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Three More Things Vegans Should Think About Avoiding
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Three More Things Vegans Should Think About Avoiding

Kind of feels like it’s up to vegans to save the planet, right? Well, even though we’re already more than pulling our weight, there are just a few more things that I want to change about the world, and I think we as vegans need to lead the way. I’m sure most of you are already savvy to these, but just in case:

 

1. Don’t buy products containing palm oil

Palm oil kind of is vegan, and it kind of is in everything. It’s vegan in the sense that it doesn’t actually come from an animal, but it’s incredibly bad in the sense that it destroys the habitat of orangutans, which are already critically endangered. It would be okay if it was easy to not buy products containing palm oil, but it isn’t. This is partly because they’re so abundant, and partly because it’s labelled as “vegetable oil” a lot of the time, unfortunately. Luckily, there are some sources of sustainable palm oil, though their credibility may be dubious. Head to http://www.saynotopalmoil.com/palm-oil.php for more info, it’s a great resource. And spread the word – it’s amazing how many people still don’t know just how destructive palm oil is.

 

2. Don’t feed native wildlife

It’s always so tempting; what better way to make friends with a cute little possum than by giving him a nice snack? But feeding native wildlife is usually a big no-no, especially in Australia. Something that’s so simple for us to digest, something like bread, can cause a lot of animals a lot of problems. Many mammals can die from “lumpy jaw”, and many birds, including native ducks, can die from the acid that builds up when they try to digest the bread. When wild animals become tame, they’re also more likely to be hit by cars. It may seem like tough love, but it’s very important.

 

3. Don’t own pets

I’m sure people won’t like this one, and it’s a tricky one. But pets are so destructive, and our “ownership” of them is really very unnatural. I hate it when I go for a walk in the evening and there are cats everywhere, out stalking native birds and small mammals. I hate seeing big dogs stuck in small yards. I hate seeing birds in cages. I hate it all. I understand that there are responsible pet owners, but it’s still a strange concept. Obviously, going to the cat shelter and buying an abandoned kitty that would otherwise be put down is very different to paying an arm and a leg for a pure-bred, long-haired, short-eared, spotted hamster or whatever. But what are you going to feed your rescued kitty? Sure, there are some vegan cat foods available (check out http://www.peta.org/living/companion-animals/vegetarian-cats-and-dogs.aspx), but cats and dogs have very different dietary needs to humans, and these don’t work for all animals. I honestly think the world would be a better place without domesticated animals, and if people stopped buying pets then people would stop breeding them. Then we wouldn’t need animal shelters, the ASPCA, and nobody would ever step in dog poop. I know it’s never going to happen, but it’s something to think about.

 

Rant over. I feel better now. If you made it to the end, well done. And please tell me – what else doesn’t technically fall into the category of “vegan” but still needs our attention?

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  1. MissDelight
    MissDelight
    I completely agree, especially on the pet aspect - part of the challenge of presenting the animal with the best possible environment is feeding it food that is right for it. I decided to scrap my lifelong wish of owning ferrets because they need to eat meat, and I refuse to support the industry in any way. So, guinea pigs from a shelter it is :) Another aspect of this problem is that the animals which are bred to be pets often end up with a worse genetic structure than they would have developed in the wild, and with that come a lot of diseases and unnecessary complications... I think it's also important to pay attention where your products come from. I buy FairTrade whenever I can, because for me the vegan lifestyle is one that includes compassion - and not just for animals.
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    1. Mental4Lentilz
      Yeah you're definitely right - inbreeding and crossbreeding (especially with dogs) leads to a lot of health issues, and it's so unnatural of us!! I'm a FairTrade and organic fan too, it just makes sense. It's more about the planet than just about animals :)
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      1. Veganara
        Veganara
        Voted. Very thought-provoking. I am a pet owner myself, I adore my cat. But I suppose it is quite selfish for humans to keep them as companions. As you say, it just raises a lot of tricky issues.
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        1. Mental4Lentilz
          Yeah it's a tough one - I'm sure your cat loves you too! It's more just the breeding and irresponsible pet ownership that gets to me. Thanks very much for voting :)
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          1. Veganara
            Veganara
            Me too Emily! The breeding of pedigree animals for example - all the unscrupulous people who make a lot of money by treating animals like commodities.
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  2. beachgurl
    You definitely gave me food for thought. I am 100% against trying to engineer the perfect example of a particular breed, but when I see a homeless domestic dog, cat, guinea pig, etc, it's impossible for me not to lend a hand. Man and animals have a long history of companionship. And man can be cruel, in many regards, not just pet ownership. If no one stepped forward and adopted homeless domestic animals the number that would be destroyed or die on the streets would be staggering. That doesn't feel like an appropriate solution. In my humble opinion, the best tactic is education. We need to spay and neuter our pets so that the number that are unwanted decrease. I don't know anything about laws or regulations regarding breeding practices, but I'm sure there needs to be reform. Animals eat animals in nature. I don't like to see anything killed, but once a domestic cat becomes feral it becomes part of the circle of life. Yes, it's man's fault. But man is also responsible for the extinction of many species that were never domestic. We have changed the natural order of things through our cruelty. I will continue to rescue, and educate as best I can. I agree with your first 2 ideas! I just can't turn away when I see an animal that's in trouble.
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    1. Mental4Lentilz
      And that's a really good thing!! I guess I just wanted to make the point that being vegan is more than just about what you eat, which you seem very much on top of ;) thanks for your comment!
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  3. Julie Davis
    I am not so sure about this one in owning a pet. I have two dogs and one cat and I love them so much. I know if I did not have them they would be out on the street here running around with no place to go. I feel that I did not pay for the animals but I rescued them and now they are part of my life. I guess if I went out and spent a lot of money on a pure breed dog or cat this would be different. But to resuce an animal from hunger and give it a good home this one I can accept in being a vegan and the lifestyle I have choosen for myself.
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    1. Mental4Lentilz
      I agree with you Julie, and as I said I feel the problem lies in the breeding and in "petshop" pets, which is so different to rescuing animals. If they weren't bred, they wouldn't need rescuing! Thanks very much for commenting :)
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  4. Shiela
    Humm I am not sure I would agree with your 3rd one at all. To resecue an animal and save the life and take care of it is human. To not care to me is not human. I love animals and would go out of my way to rescue one to save it''s life.
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    1. Mental4Lentilz
      Hey Shiela, I agree with you!! The point I was hoping to make related to breeding of pets, and purchasing and sales through pet stores, which I just think is strange and unnecessary. Rescuing animals is a good thing, it's just sad that they need rescuing in the first place. Thanks for your words :)
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  5. dianabart
    dianabart
    I totally agree.. real tough though. I am a cat lover.. owner of three beautiful russian blue angels.. they are a family. Mama- son and daughter. I couldn't imagine my life without them. As we seen mama through her pregnancy and birth of the kittens -I just couldn't part with them and got them all fixed so that not to keep breeding. I do think it is important to adopt domesticated pets that need a home-and not breed them or abandon them.
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    1. Mental4Lentilz
      Yes Diana, it's crazy to think how people can abandon or abuse pets!! Makes no sense to me. Your cats sound adorable :) thanks for commenting!
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  6. mvuong1961
    I do not agree about not owning pets. I do rescue work and rehab wild birds. I wouldn't want to live in a world without pets. I think that takes the vegan-thing too far. If people are not exposed to animals and encouraged to see them for the sentient, loving creatures they are, most people would have no concern for their plight. I also support animal sanctuaries and educational facilites--it may make me a 'bad' vegan but I feel strongly that as a 'higher' creature we have a duty of stewardship, love and education.
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    1. Mental4Lentilz
      It doesn't make you a bad vegan at all - I don't think there's such a thing! And it's great that you do rescue work. I just wanted to make the point that animal breeding and pedigree pets are a bad thing, but I don't think I did a very good job. Thanks for commenting. And you're right - education is definitely the key.
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  7. Trickypiglet
    I am leaving this site for just one reason #3 Owning Pets - What the heck do you suggest we do with all the already unwanted animals - kill them? #1 Palm Oil and #2Not feeding wildlife = accurate........But you are so off base regarding owning animals...BTW all my rescued critters own me
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    1. Mental4Lentilz
      As I've said in all my comments, and as I say in the actual post, taking in a rescued, unwanted, abandoned animal is completely different. It's the breeding and "petshop" culture that I have a problem with, and pedigree animals. If this breeding didn't happen, animals wouldn't be dumped in the first place. It should say "don't BUY pets" rather than "own". Don't leave the site - it's full of good stuff! Just don't read any more of my posts.
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      1. travdjohnson
        People really should read some of the comments before posting. It's ridiculous how many times you've had to repeat this.
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        1. Mental4Lentilz
          Haha! I just got the email that there was another comment and was filled with dread - quite relieved now that I see what you've written. I think it's more a reflection of just how incredibly badly I managed to word the actual post. Sigh.
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  8. Demaisra
    Demaisra
    #1 Good point, I don't use palm oil or vegetable oils #2 Sure, we shouldn't feed wildlife, it's a death sentence for them not to scavenge for their food. I just don't understand what that has to do with being a vegan, you are not eating them. #3 "Don't own pets?" I don't see the correlation between owning a pet and being Vegan. You are not eating your pet. I can see if you said something about wearing leather, fur or any animal products having to do with being vegan, I don't own my pets, we just coexist and we are pretty happy. Both of my pets are orphaned feral animals so they are extra cool. I do not support breeding for profit. If that was made illegal alone can you imagine how many animals would not end up in shelters? We are all entitled to our opinions so I did a little research, reading this on Veganism and it says nothing about not owning pets and says nothing to back Emily's opinion or definition of what Vegans should avoid: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Veganism
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  9. Melissa Nott
    Melissa Nott
    Interesting post! You took a lot of flack about the "Don't Own Pets" part and handled it gracefully. Perhaps there is a seedling of another post in this . . . like the vegan view of pet shop/bred pets vs. adopting homeless companion animals.
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    1. Mental4Lentilz
      Thank you! I sure did cop a fair bit for that, I was actually surprised but maybe I shouldn't have been. Not sure I could face the stress and trauma of writing another one here actually - I haven't since!!
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      1. Veganara
        Veganara
        Please don't let that put you off writing more blogs for this site Emily - this is an excellent one, very well-expressed. You didn't word it badly at all - it seems that some people just didn't read it properly, or fully appreciate the point you were making. I am sorry about the negative comments - I wish some people would learn to express their opinions in a more diplomatic way. I think it is important to be honest about what you really think, but to try and phrase it in a tactful way, keeping in mind how you would feel if someone was saying the same thing to you! (I mean "you" as in people generally, not "you" personally!) It does make me wonder how many people actually read articles properly, or check that they have understood the content, before commenting. I once wrote a blog for this website about the diffculties of the vegan life, e.g. the opposition from others, the always having to check food labels, the problems with eating out, etc. I thought I had covered the drawbacks pretty comprehensively, and then someone commented at the bottom: "What's so hard about it?" ! Sigh... I am wondering if they were being sarcastic, actually!
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        1. Mental4Lentilz
          Aww, thanks Veganara for your kind words! You're right - it's possible that people just read the three numbered points and not the actual text. I'll tell myself that, anyway ;) And maybe you should tell yourself that the difficult comment-leaver on your post WAS being sarcastic! Thanks again - maybe it is time for another post...
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  10. Vegannie
    I am not quite sure if I agree with you on this. The one I have a problem with the most is #3, really. Sure, it is wrong to make a poor dog/cat/household pet give you a specific pet (such as a short-haired, white nosed, etc), but having pets isn't wrong at all. I feed my two Austrailian Shepherds a vegan diet (V-dog dog food and breathbones) and they love it. They are purebred, but our friends' dog was giving birth to a litter of puppies and they asked us if we would like one. There is nothing wrong with having a pet, and dogs provide great compainionship, lowers your blood pressure, and helps you live longer (not that veganism doesn't do that already, but still).
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