Though many people view veganism through the prism of only dietary choices, ethical veganism is far more than food choices. It is an entire life philosophy that embraces many more factors than just what you eat.
Ethical veganism is about “living life consciously as an Anti Speciesist,” as Bob Torres, PhD, says in his book Vegan Freak, which is an amusing and non-sermonizing look at ethical veganism. Ethical veganism isn’t just about not eating animals and animal products, but about not relying on animals in any form or fashion – not using fur nor wearing leather as well as eschewing other products that rely on animals.
In fact, it is important to be vegan in every sense of the word. According to Joanne Stepaniak, author of The Vegan Sourcebook and many other vegan cookbooks, being just a dietary vegan tends to dilute the concept of veganism in a way.
Animals and their rights are harmed in many ways other than just killing them for meat or rearing them for milk and eggs. And ethical veganism seeks to embrace a dynamic respect for all life. Ethical veganism is not just about what a person eats but about what that person is!
It’s not just about choices relating to diet but also about choices relating to what a person wears, what personal care products he uses (testing on animals, use of animal products in the ingredients, etc.), the hobbies that he indulges in, and the sort of job that the person has. Since ethical veganism ideally pervades every facet of a person’s life, it also colors one’s personal relationships, political beliefs and social attitudes, according to Jo Stepaniak.
People who eat no dairy or honey are simply vegetarians and not vegans and true veganism goes beyond just this. Our entire civilization at present is based on the exploitation of animals, in much the same way that past civilizations were based on the exploitation of other human beings in the form of slavery, bonded labor, and so on.
Animals not only have the right to life, but also to life without pain. So food, even vegetarian food that is obtained with the assistance of animals such as animal based agriculture, is to be eschewed. To take the philosophy a step further, ethical veganism is also a personal commitment to non-violence in other, daily aspects of one’s life – in a way that creates the least harmful impact on one’s natural environment.