Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Degrees of veganism

with one comment

People generally view a vegan diet as an “either/or” proposition: either you are vegan (no foods from animal sources) or you are not. That strikes ,e as too absolutist. Few people (indeed, I know of none) get all their nourishment from animal sources—most have a substantial part of their diet from plant sources.

Imagine a dial where “10” represents getting all nourishment from animal sources, and “0” represents getting all nourishment from plant and fungi sources. A “0,” for example, means no honey, eggs (even if not fertile), dairy, and the like.

Most people would, I imagine, come in around 7 or 8: mostly plant-based foods: some animal-based foods, but mostly not. (One can niggle around about whether the amounts are measured by volume (non-animal foods are generally bulkier than animal-sourced foods, so this results in a lower reading on the dial), by weight, or by calories (animal-based foods tend to be more caloric than plant foods (exceptions: oils, nuts), so this would push the dial number higher). But I’m just speaking roughly, to define a dietary continuum of sorts.

I would say that I’ve gone to about 1 or 2—say, 1.5—from about 7 or 8. I think that’s a good improvement, and that satisfies me. If I occasionally eat something from an animal source, I’m okay with that. Indeed, I have an egg a day, over-easy using butter. Other than those two things, on most days I ingest no other foods from animal sources. But to go to 0, I think, is (obviously) an extreme, and I truly do not see the harm of eating a little honey or butter or the occasional wild fish, low in the food chain. (I’m thinking sardines here.) (Going to 10 would also be an extreme, but I doubt that any human does that—but most predators do: cats, for example. But not bears.)

The point being that it’s easier to get someone to turn down the dial than it is to get them to flip the switch to “off.” And the dial, once turned, can little by little down the numbers.

Still, some see more danger is animal-based foods. See, for example, this video:

The context is provided here.

Written by Leisureguy

8 October 2013 at 12:18 pm

Posted in Daily life, Food

One Response

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  1. Our relationship to food is extraordinarily complex and frankly, any extreme is usually about far more than the food. Food is love, control, power, Ego identification (I’m superior to you because…), etc. I agree with you about sliding scales. And these will invariably shift depending on circumstances and venue, e.g., when I live with the monks on Mount Athos, I eat a strictly vegetarian diet for the week that I’m there. But extremes in food are particularly dangerous because our relationship to it is so primordial…our first experience of the outside world and of another (the mother).


    9 October 2013 at 3:56 pm

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