Why Go Vegan? Isn’t Being a Vegetarian Enough?

Vegetarian_Pic_content

My new blogger friend, Margaret, asked me why she should go vegan if she can get eggs and dairy from humanely raised sources. I thought I’d share my answer to her, and I’d love to hear what others of you have to say on this topic.

Why go vegan? Isn’t being a vegetarian enough?

Until two years ago, I didn’t understand why vegans didn’t eat eggs or dairy. Since cows and chickens aren’t killed to produce eggs and milk, what’s wrong with it? I’ve since learned that the majority of eggs and milk we consume come from factory farms where animals suffer horribly.

But is it still wrong to eat eggs and dairy if you take the suffering out of the equation? I believe that vegans are divided about this. Some would argue that it is still wrong because you are exploiting the animals and using them for your benefit. Others might concede that in this situation it is okay.

For myself, even if I could get eggs and dairy from animals that were humanely raised, I still wouldn’t consume them. For one, I don’t believe that eggs and dairy are healthful. They’re often promoted as wholesome foods, but research has shown that they contribute to diseases including cancer, heart disease and diabetes.

I’m also wary about the “humanely raised” labels farmers use. I’m sure that some farms that use such labels care about their animals and treat them well, but many do not. Humanely raised labels are often deceptive and don’t necessarily mean that animals are raised in humane conditions.

Birds raised for meat, for example, may be sold as “free-range” if they have government certified access to the outdoors. In order to fulfill this, a door needs to be open for only five minutes a day.

Why don’t I find a farm that I personally check out to make sure they treat their animals well and get my eggs and dairy from them? Other than the health reason I mentioned above, I’d be promoting eating eggs and dairy as well as farms that are deceptive about their humanely raised labels and I don’t want to do that.

I’ve been on an egg and dairy-free diet for more than two years and I love it! I admit that it was a challenge at first (especially giving up cheese), but once I learned how easy it was to replace these items with delicious alternatives it was a cinch. It’s not the life of denial I thought it was going to be at all. I love my vegan diet and lifestyle and this is what I want to promote.

Quotes

Here are some thoughts on the topic from my blogger friends, Annie, Poppy and Vegan Social Justice.

“I think it is very important not to support an industry that uses the very important issue of nonhuman animal liberation by pretending to be humane.” – Annie, author of Vegan Grammie Annie blog

“Cows milk is meant for calves not young and adult humans! Mention drinking human breast milk to someone and it’s the grossest thing ever yet they’re happy to drink from a cows breast?” – Poppy, author of Bunny Kitchen blog

“Not only is the meat, dairy and egg industries one and the same, literally because spent cows are processed into ground beef, calves into veal and male chicks ground up into animal feed, but using cows for milk or chickens for eggs is illogical. Nonhuman animals are individuals not resources for humans to use as they please.” – Quote from the author of the blog, Vegan Social Justice

A few articles of interest on this topic

Milk…It Does a Body Bad

Is There Life After Dairy?

Is Eating Eggs Really as Bad For Your Heart as Smoking?

How Does Drinking Milk Harm Cows?

Why I Don’t Eat Eggs

Photo courtesy of howtobecomegorgeous.com.

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About celestedimilla

Hey there. I’m Celeste, California girl, writer, psychotherapist and burgeoning plant-based foodie.
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49 Responses to Why Go Vegan? Isn’t Being a Vegetarian Enough?

  1. Great post Celeste. I have never been a fan of eggs or milk even as a child. I would be forced to consume those. Cheese was difficult because of the addictive chemicals, morphine and codeine. Traces of morphine, along with codeine and other opiates, are apparently produced in cows’ livers and can end up in their milk. This is why its so difficult to give up cheese. You basically go through a withdrawl process just like any other addict..hmnn maybe I should do a post about this.

    • Hey there Ivonne! I loved, loved, loved chocolate milk as a child (actually, I still love it but now I use almond milk). I wish I’d been more like you and didn’t like those foods before, but I used to practically live on cold cereal and milk (that’s how lazy of a cook I used to be). Anyway, I’m over that now! Thanks for your lovely comment chica!! Oh, and please do a post about the withdrawal process people go through from cheese – I’m curious about it. Celeste 🙂

  2. Lauzan says:

    Great post, Celeste! I agree with Ivonne and I share your opinion about egg/milk/cheese. I have never been a great fan of eggs and milk, but I loved cheese. Giving up to it was not easy at the beginning but now I don’t miss it anymore, furthermore there are plenty yummy alternative to eat and cook by yourself!! 🙂

    • Thanks for your comment Lauzan! Cheese was probably the hardest thing for me to give up when I went vegan. I find it unappealing now, however; and my husband is the same. I guess you just lose your taste for it. And like you say, there are so many great alternatives. Have a great week! Celeste 🙂

      • I read somewhere that there is an ingredient in cheese that makes it addictive. I think it is “The World Peace Diet” by Dr Will Tuttle, but I am not one hundred percent sure. It would make sense then that people would have a hard time giving it up. As a child and young adult, I did not like cow’s milk, chickens’ eggs or any kind of cheese made from any kind of nonhuman animal milk.
        Later on, I started enjoying the taste of melted cheese and I would put milk in my coffee and boil eggs for egg salad sandwiches. Of course, I used eggs in baking-they were hidden from view and the taste masked.
        So when I became vegan, what did I miss the most?-melted cheese, along with highly processed meats (which coincidentally I hardly ever ate) and egg salad sandwiches.
        Who knows what ingredients are slipped in what we mistakenly call food (nonhuman animals and their secretions). I am so glad not to be eating it any more-for the nonhuman animals of this world who are caught in the web of our humanity.

  3. Fantastic Celeste- I too agree with you! And I also admire your friend Margaret for asking the question 🙂 I think ‘free range’ and other labels are just clever marketing schemes. Whilst chickens that live in people’s yards are usually treated quite well, I can’t help but think of all the male chicks that were born as ‘waste’. In Australia, they are macerated and this is permissable by law- can you believe it?! I wonder how many other so called ‘developed’ countries treat ‘food’ animals this way 😦 This quote always gives me hope though:
    “The time will come when men such as I will look upon the murder of animals as they now look on the murder of men.”
    — Leonardo da Vinci
    x

    • What a great quote! It gives me hope too. The things that the US allows to be done to ‘food’ animals is downright cruel. I don’t get how it took me so long to realize it. I hope the world wakes up soon. Thanks so much for your thoughts! Celeste 🙂

  4. Lots of great points, Celeste, thank you for sharing your response to Margaret Rose 🙂 xx

  5. April @ Simplify Your Health says:

    Great post. Thanks for sharing your views 🙂

  6. Marfigs says:

    This is an interesting post since it’s what I get asked the most, since a lot of foods that would make socializing around meals a lot “easier”, as they say. Apart from a spat when I first went lacto-ovo vegetarian five or six years ago of consuming a hellish amount of eggs and cheese (because I was rather ignorant of protein and this was the most touted remedy) I’ve actually always been a bit grossed out by eggs and milk – I never drank it straight and would always get the shivers if I saw it clean in a glass. Cheese on the other hand…oh man! But I quickly realized that dairy products and eggs, even gelatine and other by-products weren’t separate from the machine of meat production, but rather just less obvious offshoots that are just as inhumane. It also never felt natural to me to think that humans needed all this milk (as if one would spend your life “in the wild” chasing cows to milk them or eggs.

    Once I came to terms with the fact that it was all the same side of the coin my cravings for animal products stopped almost overnight and I was absolutely in my element when I became vegan. When I look at eggs and milk these days I don’t think fondly of it because of how it’s made or the specific taste but rather the possibilities it brings in terms of texture or as a binding agent, but I’ve quickly adapted and come up with even more fun and creative ways to bypass animal products. 🙂

    • What a great comment!!! A good point about dairy, eggs and by-products being part of the machine of meat production. I also find it interesting that you’ve always been grossed out by eggs and milk. Before going vegan I loved eggs and milk and consumed them daily. They’re unappetizing to me now, however. It’s funny how our tastes and desires can change so dramatically. Hope you’re having a wonderful week! Celeste 🙂

      • Marfigs says:

        Eggs and what not are admittedly a super cheap way to live when you’re a student – just piled some high on stacks of toast and viola! In that sense I can understand (though not agree with) why some people are happy to “stop” at vegetarianism. I got reminded again yesterday of the convenience of non-veganism in the eyes of omnivores – that it’s seen as a “problem” and not an exciting challenge to work around those omni food staples. For many individuals I know there is just this sense that they simply want to eat and move on with their day. Anyhow, great week to you too! 😀

  7. Emy Will says:

    I totally agree Celeste 😀 Why take the chance? Egg laying farms are like “puppy mills”. These poor hens just lay eggs until they have no finacial use and are then killed.

    • Hey there Emy, it’s great to hear from you chica! It really is sad how humans treat ‘food’ animals. It breaks my heart. I do know there are some compassionate farmers out there, however; and I don’t judge others if they choose to eat eggs and dairy from farms that really care for their animals. This is just not my path. Celeste 🙂

  8. Hi Celeste, I had a similar conversation with my daughter in law who was buying free range chicken’s eggs. I told her a little bit about tha lack of a standard surrounding the term and that she might consider saving her money. She knows that I am vegan for ethical reasons, so I did not go into the horrors of this industry. I was pleased to learn that she did look it up and is no longer buying range free eggs. I think it is very important not to support an industry that uses the very important issue of nonhuman animal liberation by pretending to be humane. It is duping the consumer and perpetuating the idea that farming nonhuman animals for our own pleasure is okay!
    Once again, thanks for shining a light.

    • Ooh, I love how you say, “I think it is very important not to support an industry that uses the very important issue of nonhuman animal liberation by pretending to be humane.” What a great quote, I’m gonna add it to this post! Celeste 🙂

      • Why, thank you! By all means, pass the quote along. Anything we can do to keep the dialogue open is a plus on the side of freedom for nonhuman animals.
        Enjoying your blog immensely. Many thanks!

  9. Mike Lince says:

    Once again, Celeste, you offer great insight about food from your experience. And of course, you struck a nerve with the topic of cheese. There are so many wonderful varieties of cheeses available in Europe and Latin America that I cannot tear myself away from this food source. I have watched rural farmers demonstrate their cheese-making craft in which no animals suffered in procuring their cheese. I know the situation is different in the U.S. where mass-production is key to profitability. I confess, my work is still ahead of me. I hope one day to have made the complete transition to vegan eating. Be patient with me. Your investment in my learning is paying off. – Mike

    • I SO get the cheese thing Mike. It was one of the hardest things for me to give up too and I honestly didn’t think I could do it. I don’t judge you – you know that. I will say, however; that giving up cheese and dairy was easier than I thought it was going to be. It was really only a challenge for a couple of months and then I stopped craving it. Now I have no desire for it at all. I seriously would never have believed I could get over my addiction to dairy, but I did and I’m delighted with how I eat now. I don’t feel deprived AT ALL.

      I don’t know if you read Ivonne’s comment above, but she mentioned that cheese is especially difficult to give up because it contains the addictive chemicals, morphine and codeine.

      Even if you never go fully vegan, Mike, I’m happy that you’re educating yourself and thinking more about what you put into your mouth. I know that you’ve transitioned your diet to some degree and this is wonderful.

      Oh, and I am happy that at least you’re eating really good cheese from rural farmers who take good care of their cows. This is a thousand times better than getting a hunk of cheddar cheese from Safeway. Celeste 🙂

  10. May says:

    I am just about comfortable now with having left cheese behind (I still occasionally miss really good Brie; it’s possible that at some point in the future I might have a small piece just to remind myself that it’s not actually a wonderfood and I can live without it) but eggs are hard for me. My parents keep chickens, and I know that they are well treated and kept as pets even after they stop laying, so it is a big struggle to decide that I will still not eat the eggs from those hens. My ultimate decision was not to because they do have to put down cockrels occasionally, if there are too many in a hatch and they start to attack each other. Again, I can imagine that at some point in the future I’ll need to defeat my obsession with what I’m missing by having an egg and remembering that actually they’re not so amazing. Otherwise I’ll snap and eat EVERYTHING that’s not vegan!

    • A big congrats on giving up cheese May – that’s a huge accomplishment!!! It took me months to do that! And I’m gonna tell you a little secret (or maybe it’s not so secret, I don’t know), I cheat occasionally. I know some vegans rarely cheat at all, but it’s my guess that most of us aren’t perfect. For example, when I was staying at a hotel in Ventura county recently, they didn’t have any nondairy milk or creamer so I used real cream in my coffee. So what – I’m human. So you have a little Brie occasionally, it’s still so much better than eating lots of cheese and dairy every day. It’s so hard in our society to be a perfect vegan, so I just do the best I can and don’t beat up on myself when I occasionally slip.

      As far as eggs are concerned, getting eggs from your parents chickens is a thousand times better than getting them from the store that likely got them from a factory farm. And hey, if a few eggs keep you from snapping and eating EVERTHING that’s not vegan then it sounds like a better choice to me. Of course, you have to do what you feel is right and it sounds like you’re struggling with this. I’m sending positive thoughts your way and hope you come to terms with this dilemma.

      Thanks so much for reading and I hope you’re having a lovely week! Celeste 🙂

      • May says:

        Thanks! I haven’t yet actually reached the point of eating either Brie or eggs, but it’s in the back of my mind as a possibility and I’m getting used to the idea that it won’t mean I can’t be vegan any more. I’m quite all or nothing, so it helps to know that you cheat at times! 🙂

  11. Inês says:

    Great post! I also think that if you learn to eat without animal products, you will not encourage the animal product industry (wheather sustainable and ethical or not)! So, if you chose not to eat any animal products you are contributing for anothher way of eating!

  12. janecleanfourteen says:

    Great response! Always tough to straight talk it out, but you did it beautifully!

  13. Poppy says:

    Hey Celeste, I think your response is really great. I agree with all your reasons and also I argue that it is just not natural. Cows milk is meant for calves not young and adult humans! Mention drinking human breast milk to someone and it’s the grossest thing ever yet they’re happy to drink from a cows breast? As for eggs, again, they’re no different to human eggs! On the health side of things, apart from the fat and cholesterol, there is also the issue of antibiotics and hormones and other drugs pumped into the animals which remain in the products. Poppy 🙂

    • Hi Poppy! What a great comment. I love how you say, “Cows milk is meant for calves not young and adult humans! Mention drinking human breast milk to someone and it’s the grossest thing ever yet they’re happy to drink from a cows breast?” I’m gonna add this quote to my post chica! And yes, I didn’t even touch on the antibiotics and hormones. Why would anyone want to drink milk if they really stop to think what they’re doing? Hope you’re having a wonderful week. Celeste 🙂

      • Poppy says:

        I’m really flattered you’re adding that to your post Celeste 🙂 I think the issue is that people don’t actually stop and think about it sadly 😦 thank you, I hope you’re having a wonderful week too!

  14. stacilys says:

    Look at what the industrial revolution has done to us eh. I wonder how people ate back before hormones and industry? Do you know anything about that? How people ate way back in the pre-industrial times? Thanks for all this info Celeste. I didn’t know about the free range thing and it only meaning that the gate had to be open for 15 minutes a day things.
    🙂

    • I’m not an expert on what people ate before the industrial revolution, but I’m pretty sure of these things:
      1. Meat was expensive and a luxury so people didn’t eat a lot of it (and animals on farms were treated better too!)
      2. Ditto for sugar
      3. There was no fast food
      4. People either ate less food or they worked hard and justified eating a lot
      5. There were no chemicals or hormones in food
      6. There was no such thing as Spam and other processed foods

      How did we get where we are today? Why do we eat chemicals and stuff that isn’t food at all? It’s crazy, and frightening, when you think about it. I don’t know chica, I just don’t know.

      Hehe – you’ve got me going here. Hope you’re having a great week. Celeste 🙂

      • stacilys says:

        Yah, I think I may research it out. I’ve thought of it before. Post industrial living that is. Because without hormones and stuff, people would have eaten a lot less meat then they do today. And if we look back to Biblical times, seems to me that people raised animals like pets. Like a lamb was special and well taken care of. Now the slaying of that animal, hmmm, got me there…
        Thanks Celeste.
        🙂

  15. diahannreyes says:

    Thanks, Celeste. I can say that at the moment I’m in transition- part-time vegetarian and challenged with what to eat still most of the time but I’m getting there. You make some very good points here and I appreciate the additional links with info too. Btw- I saw this movie, which I am sure you have seen, Vegucated. http://www.getvegucated.com. Really opened my eyes and addresses some of what you mention above.

    • Hey Diahann! You are SO right that I’ve seen Vegucated – it’s actually the movie that inspired me to become an ethical vegan. It really moved me! I’m so glad you saw it, I love that movie so much. I’d actually like to do a screening of Vegucated one of these days, hopefully this year. It’s just hard to find the time to do all I want to do (I’m sure you know how that is). Anywho, thanks so much for your comment!!!! Celeste 🙂

  16. vgnsocjust says:

    It is interesting to me how people have been convinced that vegetarianism is enough or consuming even humanely raised meat is enough. That completely ignores the issue of animal use, as opposed to animal abuse. As a vegan I’m not just against animal abuse in factory farms, I’m opposed to animal use in just about all contexts. Not only is the meat, dairy and egg industries one and the same, literally because spent cows are processed into ground beef, calves into veal and male chicks ground up into animal feed, but using cows for milk or chickens for eggs is illogical. Nonhuman animals are individuals not resources for humans to use as they please. Although it may not seem harmful to have a free range chicken on a farm or a free range cow that is milked, that doesn’t mean we have an inherit right as human beings to exploit animals in this way, just as we do not have an inherit right to own other human beings and exploit them, even if done kindly or “humanely”. Animals are not our property. They have interests of their own (like, using milk to nurse their own babies or an interest in laying fewer eggs which would prevent chickens from getting painful osteoporosis).

    • Excellent comment! I don’t think it came through in my post, but I absolutely agree with you. I’ve had conversations with other vegans about this too, and I’d say that this is the general consensus of most vegans. I actually felt uncomfortable writing in this post that some vegans would concede that eating eggs and dairy from humanely raised animals is okay, but I do think that vegans have a variety of perspectives and that some of them believe this.

      I will also say that my beliefs about animals have transitioned over time to come to my current stance. I started out concerned only about animals not being harmed and later transitioned to believing that animals should not be exploited in any way. Because my beliefs transitioned over time, I take the approach of “getting a foot in the door” with others. By this, I mean that I try to appeal to them about animal suffering because I think this will speak to their emotions and get them to start thinking about animals differently. I feel that once people start thinking about the welfare of animals that they will logically transition to believing that animals should be respected on all levels. I don’t know if my approach is effective, but it’s the best I’ve got.

      Anyway, I’m rambling here! I do want to thank you for your thoughtful comment and I hope you’re having a great week. Oh, and I put a quote from your comment on my post. Celeste 🙂

  17. The Vegan 8 says:

    Such a wonderful post Celeste. I agree with all of your wonderful points. There is nobody in my close circle of family/friends (except my hubby and daughter) that are vegan. It’s always a little uncomfortable at gatherings and/or parties. However, several of them have made lots of changes. My parents for example consume a lot less meat than they used to and have very little dairy now….all because of the impression I and my blog have made on them. I bring them all these wonderful vegan desserts and dishes and that shows them that vegan food is not being deprived. Once so many of my friends and family have vegan food that tastes JUST as good as “their” food, they realize it is possible. Baby steps. I use to eat hot dogs, sausage, hamburgers, cheese, ice cream, you name it. I would have NEVER, ever, ever believed I would be a vegan LOL! But, health issues with my hubby led us to where we are, and learning about the ethical side of all has completely transformed my heart, beliefs and I could never go back.
    Ignorance is bliss for so many. I’m glad my eyes are opened and I am no longer contributing to the animals suffering and exploitation. I also do not buy anything made with leather, down, or any of my cosmetics/shampoos etc. I have transitioned practically everything to vegan. It’s a good feeling. When I bought my new car last year, I even refused leather and had faux leather put in. I’m just one person, but I am one person that is making a difference in several people around me lives and animals, so I’m happy that I have the ability to make an impact. So many of my facebook friends now eat several vegan meals a week from my blog or other vegan blogs…do you know how happy that makes me?! 🙂
    Great post girl!

  18. Laura says:

    I love your thoughtful response. I think we all make decisions and they are individual – but it is good to think what else to take into account when making those decisions. They don’t just affect us!

  19. Agreed with every response above. Additionally, dairy products are also very sticky. Eggs were once used for book binding! The body assumes it is under attack and responds to it with excess mucus in the digestive tract and bloodstream. This leads to clogged veins and arteries.

  20. Thanks for posting this Celeste. I am still debating with myself about whether I’d eat eggs if I knew they’d come from a place that was as cruelty free as possible. I know I’d never even consider drinking milk though as I honestly don’t believe it’s right for humans to drink the milk of another species.
    I think the only time I’d consider eating eggs is if they came from rescued hens that I could see with my own eyes enjoying a natural life. But I’m still not sure I’d be able to.

    • I think it’s wonderful that you’re putting so much thought into what you’re eating. I’ve made up my mind about eggs, but I understand the debate you’re having with yourself. My sister recently started raising chickens for eggs, and she’s been egging me on (pun intended!) to eat the eggs from her chickens. I just can’t do it, but I don’t judge her for what she’s doing. We all have to listen to our own conscience and figure out what we think is right. I hope you’re having a great week! Celeste 🙂

  21. reocochran says:

    Very valid points and good reminders about the differences. This is one I will have to ponder about and try to be more serious about my health and well being, too. Thanks, Celeste!

  22. Celeste,

    You did a fantastic job of explaining why eating eggs and dairy are not ok without alienating your friend (something I tend to do because I come on too strong).

    When people argue with me about so-called: “humanely-raised, organic milk” (no such thing, by the way) I simply tell them this.

    In order for a cow to produce milk, she must be impregnated against her will, on the *rape rack* (as it’s called in the industry). When she finally gives birth, her baby is taken away from her. Mother cows have been documented screaming and crying as they watch their newborn baby, only minutes old, being dragged away from them. Why are their babies taken away? So that stupid selfish humans can drink the milk intended for a calf!

    Furthermore, Lord help that baby if it is male because males are either sent off to auction to be raised for veal, or killed via blunt force trauma (that doesn’t always kill them).

    Lord help the baby that is born female for she will spend her short life producing milk for selfish humans, like her mother.

    The average life-span of a *dairy industry* cow is 4 years. Once she is considered *spent* she is sent off to slaughter to be ground up into hamburger meat!

    The average life-span of a cow allowed to live it’s life as nature intended? 20+ years.

    (Sources for both of these comments can be found at: FreeFromHarm.org)

    This isn’t rocket science people. There is no way to “humanely raise” cows for milk. The only way to get milk is to take their babies away from them.

    So the next time a friend pushes back on you, ask them how they would feel if their newborn child were taken away from them after only having just given birth?

    Sorry — there is NO justifiable reason to drink cow’s milk.

    I have lived 3 years without milk and milk products and I am perfectly fine — not to mention healthier. I do not miss it.

    Plus, I am able to lay my head down on my pillow knowing I am not contributing to an industry that promotes suffering and you cannot put a price on that.

    🙂

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