Hi, it's Veronika here!

It's been a long long time =) I'm so busy to get my shop going and raise more money for the animal sanctuary (read more here) - as you can see, more is happening there than here - check my newest designs - all three on this page - just finished them yesterday! (Yes, they're mockups, not real photoshoots of the actual designs as the printing cannot happen overnight =)
And that's why I have no time (or is it energy?) to think of topics I'd write about (I rather turn my thought into designs). But something crossed my mind today I wanted to dive into a bit in an article.

Oh, btw, in case you haven't done this yet, please read my Honest Language Disclaimer (no, it's not about profanity) - cheers!

So what is it I'm going to talk about today? The various terms used for those who incline to vegan lifestyle and diet and HOW I UNDERSTAND IT. Really, I'm no dictionary, surely not an English one whilst it's not even my native language =) so this is just my opinion on the matter. So nobody takes an offence and nobody takes a full %&$!#-blast on me after reading this, ok? =) I know these things get people heated sometimes (or better to say - almost all the time).

Let's start with a pretty infographic I made - and again - this is how I understand these terms, it's not carved in the stone (just on my blog)

So, to me, it's pretty much just as the Venn diagram (I'm mathematician, you knew that, right?) shows. Vegan is an intersection of plant-based and cruelty-free.

Plant-based:

Pretty much self-explanatory, just eats plants, I guess also uses plants, not animal products. But perhaps it's connected to diet only. Let's do a quick Google research: aaand... here I'm wrong! =) It seems like plant-based is a term used for the matters of diet only. So wearing a leather jacket and munching on beans is what's called being plant-based. OK. Of course, I'm not implying if you're plant-based, you have to wear leather jackets. But if you do, simply you are not vegan, you're plant-based.

Am I vegan when I still use some of my old leather boots or jackets?

Yeah, some people who go vegan can't stand wearing their old leather, wool, etc. clothes, shoes, accessories, some can as they see it as a waste to just throw away when it's still usable. Yes, you can donate it (or sell it and give the money to animal sanctuaries perhaps) - I think I've heard some people even did burials to these old animal remnants in the form of clothes and shoes... well, you know let's be realistic - leather jacket is full of chemicals (that's the way how it's done in the first place), giving it a burial is not good for the environment...

Anyway, if you don't eat any animal products, but still buy (even second hand) animal products such as clothes, cleaning products etc., you're not vegan, you're plant-based.
A NOTE HERE IN BIG FAT LETTERS: This is meant for those products you can easily substitute. In our modern world, sadly, it's almost impossible to avoid animal products completely. Here in the UK, the new notes are partially made of animal fat. I still use money and pay with them. Sorry, I have to. You may need to use medicine and there's no vegan alternative (without lactose or gelatine), not even mentioning that drugs are tested on animals. You're still vegan, you just don't have the choice to avoid this. That's ok. But you don't have to buy those leather shoes, you don't have to go to the zoo (unless you're a teacher and it's a school trip - I've been there, I know jobs makes us sometimes do things we don't want to do).

So to sum this up - Plant-based are people who eat only plants but don't mind to use other animal products such as leather clothing and probably generally don't have problems to go to a zoo or an aquarium. You got the idea.

Cruelty-free:

Be nice to animals, make sure no one suffers and viola - you're cruelty-free. Does that mean you can eat backyard eggs from your own hens? Yes. Are you vegan when you do so? No. But you're cruelty-free and that also counts.

Am I vegan if I cook my home-yard eggs from my pet chickens for my family?

If you don't eat them, you're vegan. If your family wants you to cook for them and you don't mind, that's fine. But if you eat it with them, you're eating an animal product, even when it comes from your pet hens, so then you're not a vegan. But what I'd care about are your pet hens, not your own eating preference, although these poor chickens are probably one of those that were bread to lay many eggs so you will do more good for them if you feed them the eggs to help them replenish lost calcium and other nutrients instead of baking a cake for your family who doesn't really need it (not even mentioning the high level of bad cholesterol in eggs). Just a tip =)

People who can be described as living cruelty-free are focused on the aspects of how things are made and how they get to them. So for example, they may refuse to use palm-oil as this is often connected to destroying natural habitats and I think we've all seen by now some pictures or videos of orangutans being killed or at least their home being destroyed. That's certainly cruel, so no palm oil for those who are cruelty-free unless is certified as sustainable - perhaps if that means being grown in regulated conditions with no more trees in the jungle being cut down and no more orangutans and other native animals being killed and their homes destroyed. Unfortunately, at this moment, this is still not as black and white. Sustainable palm oil still isn't a clear promise of being cruelty-free, so I'd be careful with its usage. I avoid it where I can while learning on the way about other alternatives (as anything can be harmful to the environment if it's used too intensely - just think of cotton plantations and the abuse of pesticides - one of the reasons I sell organic cotton instead of normal cotton T-shirts).
Would cruelty-free people eat a road-kill? I guess they might. As much as road-kill is not really cruelty-free, it was a non-intentional accident and the animal is dead, so I can see how some people who describe themselves as cruelty-free would eat a road-kill. I guess I would feed it to my cats one day I have them again (still waiting for the lab meat, common, scientists, let's make this finally happen!)

To summarise in a few words (a few words - always a challenge for me) - Cruelty-free are people who may use animal products if that means no harm to the animals themselves. One more example may be sustainably sourced cocoons of silkworms after they left the cocoons as adult moths. These cocoons can be turned into so-called vegan silk (it's not vegan though - cruelty-free perhaps but not vegan) and no harm was done to the worms (normally the cocoons are boiled so the worms are being killed before they eat through the silk fibres to keep the fibres longer and easier to use, you knew that, right?)

So, who are vegans then?

To keep it simple, besides the dictionary definition of veganism (just google it if you don't know it yet =), vegans are both plant-based and cruelty-free in the actual mathematical meaning (I wasn't kidding, I'm a mathematician) - so things must be plant-based AND cruelty-free to use them. This expands over the diet to the whole lifestyle - one would say it dictates what you buy, use, what you do, where you go,... but it's not really that my choice of being vegan dictates me anything. My choice of being vegan is my consciousness about the things I decide that I don't want to do, don't want to support, I do want to avoid. If I decide willingly that I will do or use something that is against the vegan definition, so I will do that. Being vegan isn't binding you to anything. If I do anything that's not within the definition of veganism, I may not be a vegan anymore, but if it's aligned with my morals, I will still sleep well in the night.

For that reason I was long time elaborating about horse riding before I decided, not only I agree it's not vegan (because it really isn't, sorry all of you, horse riding lovers, that's the fact) also I aligned with my morals that I wouldn't want to do that. But more about this some other time, it's just an example of how free you can be even though you decide to go vegan. It's up to you and your morals how "far" you go with the definition.

And if you not really a vegan afterwards? That's up to you and your consciousness - but bear in mind, your taste buds should not be dictating your heart what's acceptable. We all know that animals are not meant to be born in a small cage, taken away from their mothers while still babies, killed in the young age - and all of that (yes, I know, lions tho...) without being given a chance to defend themselves, run away, win their lives over the predators.

To all "bacon, tho..." comments - if you want your bacon, go to the forest, hunt with your bare hands and see who's gonna win - you or the boar? =) I can still go and forage berries, mushrooms and make basic plant-based food (and would be very happy with that as I do this often anyway) if anyone would want to counter-comment on this with "forage your own green leaves, you tree-hugger" =)

Anyway... =)

Where do vegetarians belong in this comparison?

A good question. Vegetarians are not plant-based. As they would happily drink milk (this is the part where I believe these vegetarians just don't know how horrible dairy industry is and that many young calves are sent to slaughter because their mums are milked for human's milk consumption) and eat eggs (while not being aware of the fact that, obviously, half of the chicks being born as males and because males don't lay eggs, they are usually being ground or gassed alive just after they're born because they're not useful to the egg industry).
I believe, that many vegetarians end up as cruelty-free after learning these things as mostly they are vegetarians for the animals. And if you do something for the animals, you don't want babies being taken away from their mums and babies being killed just after being born...
So vegetarians may be cruelty-free (although then they won't surely eat road-kill - as for example above).

You can see how these labels are having different levels and wherever you find yourself, you may change one day somewhere else. You don't have to stick to one label forever. It's not a religion to feel bad to leave or change nor your nationality that's pretty much with you all your life =) It's your morals and yourself evolving from one to another.

Why dairy and egg industry are bad - I make the point with my designs:

 

Now, back to the main topic...

To summarise on an example - who would wear the T-shirts from above? Probably all these types of people - plant-based, cruelty-free as well as vegans (and vegetarians, when I just mentioned this category as well). As they have a lot in common - probably inclining to be protective about the environment (the seahorse and oceans) and animals (chicks and calves) a bit more than other people. Not saying people eating meat would not be concerned about the environment and (general) animal wellbeing but there's a higher percentage of those who just don't amongst meant eating people comparing to the population that is inclining to veganism at some level.

At the end, who cares about labels? Nobody. Or - I don't. What I care about is the way how animals and our environment is treated. I'm not concerned about indigenous tribes deep in the Amazon forest who may fish in order to enrich their rather limited food sources or people living in the Arctic circle who need to hunt seals and wear their skin in order to simply survive. I'm concerned about the choices of people who have the luxury to choose in the first place. And choosing eating meat and animal products when we know where it comes from, how the animals were treated and how poorly they lived their very short(!) lives - that's worrying. When you learn about the environmental impacts of meat, dairy, wool and other animal-related industries, how on Earth could you stay the same? Go vegan overnight as I did, take baby steps as others do, change from vegetarian to cruelty-free, start thinking and find your reasons to ditch bad and destructive habits and be the part of the change. That's the only thing that matters. Don't be afraid of failure so much to keep you in the old ways. I was afraid that I will not be able to give up cheese. Yet I got my reasons - environment, animals and my own health - and that made it so easy, I never craved cheese, not even for a second doubted my decision I made a couple of years ago. And I'm happy about this decision every single day.

Find your reasons and stick to them. Try it, it can make you happy too - and it will definitely make happy billions of animals on the Earth. That's worth it, isn't it?

Hi, it's Veronika, your vegan friend and content creator of Veronika Honestly (no, not my surname).
I'm mathemagician (making money as maths tutor! 😁), a bit of an artist (well, trying to get back to art) and also animal and adventure lover.
Get to know me on my About page and make sure you sign up for my newsletter to get my free printable greeting cards for vegans I made for everyone to use and spread the vegan word!

See you around and on my social media - stay in touch!

Thank you for reading this whole article =) I have a few things to mention here:

Firstly, if not already mentioned in the article, I would like you to know about my Honest Language Disclaimer (no, it's not about profanity) - in case you were wondering why my English is so weird and not Oxford-dictionary perfect (whose English is, anyway...)

Secondly, my post may contain affiliate links. Namely Etsy and Amazon links. If you click through and buy anything there, I will get a small commission, so you are basically helping me to reach the goals, to raise funds for animals sanctuaries. All of that at no extra cost to you or the seller. It's a win-win =)

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