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BEING VEGAN – Am I Plant-Based, Vegan, or Both?

Paul_G_NewBy Paul Graham

Las Vegas Informer

This will not be a surprise to many, but veganism is here to stay.  It is not only entrenched in the hearts, minds, and lifestyle of a strong and growing segment of our world population but is also gaining a foothold in the mainstream of our society.  That is a very good thing for the lifestyle of veganism provides an answer for so many of the challenges that we face in our world today.  Ethical, health, environmental, and spiritual challenges.  Those of us who have crossed over that bridge to conscious eating and living understand all of this and we live not only for ourselves, the animals, and the planet, but also to help others understand what this lifestyle is all about.  There are plenty of misconceptions and misunderstandings of what “vegan” is all about.  Let us go to the source where the term first originated in the mid-1940’s in England and The Vegan Society.  The Vegan Society explains vegan this way: “Veganism is a way of living which seeks to exclude, as far as is possible and practicable, all forms of exploitation of and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing, or any other purpose.”

Vegan is not a diet except for the general sense of what we eat and don’t eat.  We have all encountered someone who has told us “oh, I was a vegan for a time, but it didn’t last.”  Well, let’s help clarify that a bit.  Perhaps for a time they stopped eating animal products in their diet for whatever reason.  But if that is all that it is, then it may go the way of other food journeys that people go on to  most typically to lose weight, etc.  Not too many people are successful with that unless it is a lifestyle change.  Veganism is not a fad or diet to be tried.  It is an ethical lifestyle change and once you make that change and understand the ramifications of your actions for yourself, animals, and the planet…well, let’s just say it is going to be very, very difficult to steer you away from that.  When you understand your connection with yourself, other living beings, and the planet, it should forever change you.  The truths behind veganism do not change, even if someone who says they have tried it decides to go back to living and eating without conscious thought and consequences of their actions.  It invades not only your stomach, but also your heart, your mind, and your soul.

I love the word vegan and I am proud to bear it in all that I do.  My blog and book are Eating Vegan in Vegas. My column here each week is Being Vegan. Our social/dining group here in Las Vegas is Las Vegan Eatz.  Our new apparel line is called Vegan Royalty.  I am not ashamed in any way, fashion, or form of being vegan.  The decision to become vegan has aligned me with my destiny and what I need to be about for the rest of my days upon this earth.  I wear it proudly not to call attention to myself, but to build a bridge for others.  People often ask me as I visit various restaurants and write about the items that I find there that might be suitable for a vegan to eat.  Because a restaurant has some of these items does that make the restaurant vegan?  Of course not, unless they were 100% cruelty-free.  What they may be, though, is vegan-friendly…and that is a term that I use quite a bit.  Las Vegas literally has hundreds of vegan-friendly restaurants and that is one of the reasons why the community is so strong here and so appealing for those that visit here.

There are those, and certainly not a majority, who cringe at hearing the word vegan.  They may have had a negative experience with someone that they kn0w and that is all that they associate with being vegan.  There is nothing negative in the word vegan except for what people who may be mean-spirited, insensitive, or overbearing may bring to it.  That is ultimately their problem to deal with but it unfortunately clouds the vision of some who are looking at what veganism is.  There is nothing negative about vegan…it is a lifestyle and movement of love, compassion, and justice.  It does evoke a negative response in some because it forces them to contemplate their own lifestyle choices and the results of our actions.  Some restaurants  are using the term “plant-based” to describe their vegan-friendly food options.  They are not saying that restaurant completely aligns itself with the ethics of being vegan but is offering menu options that are animal-free. Many are having great success with that and it is helping people to step upon that bridge.  I use the word plant-based often in my writing but it does not work as a substitute across the board for being vegan because it does not speak to the ethics behind how we live and eat.

When I hear of celebrities who are now “vegan,” I certainly hope that they are in every sense of what that truly means.  Maybe they are just beginning to eat “plant-based,” and that is a start.  We should hold off judgement, because that is never our place.  Our place is to educate, enlighten, and encourage.  There is a standard and we should live by it. Our lifestyle should be one that others will be attracted to, not turned off or away from.  I know that it is a decision and a journey that most all of the world will need to face in these coming decades. Plant-based can be part of the journey.  Vegetarian can be a part of the journey, but it should not be viewed as a destination because at that point you still have some road to travel to be all that you can be for yourself, the animals, and the planet.  Beign vegan should be the destination and everything else until you get there is just a place along the way. If you haven’t stepped upon the bridge, it is time to think about doing so.  If you are somewhere on that bridge, it is time to cross all the way over because that is where the real change for everyone and everything will take place.

Paul Graham

Paul Graham was born and raised in Northern California and has lived in Las Vegas since 2004.  He is a top wedding officiate, a green Realtor and writer.  He has a daily vegan food blog www.eatingveganinvegas.tumblr.com which is 365 days and 365 vegan meals in Las Vegas.  He can also be reached at eatingveganlv@gmail.com or www.facebook.com/EatingVeganinVegas.

Paul’s e-book, “Eating Vegan in Vegas:  If It Can Happen Here, It Can Happen Anywhere” is now available at  www.sullivanstpress.com/shop/ebooks/eating-vegan-in-vegas/.

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