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How far to take veganism?

I've recently decided to become vegan again after about a year of just vegetarian. I was vegan for about a year before that and have been vegetarian for years before that. Basically meat is always out and will always be out. I'm kind of struggling right now as to just how far veganism should go though. When I used to be a vegan I checked EVERY single ingredient, never ate at other peoples houses, never ate at resteraunts unless I asked if the food was specifically vegan, and wouldn't touch something if whey was the 800th ingredient. I stopped being vegan that time because I was completely broke and Pasta Roni is a heck of a lot cheaper than vegan cheese and healthy food. This time around though I'm not really sure how far to take it, is eating whey alright when it's the 10th ingredient, or is that cheating? If I avoid products that are purely eggs, milk, cheese, etc but allow stuff that contains them in small amounts is it just not even worth it? I'm really confused about it all and I'd love to hear anybody and everybody's feedback or ideas about this.

Thank you!!
-A confused girl

lemme be the first to throw my two cents out of the Pandora's box that was just opened ;)

do what you feel comfortable with
if you hold yourself to someone else's legalistic standard(s), it will be all to difficult to maintain
everyone will have a differing opinion,
just, do what you are comfortable with,
it's your heart and drive and intentions that will have the most impact in the duration of your life


Well, I'll tell you what I do, but that does not mean it is what you or anyone else should do.  You might want to remind yourself often WHY you are doing this. What is 'worth it' to YOU?  What is 'cheating' to yourself?  I can't tell you that!  If they whys don't match the hows, figure out what you can change.  Live out your convictions with passion, don't let self-imposed rules dictate your life.

I don't get obsessive about stuff at people's house, if someone serves it to me I eat what I can safely assume is vegan. 
I also have started bringing food with me wherever possible.  I use a little bento box or tupperwear and take food any place where vegan food is hard to find.

The ingreidents label search is easier when there isn't much of a label or none at all....think rice, beans, fruit, veggies and pasta, breads and sauces you know to be vegan already.

Maybe you could ease into veganism, maybe just start with cooking yourself vegan food, and not worrying so much when out & about?  Once you get the hang out making yourself real food, it will get easier.

I still wear my leather Doc Martins because they are 8 years old and still good, to throw them away would be a waste.  When they wear out, I'll buy canvas.

I have not decided what to do about things like wool.

Best of luck to you!!


I think you shouldn't worry so much about categories and labels.  Why are you interested in transitioning to veganism... is it for preference, health, animal rights... ?

If you eat products that contain whey you're a vegetarian, but so what? 

I'm a vegan label reader and I can still eat out and at the homes of friends, so maybe that will go more smoothly for you this time.  Being vegan is easier with more whole foods in your diet, because you don't have long ingredient lists.  So if you decide to give it another shot, I recommend staying away from analogs (e.g. vegan cheese) and prepare more whole foods (they're less expensive, too).


Ultimately you make your own choices and are only responsible to yourself. No one can judge you or the validity of your convictions on what goes into your mouth. I don't think it's healthy to beat yourself up over an honest mistake or a situation where you choose the best possible outcome without it being perfect. And just so you know, there are no vegan one is going to question you, or come around and search  your cupboards!  :D And if anyone does give you a hard time, they're the one with the problem. You just concentrate on being the best person you can be and if that includes your diet choices, even if they're not someone else's idea of "perfect" if you are satisfied you've done your best in your personal circs, that's fine. It's much easier to be vegan in the States than in Spain, for example, where I live. Go with your best options and don't let anyone disturb your heart.


the nice thing about this board is no one is going to define your veganism for you!  ;)

YEP!! That's why I love it here!  :)

So this is me:
We are vegan for health and allergy reason first and foremost (our son is allergic to dairy and eggs.)
Our house is a vegan zone. I do not use products that contain whey, casein etc (My DH used to buy organic cheese for himself every few months but not since he read the china study! LOL)
However, I do not attempt to find the source of vitamins in most products I use, since I limit packaged product use and always try to buy organic I'm not sure I wouldfind much is animal derived. If I did, I would continue to use or not use the product on a case by case basis. And I'm always willing to learn about something.
If I accidentally buy a non vegan product (I bought some organic nutella a few weeks ago not thinking it had milk in it) I use it, use it up and don't get it again. If I accidentally buy something with MSG (which is vegan but bad for you, it goes in the trash though!! ;))
We use organic skin, hair and cleaning products. But here's the kicker... I have a leather couch. I like it. No, I don't feel guilty every time I sit on it. I may or may not get one again. Am I still vegan???

I never actually considered myself vegan until after I joined these boards, even though I was clearly practicing a vegan diet.
I didn't want a "real vegan" to be mad at me for "acting vegan" and ruining their cause. I realized that if someone was mad that I don't eat meat and animal products but have a leather couch then they are stupid. Because even though it's not my #1 goal, I still save 90-100 animals a year. And I'm glad of that.

I've learned from vegweb that everyone is Veg*n for different reasons, health, morality, environmental, allergy and even simple dislike of meat/dairy.
Your reason for your diet/lifestyle doesn't make you more or less of a veg*n though.

Eating out...
We live in Germany and when we go out to eat it's not exactly easy to get the run down of how something was made. So we still go out, twice a month... maybe? We choose a vegetarian option. I try to steer clear of cheesy and cream sauces, they make my tummy hurt after going vegan. But we don't bother to ask if it was made with butter or margarine, or if that garnish swirl of milk in the tomato soup is soy milk (it's not, LOL)

That's our "cheat" but we don't see it as a cheat exactly since WE are the ones who have defined our diet and lifestyle, not PETA or vegweb or anyone else.
BTW for our dinners out, my husband used to eat meat at that time (the house was still a vegan zone), but he has decided not to now. He hasn't ever said he won't eat meat ever again. It's just not worth it to him at the time. Ideas change, people change, allow yourself to change.

I'm not saying that our way is how you should do things... I'm just saying, define it yourself and don't worry. :)
Whatever you choose to do, is 100% worth it to YOU.


The cartoon "Minimum Security" had a cartoon last Friday that's relevant.  Do you think she's still vegan?  Would you consider yourself still vegan?  I know I would.  An "accident" shouldn't change your core beliefs.  At least they don't change mine.


Good post, Jennifer! I totally agree with her. I am vegan for health reasons (heart desease, strokes, ect run in my family). But I'm not a strict vegan. I used to buy Cliff bars, for example. Which are totally vegan, but WAY expensive. So I buy Kashi bars now. They are almost vegan, except for one ingredient, whey. I found out later that it had whey in it. Am I going to stop eating them? Not for $3.00 a box compared to $17! Does that make me less of a vegan? I don't think so. Neither does my strict vegan best friend.

All in all, I cook %100 vegan at home. When I eat out, like Jennifer, I don't pester the wait staff about the food. I go for the vegetarian choices, and just say, "Hold the cheese" or "Can I have italian dressing instead of ranch," ect. But yet, if I order a cesear salad (the non-chicken kind) and it has a sprinkle of cheese on it, I'll still eat it. But then again, I very rarely eat out anymore.

As far as clothes, I have a skin allergy. I can't wear wool or silk. My doc said, "cotton only!" So, I listened. I AM strict about that!


I love that the people on these boards don't play the vegan police game like they do on most message boards!  :D
I occasionally eat organic dairy products.  Other than that I'm vegan, but I don't say that I am.  I generally don't even tell people I'm vegetarian, but that's another story.

Do what's right for you!


Based on other posts, I think I may be one of the stricter vegans here.  I'm only posting this so you know it is possible to live this way without going crazy.  PERSONALLY, I think any veg*ism is an awesome choice and I applaud anyone who makes it.  My personal choices are:

-100% vegan food only at home
-only eat at vegan restaurants
-if we eat w/ family, we bring our own food and drinks
-organic is equally important
-no animal bi-products including bone-char processed sugar, isinglass in wine, stearic acid, honey, confectioner's glaze, lanolin, silk, wool, animal-derived vitamins, etc.
-I don't have a problem with the 'shared equipment thing'

yep, I'm a real pain in the @$$  ;)

Seriously though, good luck and don't sweat the small stuff.   :)

I'm the same as you Mdvegan.
I did however start out ovo/lacto when I first became a veggie. It did take me a while, but after about 5 years I just became an ANGRY VEGAN!  >:(

I do not judge anyone for the choices they make. We all start somewhere, go somewhere, and eventually end up somewhere that is comfortable for each and everyone of us. None is better than another in my book. If all one does is eliminate chicken from their diet at the beginning (or even just in life), well that's a whole lot of chickens they save over their lifetime. The more positive choices one makes, the more positive the overall effect on not only themeselves, but the planet we all share as well. That's just a "not so angry vegan" moment!  ::)


Okay, so even though I am "mostly for health reasons" veg*n.... I also don't use bone-char processed sugar, isinglass in wine, stearic acid (it can be veggie, but if it's not animal derived it's hydrogenated vegetable oil... bad bad bad), confectioner's glaze, or lanolin. I mean those things are all just... eww. Gross.

If someone wants to mesage me re: the gross out factor of animal derived vitamins I'd be happy to hear about it!

I'm still currently on the fence about honey though...

If all one does is eliminate chicken from their diet at the beginning (or even just in life), well that's a whole lot of chickens they save over their lifetime. The more positive choices one makes, the more positive the overall effect on not only themeselves, but the planet we all share as well.

I guess, if an omni then just chooses a veggie meal once a week they have even done something to help the planet... maybe the once a week will turn into 3 times a week.... etc. etc. ........... you never know!
What's that saying? something like... "Tidal waves start with a single ripple"

mdvegan- You bring your own food and drinks to family dinners? Is that an issue for anyone in your family? Are you just lucky and your family is very understanding? I don't think it'd be any issue for my family either (they were vegan though for a period of time) but I haven't had to deal with that yet. It just seems most people on vegweb have issues with grandparents or aunts who make comments etc. you know?


I agree with doing what makes you feel comfortable. 

I don't feel I can tell anyone the "right" things to be doing seeing as how I know there's something I'm doin wrong....  I know it may be a cynical way of viewing things but I didn't become vegan to judge the way others choose to go about their lives.


The in-laws, that's another story.   ::)

That's the one I'm worried about!! I know they'll be fine coming to visit us here and will love our food. Since it's my home and I'm the host that won't be an issue. Even if they do eat meat and dairy when we go out. But (if) we go to visit my (southern cooking) MIL I don't think she'll "get it" and she may try to help and leave certain things out in recipes and it won't be enough for us... in the end I think she will think we're just being difficult. I don't know if we should just silently pick and choose what we eat in that case, as if we were out to dinner. Or if we should make a big deal in advance and pre-empt her use of nonfat milk thinking that will be okay. ::) I don't think she'd mind us taking over the kitchen and cooking for her... but somehow I do think she'll mind! LOL As if her food wasn't good enough, which frankly is true, right??
Esshhh... gotta work that one out with DH... not going to visit her for a looooooong time though. Too many good places to vacation in Europe! ;)


I'm visiting my Mom in Sarasota right now. This morning I went out and picked up my own "supplies" from the market. I have to say my family has been really good with it since I turned vegan. My brother and sister-in-law in Maryland always ask what they need to have on hand before I arrive there. They even ask questions and want to try everything I cook. My SIL has even asked me for a few of my vegan recipes.  My other brother understands and makes an effort to do the right thing. He just doesn't fully understand how it works for me. One of the last times I was there he ordered a pizza and said, "go ahead Dave, have a slice, just take off the cheese and pepperoni!" What do you want from him? He's a lawyer! ;D


I am an angry paranoid vegan.  You know--the kind that checks every single ingredient even if the food is labeled vegan.  I dont go out to restaurants, don't eat at other peoples houses, and am thoroughly guilty and grossed out about meat/cheese analogues.

I also save insects, don't use wool, no animal testing...and stuff like that. 


I think everyone here has a valid point. It's really up to the individual.
As for me, I was vegetarian for a number of years. Then about three years ago I went vegan for approximately six months. I was super strict, BUT I wasn't educated about the proper food I needed to eat. I would eat fake bologna sandwiches or peanut butter and jelly sandwiches all the time. I eventually started eating dairy again little by little, even though my goal was to be totally vegan. I wasn't getting the proper nutrition, and also, going cold turkey proved too difficult for me. I didn't give up though, and I continued to shop at the organic (co-op) market and slowly learned about vegan products and substitutes for dairy and even meat. I did this one thing at a time. Soy mayo for dairy mayo. Soy margarine w/out hydrogenated fats for dairy margarine. Egg replacers. I learned how to cook veggies, and ate more nuts, lentils, and beans (chickpeas have become my best friend). It took me a long time to figure out that tofu tastes better if you freeze it. Later I learned about meat substitutes like tempeh, TSP, and seitan, and one by one incorporated them into my diet. I eventually stopped buying leather. I am now a giant fan of fleece (opposed to wool). Only in the past four months did I learn about whey, and now I make a point of not eating any foods with whey. And I learn new things ALL THE TIME through reading books and going on vegweb (thanks everyone!).

Learning about proper nutrition and what to eat as a vegan didn't happen overnight. It took two years, and I am still learning. I think, for me, the best way to do this is to conquer one thing at a time, instead of pressuring myself to be the perfect vegan all at once. Around June of last year I was ready to kick my longtime Diet Coke/soda addiction (yay!). By September of last year, I decided that I was armed with enough vegan knowledge (and recipes!) to cut out all dairy once again. Being vegan is now mostly a habit. Occasionally I slip up or even have a weak moment, but I don't give myself a hard time about it, because I've come a long way from the way I used to eat (and think!). Only lately have I started to look into organic/vegan products for my body (shampoo, makeup, etc.) and for cleaning. My philosophy is that if everyone keeps learning and working toward how to treat animals and the planet better, even if they take it on slowly one thing at a time, at their own pace, it's much better than not doing anything at all or having a limit of how far to go and just stopping there. It would be incredibly great and ideal if we, everyone on earth (including me!), could all just finish the race quickly like Lance Armstrong to achieve a cruelty-free, healthy, peaceful world. Some of us have to allow ourselves to walk to the finish line slowly, but it's better than turning around and going home. I'm glad I didn't give up. :)


ShaolinBunny -- our philosophies are similar, tackling it in baby steps!

I'd been vegetarian for 16 years, vegan 1 week thus far. Personally, I will do the best I can.


my SO and i decided to try vegetarianism about 5 years ago "to see how long we could". it turned out to be surprisingly easy. he suggested going vegan soon after and i thought it would be waaaaay to hard. then we went to korea where the milk is unpasteurized, cheese is incredibly expensive, yogurt may or may not be bad (always a guessing game). I cut way back on dairy (eggs have creeped me out since i was little) and my SO gave up eggs after realizing they're not refridgerated there.
when i came back to canada i started doing research on health benefits of dairy and found a lot of negative stuff. i also watched some vids and read alot on animal rights. so 2 months ago we tried the vegan thing and to my surprise its been really easy so far. i think because we were ready for it. i don't feel like i'm "giving up" cheese and milk i feel like i'm choosing a healthier lifestyle. thats something coming from a cheese freak who used to drink 4 litres of milk per week.
however we're still learning. and deciding what our boundaries are. we are supposed to go to his brother's  for dinner this weekend, they know we  don't eat meat but not about the vegan thing, so we'll prob just eat whatever they make and pick off any cheese. Just till our families adjust. later we'll prob be more strict.
anyway the point is, the rules you make for yourself are your own rules. you've made them, you can change them, break them, or make them more strict whenever you want.


I was first vegan a few years and your question "how far to take veganism?" was something that I struggled with because it is impossible to be a perfect vegan in terms of lifestyle. There are animal derived ingredients in film, tires, windows... so I was getting upset that I couldn't do it perfectly right. Then I became very weak and tired all the time and went back to eating eggs and dairy. My reasons for going vegan were 100% animal welfare based, so the amount of eggs and dairy was very small. Still, I ate those things occasionally and so I called myself "lacto-ovo" because I felt like a hypocite otherwise (a personal thing). Over the years I would be a "public vegan" because if I didn't buy the eggs or dairy myself then I didn't know where it came from and what was inside of it. This became frustrating when the vegetarian option was something with cheese (the rennet problem), yogurt (gelatin) or desserts that I would avoid because of possible lard, gelatin, etc. So a part of my problem was NOT defining myself as vegan in certain situations because some people just don't know those kinds of details (as I mentioned in another post about my airplane veggie meal containing gelatin). There are different degrees of strictness and I guess I was as strict a lacto-ovo as can be (some vegetarians don't even know about gelatin!). I have learned so much more about vegan nutrition, foods to look out for, and all that stuff so about 6 weeks ago I returned to my vegan ways! It really wasn't much change because at the moment I live alone so I hadn't bought any eggs or dairy in weeks anyway. When I go home for a weekend my family is very accomodating. It was my mother who made me eat beans and tofu in the first place! My boyfriend is wonderful and sometimes asks questions in restaurants for me (I never knew gravy was meat-based until he asked). I do always ask about the swirl in a soup, whether the potatoes were cooked in butter, the veggies cooked in meat broth, etc. I do not go to only vegan restaurants, but I check out menus online and often call ahead to ask about specifics.  My only concern is the 2 months in the summer that I spend at my job, because the vegetarian meal is not always vegan. The veggie meal cheese always has rennet and last year the kitchen would give me hummus instead so hopefully they will do the same this year. Otherwise I will be eating a lot of PB&J sandwiches (provided no one around me is allergic to the PB, otherwise just the J). I will bring my own food along to make sure I don't become deficient in anything.. on that note, any travel suggestions of food? I will not have a fridge so I need to bring things that can just sit out on a shelf for a few months. I am thinking to bring some bars, dried fruit, seeds, soymilk juice boxes... I am not sure what to do about getting all of my nutrients though so if anyone has advice I would REALLY appreciate it. B12, iron and calcium are the ones I am most concerned about.


[I guess, if an omni then just chooses a veggie meal once a week they have even done something to help the planet... maybe the once a week will turn into 3 times a week.... etc. etc. ........... you never know!
What's that saying? something like... "Tidal waves start with a single ripple"

And it works...I am a returnee ovolacto, for preference and health,  which means that sometimes I find it best to acquiesce and eat "off choice" in order to keep the peace. Taking your own personal private food to a meal at someone else's house is the height of rudeness here!
BUT, Dh is learning as I have often posted before. I serve several veggie meals a week, and sometimes, yes, he'll get up and open a can of tuna (husband-code for "I didn't like that, I ate it but don't feel fed.") He doesn't make a song and dance, just goes for the tuna or the devilled ham spread. And I don't say anything either because he does come up with some good stirfries when the mood is on him, and he likes tofu! And it was only a year ago I first made Strawberry Jam's tofu choc pudding off this site and he refused it flat-out before even tasting.
It reminds me of the tortoise and the hare story: "Slow and steady wins the race." Or as the Spanish proverb has it, "Dress me slowly, I'm in a hurry." (That means, I want to get it right the first time so I don't have to waste time going back and doing over.)


Eek, really sorry, but I haven't read every post of these 2 pages, so forgive me if this was mentioned.

Personally, I do not check what sugars I'm eating or, say, vitamin sources. I know it's awful to say, but it's just too hard for me. I know none of you 'define' veganism specifically, and I'm not trying to pity post. It'd just be really difficult for me, considering I'm so  young, live with an omni family, and live in such a redneck never-done-gon-n-heard-none-o-them-vegan-things.

Aside from sugar/vitamin sources, I'm fairly "strict", though that makes it sound involuntary are negative. I check all my clothing, makeup, shower gels, you get the idea. In the case we go horseback riding I call and drive out to the place beforehand and really check them out. BOY do I ramble too much. On to my main question:

There's going to be a trip for the biology club I'm in at school to Washington D.C., including a visit to a zoo. I forbid circuses, and at times, view zoos and circuses as the same. The conflict is the experience of the trip itself and frankly, missing out on fun with my friends in bio club.

I know I'm going to have to make the decision myself, but any input from all yous guys would really be appreciated.  :-*



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