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June 23, 2008

Times have changed since I first became a vegetarian, that’s for sure.

Gas prices have more than quadrupled (I remember $1 a gallon), computers play a daily role in our lives, and vegetarians can safely state their dietary preference without being ridiculed or ostracized … well, in most places.

Sadly, I can’t say the same for vegans. For many, the word “vegan” still strikes a chord of freakiness and conjures visions of “the fringe” dancing around in their heads.

Because of this more-often-than-not reaction, I dare ask the question: Are vegans so weird? Are they so very different?

Really, vegans have just taken the ideals of vegetarianism and followed them through to the inevitable conclusion. I like the simplicity in the way musician Moby explains it (VT’s July/August One-on-One interview): “I liked animals and I didn’t want to do anything that contributed to their suffering.” The key word there is suffering. Not eating animals is a good thing, because you’re not killing them, but if the animals are being treated miserably for their milk or eggs, is that acceptable?

Of course, every individual has to answer this question for him- or herself, but regardless of their answer, it might also help people see vegans in another light. One that’s not so freaky. After all, there’s nothing odd about this logic:

“Given a choice between one action that creates suffering and one that doesn’t, it just makes sense to choose the action that doesn’t create suffering.” Amen, Moby.

—Gabrielle Harradine, Assistant Editor

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