What to call myself?

I recently read Caitlin’s post on labels and it got me thinking…what am I?

As most of you know by now, I have been doing research and experimenting with veganism for a few weeks now, thanks to Lindsey’s inspiration and fueled by my own off-and-on interest in the “diet” side of the lifestyle. I decided to take on this challenge for health reasons and for all the great things I’ve heard about the positive “side effects” of the diet, though I do care about animals and our environment. That is just not my #1 motivation. To me, it’s an added bonus, something that is additionally benefitting from me choosing this lifestyle for myself.

Just about every day, I Google “Is (fill in the blank) vegan?” and I’m surprised at the amount of information out there on the subject. Just about everything I have come across has been easy to figure out so far. But I found one thing in particular hard to get around…honey.

I have known for a long time that “true” vegans do not eat honey but I wondered if that applied to me? I don’t use it, as I am generally a low sugar eater. I don’t keep honey in a jar in my house. But I’m finding it difficult at times to avoid products that already have it in there. Since my primary motivation is health, will a little honey here or there really hurt me?

Then I thought to myself…why not just leave that part out? I’ll do everything else. Can I still be considered a “vegan?” Do I even care about having a label?

But, I went ahead and Googled “Can you be a vegan and eat honey?” I clicked on the first link that came up.

[Source – http://www.vegetus.org/honey/honey.htm]

Vegan Nomenclature : If you are thinking to yourself, “But I’m a vegan for health reasons” or “I’m a vegan for environmental reasons,” read on. Unlike the word vegetarian, the word vegan specifically implies moral concern for animals, and this concern extends to all areas of life, not just diet. If you do not believe in animal equality, please consider referring to yourself as someone who doesn’t eat animal products, as one who follows a plant-based diet, or as one who follows a vegan diet. Or, continue to educate yourself about veganism, and perhaps you will choose to practice veganism. Additionally, anyone who eats honey, yet refers to herself as a vegan, makes life difficult for other vegans–it’s like having someone who eats fish and calls herself a vegetarian. When a vegetarian comes along, it is much harder for her to explain that fish is not acceptable for vegetarians.”

While I know this particular source is just one person’s opinion, I am sure that it is shared by many throughout the vegan community. Honey is apparently a quite controversial topic. I also found this really interesting article on Slate.com called “The Great Vegan Honey Debate” written By Daniel Engber. 

Here are some good tidbits from that article:

“There is no more contentious question in the world of veganism than the one posed by honey.”

“You either eat honey or you don’t; to debate the question in public only makes the vegan movement seem silly and dogmatic.”

And probably my favorite line from the entire piece:

“That may be the most important lesson to come out of this debate: You’ll catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.”

The Bottom Line

  • I totally respect why ethically-motivated vegans avoid honey. I tend to do it myself as a person who avoids sugar and sugary products, though it’s a different type of motivation.
  • I will strive to avoid honey in the same way I have been, but I won’t go out of my way. Obviously, foods like “honey roasted peanuts” “yogurt with honey” or “oats & honey granola bars” will be easy to spot and I will do my best to not purchase those products. Also, this is a point where it comes in handy not to eat many processed foods to begin with!
  • I do not care about labels personally; I don’t fit neatly into boxes, figuratively speaking. But when someone asks me how I eat or why I am not eating something, I want to have an answer for them that is both accurate and respectful.
  • As of today, I am a vegetarian. If I choose to adopt the vegan way of living and make it permanent, I will refer to my diet as vegan, but not myself. I will however, allow myself to be called “labeled” a vegetarian. That is a name I am comfortable with since I don’t plan to eat meat or seafood again for the foreseeable future.

So, there you have it. I am a vegetarian that eats a semi-vegan diet. I avoid eating meat, seafood, eggs, butter, and dairy products. I am working on reading labels and finding those animal-derived ingredients that get snuck into some seemingly vegan foods, including all the hard to spell ingredients like calcium carbonate. Okay, so that wasn’t too hard to spell.

*I also want to make it clear that I am doing this for myself because I want to. And you should eat whichever way it is that works for you or that you are passionate about.*

I also reserve the right to change and evolve over time, as should you. When I first started this blog and throughout the months that have followed, my diet has gone through various changes. I’m sure this won’t be the end of it as I continue on this journey of healthy and balanced living.

I’ve been interested in vegetarianism and veganism since I was a teenager, experimenting with it from time to time, including on a few occasions over the past two years, but I’ve been going about it the wrong way due to my lack of knowledge and understanding. But now that I am informed and I am motivated, I am finally ready. Ready to experience everything that eating an animal free diet has for me. Ready to experience new foods and try out some new recipes. Thanks for allowing me to share that with you.

Have a great weekend!


About Sarah Frankel

I am 29 years old and a resident of Louisville, Kentucky. I've been married to my husband Josh for 6 years and we have a 5 year old beagle named Suzie. Four years ago, I changed my eating and exercise habits, dropping 70 pounds and gaining an entirely new life. I took up running in September 2007 and became vegan in October 2009. I am constantly striving to improve my life so that I can live it to the fullest! I hope you will join me on my life journey.

Posted on September 18, 2009, in articles, challenges, diets, vegetarianism and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. Just like you, I have always been intrigued by the two V’s but honestly had no idea how much info was out there. Just reading your post, gave me a headache lol…

    I love how dedicated you are to this and can’t wait to follow your journey…you honestly inspire me to try new things!

    Btw no honey?! Gasp no honey Oikos! No way Jose!

    • Haha, that’s exactly my point, it won’t fit for everyone 😉 I’ve always found honey to be too sweet, including the Oikos. So I think I’ll live, hehe. Thank you for your input as always, I really enjoy reading your comments and appreciate your friendship 🙂

  2. “You either eat honey or you don’t; to debate the question in public only makes the vegan movement seem silly and dogmatic.”

    I like this. I think it’s unfortunate that vegans should split on such a small issue, when we have so much more in common. Are we really so desperate to put others down? A vegan who eats honey is not my enemy, and does not make life difficult for me!

    • Tinako – I so much appreciate your input! I guess since I don’t know that many vegans in “real life” I wouldn’t have to worry too much about offending them. I’m so glad you stopped by because now I can read your blog and get some ideas from you 🙂 Have a great day!

  1. Pingback: Take a load off « See Sarah Eat

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