Friday, March 13, 2015

Frenemies: Vegetarians vs. Vegans

Frenemies: Vegetarians vs. Vegans
RyanMcGuire - Creative Commons Legal Code

Vegans and Vegetarians are often lumped into the same group. People who don't eat animals and don't want you to either. While it's true that vegans and vegetarians have a lot in common, some of the differences between us can cause a great rift between the two groups, even when we are working toward a common goal. I've been on both sides of the coin. I was a vegetarian for five years before becoming vegan three years ago and I understand both points of view. I wanted to break down the issues between vegans and vegetarians and discuss how we can accept each others differences to keep saving animals together.

So what's the deal with vegans?

My first memory of a vegan wasn't a positive one. I remember watching an interview on a popular vegan site and during the interview the host and guest continuously belittled and made fun of vegetarians. I was a die hard vegetarian at the time and I was offended. It was clear that these two vegans had no respect for what vegetarians where trying to do and had the stance of, vegan or nothing. Why would I want to join a group of people that seem to only want to belittle others that are also trying to make the world a better place for animals? No thanks. That was my first impression anyway. 

From a vegetarians point of view, vegans can come across as self rightous and people that will look down on you because you haven't made the leap to being vegan. That you are a bad person for still eating animal products other than meat. That can and does turn a lot of vegetarians away from exploring veganism further, which is the last thing we want! 

So what's the deal with vegetarians?

After five years, new knowledge was my bridge into veganisim. And with that knowledge, came a whole new world and way of thinking. I became a vegan but not the kind that I saw in the interview video years ago. When you are faced with the reality of the egg and dairy industry you feel like shaking everyone by the shoulders until they understand what they are contributing too. It's even more intense with vegetarians because vegans know that they are "this close" to eliminating all animal products from their diet and therefore that much more animal suffering. But I wasn't willing to alienate people because  that had the best intentions for animals.

Living as a vegan now, I believe it is the best way to live your life if you are concerned about the suffering of animals. Many vegetarians feel that not eating meat is enough to stop animal suffering. It's not. Unfortunately, the egg and dairy industry have made sure of that. I personally believe that the egg and dairy industries are more cruel than the meat industry. The suffering endured by the animals involved in the egg and dairy industry is prolonged much longer than animals that are being raised solely for their flesh. While I believe this all to be true, I still believe that vegetarians are doing good for animals. Not eating meat wasn't enough for me but I appreciate the effort and dedication that vegetarians bring to the movement. 

The Big Picture

The majority of vegetarians grew up eating meat and other animal products. The majority of vegans were once vegetarians before making the transition. This is a fact that I think is so important to remember when dealing with people that are not in the same place as you are. 

Vegans and vegetarians both want the best for animals (ethical ones at least) and we should be supporting each other. The Vegan Adventure is a place for vegans and vegetarians alike. Would I ever go back to being vegetarian? No, but I'm going to support the vegetarians I come in contact with because what they are doing does matter.

What we all should be doing is continuing to learn about the issues facing animals today and fighting to improve their lives. Together. 


  1. I agree with you on this topic too. There's nothing more off-putting than someone doing the holier than thou act on you! If someone can't be decent and respectful to fellow humans, then their stand for animals loses some of its value in my eyes.

    Strangely enough, the only person who ever insinuated that I should be vegan or nothing was a meat-eater!!! I'm >95% vegan and that works for me for the time being. :-)

    1. Working together is crucial. It's sad that some people lose sight of that because of petty differences. Thanks for what you're are doing for animals. Keep up the great work!


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