Veganism Has Always Been More About Living An Ethical Life Than Just Avoiding Meat And Dairy

Veganism Has Always Been More About Living An Ethical Life Than Just Avoiding Meat And Dairy

The following article was originally published on theconversation.com

“Ethical veganism” has been ruled to be a philosophical belief in the UK in an employment tribunal. During a case brought by vegan Jordi Casamitjana, who claims he was sacked by the League Against Cruel Sports because of his ethical veganism, presiding judge Robin Postle ruled he was “satisfied overwhelmingly that ethical veganism does constitute a philosophical belief”.

Postle’s ruling doesn’t affect the outcome of the case itself, which continues, but it means that ethical veganism is recognised as a protected characteristic in accordance with the Equality Act 2010, which means it is unlawful to discriminate against an individual who is an ethical vegan. But how does this differ from being simply a vegan?

The word “vegan” was invented in 1944 in Leicester, England by Donald Watson and his future wife Dorothy Morgan. That year, Watson and others founded The Vegan Society. Research into the society’s early publications shows that their key focus was arguing for an end to animal exploitation.

Pioneer: Donald Watson, the founder of the Vegan Society in 1944. The Vegan Society

 

 

 

Veganism was ethical from its birth. In 1946, Watson wrote: “Human existence does not depend upon the inconceivable tyranny now existing against animals.” In 1950, the Vegan Society adopted its first official definition of veganism, agreed at their annual general meeting and published in their Rules of The Vegan Society, as: “the doctrine that man [sic] should live without exploiting animals”. In 1954 Leslie Cross, another key figure in the society’s early years, reflected that “rarely have nine short words enshrined a reform so massive, the achievement of which would bring a new world and new men to inhabit it.”

When veganism is understood in this light, Postle’s ruling clearly makes sense. The Equality Act 2010 states that to be a protected belief it must be genuinely held, more than an opinion, and apply to an important aspect of a person’s life or behaviour. But the ruling uses the term “ethical veganism” rather than just “veganism” to establish this condition. The early vegans felt no need to add an ethical prefix to their definition of veganism – so why add it?

One reason is that veganism has largely gained public prominence in recent years in relation to diet alone. Scant media attention is given to its ethical roots, or the transformative potential for individuals and society that Cross celebrated. Certainly, veganism has experienced a sharp rise in profile and popularity in recent years – the number of vegans in Great Britain quadrupled between 2014 and 2019.

Take-up of the Veganuary Pledge scheme rose from about 3,000 people in 2014 to over 350,000 in 2020. Mainstream supermarkets and restaurants are launching vegan – or “plant-based” – products at a rapid rate. This massive increase in the number (and popularity) of products without animal ingredients, frequently described as “vegan”, doesn’t necessarily reflect the ethics of the movement that invented the word.

The new ‘green rush’

This is nowhere more evident than in the current “green rush” of fast food corporations for the vegan pound. KFC’s new vegan burger is being promoted with an adaptation of its famous slogan: “finger lickin’ vegan”. To promote the product, a KFC UK spokesperson declared that:

The Colonel was all about welcoming everyone to his table – now vegans, flexitarians and our fried chicken fans can all enjoy the taste of our Original Recipe together.

On the face of it, the “green rush” is all about equality. Fast food giants are throwing open their doors to vegans and tackling vegan exclusion from mainstream food habits. But, through this kind of commodification, veganism is being placed alongside the kinds of products that the movement founders were fighting against. Veganism becomes co-opted as just a menu option.

In these terms, people who follow a vegan or plant-based diet are able to spend their money at fast food outlets. This has the ironic effect of making the exploitation of other animals invisible, at the very moment that a commodified, ethics-free version of veganism becomes more visible.

Ethical vegans may see fast food giants as the contemporary perpetrators of “the inconceivable tyranny” over animals that Watson wrote about in 1946. Their recent commodification of veganism seems to make Cross’s vision of “a new world” seem a more distant prospect – a consequence that makes good business sense for corporations that depend on animal exploitation for the bulk of their profits.

Focus on ethics

Postle’s ruling is all the more significant in this context. It sheds light on how veganism has been separated from ethics in common usage and “green rush” marketing. As such, it’s another wake-up call about how capitalism is remarkably adept at co-opting social movements that challenge any of its practices.

But the ruling also equips the vegan movement with a mainstream legitimacy for its ethical foundations that it has never previously enjoyed in the UK. Most importantly, this means that the ethical objection to the exploitation of other animals is firmly re-centred in our conversations about veganism.

What Exactly Is A Healthy Vegan Diet?

What Exactly Is A Healthy Vegan Diet?

What does a healthy vegan diet look like? Many people don't know what a healthy diet is, let alone a vegan one. I got talking with a neighbor at the grocery store recently. He invited me to join his tai chi classes, and talked about general health benefits. I took a chance and asked him if he knew of any local vegan communities. His response was dismissive. “When I was training at the gym, all the vegans fizzled out quick. A vegan diet doesn't work.”

He went on to admit that the small group (one person, actually) of vegans he had met was back in the 1970s, over 40 years previous. I ventured to mention all the top vegan body builders with videos on YouTube. “With the lack of educational resources on diet before the Internet, the vegan you met probably lived on pasta,” I commented. The neighbor was not impressed enough to inquire more, and proudly announced that he “eats everything.” Needless to say, the man soon excused himself and went on his way.

So, do we really want to know about healthy eating, or are we slowly poisoning ourselves?

According to the National Cancer Institute, Americans do not meet federal dietary recommendations. Sure, opinions vary when it comes to what healthy eating means. But little debate emerges about what is not healthy, and the American population does not seem to care. The following is an excerpt from an NCI study:

The majority of the population did not meet recommendations for all of the nutrient-rich food groups, except total grains and meat and beans. Concomitantly, overconsumption of energy from solid fats, added sugars, and alcoholic beverages (“empty calories”) was ubiquitous. Over 80% of persons age ≥ 71 y and over 90% of all other sex-age groups had intakes of empty calories that exceeded the discretionary calorie allowances. In conclusion, nearly the entire U.S. population consumes a diet that is not on par with recommendations. These findings add another piece to the rather disturbing picture that is emerging of a nation's diet in crisis.

Read more here

How to know what a healthy vegan diet is

In the hype of vegan diets, do you know what a healthy vegan diet is? You may have the suspicion that vodka and potato chips are vegan but not exactly healthy. But what about the vegan burgers you can buy in the supermarket or the lentil soup?

Once upon a time I happily ate any kind of processed foods. When I chose to become vegan, I continued to look for quick, processed vegan options for meals. A healthy vegan diet does not rely on processed foods and alcohol. This means you buy fresh produce with few exceptions. Let's take a look at fresh produce:

  • Fresh vegetables and fruit
  • Whole grains and spices
  • Legumes and beans (dried, not canned)
  • Nuts and seeds

The above items are all fresh produce. Of course, we are subject to seasonal and regional harvests, so including frozen produce as part of a healthy vegan diet is fine. Note that we are not talking about heavily salted, seasoned or sweetened fruits and nuts, like pre-made energy bars. Some basics for your food pantry, ingredients that have a minimal amount of processing, are healthy choices to include, nevertheless. Here are a few good items to keep on hand:

  • Soy sauce
  • Tahini
  • Brown rice vinegar
  • Apple cider vinegar
  • Coconut aminos
  • Sprouted bread
  • Nut butter
  • Non-dairy milk

Canned vegetables and legumes are quite commonly found just about anywhere. It's a good idea to get into a regular habit of cooking with dried legumes rather than canned, mostly because the salt content and other additives found in canned food. However, canned legumes are still nutrient-rich and worth having in your cabinet.

The bad news is that the burgers and pre-made bean soups are all processed. So are all other kind of vegan/vegetarian meals and fake meat. The good news is that you can easily prepare meals yourself and freeze. How does a lentil-walnut burger with a paprika sauce sound or a meatloaf with glaze?

Not everything we prepare has to look like meals with meat and fish. Usually in the transition period it's nice to have something familiar to eat.  Keep in mind that just because something says vegan on the package does not make it necessarily healthful for you. As you become more committed to a vegan lifestyle, you may not want so much meat alike food, which is only trying to trick your brain instead of transforming your thinking.  We can cook delicious vegan meals, and it can be just as easy as opening a package of processed fake meat.

If you know nothing about cooking, let alone vegan cuisine, don't fret. It's a lot easier to do than many people think, and infinitely more healthful, no question. We all know that dark, leafy greens are rich in cancer-fighting goodness, for example. But due to the heavy lobbying and marketing of the meat and dairy industries, few Americans are aware that healthier alternatives, such as pulses – seeds of legumes that pull nitrogen from the air to create protein – are an important protein source globally. The American Institute for Cancer Research reports that dry beans and peas are rich in fiber (20% of Daily Value) and a good source of protein (10% of Daily Value). They are also an excellent source of folate, a B vitamin.

In Dr. Michael Gregor's, book, How Not To Die, the author goes into detail about the best foods to include in a healthy vegan diet. Check out Gregor's Daily Dozen in this video below:

At any rate, we all inherently know when we are eating badly. It goes without saying that processed foods are addicting because of added sugars, salt, and saturated fats. If you want to live a long healthy life on a healthy vegan diet, make a concerted effort to cut the processed crap out of your daily food consumption.

First Vegan Supermarket in U.S. to Open in Oregon

First Vegan Supermarket in U.S. to Open in Oregon

A vegan supermarket is a dream come true for many of us. Europe is ahead of the trend, with vegan supermarkets popping up since 2011. Well, I have some good news for my American friends, at least those on the West Coast. The German vegan supermarket chain Veganz is scheduled to open a store in Portland, Oregon later this year ,in 2016. Veganz also plans to open a shoe and clothing store, as well as a restaurant, in the same city.

Here is a snippet from the company's press release:

The chain was founded in February 2011 in Berlin, Germany by former Mercedes-Benz manager Jan Bredack after he found bountiful vegan options during his travels around the U.S. and Russia, German news site The Local reported.
Bredack, who became a vegan in 2009, said he found it hard to “shop normally” at home. Germany, after all, is the meat-loving home to 1,500 different types of sausages and cold cuts.

Bredack said he wants to make vegan shopping easier for everyone and noted that his stores appeal to omnivores as well, estimating that 80 percent of his customers are neither vegan nor vegetarian.

I admit, it's not easy to be vegan in our modern society. Just last week I went to the health store and bought some new supplements to try. And even though I told the shop owner that I am striving to buy only vegan products, she still recommended a chewable D vitamin, and I bought a bottle to try. I got mad at myself for not reading the label until I had reached home and already opened it One of the ingredients was palm oil. Now, palm oil is technically a plant. But because the harvest and production of palm oil leads to the destruction of rain forest habitats, I was not happy about supporting a product so destructive to the environment. I chalked it up to a learning experience, and promised myself to practice mindfulness by reading all labels in the future.

Shopping at a vegan supermarket is an exciting prospect for me, because I know I will not have to read labels in caution for animal welfare when I shop there!

If you want to get updated you can do so by signing up for their newsletter in English or on social platforms.

Veganz on Twitter

Veganz on Facebook

In case you want to know why we are vegans here are a three videos below, each with a different perspective that explain why:

Dairy: [videoframes src=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UcN7SGGoCNI” skin=”10″ autoplay=”1″ controls=”1″ headline_text=”Why we don´t eat dairy” headline_color=”#000000″ headline_size=”22″]

 

To watch why we don´t eat eggs click on Next

Laughter Yoga May Help You Be A Better Vegan

Laughter Yoga May Help You Be A Better Vegan

laughter yogaLaughter yoga may be a good thing to start practicing this holiday season if you don't already laugh often. Year end brings festivities, family obligations and stress for many. As a vegan, do you choose to get argumentative with “close-minded” meat eaters, or do you focus on your own growing mindfulness? If holiday frustrations are making you stressed, laughter yoga may help.

 

[videoframes src=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ahhN3Ryw4O4″ skin=”10″ autoplay=”1″ headline_size=”22″]

Laughter Yoga And The Happy Vegan

In my own experience, I know I cannot simply change the mind of relatives who delight in meat eating. These relatives scoff at the notion that meat may cause cancer. I had no idea how deeply set their convictions were until what I thought was a casual conversation about healthy eating turned ugly. “How ridiculous to think that meat causes cancer!” was a shared sentiment at a recent family reunion dinner. I had a decision to make: should I insist on my perspective, or relax and enjoy the party? I chose laughter yoga.

Laughing exercises help melt self-induced stress

Laughter yoga, an exercise that combines laughter exercises with yoga breathing, was born in a public park in 1995 with Dr. Madan Kataris. Here is how he began:

While researching the benefits of laughter, he was amazed by the number of studies showing profound physiological and psychological benefits of laughter. He [Dr. Kataris] decided to find a way to deliver these benefits to his patients and other people. The result is Laughter Yoga, a unique exercise routine that combines group laughter exercises with yoga breathing which allows anyone to laugh without using jokes, humor or comedies. Started with just with just five people in a public park in Mumbai in 1995, it has grown into a worldwide movement of more than 6000 Laughter Yoga clubs in over 60 countries. Read more at Laughter Yoga.

Laughter Yoga can have unexpected benefits

As I grow stronger in my commitment to a vegan path, it's more important to me to explore healthy non-animal food choices than to fall into arguments with non-vegans. After all, I used to be a serious meat eater just like them. Lately, I've been focusing on laughing instead of getting upset because of another's point of view. This has not only melted much of my stress, but also empowered me in ways I did not expect. I find it easier to make vegan choices daily, and the arguments of non-vegans don't cause anger or doubts in my own head.

Decades ago, Napoleon Hill said that laughter helps change the chemistry of the brain. He was doing laughter yoga long before it was ever coined as a concept. He suggested starting the day with a good laugh:
Adopt the habit of having a good hearted laugh every time you become irritated or angry. Begin each day with one minute of hearty laughing; this will change the chemistry of your brain and start you off with a positive mental attitude. Read more at Daring to Live Fully.

On the next page is a sampling of laughter videos to help get you started. Click on the round 3 below to watch them:

Laughter is the best Medicine

Laughter is the best Medicine

For great health, the diet plays an important role, yet that's not all there is to it. To achieve optimal health, you need a combination of a healthy diet, exercise, and a positive mood. This is where “Laughter is the best medicine” comes in.

Every fall I travel to the South of Europe a nice warm village to stay over the winter. Usually, it's a great time of the year. I enjoy planning and packing, yet, this year it was stressful for me. It started the month before, not knowing if we were going at all, something was needed and fast. Then it was I remembered Laughter Therapy – After a few laughs I started to feel much better,  I stayed stress-free and enjoyed the planning, packing and trip.

Laughter can be infectious. When you hear the sound of laughter, you can’t help but laugh yourself. When laughter is shared among others, it causes a binding between people. It increases both intimacy and happiness.

It is well known that laughter triggers healthy bodily changes and healthy changes in the mind. Laughter can increase your energy level, lessen pain, strengthen the immune system, and protect you from stress. Laughter is the best medicine because it is free, fun, and easy.

Every fall I travel

Laughter is Strong Medicine

Laughter can be a strong antidote to conflict, pain, and stress. There is nothing else that works more dependably or quicker to bring your body and mind into balance than laughter. The use of humor can lighten your burdens, connect you to others, inspire your hope, and keep you focused, alert, and grounded.

With this ability to renew your health and heal you, laughter can be a great resource for whatever problems you may have. It can also strengthen your relationships. It can support your emotional and physical health and well-being.

How Is Laughter Good For Your Health?

Laughter can do many things for your health. These include the following:

  • Laughter can increase your immune system. It can decrease the level of stress hormones within the body and increase the number of immune cells and antibodies you have, which will help you become more resistant to disease
  • Laughter is relaxing. A wonderful laugh can relieve you of stress and physical tension so that your muscles can be relaxed for up to 45 minutes following laughing.
  • Laughter releases endorphins. Endorphins are the body’s feel-good hormones. When your endogenous endorphins are released, you feel a sense of well-being and a reduction in the sensation of pain
  • Laughter can help the heart. Laughter can increase the ability of the blood vessels to nourish all parts of the body. It can increase your blood flow, which can help prevent heart attacks and other types of heart diseases.

The Benefits Of Laughter

Laughter is known to have many health benefits, including physical, emotional, and social benefits.
Some of these include the following:

•    Decreases your stress levels
•    Increases your immunity
•    Relaxes your muscles
•    Protects your heart
•    Lessens pain
•    Lessens fear and anxiety
•    Relieves stress
•    Adds joy to your life
•    Enhances your mood
•    Improves your resilience
•    Attracts other people to us
•    Promotes the bonding among group members
•    Improves teamwork
•    Strengthens relationships

Laughter Can Help Your Emotional Health

Laughter simply makes a person feel good. This good feeling persists even when you are done laughing. Laughter helps you maintain an optimistic and positive outlook. Which means  you can easier get through situations of loss, disappointments, and other difficult situations.

Laughter is more than just a protection against pain and sadness. It gives you the strength and courage to find other sources of hope and meaning. Even when you find yourself in the most difficult of times, laughter or even a smile can take you far when it comes to feeling better. Laughter really is a bit contagious. When you hear someone else laugh, it primes your brain and sets you up to join that person in laughing, too.

Laughter And Mental Health

Laughter is associated with better mental health. Some things laughter can do to improve your mental health include the following:

•    Laughter allows you to relax. A good laugh can lessen stress and increase your energy levels so that you can remain focused and get more things accomplished.
•    Laughter can lessen distress. It is hard to feel sad, anxious, or angry when you are instead laughing.
•    Laughter shifts your perspective. It allows you to see things in a less threatening and more realistic light. Being humorous helps create a psychological distance between you and stressful events so that you don’t feel so overwhelmed.

Laughter Has Social Benefits

When you use humor and engage in playful communication with others, your relationships become stronger. You trigger positive emotions and an emotional connection with those you are laughing with. A positive bond develops—one that can act as a powerful buffer against disappointment, disagreements, and stress. When you laugh with others, this is a more powerful thing than when you laugh alone.

How To Create More Opportunities To Laugh

There are things you can do to increase your chances of laughing. Here are some you might try:

•    Attend a comedy club
•    Watch something funny on television
•    Watch videos of funny animals there are tons on YouTube, or just add the search term “funny   into the YouTube search bar
•    Read the comics in the newspaper
•    Be with people who are funny
•    Share a funny story or joke with another
•    Read a funny book
•    Sponsor a game night with your friends
•    Play with your pet
•    Play with children
•    Do something you think is silly
•    Engage in activities you consider fun

Laughter can do a lot to help you feel better on a physical, emotional, and cognitive level. Don’t be afraid to share a good laugh with others for all around better health.

If you still need suggestions for laughter then click the book cover below:

 

Interesting fact about we can cheat the brain with laughter PubMed

A Guide to Vegan Boots

A vegan guide to buy boots

Vegan Boots: A Boot Whose Time Has Come

I got a pair of vegan boots a Target about four years ago for $30. They are adorable, durable, and still get plenty of compliments. If you’re looking for hiking boots or for fashion boots to wear downtown, it may appear challenging to find leather-free options. Yet, with a few tips, finding cruelty-free boots becomes a piece of cake.

When you begin your search for the perfect pair of boots, you’ll want to consider two things:

  1. Material is the most significant. Luckily shoe labels make it easy to distinguish between animal materials and vegan materials. You can expect boots are made from leather or other animal fabrics unless the label says, “All Man-Made Materials” or “100% Synthetic.” Then you’re in the clear! Just be careful, some shoes have a synthetic outer but a leather sole or a wooly interior.
  2. Glue is one of those “how vegan are you?” questions. It can be difficult to determine whether the glue that binds the boot together is vegan or made using trace animal ingredients. Many vegans decide not to worry about such details. Others commit to buying only vegan-certified footwear.

Vegan Boots List For Mindful Shopping

We are including two lists, the first with 100% vegan shoes and boots. The second with retailers that carry footwear made without leather or wool, yet, could contain trace animal ingredients in the glue.

100% Vegan Boots And Shoes Companies & Shops:

Big Retailers That Carry Man-Made Boots:

We wish you the best of luck in finding the perfect cruelty-free boots this season!