Vegan-ish: Why I Am (Mostly) Vegan.

Via Erica Leibrandt
on Nov 1, 2013
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To say I am vegan would be untruthful, so I’m inventing a new word.

I am “vegan-ish”.

Vegan-ish types like me believe in veganism for the same strong reasons that regular vegans do; we want to reduce suffering and lighten our footprint on the planet.

Veganism has become a much more important personal and political statement over the last 20 or so years with the advent of factory farming. Factory farms are truly an evil which, once eradicated, will be looked back upon by future generations as akin to Nazi death camps and American slavery.

Prior to factory farming, (and still today, on small farms run with a conscience) I believe, though many would disagree, eggs and milk and honey were okay things to eat, as long as the cows and chickens and bees that made them were treated humanely. Really humanely…not allowed to “run” outside in a filthy one square foot slab of concrete which is the egg industries interpretation of free range.

Though that is the case, I still have a taste for honey, for dairy, and also for fish, which disqualifies me from veganism.

Let me be plain: I avoid these foods and eat them only rarely, but I do eat them.

I try to think of my diet in terms of percentages. If I eat vegan and healthy (which are not necessarily the same thing) 95% of the time, then I’ve gone a long way towards sustaining my body and my principles. If I slip below 90%, I start asking myself some hard questions.

It could be strongly argued that being vegan-ish is just as bad as not being vegan at all. I mean, if I’m willing to eat the flesh of a fish, then why not the flesh of a cow? Or my dog?

I guess I’m succumbing to my carnal desires and my animal roots. I love eating vegan, but every now and then, if I don’t eat an egg, heads are gonna roll. And not chicken heads either. Human ones.

I am copping to the truth of my vegan-ishness for a very important reason. I don’t want to be like the priest who preaches monogamy and heterosexuality and then goes and gets a blow job from a transgendered hooker in a public bathroom. Or worse, gives a blow job to a little boy behind the alter.

I think when people preach extremes, they deny the fact of their humanity, and are driven to worse trespasses than they ever would be otherwise.

In other words, if I wasn’t willing to say what I’m saying, I think I might end up in the closet with a B.L.T, heavy on the B. But when I do say it, all those cravings are allowed to be addressed and be released, mostly harmlessly, into the atmosphere.

I resent when anyone professes to be something they are not. I see it a lot of that where I live, in the affluent suburbs of middle America. And I see it a lot in the yoga community too. Everyone is loathe to admit they’re imperfect, or makes mistakes, or sometimes have contradictory views.

Well allow me to hoist the torch of imperfection here. I’m trying awfully hard to do my best, and sometimes I don’t manage it, but you can be sure I’ll cop to it either way.

In the final analysis, honesty, not slogan shouting, self punishing or finger pointing, is what’s going to get us where we need to be.


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Ed: Bryonie Wise




About Erica Leibrandt

Erica Leibrandt is a licensed mental health clinician, certified yoga instructor, and mother to six heathens who masquerade as innocent children. If she occasionally finds herself with a fried egg on her plate or dancing until dawn, she asks that you not judge her. Life is short, she knows the chicken that laid the egg, and we can never dance too much. Connect with Erica on FacebookTwitter, and Tumblr.


17 Responses to “Vegan-ish: Why I Am (Mostly) Vegan.”

  1. Catzzmeifyoucan says:

    What you described was great. It reminded of a philosophy article I've read, by Holmes Rolston, on how there are two ethics constantly in play: the "vital ethic" and the "humanistic ethic." By acknowledging that there will always be a "humanistic ethic" in play, I feel that we are therefore also acknowledging that we are human and imperfect.

  2. karlsaliter says:

    Nice one, Erica.

  3. Carolyn says:

    Great article

  4. Erica says:

    Well said!! Exactly my point 🙂

  5. Heather says:

    Thanks for being real. Showing your honest self is just so refreshing.

  6. slywlf says:

    Thank you! This spoke right to the heart of my own lifestyle! I will probably never go totally vegan, but by making carefully chosen, compassionate and rational decisions I am both eating healthy and keeping my footprint – and conscience – free and clear!

  7. Dan says:

    I think you've touched upon a vitally important point that truthfulness and intent are more important than labels. Ahimsa, after all, is primary for a reason…

  8. Auki says:

    I'm kind of a vegan wannabe too. Unless you are an excellent vegan cook and organic gardener it is challenging to practice strict vegan-ism. According to the the documentary, Forks Over Knives, vegan-ism greatly reduces human suffering. The physicians behind FOK aren't referring to external suffering ~ such as the suffering of animals ~ they are citing health studies which demonstrate that vegan-ism greatly reduces personal suffering by increasing one's health & vitality.

  9. Randa says:

    DI-TTO I'm on the same boat regarding vegan-ishism! I personally think that the fact of being aware of our 'tuned' veganism is key to the whole issue and in the decisions we generally make in life. Sure I love being a vegan and not only for its cause but simply because I ENJOY it. I do however love honey, parmesan cheese and some fish and can't agree more with slywfl 🙂
    Great post!

  10. Lalana says:

    Great Article! Will be sharing because so many go with that all or nothing mentality and wouldn't it be a better world if some would even just have meatless Mondays more often? On a global scale each person doing a little better would be an awesome thing:)

  11. Florian says:

    That is sooo true… To hear myself saying to a kebab guy: "Falafel, yes… On a second thought, though, mutton will be great". It happened twice or 3 times, and apart from trying not to go down the same route on my next Turkish food excursion, the hard work is not getting into Remorse. "Self-serving bas….rd." Well I am a bit of it, but working on it. The day I stop would be – well – a chance to start again. It's a long and winding road. So a big NO THANKS to the good ole Christian "mea culpa".

    Thanks for the grat article.

  12. Florian says:

    That is sooo true… To hear myself saying to a kebab guy: "Falafel, yes… On a second thought, though, mutton will be great". It happened twice or 3 times, and apart from trying not to go down the same route on my next Turkish food excursion, the hard work is not getting into Remorse. "Self-serving bas….rd." Well I am a bit of it, but working on it. The day I stop would be – well – a chance to start again. It's a long and winding road. So a big NO THANKS to the good ole Christian "mea culpa".

  13. Michelle Kolbeck says:

    Thank you!! I have tried so hard, but I'm the only one in my family doing it (I'm a mom of 3 kids), I have MS (so it's really hard for me to cook anything that requires more than 15 mins!) and I really enjoy having cheese pizza once a month or so with my family. I have a brother who is so strict and ends up being pretty judgemental, I find myself getting nervous around him and I actually lie about having that pizza once in awhile. Crazy, but your article helps! Thanks!

  14. vanbeads says:

    Huzzah! Someone with an ounce of common sense when it comes to what we eat! I've been a vegetarian (not vegan, please – there are many days when cheese finds its way into every single meal I consume, beginning with breakfast) since I was 16, so that's, what, 24 years now? And I don't really miss eating meat much at all, as long as I can have my local and organic dairy like yogurt and cheese, and the eggs from the chickens we keep on our property. If my husband wants meat, we're lucky enough that we live right near a number of local farms that humanely raise and process cows, pigs, and turkeys. My husband is also pretty darn good at bringing home a couple of deer every hunting season, along with trout, pike, small game like rabbits and grouse. We don't buy our meat from the grocery store – yes, it costs a freaking fortune, but we're all a lot healthier because of it. So, you know, if anyone wants to go ahead and judge me for eating animal products, go right ahead, but to put it quite simply, there can not be any moral absolutes in a complex world. (Stolen from an old Bloom County cartoon.)

  15. Vicky says:

    This may be a somewhat controversial opinion, but as an already hormonal and confused teenage girl who's trying to make better choices in my relationships with humans and animals, I'd appreciate it if some of the more strict vegans would be more understanding of how hard it is to make these radical life changes. The documentary Vegucated is really what convinced me to make the trek to the health foods store once again to buy some 'cheese' made from almonds. I was scared off the first time by Daiya 'cheese' which just tasted like plastic (sorry, Daiya lovers). What was it about Vegucated that made me do it? The fact that one vegan activist honestly told a girl struggling to stay on the vegan bandwagon that the whole animal-loving lifestyle was about reducing suffering. She gave that girl total permission to eat a pizza (with real cheese!) if it was going to keep her sane. Being vegan means separating yourself from your culture. No dogs at a barbecue, no ribs, no burgers – and you have to constantly ask people who have graciously invited you to their shindig and cooked you a meaty feast what's in the food. Even the side dishes. Sometimes your friends and even family just don't get why you're doing it, either – it took about 3 months of being vegetarian for my mom to stop asking me if I wanted some tuna fish. Just the food aspect of it is hard, and then you need to worry about your shoes, makeup, clothes, personal care products, couches, car interior – I just cannot, and will not, hold myself to that standard at this point in time. Maybe I never will, to be completely honest! If radical vegans really aimed to reduce animal suffering, improve the environment, etc., they would not bog down new vegetarians and vegans who could easily fall back into old carnivorous patterns with this lengthy list of requirements. And if they pressure vegetarians into being vegan and bully vegans into being as close to 100% cruelty-free as humanly possible, I don't want to know what they'd do to someone who was proud to be a weekday vegetarian or to be doing Meatless Mondays. I think that more vegan activists should preach being conscious of our meat consumption and how that's damaging the planet and cementing the existence of factory farms over the small, more humane family farm. They'd reach a lot more people (even carnivores!) that way.

  16. Cidalia says:

    There are no moral absolutes in this complex world. I abhor factory farming and, for that reason, eat mostly vegan also. But extreme veganism doesn’t deal with complex situations like what to do when, say, wild (and dangerous) boars are overrunning an area. Standard practice is to institute open hunting season to deal with the issue. And, in that situation, it would make sense.

  17. Ray says:

    Great post. I’ve been thinking about this a lot, and vegan-ish is what I’m going to aim for too. However I will place no restrictions on what I eat. Sounds weird, but here’s why.

    In the UK (I’ve rarely found this in other countries – offers yes, but nothing like we have here) we have supermarkets that do unbelievable reductions on food at the ‘expiry date’ (which can be taken with a very large grain of salt’) near closing time. In talking 75, 80, 90 – even 99%! Its a fantastic way to at least try and make sure waste is minimization although many shoppers turn their noses up at it. If they don’t get taken they get thrown away, so by using it up in saving huge amounts of money and also not adding to waste.

    Now here’s where the vegan-ish thing kicks in for me. If there’s an animal product there – often one of high quality that would otherwise be likely thrown, I’m going to take it and eat it. The idea of a life taken completely for nothing is (for me at least) worse than my consumption of it. If there isn’t anything like that there, I’m going to be vegan.

    I appreciate that some staunch advocates would say that I’m still being complicit in farming practices that may have been very questionable, and I’m not going to disagree. However, my feeling’s are my feelings, and seeing a rib eye steak or a whole chicken goto landfill is for me a tragedy I cannot allow if I see it.

    So in my day to day life, I expect to be moving towards being conciously vegan henceforth – if I eat out at a restaurant, I’ll be eating vegan, if I’m shopping for anything, I’m going to question whether it used animal products and go the full nine yards. But if someone ever catches me eating a bacon sandwich at home, it’s because I was the last chance that pig’s slaughter wasn’t totally in vain.