/' http-equiv='refresh'/> Vegan Outreach Lincoln and East Midlands: It's okay, I'm a vegetarian....


It's okay, I'm a vegetarian....

 In the last few months as we have been doing vegan education stalls one of the most common things to find is vegetarians coming over to us expecting us to pat them on the back and tell them how amazing, compassionate and wonderful they are for not eating meat (or in pescetarians' case for not eating land animals).

I'm sorry but we're not going to lie to you and pretend you are making any tangible difference, nor that you are doing your best to avoid exploiting animals, you are not. "But I eat free range eggs" I hear them cry and "I buy organic milk... sometimes". Exploitation is exploitation, no matter how "nicely" you do it. To borrow an analogy from Gary L Francione, hitting your spouse only on a Sunday but being nice to him/her before and after is still violence! By changing the circumstances in which we use them just changes the type of suffering. It doesn't matter whether a chicken is given an extra inch of cage space, what matters is that the chicken is in a cage at all.

People have long been wrongly led by large animal welfare groups to believe that vegetarianism and veganism are two sides of the same coin, they are not. Vegetarians (especially long-term ones) often become entrenched in the belief that they are doing all they can and have met their moral obligations towards other animals. Again I blame this on large charities telling them they're doing the right thing. I see nothing wrong however in people who pass through vegetarianism as they transition to a vegan diet. That's how Ruth personally became vegan.

However this does not mean that giving out vegetarian educational material is morally a good idea. It's like knowing that slavery is wrong and should be abolished but promoting "nice" slavery (you know the type where you only beat them if they do something REALLY bad and they get every 4th Sunday morning off). In fact in many cases a vegetarian diet high in dairy and eggs could be said to have a higher net cruelty than that of a standard omnivore.

So what can you do if you do come across such a vegetarian? Simple, do what we do and engage them on why you are vegan. Ask them why they're vegetarian? For the animals? Direct them to information on the obsolete male calves produced by dairy and the "useless" male chicks produced by the egg industry etc. For the environment? Direct them to information on the environmental impact of farming cows and destructive inefficencies of feeding grain to livestock. For people? Direct them to data on mental health and violent behaviour in slaughterhouse workers.

Most importantly remember that the biggest argument for veganism is the ethical one; that other animals are simply not ours to use and abuse. If someone opposes inflicting unnecessary suffering on an animal then they better make one hell of a case for why animal products are in any way necessary?

Finally having food at stalls helps, especially cupcakes/other goodies as it shows what good vegan food is available, that you can still eat "comfort foods" and that being vegan is not about "sacrificing" anything, especially taste. Have a look at our recipe pages for recipes that we have found to be popular as it really (ahem) "sweetens" the pill.


  1. What a really important blog post. I like that unlike many groups you are open about vegetarianism and veganism not being the same. I also like the information at the end about how to engage people as I struggle with this.

  2. i disagree, im a vegetarian, i was a vegan for a number of years before so im fully aware of everything that goes on "behind the scenes." I know where atleast 90% of my food comes from (that other 10% being other people cooking for me and not knowing but i would not be rude as to reject a well cooked meal when there are people starving in the world) and that 90% i know is locally sourced, my non-human animal come from my partners grandfather who supplies enough for family and a bit extra for the farmers market, which to be honest i dont eat eggs or dairy that much anyway, im much more of a vegetable kinda person. None of these animals are treated in manners such as described above. vegetarians can be just as considerate as vegans, this article is trying to drive a wedge between two groups working towards the same cause, its ridiculous. so i think we should appreciate vegetarians, at least there doing something to help. Also you cant stuff this education down peoples throats, if they want to learn then they're come asking questions, people dont like to be told there doing something wrong which is what a lot of vegans are doing to veggies and veggies are doing to pesco-veggies, and all the above to meat eaters, its making the rest of the world hate us, when they're ready then they will see.

    1. Do you realize that your a hypocrite though?
      If your going to shirk your responsibility as a human then atleast admit why.
      Vegans and vegetarians aren't working towards the same cause. One is happy to stop short and compromise to ensure their own comfort, the other realizes that is not necessary. Vegetarian is just a useless attempt at what veganism does right.

  3. Hello Anonymous,

    Sorry for the late response. We certainly intended no wedge, we too were vegetarians once but don't share your belief that if we are passive the world will just come round. Education is key.

    You surely have made much greater effort in sourcing "high welfare" items than the average person who pays lip service to the matter but then consumes blindly the vast majority of the time.

    However it is likely still the case that other animals are used, exploited and then killed as property in your scenario as well as all the usual issues implicit to eggs and dairy. We doubt the farms you buy from have fields full of elderly bulls and cockerels.

    Not to mention the great environmental impacts of animal agriculture, which tend to be even higher the more land use is given over to the industry.

    Ultimately, with every animal-derived nutrient available from plant sources, why cause any unnecessary suffering for other animals?