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But, Why Isn't That Vegan?

There is a lot of confusion in the general public about what being vegan means, some people think that it means that you still eat fish, other people think that cheese is fine. On more than one occasion I have been offered a feta salad and I've had to explain that I won't eat it. As an aside, I've never liked feta and salad is never my first choice for a meal. Regardless, vegans don't eat animals products, don't use animal products and aim to live in a way that causes the least harm and results and the least amount of exploitation possible. Yes, insects and mice, etc, are killed when growing and harvesting crops, but more crops are grown and harvested to feed farm animals than humans. Cows make milk anyway, so why is is bad to take some? Bees make honey because they can't help it, why can't we take some? Also, honey is really good for us, so we should eat it, right? No, not really.

bees, honey, hive, beekeeper
If the bees didn't want it they wouldn't work so hard to protect it

Which Foods Are Causing Confusion?

It's not just food that is confusing people, leather, wool and other items are adding to the muddle. Some of the common items that come up are:

Honey - Imagine that you go to the supermarket and buy a load of food for the week. You go home and batch cook everything so that you won't have to cook again until next week. Everything is put in the freezer and its good until a giant comes along, smashes open your freezer, takes all of the food and leaves the broken bits of freezer on the floor. Many people consider honey to be a honey bee by-product, that it's something that bees make because that's just how their little fuzzy bodies work. Nope, not even close. Honey is bee food, they go from flower to flower collecting nectar from different plants, they take it home, make honey, store it little honey pots that we call honeycomb and seal it up to keep it fresh. That food is then used to feed young bees before they can go out and forage for themselves and also as a food source for the winter. As it gets colder the flowers die away so that seeds will form, this leaves no nectar for the bees, during this time they go to the honeycomb and get something to eat. However, when bees are farmed for their honey the beekeeper takes the honey leaving little, or none at all, for the bees. The bees are then given an alternative food, sugar water or syrup as a substitute. This type of food provides the bees with nothing of any nutritional value and is extremely bad for them. Exploitation? Yes. Good for bees? No. Vegan? Absolutely not.

Milk - Ok, scenario number 2. You have a baby, you love your baby, care for your baby, feed your baby. That first night with your little one is bliss. In the morning you wake up, clean and feed your baby and are getting ready to start your day when this two legged little creature with rubber feet comes over, picks up your baby and walks off. You call out, you cry, but your baby is gone. A little while later this creature comes back, plugs your body into a machine and watches as your baby's food is taken away from you for other creatures to drink. The details of milk production are awful, the full truth is the stuff of nightmares. Do cows just make milk? No, they make milk for the same reason that humans make milk, for their babies. Is it exploitation? 100% yes. Is it vegan? !00% no.

Cheese - Cheese is made from milk, I have nothing more to add to that.

Leather - There is this idea that leather is made by using the skin of animals that have been slaughtered for their meat, that it is something that is left over. This is partially true, as most leather does come from this method of production. This still leaves a lot of animals that are grown just to have their skin harvested to make items like gloves, handbags and belts. Regardless, should we be wearing the skins of animals that we have forced to live in miserable lives, sad, alone, in unnatural conditions, eating food that they don't want? Should we be a part of that? Because if you pay for it, you are paying someone to do it. Vegan? That's not really a question that I need to answer.

Wool - Wool is like a mix between honey and leather. Sheep, goats and other animals grow wool, yes, they grow them to keep warm in the colder months, however, they do not need humans to take their woolly coats off for them when it gets warm. Animals go through a cycle of growing more wool, fur or feathers as they can't wear hats and scarves. When it gets warmer this extra wool, fur or feather will fall out, leaving the animals only with what they need. Animals were doing this long before there were shears, long before there were humans. Animals that are bred for these products are commodified, they are manipulated to grow more wool etc. They grow so much that it becomes a real burden for the animals, hot, heavy and uncomfortable. Shearing may seem like a relief, but it's painful, animals are man-handled, scared and often left with injuries, which go untreated. One other thing is, do we need it, do we need fur, feathers, leather, wool? No, and not only that, there are man-made fibres that work better for us than the animal equivalent. Did you know that astronauts do not use animal products in their suits? They would be too heavy for them to wear and move around in and, if they got wet, the feathers or whatever animal parts they put in them, would soak up the water and become extremely cold, putting the lives of the astronauts at risk.

Fish - Come on, do I really need to explain this?

Fish = Animal

Food - Animal = Vegan

Food + Animal = Not Vegan


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