
      July 29, 2014

      Leave a Reply

      Or else you can just eat well and not fixate on any of this stuff. For three years, I’ve eaten vegetables, fruit, grains, snack foods, potato chips, chocolate, beer, wine, etc without devoting a moment’s energy to any of this angsty nonsense – and amazingly I’m healthy, shiny, and still alive.

      • Kezia Jauron
        July 29, 2014

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        I wish this comment platform allowed me to hit “like” on that, so I’ll just say +1.

      • Den
        July 29, 2014

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        I’m glad that you feel great. But it should be pointed out first that health complications from inadequate B12 can sometimes take several years of low intake to come about. It is in nutritional science a well established position that a plant based diet should be supplemented with B12, either as a separate supplement or through intake of sufficient amount of B12 fortified foods.

        • Gary Smith
          July 29, 2014

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          Again, this post is not about what supplements vegan need to take. Vegans should take B12 supplements. That has nothing to do with the point of the post.

    • Scott
      July 31, 2014

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      miso soup and seaweed both have a lot of iodine and vitamin b complex.
      They are great for replacing lost minerals and great for stabilizing blood sugar.

      • Berylvt
        August 2, 2014

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        Neither Miso nor sea weed nor Miso have Vit B12. They both have iodine. There is NO plant that has B12. For this reason alone any “Thinking Vegan” needs to take the health issues very seriously. Why does it have to be mutually exclusive? I am vegan for both health and kindness! Both! Simple!

        • Agathe
          August 3, 2014

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          Doesn’t miso have a fungus too from which you get the vitamin B12?

        • Corinna
          August 5, 2014

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          as someone mentioned earlier, there’s not a “like” button so +1

          :) I, too, am both.

        • Gary Smith
          August 5, 2014

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          Everyone, vegans and non-vegans, should know the basics of health, what sorts of nutrients they need, vitamins or minerals they should take, etc. That is different than focusing on some magical diet that is more pure than others.

        • Rebecca
          September 20, 2014

          Leave a Reply

          Vitamin B12 is a soil micro organism. It can be obtained by consuming unwashed vegetables. And It would occur on grains and so on. I am a vegan who takes multi-supplements. But I do not like to be bothered about all this vitamin stuff…I am a vegan for the animals. Animals first and I do not care much whether I am getting some micro nutrient. I feel fine. What would happen if we had to survive as vegans without the vitamin bottles we purchased at Walmart? What if the econosphere collapsed and we vegans could not buy Vitamin B 12? Oh the horror of it all!

          • Rebecca
            September 20, 2014

            This vitamin concern degrades veganism as a lifestyle which cannot maintain itself. We are told that one must survive with pills as supplements or perish. This surely must turn some people against veganism for fear of doing harm to their body. A meat eating dairy filled diet does not supply people with Vitamin B 12 as heat destroys Vitamin B 12.

      • Agata Szreter
        August 2, 2014

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        Thanks for sharing!

    • Lorena Elke
      August 5, 2014

      Leave a Reply

      Nance, according to my family doctor everyone in Canada is a little bit Vitamin D deficient (I am Canadian, she wasn’t being discriminating :). I have not eaten meat for 30 years….and been vegan for 18. Other than my Vitamin D being a bit low, I have never been deficient on anything…and I rarely take supplements. I think by assuming that every vegan should be fit, thin and vibrant, we do a disservice to the vegan movement. All bodies are different and need different things at different times. (menopause and peri-menopause are examples of that). As an ethical vegan, I know that no matter what happens, I will find a way that does not involve harming nonhuman animals.

  4. Jeremy
    July 29, 2014

    Leave a Reply

    Is it a little paranoid to think the meat and dairy industry is contracting these ex”vegans”? As in, setting them up, making them popular with the intention of them “failing” by design?

    • Sian White
      July 29, 2014

      Leave a Reply

      Yes.

      ;)

    • Brian
      August 5, 2014

      Leave a Reply

      Possibly. However, after Oprah Winfrey was sued by Farmers in the 1990s when She said She wouldn’t eat Cow again due to concerns over “mad Cow” disease, I could see a Marketer saying, “We need to build up the idea eating Animals is good to fend off the possible drop in sales if veganism does catch on,” and concocting just such a scheme. Granted, We would need evidence of such a plan before We start accusing.

    • Corinna
      August 5, 2014

      Leave a Reply

      Jeremy, seriously I was thinking the exact same thing! so I guess we be paranoid together.

      Conspiracies! Mafia! Tyranny! (not really but that’s all the quotes I can think of…LOLOLOL)

  5. Nance
    July 29, 2014

    Leave a Reply

    I agree with the premise of this article, for sure. I’ve just come across so many health-practitioners, chiropractors, and even a progressive women’s MD who on their websites in conversations, declare that none of their patients ever do well on a vegan diet and alarm their patients. This is alarming to me, when there is so much scientific evidence to the contrary and Kaiser Permanente has even gone public with this important information and is focused on re-educating their MDs. I feel very strongly that we need to provide strategies for vegans to succeed on plant foods and make clear that there are always plant-based ways to adjust a vegan diet so anyone can thrive without turning back to animal foods in desperation.

  6. pixiemom
    July 29, 2014

    Leave a Reply

    It is very discouraging to read a post by a learned, respected vegan mentor that places our percent of the population at 1%. The figure I see most oft repeated is 3-5%. How is it that our ranks are shrinking? Kindly respond with an explanation and/or correction. Thank you Gary for all that you do.

    • Kezia Jauron
      July 29, 2014

      Leave a Reply

      Kindly provide a valid study that finds 3-5% of the population is vegan.

  7. Ciera
    July 29, 2014

    Leave a Reply

    YES YES YES!!!! *cheers*

  8. Sian White
    July 29, 2014

    Leave a Reply

    It’s like you broke open my head, had a look around and then wrote down your findings.

    Amen.

  9. Seba
    July 29, 2014

    Leave a Reply

    On POINT! All of it. Thank you Gary, for this commentary. As a lifelong ethical vegan, it pains me to hear people speak of Veganism without the focus being on sparing the lives of fellow beings. Being vegan is a selfless way of living when we do it for the animals.

  10. Rebecca
    July 29, 2014

    Leave a Reply

    I think I love you, Gary Smith!

    As someone said recently, “I am a vegan who eats a plant-based diet.” All too often, we forget the reason we are vegan in the first place. Thanks for the great reminder!

  11. Erika
    July 29, 2014

    Leave a Reply

    This has the basis of a really thoughtful essay and you make some very salient points.

    However, I feel like that all goes out the window the moment you start diagnosing someone with an eating disorder and furthermore using that potential ED as a tool in your argument rather than respecting it as the intensely personal struggle it is. It’s really passive-aggressive to refer to her and her blog without directly linking to (or at least quoting) her posts or simply naming her, because we already know who you’re talking about. Creating a tag with the ‘nickname’ you’ve given her just makes me think of ‘Mean Girls’- are you expecting to be flaming this person more in the future? Why would you expend so much energy on “The Blonde Vegan?”

    It’s okay to disagree, but it’s not okay to play amateur psychologist. I fail to see how tearing apart one individual who may or may not have a serious mental illness benefits the animals.

    • Gary Smith
      July 29, 2014

      Leave a Reply

      Point one, she self diagnosed herself with an eating disorder. I didn’t diagnose her. Feel free to Google Blonde Vegan and you can read about her diagnosing herself as orthorexia AND blaming it on veganism. Here’s one recent example: http://www.people.com/article/blonde-vegan-jordan-younger-blogger-eating-disorder-orthorexia

      Point two, I made it very clear in the post that eating disorders are serious business that effect not only the person with the disorder but those who love them.

      Point three, I don’t like to directly link to people or posts where they attack veganism because I don’t want to give them additional hits. Most people are aware of her because of how much attention she has been getting in the news.

      Point four, I can promise that no animals were harmed in the writing of this blog post.

      • Erika
        July 29, 2014

        Leave a Reply

        Okay, fair enough. Since you didn’t link to her posts about that, it wasn’t clear. I’m not sure why you wouldn’t link to someone to give them exposure but will still talk about them on your blog. If you don’t want them to get attention, don’t give it to them.

        I still don’t think it’s acceptable to discuss someone else’s ED and how it may or may not affect their decision to be vegan. I did read the post and saw that you made the point about EDs being very serious, but I don’t think issuing that disclaimer gives you the right to weigh in on an intensely private struggle.

        I appreciate you didn’t harm any animals in the making of this post. I do have to wonder how likely it is that Carrie will return to veganism once she is healthy, if these kind of personal attacks are what she associates with the vegan community. Sure, she walked out the door, but posts like this are slamming it shut and locking it behind her.

        • Erika
          July 29, 2014

          Leave a Reply

          Sorry, meant to say Jordan. My BFFs IRL are named Jordan and Carrie, got them mixed up in my head .__.

        • Jennifer
          July 31, 2014

          Leave a Reply

          I share Erika’s concern.

          Sure, there may be some insincere or opportunistic bloggers out there. But Gary, please consider Sayward Rebhal’s message for vegan advocates—watch from 1:00-4:08:

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pMfJfnmPFUM#t=172

          There really are some folks who are sold on the rightness of veganism, and who would prefer to stay on a vegan diet—but who experience worsening health after going on a vegan diet (for whatever reason), and are desperate to feel better.

          Sayward was one such person. Adrienne is another. She is a member of my vegan meetup group. She is not an attention-seeking blogger. She’s a sweet soul who was suffering, healthwise, and was desperate to feel better. By the time I found out she was struggling with her health, she had already tried eating some animal products, and was reporting on Facebook that she was feeling some improvement in her symptoms. But she is conflicted and sad about this.

          Of course, she was getting lots of encouragement from her non-vegan friends. We understand why this happens—why non-vegans will rally around an ex-vegan with their chorus of approval. That chorus is frustrating to us, and is always full of misinformation, and it may have sped Adrienne’s retreat from her vegan diet, but it wasn’t the cause. I believe Adrienne when she says she was suffering. Her symptoms were real, and they are what caused her to give up on her vegan diet. And for whatever reason, she’s feeling better these days.

          I think the question for us is this: when anyone makes a public “I’m no longer vegan” announcement, what response is in the best interest of our movement?

          I’m not sure. But I’ll share what I’ve done in the past, and my thinking behind it.

          I make a point to show compassion, express my sympathy for their difficulty, and share helpful contact info with them, like this:
          - – - – -
          Anna, I’m so sorry to hear about what you went through. My goodness—I hope you continue to feel better. Nobody deserves to be in pain or suffer like that.

          Have you tried contacting Jack Norris RD yet? His specialty is helping folks when they’re not thriving on a vegan diet for some reason. He’ll be happy to help if he can. Here is his contact page: jacknorrisrd.com/contact_form.php Matt Ruscigno is another RD who might be of help: http://truelovehealth.com/consult/

          I certainly wish you good health. May we all show one another compassion, as we strive to build a more compassionate world.
          - – - – -

          By doing this, I don’t reinforce the stereotype of the hostile vegan who’s a hypocrite for lacking compassion, and I’ve provided some vegan RDs in case someone else—perhaps a sincere vegan who is struggling with their own health—is reading the comments.

          In other cases, I’ve provided the link to Sayward’s story, saying “In case you haven’t seen this, it’s Sayward Rebhal’s account of getting sick and reclaiming her health as a vegan. While her particular diagnosis might not be the same as yours, it might still be comforting to read about her experience, and her ultimate success. Hugs and love to you! http://bonzaiaphrodite.com/2013/01/facing-failing-health-on-a-vegan-diet/

          But I think we in the vegan movement must recognize the possibility that maybe some folks really are failing to thrive on a vegan diet, not because they’re doing it wrong, but because Michael Klaper’s hypothesis is correct. In this talk filmed last year (2013), he presents the provocative possibility that years of eating a diet heavy in animal products can impair the body’s normal digestive processes, causing people to do poorly on an all-vegan diet.

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0tJyb1wTxg4

          The video ends with this note: “You are not ‘doomed’ to being a ‘failure to thrive’ vegan if you have this problem. Tapering off meat can allow your body to adjust over time and upregulate all functions.” Clearly more research is needed.

          But I think, as Sayward says, it’s dangerous to dismiss the possibility that ex-vegans are truthfully reporting their experience when they say they felt much better after resuming consumption of animal products.

          For the sake of the animals, we need to figure out how to respond to ex-vegans in a way that keeps non-vegans’ doors to change open.

          • Gary Smith
            August 5, 2014

            Jennifer, I am aware of Sayward’s blog piece and have discussed it with her. I have been dealing with a myriad of chronic health issues (that started before I went vegan and have not improved since). I understand what it is like to live in poor health. I cannot count the number of MDs, functional MDs, naturopaths, chiropractors, acupuncturists, alternative whomevers, et al who have tried to pressure me to eat animals. Many. I have not nor will I ever make that choice. Even if someone could guarantee me that I would be better, I still wouldn’t make that choice as an ethical vegan. Period.

            I continue to research and work with various practitioners to get better. It may never happen. It saddens me that an ethical vegan would make the choice to go against their ethics. It saddens me even more when they decide to do so publicly. There is no reason why ex-”vegan” bloggers need to proclaim that they are no longer vegan. They can just as easily stop blogging, pull down the blog, etc. They are doing so to either get support from their “fans” to make themselves feel okay about consuming individuals or to continue to sell their vegan cookbooks or t-shirts.

      • Grey
        July 30, 2014

        Leave a Reply

        Thanks for this explanation! Just a heads up – if in the future you want to link to a site without boosting its rank in search engines, you might consider using donotlink.com. Just an suggestion, if you’re not already aware of it. :)

  12. Mariana
    July 29, 2014

    Leave a Reply

    Great article! so clear and concise. Thanks for sharing!

  13. Rebecca White
    July 29, 2014

    Leave a Reply

    Most of the health connections with veganism (raw, gluten-free, etc) are of only limited help and don’t have a firm foundation of science behind them. However, the low fat/oil free version DOES have science behind it. Yes, their version is a version for health, but these are scientists who have spent decades studying the effects of diets. By throwing them in with those who get off on restriction and belittling what they have to say, you’re not being very intelligent about it and you’re tossing away allies. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to be healthy. There’s nothing wrong with wanting not to be diabetic and stop the growth of cancer and the development of heart disease. Maybe the ethics of it comes later, but in the meantime, how about not being so damn judgmental and try respecting humans a little more? We’re all on the same planet trying to do the best we can.

    • Kezia Jauron
      July 29, 2014

      Leave a Reply

      Because other research says plant oils (especially olive oil) and fats are beneficial. Because nutritional science is an evolving field characterized by scant, difficult to interpret evidence that is even contradictory at times. But mostly because they (a) can make a vegan diet look like it’s unusually restrictive or difficult, (b) confuse the public because they tend to be so vocal and have such large mouthpieces, and (c) distract the public from the ethical foundation of this movement.

      10 billion land animals are killed for food in the U.S. alone every year, and we’re not doing them any favors telling people veggie burgers are bad.

      I highly recommend this interview with vegan RD Ginny Messina for more on this subject.
      http://thethinkingvegan.com/interviews/interview-with-vegan-for-life-author-ginny-kisch-messina/

  14. Bee-gan
    July 29, 2014

    Leave a Reply

    There is no obesity epidemic. First of all, obesity isn’t a disease. It’s a made-up word for a made-up construct. Yes, fatness is correlated with some diseases, but correlation is not causation, and it most certainly is not a disease in and of itself. You know what’s not scientific and is incredibly harmful? Pathologizing body types. Second, weights in this country haven’t risen in over two decades, so no – there is no epidemic of this non-disease.

    If you’re going to be scientifically rigorous, then be scientifically rigorous across the board. Don’t spout hurtful, scientifically-baseless nonsense. Do real research – and, while you’re at it, cite your sources for your claims of “epidemic” for the actual diseases you’re using as tools to shame and scare-monger.

    By the way, fat vegans exist, even fat vegans who eat all the “right” things, so keep in mind who you’re hurting when you demonize fatness (never mind that even omnivore fat people are people and thus, you know, animals deserving vegan compassion).

    • Gary Smith
      July 29, 2014

      Leave a Reply

      Wow, you sure seemed to miss this link in the post – http://thethinkingvegan.com/tag/fat-shaming/ — I have written about fat shaming three times on this blog. If you don’t wish to click on the links, I am against it.

      Pointing out that two thirds of Americans are overweight or obese is not fat shaming. It is pointing to a serious problem, along with the other chronic diseases that are on the rise.

      http://win.niddk.nih.gov/statistics/

      “Overweight and Obesity among Adults Age 20 and Older, United States, 2009–2010. Adults Age 20 and Older. More than two-thirds (68.8 percent) of adults are considered to be overweight or obese. More than one-third (35.7 percent) of adults are considered to be obese.”

    • Deazelle
      August 2, 2014

      Leave a Reply

      You are wrong on several counts and should have done your own research.

      First, the Oxford Dictionary definition of obesity is as follows:
      epidemic /Ⴀɛpɪˈdɛmɪk/ Ⴂnoun a widespread occurrence of an infectious disease in a community at a particular time. Ⴁa sudden, widespread occurrence of an undesirable phenomenon.

      So yes, the word “epidemic” is perfectly acceptable here.

      Second, according to the Centers for Disease Control, “There was a dramatic increase in obesity in the United States from 1990 through 2010. (…) No state met the nation’s Healthy People 2010 goal to lower obesity prevalence to 15%. Rather, in 2010, there were 12 states with an obesity prevalence of 30%. In 2000, no state had an obesity prevalence of 30% or more. So what does that tell you?
      Source: http://www.cdc.gov/obesity/data/adult.html

      According to Gallup, “In the U.S., the adult obesity rate is 27.7% thus far in 2014. This compares with the 27.1% average in 2013 — the highest annual rate Gallup and Healthways have measured since beginning to track obesity in 2008. (…) The obesity rate was 25.5% in 2008 when Gallup and Healthways first began tracking it. The percentage of obese adults has fluctuated since then, but is now 2.2 percentage points higher than it was in 2008.”
      Source: http://www.gallup.com/poll/170264/adult-obesity-rate.aspx

      Further, according to the Food Research and Action Center,
      “In the U.S.:
      68.5% of adults are overweight or obese; 34.9% are obese.
      31.8% of children and adolescents are overweight or obese; 34.9% are obese.
      30.4% of low-income preschoolers are overweight or obese.
      Disparities exist based on race-ethnicity, gender, age, geographic region, and socioeconomic status.”
      Source: http://frac.org/initiatives/hunger-and-obesity/obesity-in-the-us/

      This is not “scientifically-baseless nonsense”. This is scientific fact. You just don’t want to hear it.

  15. Ian
    July 29, 2014

    Leave a Reply

    Excellent article as always Gary. Some of the commenters do seem to rather miss the point. One of the points that you make, the central one it seems to me, is that veganism has been hijacked by diet faddists and food obsessives. I love food, I love to cook and explore new cuisines and my cookbook collection is spreading from my kitchen to other rooms. As an RN I see the devastating effects of disease every day and can connect the dots between a good deal of modern disease and our life style – including diet. So I definitely want to enjoy a varied and enjoyable menu and stay healthy, but that has nothing to do, per se, with veganism. I am vegan because I believe in the necessity of respecting the life of each sentient being to the greatest extent possible, and that while my survival and health may justify doing harm (if this was truly necessary) my pleasure and convenience absolutely do not.
    The early pioneers of veganism and vegetarianism would I think be stunned and dismayed by the narcissistic and hedonistic content of many, many vegan blogs; which seem to exist less to promote compassion and veganism than as vehicles for self-promotion that may become parlayed into a career. Food was of necessity a concern to them as they were exploring new territory and needed to find new ways of eating to fit the new ethics and enable them to stay healthy. Food as such was rarely the focus (but vegetarianism has, to be honest, always attracted its fair share of faddists), compassion for all was. Anyone who wants to explore this side of veganism can read JoAnne Stepaniaks “Being Vegan” for a beautiful exposition of ethical veganism in its fullest form. I enjoy many vegan blogs that are recipe centric, but way too many only discuss food, rarely animal liberation, and are focussed on one or other restrictive diet that lack any real evidenced based justification.
    Coming to a conclusion that a writer who is vigorously recommending a highly restrictive diet without any evidence supporting it may have eating issues is not taking a leap in the dark…
    Bee-gan; fat shaming is uncompassionate and counter productive (or just cruel and ignorant if you like). And it is true that there is not a 1:1 correlation between obesity and and disease (nor is there between any behavior and disease: some non-smokers get lung cancer, most smokers don’t, some alcoholics have healthy livers, some who have never touched alcohol develop cirrhosis etc). It is also true that the concept of obesity is imprecise and culturally variable. However, it flies in the face of evidence to deny that obesity as generally defined is a significant part of a complex of causes that lead to illness. There is an obesity epidemic and it does have tragically harmful effects on individuals lives. It has many causes: individual behavior, food availability, education, and the food-industrial complex which maximises profits by selling foods which make obesity far more likely. Victimising those who are obese is wrong, but encouraging them to see themselves as victims or denying that there is a problem is also wrong. If people who are making unhealthy lifestyle choices are able to see the causes behind their situation and offered the ability to take control of their lives and make free choices (and some may of course choose to change nothing, as is their right) to move in a direction that makes them feel better and be healthier (and maybe reduce suffering to animals also), then I do not see that encouraging these things is fat-shaming or attacking people who may be overweight.
    What do you think?

  16. Lanette
    July 29, 2014

    Leave a Reply

    I can appreciate the fact that ethical vegans would be upset by people who can’t get past their “issues” with being vegan and return to eating meat. However, as someone that eats a plant based diet for health reasons and not ethical ones, I would think that the fact that people are switching to a plant based diet for health reasons would be a good thing…they aren’t eating animals any longer so the end the result is the same…the ethical aspects of being vegan can come with time as it has with me,

    Everyone is entitled to their own opinion and you are certainly entitled to yours, however I don’t see any value in degrading those that encourage eating a plant based diet in whatever form. If it gets people to eat less animals and animal products then the end goal has been achieved IMHO.

    Encouraging people to think of food differently for health reasons or even vanity is sometimes what is needed to switch to a plant based vegan diet. I have influenced more people than I care to count to switch to a plant based diet because of the health results and weight loss that I have achieved. If I instead shared that I am saving animals with my diet change I probably would not have convinced 1 person to switch their diets. If vanity and health are the carrot then I say it’s a win-win. We win, the animals win. Hard line beliefs as the one you shared here are not going to win anyone over to your side except those that are already there.

  17. Roz Paterson
    July 29, 2014

    Leave a Reply

    I am a relatively new Vegan. I read Dr. Will Tuttle’s World Peace diet and converted from Vegetarian to Vegan by chapter 3. I am completely on board with the ethical philosophy behind the movement.
    I was aware of the criticism leveled at Vegans about nutrition so I did a small amount of research and discovered the very few things that are missing from a Vegan diet. I take B12 and flax for Omega 3.

    It breaks my heart to read rubbish like the stuff posted on the infamous blog mentioned in the article and the wide reach that kind of press achieves but what upsets me even more is that almost every Vegan website, blog or source of information I have found is peppered with Vegans argueing and squabbling with each other.

    I read one the other day where members were being hideously abusive to each other about the contents of a Vegan cheese sauce. The arguement was about whether it was healthy or not. (I think any way you looked at it it was healthier than the veggie version I used to eat.) But that is beside the point, how can we expect people to take us seriously and want to join the ranks when all they read is this kind of petty bickering. That is not demonstrating any form of ‘ahimsa’ that I can see. If I had read some discussion boards/blogs etc. before Will Tuttle, I may have just thought stuff you all and not have made the change.

    Please, I urge you all to practice tolerance for the many approaches to Veganism, and the roads to get there from people who are making a start, those who are still just veggie and even those still eating meat but thinking about it hard. Please resist the urge to be ‘more Vegan than thou’.

    If we Encourage people kindly and offer help no matter what their reasons for adopting or looking at a Vegan lifestyle, or current eating habits then we will appear much more attractive to others and our ranks may grow from 1% (or whatever it is ) to much more.

    Love
    Roz

  18. hkh
    July 30, 2014

    Leave a Reply

    Dozen+ yrs vegan, decades veg, just can’t have any sympathy for those who claim to have ‘tried’ to go veg but got too tired/too much social pressure/whatever. Think, really think, for five minutes about just one of the countless sentient beings who’ll be tortured for your palate pleasure or energy (while you hug your kitten or puppy who you’d defend to the death) and I’m sure you’ll find a way to live this lifestyle which allows so many to fully thrive.

  19. Liam
    July 30, 2014

    Leave a Reply

    Thanks for this. I will be using parts of this in my next ‘vegan conversation’….good stuff.

  20. Nienke
    July 30, 2014

    Leave a Reply

    So what I don’t get… health issues aside, how is it okay for an ethical vegan to eat loads of non-organic soy, grains and coca cola – as long as it’s vegan?

    Which is basically what you’re saying. So as long as there are no animals killed, it’s okay to eat other stuff that’s destroying the planet? I don’t see that, really. I see it happening in the vegan community often, but I don’t get it.

    Also, there definately are people who randomly jump off and on the vegan bandwagon. Sure there are. But there also ARE people who do think about what they eat and how very, very thoroughly. I think they deserve more credit than being accused of egotistical and narcisistic behaviour, simply because they’ve come to a different conclusion than you did, ethically speaking.

    • Michael Riser
      August 5, 2014

      Leave a Reply

      I think the evidence speaks to the narcissism and lack of thorough thinking. Part of the frustration here is that these people make many claims about nutrition knowledge, or how hard they tried, when the evidence isn’t there. If they really tried, there are tons of options. It’s ludicrous to think that in any modern city in our society you could be required for your health and livelihood to eat animals or animal products. It just isn’t true. I grant that bodies have a lot of differences, but none that major barring some sort of major disorder.

      I think it’s also a fair point that just animals shouldn’t be the focus, as you say. Other human beings and the planet we all share should also be major considerations, as they are for me. And I think that’s very much a major part of things for most vegans. I don’t know many who aren’t educated about organic farming and such, or who go around eating tons of non-organic soy, etc. Usually its par for the course for ethical vegans, though not always.

    • Gary Smith
      August 5, 2014

      Leave a Reply

      Nienke, ethical veganism is “a way of living which excludes all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, the animal kingdom” that recognizes that nonhuman animals have the right to bodily autonomy and the freedom to not be oppressed or exploited by others. Non-organic soy, grains and coca cola are not animals. People’s eating habits outside of meat, dairy and eggs are not relevant to veganism.

      Some people make dietary choices that fall in line with your ethics – not purchasing slave chocolate, slave coffee, etc. Good on them, but not directly connected to veganism.

      • Darlene
        August 5, 2014

        Leave a Reply

        People’s eating habits outside of meat, dairy and eggs are not relevant to veganism.”

        AND HONEY. Vegans also do not eat honey (and use products that contain honey or its derivative such as beeswax, which is commonly found in lipsticks, lip balms, mascaras and candles).

        I used to eat honey every single day before becoming a vegan. A lot of vegans do not mention honey while promoting veganism that there are a lot of non-vegans who call themselves “vegan” while eating/using honey products.

        Why don’t vegans consume/use honey and beeswax products?

        Bees are insects, and insects are among the most diverse groups of animals on Earth. Insects possess a brain, a heart, nerve cells that enable them to feel pain, intestines that enable them to defecate. Insects also bleed when they are hurt and their blood clots so that they can recover from minor injuries. In humans, blood gets its red color from hemoglobin, which is used to carry oxygen to the parts of our body that needs oxygen but because insects get oxygen from a complex system of air tubes instead, their blood doesn’t have hemoglobin in it, which is why their blood is not red in color but is clear/yellowish/greenish (depending on the insect species).

        Insects also possess awareness and intelligence (not that someone’s intelligence can dictate the value of their life) that enable them to make smart and rational decisions. And the way decisions get made in a bee’s brain bears uncanny resemblance to the way that decisions get made in a human’s brain: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q-5XjWZlosgand

        While all bees may look the same to us, they actually don’t look the same as they all have different faces. Insects recognize each other’s individual faces using a brain processing mechanism similar to that of humans that allows humans to recognize each other’s individual faces: ://www.scientificamerican.com/…/insects-recognize-faces…

        While humans cannot recognize individual bee faces, bees can recognize individual human faces and even remember a human face that they’ve seen before: http://news.sciencemag.org/…/12/bees-recognize-human-faces

        However, when Donald Watson coined the word “vegan,” he did not know any of these newly discovered facts about bees. A bee’s intelligence or “human-like” qualities did not play any role in his stating that a vegan does not exploit bees by consuming/using honey or any product that contains honey or its derivative (such as beeswax) because veganism acknowledges that no matter how small a bee may be in size, a bee values his/her life as much as a human does his/her life.

        As for how cruel honey (including manuka honey or any other type of bee honey) is:

        “Bees will defend their honey with their lives if the hive is threatened and die after using their sting. When the honey is stolen by humans, the bees are fed a replacement sugar like corn syrup or sugar syrup which is devoid of the nutrients bees need and therefore the bees suffer from diseases and parasites as their health weakens. To save money on having to feed the bees the syrup when they are not producing honey over winter, farmers often burn the hives and start a new colony in the next spring. Queen bees normally live for 7 years but are routinely killed each year and replaced with a new queen to prevent swarming, when the older queen takes her colony to escape into the wild. Queen bees are raped by artificial insemination, and the male bees crushed to obtain the semen. Queen bees as well as other bees are transported in cardboard boxes through the post and many die in transit. Bees in farmed hives regularly suffer the travel of hundreds of miles stacked on trucks to different locations. ” ― Dr. Will Tuttle, The World Peace Diet — ://www.amazon.com/World-Peace-Diet…/dp/1590560833

        Agave nectar and a product called “Bee Free Honee” (www.beefreehonee.com) are some of the cruelty-free solutions to honey.

  21. Marcel
    July 30, 2014

    Leave a Reply

    Come on, i am Vegan and i am fat.
    What’s up with people thinking veganism is a diet to lose weight?
    Are they really that stupid?

    The biggest problem here is that most of them, while eating meat, are not having a ballanced meal in any way, and when they go to veganism they have no idea of what “balanced meal” is, so they just cut meat.

  22. Abby
    July 30, 2014

    Leave a Reply

    (slow clap)

    These lines below need to be read to the whole freaking world. Rock on:

    “It’s clear from reading her blog that she had an eating disorder well before she ever started eating a plant-based diet, and like most of these highly vocal ex-“vegans,” ate an extremely restrictive plant-based diet. They are very forthcoming about this fact, because they believe that restrictive diets are purer, cleaner, more perfect.

    Guess what? This fixation on perfection and purity ultimately becomes onerous, tiring, annoying. It becomes hard to maintain. No wonder when they “listened to their body,” it told them to eat a damn cupcake and move on. It’s not veganism’s fault, it’s these bizarrely strict, out-of-balance diets that exclude so much of the variety, diversity, and fun of vegan foods.”

  23. Ken B
    July 30, 2014

    Leave a Reply

    Amen!

  24. Krefcenz
    July 30, 2014

    Leave a Reply

    I guess I’m tired of the fallacy of the false alternative. One has to have only one focus, either it’s ethics or health. They aren’t mutually exclusive. And both are important. I understand that the point of this article isn’t about supplements or health claims. But it does put down health considerations as a basis for veganism. And restrictive vegan diets is a pejorative. Own up. If I say to a vegan friend, you probably shouldn’t eat oreo cookies as Jack Norris and Ginny Messina suggest in Vegan for Life as a transitional food, that’s restrictive. Leaves a lot of other stuff. But anytime you prune a diet to remove the most problematic foods, you are making it more restrictive and healthier. And I can care about animal suffering and human suffering cause by addictive eating. I don’t want to encourage more the intake of refined addictive vegan foods. If I care about animals, I should care about my fellow vegan too. When I listen to Jeff Nelson from Vegsource “bash” ethical vegans, I am saddened. Reading articles like this one that do the reverse make me sad as well. It’s a false choice. I do give a shit about what people eat Gary because their health matters to me as much as the cow I’m trying to save from the slaughterhouse. You have done a disservice to the vegan community by perpetuating this false choice. Kref.

    • Gary Smith
      August 5, 2014

      Leave a Reply

      A disservice to the vegan community? Seriously? Like I have some sort of magical powers that will make vegans and non-vegans stop drinking Diet Coke, consuming deep fried Oreos and the like? To care about humans I have to care about junk food that they choose to ingest?

  25. beforewisdom
    July 30, 2014

    Leave a Reply

    Here is a similar commentary I wrote a few years ago on the same subject

    Where was *MY* meatgasm?

  26. Aliana
    July 30, 2014

    Leave a Reply

    It’s always very interesting looking at different movements’ and how their sub-groups develop. For most ethical vegans, “trendy” vegans can be frustrating because they seem to digress from the ultimate goal- human and non-human animal liberation.
    What I find to be most frustrating is when non-vegans criticize my personal journey as a vegan. I’ve been asked if I eat honey because they wanted to know whether I was a “real vegan or not.” I’ve also been told that I’m not eating a healthy diet when, in fact, I have become exponentially more intentional about what I consume. I’m most annoyed at this comment because our entire country sustains itself on pizza, fries, and burgers… where are they getting their daily vegetable servings? Ketchup? People should really stop criticizing the vegan diet.
    What is worse is that I find it unbearable talking to non-vegans about my diet because I automatically become defensive and angry when I really should be celebrating my decision to live a compassionate life. Why should I be bullied on about that?
    Despite all of that, I am a proud ethical vegan who decided at the age of 8 (in a meat eating family) that I would not support the exploitation of sentient beings; no one can ever take that away from me.

  27. Mad4U
    July 30, 2014

    Leave a Reply

    I totally agree with this. I think some of those “ex-vegans” just did it for publicity in the first place. Any lasting change has to come from the heart and these people’s hearts just weren’t in the right place to begin with. They have hurt the cause with their shallowness. They just dipped their toes in it and figured it was too hard. Going against the norm isn’t easy. Some of these are “fitness” TV stars that just jump from one fad to the next to sell their tapes and videos. Some have gone from Vegan to Paleo of all things without skipping a beat! Makes no sense whatsoever. They have no credibility.

  28. resourcefulvegan
    July 30, 2014

    Leave a Reply

    I find it interesting that people claim veganism caused their eating disorders, as for me, it help me overcome mine.
    i suffered with anorexia, then bullemia for a long time. Once i got to the bullemic stage, binges were all to easy to have as there is so much choice of junk food.
    often people with EDs feel like they have no control over their lives, so control their food to feel like they have some control over something, and i was no exception. Going vegan gave me that control, and a better motive to say no to things like chocolate/pizza/junk food. To begin with, i did try and live on a restrictive diet, but as the doors to a whole new world of food and cooking evolved, i began to eat more, and my new focus was being healthy, not skinny. Ive never looked back, and as i now consume enough calories, my mindset has changed, and i no longer fear food. I could write an extremely long essay on this, but hope people get the drift of what I’m saying and know what a help veganism has been to me.

  29. Jonny Gibbings
    July 30, 2014

    Leave a Reply

    I think a core issue for some vegans is that they are not vegan, yeah they adopt a vegan diet but as a diet – not an ethical lifestyle. I get so pissed with the slimmer/health kick vegan fad. I’ve been vegan for over 24 years, never once for aesthetics.
    Oh, and I’ve never supplemented my diet either and at 44 I still surf every day, out train 20 yr olds, did the big wave season in freezing England/Ireland.

  30. Ofeended Carnivore
    July 31, 2014

    Leave a Reply

    There is something incredibly frightening about many proclaimed vegans’ take on human beings who merely live as humans have been intended for millenia, bordering on psychotic hatred for those who consume animal flesh. I agree that animals as they are currently being used by humanity in mass-growth and slaughter type situations, pumping them full of steroids and treating them just like product is totally wrong. But I disagree adamantly with the take that those who eat meat are murderers. The natural world is full of predator/prey situations. Some animals diets’, in fact, consist almost entirely of animal protein. Human beings tend to do better with a good deal more vegetables, supplemented with animal protein. I myself will not deny physiology simply because I am overcome by empathy. This world is not a cute, cuddly place where everything gets along.

    • Gary Smith
      August 5, 2014

      Leave a Reply

      So much to respond to. Just because we lived for thousands of years exploiting and consuming the bodies and property of nonhuman animals, doesn’t mean that we should continue to do so or that it is right to do so. Just as we exploited Africans, Chinese, Irish and others for many years, doesn’t mean that we have the right to continue to do so. We know, meaning it’s a scientific fact, that we do not have to consume any animal products to live. As such, doing so is a choice that has real consequences – to the tune of ten billion land animals and billions more of fishes, not to mention the environmental impact of doing so.

      By the way, you are not a carnivore, you are an omnivore, just as I am. That means that you can digest animal protein, but don’t have to to survive, unlike a lion.

  31. PythagoreanCrank
    July 31, 2014

    Leave a Reply

    If veganism isn’t to blame it’s at least complicit.
    http://pythagoreancrank.com/?p=2757

  32. Salmon Ethics
    August 1, 2014

    Leave a Reply

    I was impressed by a young yet veteran vegan friend enough to read a few books on factory farming, and then I began eating an inclusive vegan diet and felt better than I had when eating an omnivorous diet.

    It began socio-ethically for me, and with a healthful hope for increasing wellness for me and every other critter, so I continue eliminating mediocre ingredients from my diet whenever I find out about and get to add superlative ingredients instead.

    Body is beauty; get into it. Embodiment is beautiful.

    I moved to Kodiak Island in hope of working in the construction industry, yet I became a commercial fisherman and adopted a freegan diet to get enough food after not getting a construction job.

    Now I am a college student in Portland, Oregon and it couldn’t be easier to have any kind of vegan food at any time of day. I took an environmental ethics class which dealt specifically with sentience and moral respect; I am not opposed to eating salmon since I did a philosophical evaluation of their life cycle and human intervention.

    Salmon generally have three disparate death experiences: (1) they arrive at their natal stream unscathed, they copulate, their bodies begin decomposing and falling to pieces while they are still conscious and dying; (2) they are intercepted by a nonhuman predator, such as a bear or eagle, which picks their flesh from their bones whilst they are still conscious and dying; and, (3) they are intercepted by a fisherman, either hooked or netted, and they suffocate while conscious or are knocked out with a blow to the base of the skull before dying.

    One half of the carrying capacity of a salmon run is its maximum sustainable yield, and many Alaskan salmon fisheries were better managed and largely survived the degradation and depletion which is extirpating subspecies in the Columbia River Basin where I dwell now.

    My relatives send salmon from Alaska for me and my husky mutt to share. They are subsistence dip-netters with indigenous family members. There is radioactivity in the Pacific Ocean from Fukashima, so I’m probably going to treat myself with cancer killing herbs for my entire life to come, and I enjoy their flavors anyway.

    Animals are being prodded and enclosed in cramped cages for their entire lives; let’s recommit to abolishing that reality with everything we’ve got. Once there is nowhere any animal suffering constantly in those conditions, then let’s recommit to abolishing the next worst injustice, etcetera. Alienating anyone, ex-vegans especially, from a safer-space of solidarity and tolerance, from an evidence-based program of action without guilt trips, is less benevolence to nonhuman beings than we’re capable of.

    Including everyone else and encouraging us all to think critically, and to act accordingly, is the best I can do with you right now.

  33. Debby Sunshine
    August 2, 2014

    Leave a Reply

    This post really resonated with me. Although I strive to keep my intake of oils and fats under control (I do cook with some oils and eat small amounts of nuts,etc) and I care about my health, the driving forces which keep me staying vegan are ethical in nature. I know that if I eat a vegan cupcake or processed vegan food bar, at least I haven’t contributed to the harm of animals. I also care about the environment and don’t want to contribute to the environmental hazards of factory farming, fishing, etc. I too feel so disappointed to read about these bloggers resorting back to eating animals for “health” reasons. I truly believe that any vegan diet can be tweaked to make you feel better. Maybe more beans for iron, or more greens for calcium, etc. Thank you for writing this article! You certainly live up to your “Thinking Vegan” name!

  34. Amber
    August 3, 2014

    Leave a Reply

    I have read this blog and I do agree with a fair bit of it I also disagree with a bit as well. It came across as being quite militant about veganism and I find myself fighting against the general belief that all vegans judge those who eat meat and even judge vegetarians. People need to make the decision and come to it in their own time. If any choice is forced or based on fear of judgement, it is less likely to last. I try to make myself as approachable as possible and leave room for questions about why I choose to be vegan. If we can break down the walls and change the preconceptions of vegans we can open others hearts and minds to the reality of the choices they make. I was a vegetarian for many years before switching to the vegan lifestyle and I have never looked back. Just my opinion and sorry if it offends anyone here.

  35. Jax
    August 3, 2014

    Leave a Reply

    Sorry, no.

    You’ve spent so much time talking about fat shaming and how other vegans’ health isn’t anybody’s business (which is, by the way, excellent and commendable). Then you decide to turn around and–with literally no knowledge of what ex-vegans actually felt except your ignorant vegan-tinted-goggles can detect from your biased-ass readings of what for many of us were painful and shame-inducing things to write about–imply that we’re lying about our health issues.

    Sorry, but although animal rights is and always should be the primary reason for anybody to go vegan, there is only so much that some of us can tolerate before realizing it just fucking isn’t for us. And you can rationalize all you want about what you think our “real” reasons for leaving were, but it won’t change the fact that you’re nothing more than an armchair dietician who has not one iota of a clue what he’s talking about outside of subjective, arbitrary vegan ethics.

    • Gary Smith
      August 5, 2014

      Leave a Reply

      Jax, the armchair dieticians are the ones who proclaim that their bodies are telling them to exploit and eat individuals, not me. I’ve read plenty of nutritional science which shows that we can survive and thrive by eating plants.

  36. Fiona
    August 3, 2014

    Leave a Reply

    Great article Gary and some really great replies. I went vegan about seven years ago and five years later got sick from lack of b12, now religiously take supplements, still vegan and really healthy. I agree nutrition wasn’t the point of your article but where you’re discussing people reverting to meat it might be important to acknowledge that a vegan diet does not give you everything you need, but that in this day and age that is no bar to being vegan.

  37. viii
    August 5, 2014

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    So much fucken critizism from even family. Talking down to me, on my “diet”… Fuckers, I don’t do this shit for me! Well mentally yes, damn disgusting what happens to animals, so fucken sad and ridiculous. And they say we are the crazy one. Yes, I am crazy compassionate. And meat eaters are ignorant Assholes with an unwillingness to change. with an unwillingness to see that it is a vicious circle inwhich is created by meat eaters continueing support by purchasing these mutalated animals, wrapped in plastic and calling it food. Realize the movement we want is for the greater good of all beings. ANIMAL LIBERATION.

  38. Michael Riser
    August 5, 2014

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    Thumbs up. Appreciate the candor. It’s nice to see a little honesty and reasoning at work.

  39. sue
    August 5, 2014

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    I’m saddened to see so much in fighting amongst vegans – ego tripping – I’m more vegan than you, etc, It’s doing the vegan cause no good at all, and adding to the labels that are applied to them – extreme, intolerant, humourless, crazies. Then ‘plant based’ diet mixes things up even more. If one asks if there are any vegan options one is often met with a blank stare or offered cheese and egg alternatives. I’m beginning to think a change of words is needed to a “cruelty free” diet/lifestyle as a description?

  40. Sally
    August 5, 2014

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    Another great blog, Gary. Thank you for consistently keeping the focus on ethics despite all of the criticism. I appreciate your stance on “fat shaming” as well.

  41. Ellen Jaffe Jones
    August 6, 2014

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    Great points. As a frequent vegfest speaker, I would encourage people to go to these whenever possible. I spend my life trying to get both messages out there…health, animals…whatever rings true. Vegfests are growing in popularity because they often provide free tastes of delicious vegan food that become the catalyst for many making eating vegan a life-long choice. Most authors I’ve heard on the road the past year say they do this for love, not money. As a reporter, I covered the worst animal abuse stories. I’ve watched my mom, aunt and both sisters get breast cancer while I was able to plant-fuel my running and am now 7th in my age group the US in the 1500 meters, 71 5K age group placements since ’06 ‘just’ on plants. We have many myths to dispel, and for every celeb who gets massive attention, there are 1000 little guys and gals working very hard to try to get the message mainstream who can’t even hope to garner that media exposure. Hope you saw that the new head of the American of Cardiology is vegan, probably as a result of looking at the works of many of the other hero vegan docs on the lecture circuit. Given that most docs don’t get a single nutrition class in medical school, and I can’t sign up for any research study unless I already have cancer or are willing to take a drug, getting the message out there any way we can is crucial. There’s no money in broccoli.

  42. Nichole
    August 8, 2014

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    Great post! I hate the “cravings” argument. Some people crave crack, heroine and dangerous sex – none of these things should be indulged in with a shrug of the shoulders and a “Oh well, if that’s what my body is telling me it needs….”

    Being formerly (and currently-ish) disordered myself, you definitely find avenues of heightening your disorder while looking like you are just doing something healthy or trendy. I really wish people would stop using the word “vegan” who aren’t vegan. This is the biggest cause of the bad press and confusion. Plant-based isn’t vegan. As you so aptly pointed out, veganism is NOT a diet, plant-based is.

    I wrote response to Blondie and those of her ilk as well: http://veganspin.com/my-life/does-veganism-cause-eating-disorders/

  43. Patricia Tallman
    August 13, 2014

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    Great post, Gary!

  44. Jennifer
    August 20, 2014

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    In this article you mention ‘”ex vegans” who eat the flesh of a person’.

    Really??? I haven’t about too many of those. That is definitely a swing in the opposite direction…,

  45. Laura
    September 19, 2014

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    Love this, shared link on my blog. I believe many of those people got into the “vegan thing” to be elitist, couldn’t stick with it because being so different is not easy and they don’t have the gonads to go against a strong flow, so they failed, and since they hate failure they blame the lifestyle instead of themselves. Their continued elitism shows in their “special, happy” meat that they get because they’re worth it, which is just more dishonesty and hokum, as there is no “happy meat” and they’ll eat big macs and kfc any day of the week. They’re not who we should want on our side…betrayers.
    I was once ex-vegan but not at all anti-vegan, I kept quiet and was sad about it. It was for no other reason than I was weak. Not weak any more, since May of 09 :)

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