Veggie Guy: How Vegan Are You?

I find it rather off-putting when militant vegans say things like, "How vegan are you?" or "[I'm] a true vegan."

Hmm...guess I didn't realize this was a competition.

Fact is, no one living in modern day society can be completely vegan. As one of my pals puts it, "If you're breathing air, there's no way you're 100% vegan!"

I--along with so many others--have come to terms with this reality.

All veg-heads agree that meat is out of the question, but vegans try to steer clear of all animal-derived ingredients. The reasons behind this are many. And the key word is "try."

I try for the cows. In order to produce milk, dairy cows must be impregnated and give birth. Male calves often become veal, and female calves are bred to replace older dairy cows. After only a few years (three to four) in the dairy industry, these cows make their way to the slaughterhouse and become tomorrow's hamburger.

I also try for the bees. Like lobsters, honeybees fall under the phylum Arthropoda. While some vegans are on the fence about honey, many view it as the product of a highly evolved creature enslaved for exploitation.

But I try hardest for the chickens. Factory-farmed egg-laying hens are the crammed in tight spaces to maximize egg production, and many hens die of asphyxiation or dehydration. Dead hens are typically left to rot in cages with live hens, causing other hens to suffer from miserable ailments.

That's a lot to chew on. So why make veganism even more complicated for the masses? Isn't it enough that some people are opting for mustard over mayo, which is essentially egg yolks, oil, and vinegar? Or ketchup (my favorite condiment) instead of Worcestershire sauce, which contains anchovies?

Hell, even PETA is on the same line of thinking. Just look at the disclaimer on PETA's "I Can't Believe It's Vegan" list, a long list of accidentally-vegan foods made by mainstream manufacturers. It states, "Items listed may contain trace amounts of animal-derived ingredients. While PETA supports a strict adherence to veganism, we put the task of vigorously reducing animal suffering ahead of personal purity."

That's a pretty refreshing statement from a group most people consider extreme.

So go ahead and grab that bag of Spicy Sweet Chili Doritos you've been eyeing. I'm going straight for the Chocolate Creme Oreos!

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Eddie Garza