Since starting this blog I have repeatedly referred to myself as an "ethical
vegetarian." While I live a vegan lifestyle, in so far as one can meet the true definition of a vegan (read more), I prefer calling myself an "ethical vegetarian," which often raises questions. Some want to know: What is an ethical vegetarian?
Fair enough. Unlike the term "vegan" there is no set definition for "ethical vegetarian" out there, at least that I can find. So I will share with you here what my definition of it is.
An ethical vegetarian is someone that chooses a vegetarian diet based on moral reasoning. As an ethical vegetarian, I believe that eating or using animals is morally wrong (regardless of whether or not it is a healthier move for my body, my religion, the planet, etc.). I believe it is unethical to eat, wear, or use animals in entertainment, for experiments, etc. I am against animal cruelty and believe that using and eating animals, doesn't getting any more cruel.
As an ethical vegetarian I believe in animal rights over animal welfare (read more). I believe that animals want and have their own life and that it is morally wrong for humans to artifically inseminate, cage, break their spirit, use, eat, kill them, etc. I do not believe other animals are here for humans to use as they please.
Ethical vegetarianism is a selfless act. I stand nothing to gain by trying to introduce others to the idea. The animals are the ones that benefit. What is in it for me is a clear conscious that I am not contributing to a blood bath, animal cruelty, and turning a blind eye to something that I feel is unethical.
This coming October will be 15 years that I've been an ethical vegetarian. But before making it official that year, I had been building towards it for what I believe is most of my life, even identifying animal cruelty as a child (read more).
Ethical vegetarianism is about living in a way that eliminates (as much as possible), the pain and suffering caused to other animals. To me, it's the same thing as "veganism" but it's a term that I prefer, because using the term "ethical" right up front lets people know where I stand and why I choose this lifestyle. Is it perfect? No, not even close. But no diet or lifestyle is. We each have to do what feels right for us, so that we live in accordance to our own values.
So why not just make the switch to calling myself a vegan? I often ask myself that, too. I can't pinpoint it! Maybe because I've been calling myself an ethical vegetarian for so long that it just feels strange to make such a switch. Maybe because the word "vegan" has such a negative connotation with people. Many people hear the word vegan and immediately become defensive, picturing stunts to get publicity and attention. Maybe because I feel there are still things that I do that don't meet the true official "definition" that has been laid out for vegan (such as eating almonds, feeding my cat non-veg food, etc.) Maybe because I don't want the vegan police putting my life under the microscope, as they so often do, so they can try to find flaws and where I'm coming up short. Perhaps I'll get to that point, eventually. But for now, I'm comfortable with "ethical vegetarian." I avoid the scrutiny of the over zealous vegan police and I get to keep using a term vegetarian, which has been around a lot longer than the word vegan.