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Joseph Lofthouse
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I have been friends with a vegan family for some years. We collaborate together on gardening projects. They invite me over for dinner... They feed me. I feed them. Etc. They are very concerned about the sustainability and localization of their food supply. Last time they invited me over for dinner, I was shocked, because they fed me lamb. Raised on their own farm, slaughtered and butchered themselves. They explained that they have started eating meat during the winer time because that is allowed by their scriptures, but that they will continue to be vegans when it is possible to eat a vegan diet from their garden or food storage. I was very impressed with their decision. It gets back to a more traditional eating style in temperate climates of eating greens in the spring, fruits in the summer, roots in the fall, and meat during the winter. (Over-generalized, I know...)

Are there any part-time vegans in this forum? Do you follow a similar pattern?

In my local food network, I have know a number of people who have went from being vegan to being part-time vegans. In every case it was done with a lot of tears... Because the way they did it was to take a live chicken or rabbit that they had been watching/visiting for weeks or months, holding it in their arms, and loving it, thanking it, then taking it's life, butchering it,  and eating it. A deep sense of reverence for the animal, and our relationship to animals formed in every case.

Anyone else have experience with easing into part-time vegan-ism in like manner?

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Tyler Ludens
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My husband and I are kind of Opportunivores - we eat what is available.  So sometimes our meals will be vegan because that's what we have available, some vegetables from the garden and maybe some rice from the store.  This is similar to the seasonal diet you mention.  We rarely purchase meat from the store, so when we aren't eating vegan or vegetarian, we're eating local venison or home-raised chickens.  We have few chickens so we don't eat chicken often, and are always thankful to the chicken.

This resonates very much:

Joseph Lofthouse wrote:
In my local food network, I have know a number of people who have went from being vegan to being part-time vegans. In every case it was done with a lot of tears... Because the way they did it was to take a live chicken or rabbit that they had been watching/visiting for weeks or months, holding it in their arms, and loving it, thanking it, then taking it's life, butchering it,  and eating it. A deep sense of reverence for the animal, and our relationship to animals formed in every case.
 
Joseph Lofthouse
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Tyler: Thanks. The thing I didn't mention about sharing the experience with my friends of going from vegan to part-time vegans, is the deep sense of camaraderie and loyalty that has been created among those that participated in this sort of ritual . It's an exceedingly vulnerable thing to do.
 
John Weiland
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@Joseph L: "Are there any part-time vegans in this forum? Do you follow a similar pattern?"

I suspect a lot of vegans would say that one is either vegan or they are not, no part-timing about it.  That aside, we follow a similar pattern to the one you describe, but one likely to be modified down the road.  We still have beef in the freezer from a local, grass-fed producer....we just eat so little (and don't mind that it's gotten older in the deep freeze) that we have not had to purchase additional in over two years.  We do not buy grocery store meat, but if I'm at a gathering in town, may eat meat at that restaurant but my wife refrains (she goes to town only if dragged by wild horses  ).  Once the beef runs out, it will likely just be the chickens, unless I take up deer hunting.  Because of the fresh garden produce, we eat almost no meat in the "garden" months, but start knocking down some roosters in the fall and maybe a few more in the spring.  And the eggs are great.  As the chickens are free-ranging, there is no corralling before the kill.....the roosters that are exhibiting the most obnoxious behavior are generally the ones that get bopped and usually when "in the act".  So that constitutes over 90% of our meat consumption.  If the chickens weren't available and we were in a pinch, would probably consider some of the other local fauna.  For what it's worth, I admit to preferring hunting when it comes to meat, but clearly have no qualms about growing, nurturing, and harvesting domesticated veggies....I recognize the contradiction there, but that's where it is.  The pigs on the property provide manure and just live out their life.
 
Marco Banks
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John Weiland wrote:

I suspect a lot of vegans would say that one is either vegan or they are not, no part-timing about it.



Its a bit like being pregnant.  You either are or you're not.  You can't be a little bit kinda sorta pregnant.

As I understand it , being a vegan is much stricter than being a vegetarian.  They consume nothing created by an animal.  No dairy products or eggs.  No jello.  Not even honey.  In fact, the vegans I know speak of it as more than a diet, but a lifestyle.  They won't wear wool, silk or leather.  I had a friend who refused to sleep with a feather pillow or use a down comforter.  When she would come to visit, she drank tea and ate tofu.  I always looked forward to the day she'd leave, as it created a lot of stress trying to accommodate her.

We try to eat a diet that is low in meat, particularly red meat.  We eat more fish and chicken, but I'll be grilling tri-tip for the extended family on Christmas, so even we enjoy a good cut of beef every now and then.  Never-the-less, we'll go 3 or 4 days sometimes without eating meat.  That doesn't make me anything close to a vegan, part time or otherwise. 
 
Su Ba
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It's not the first time I've heard of vegans who I know who temporarily suspended their vegan diets. Two women that I know, temporarily changed their diets while pregnant and nursing. Another who had been deathly ill added meat, fish, dairy, and eggs during her recovery. A friend who went on a 5 month long sailing journey consumed fish, canned milk, and cheese during the journey. These five people temporarily changed from vegan to omnivore but eventually all returned to their vegan diets.

I've only known one vegan friend who every year ate a little butter and eggs during mid-winter. She said that if she didn't, she felt poorly. I don't know why but three months of scrambled eggs fried in butter made a difference in her physical and mental health.
 
Lynn Garcia
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Marco Banks wrote:


Its a bit like being pregnant.  You either are or you're not.  You can't be a little bit kinda sorta pregnant.
 


If you look outside the agricultural cultures you will find many examples of being sort of pregnant. Numerous examples in South America and Melanesia. In these cultures all women of childbearing age are a little pregnant. The belief is based on how they percieve procreation. They believe semen (also known as men's milk) is what causes a baby to grow in the womb and women's milk is what sustains the baby after birth.  So in these cultures women are quick to take contributions of men's milk from many men, in hopes that their best qualities will pass on to the children.  Another important part of this belief structure is the belief in multiple fathers. Any child in the village will have at least 4 recognized fathers if not more.  All the fathers are expected to play a significant role in the childs life.
 
Rebecca Norman
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A good friend of mine in Ladakh, an activist, environmentalist, and persistent resolution maker, for several years kept vegetarian in summer and omnivore in winter. There weren't a lot of vegans around but vegetarians are very common, being India, but being the Tibetan plateau and the roads connecting the region to the outside world being closed in  winter, there aren't any fresh vegetables available in winter. So he said morally he agreed with vegetarianism, but in Ladakh it wasn't practical in winter. But I think he's moved on to other resolutions now.
 
David Livingston
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Like Marco I am a little none plussed with the idea of being part time vegan , we sometimes  eat vegan often veggie and some times eat meat and fish but I would never think to call my self vegan as I view such a lable as being negotiable . What I think of as vegen extends to clothes as well as food for example .
 
Tyler Ludens
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I think one can eat a vegan meal (contains no animal products) without being an actual vegan (never consumes animal products).

I might say my meal is vegan, but I would not call myself a vegan.
 
Su Ba
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Does one need to be 100% faithful or "pure" to be considered a vegan?........or an "anythjng else"? Carrying the thought to something that pertains to us all on this forum, can any of us label ourselves a permie if we use anything that isn't permanent agricultural sustainable? In my mind that means anything that involves non-sustainable resources, for example, oil. If a product needs to use oil for manufacturing, transport, etc.....then is it purely permaculture?

Since discovering permits.com, I have changed to embrace permaculture concepts. I have been labeled by others as a permaculturist. But I still use equipment and supplies that needed oil to be manufactured and transported. I use solar electricity and motorized small tools (chainsaw, tiller, generator, shop tools). I use a pick-up truck. I use galvanized steel fencing. And the list goes on and on. I'm currently sitting in my house right now and look around me. I see a natural looking house with wood framing, wood planked walls and ceiling, stone flooring, glass windows. The woodwork is stained or polyurethaned. The flooring glued down, grouted, and sealed. The windows caulked. My house would be called a natural house, but all the materials required the use of a non- renewable resource -- oil to be manufactured, shipped, and finished. So can I be called a permie while living in such a home? By the way, I'm also using a computer and the Internet. Geez, can a person do that and still be a permaculturist?

In my book, yes. That's just my way of looking at it. I'm well along in years now so I'm more flexible than I use to be when I was younger. So I don't judge my vegan friends who occasionally use chicken broth when they're feeling ill, or politely eat the " vegan" sandwich that was prepared for them using mayonnaise. To me, it doesn't make them any less a vegan. They live their vegan lifestyle while I live my permaculture lifestyle.

So.....can I be a little bit pregnant? I was most likely "a little bit pregnant" numerous times in my life when I carried a fertilized egg in my uterus but it didn't successfully permanently implant. So by my definition, I could indeed be a little bit pregnant......and I could be a permaculturalist. πŸ˜€
 
Tyler Ludens
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I personally don't believe a person can claim to be a vegan while consuming animal products.  To do so is to make the word "vegan" virtually meaningless, in my opinion.  Permaculture is a design system.  If a person is in the process of implementing a permaculture design, they are a permaculturist, in my opinion.  A person in the process of becoming a vegan who still eats meat is NOT a vegan, in my opinion.

I think a person can be a vegan during a period of time during which they do not consume animal products.  I don't know what the minimum length of that period might be, but personally, I would not consider someone who avoids eating meat for a day, or a week, to be a vegan.  I personally feel it takes more of a commitment than that, but that is only my own personal feeling.  If someone wants to call themself a vegan because they don't eat meat for one meal, that's their thing, but I might feel annoyed by it, personally.

I think it aids communication for us to use words as most people use them, the common definitions of words, and not use our own personal definitions of words, to the best of our ability.

Definition of vegan
:  a strict vegetarian who consumes no animal food or dairy products; also :  one who abstains from using animal products (as leather)


https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/vegan

I can imagine someone being vegan during the growing season, avoiding animal products for ethical reasons, and then during Winter when nothing is growing, eating meat in order to get sufficient calories.  During the vegetable eating period, with no animal products, I think they could justify calling themself a vegan.  During the meat-eating period, I do not personally think they could justify calling themself a vegan.

 
Joseph Lofthouse
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I looked up the Wikipedia definition of vegan. It says "Veganism is both the practice of abstaining from the use of animal products, particularly in diet, and an associated philosophy that rejects the commodity status of animals. A follower of either the diet or the philosophy is known as a vegan." That definition makes me wonder if I'm vegan. When people  ask me if I own that dog, I reply with some variation of "We live together". I don't claim ownership over her. I am careful to not say things like, "That's my dog."

Seems to me that my vegan friends could continue calling themselves vegans, even while eating meat, because they wholeheartedly reject the "commodity status of animals". They treat the animals that they eat with dignity, and weep over the loss of life. People don't cry over commodities. .

More than a few times in my life when people have tried to shame me for my choices, I have said things like, "I'm a vegetarian that eats meat.", or "I'm a Mormon that drinks Pepsi.", or "I'm a permaculturalist that tills my fields.", or "I'm currently fasting, even if I'm eating a meal with you."



 
Tracy Wandling
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I really don't get the whole 'name that diet' thing. To me, it is such a non-issue. Different people eat different things - and apparently have different philosophies about their food. I don't understand it, but I acknowledge that they have a right to feel however they want about their food, or their clothes. But I really don't get having a debate about it, or naming and defining it, or even bringing it up. I'm not being rude, I really truly don't understand the attraction.

I totally get mentioning in passing something delicious (or horrible) you ate, or sharing a recipe, or having dinner parties. But figuring out the 'title' of your eating habits? Nope, I don't get it.  It starts to feel like a religious or political debate.

Just one person's viewpoint . . .
 
John Weiland
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@Joseph L: "They treat the animals that they eat with dignity, and weep over the loss of life."

"Every seed is awakened and so is all animal life. It is through this mysterious power that we too have our being and we therefore yield to our animal neighbours the same right as ourselves, to inhabit this land."--Sitting Bull

It's a tough issue to be sure.  The dog that lives with you comes from a pretty long lineage of cozying up to humans.  Depending on the characteristics of the dog, if it chose to, it might go feral and make a pretty decent stab at life.  The one that sits in my lap and sleeps on my bed every night probably would not fare so well.  Although some domesticated sheep can go rogue, most sheep and cows don't seem to be able to make it as ferals, unlike horses and pigs which most clearly can.  And certainly there are other animals still that resist domestication altogether.  This is not meant to be a debating post, but rather just prodding one to think about these things which often aren't even brought to the dinner table for discussion.  There is no doubt that domestication has some very clear advantages for the domesticators.  And on a numbers argument alone, has been good for those domesticated as well.  But would that fit into Sitting Bull's consideration of "same right as ourselves"?  I have no answers to these questions, but do consider them worth pondering as a Permie future may unfold and generations to come will be looking for guidance.
 
Joseph Lofthouse
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John: My farming practices are vegan, because I don't use animal derived products or fertilizers on my farm. I might do it for different philosophical reasons than standard vegans, but by looking only at my practices, it wouldn't be possible to differentiate my farm from a vegan farm. I make plenty of use of animals though: I create habitats for birds, bugs, fungi, and microbes. I plant species to feed and attract pollinators.

I am constantly thinking about the contract that exists between me and the plants that I grow. They gave up traits that make it easier for them to survive. In exchange, my people agreed to protect them. Seems like it has been a great bargain for the plants. I sometimes look at animals, and shake my head in awe, that we have even selected the personalities of different breeds of dogs.

I'm working on domesticating a number of plant and insect species that live in the nearby badlands. The thought is always with me, that I am stripping them of their natural defenses, and removing germination inhibitors, and selecting for more tender and tasty leaves, and fewer and larger seeds, or whatever. As I remove more and more of the plants natural protections, I place more and more responsibility upon myself to protect the plants, or the insect populations.

My general feeling, is that my contract is to the species, not to any individual seed, plant, variety,  insect, or animal. Blah... it would be an interesting outcome to this thread if it lead me to consider whether I am a vegan that eats meat.
 
John Weiland
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Joseph: ".... shake my head in awe, that we have even selected the personalities of different breeds of dogs. "

"awe":  (noun) a feeling of reverential respect mixed with fear or wonder.

Would you say your use of awe here leans more to 'wonder' or to 'fear'?  As much as I like our lap-dog, there is a bit of sadness...not far removed from 'frightful'... regarding the historical and present-day mind that would think up such a debilitated breed.  The Anatolians are better and more adapted to fending for themselves if need be on the range, but they too (even with supposed careful breeding) have their share of genetic-->physical anomolies and weaknesses.

"... I place more and more responsibility upon myself to protect the plants, or the insect populations."

And personally I feel that is a good way to approach the issue.  For instance, you've got this great tomato (and other crops) breeding project going.  Now, you could just decide that you are going to breed the largest, most killer, delectable beefsteak tomato the planet has ever seen.  With a genuflection to Norman Borlaug, you might decide that it will be worth it to use whatever chemical inputs necessary to achieve your goal.....without which the selection likely would have little chance for survival in the wild.  Instead, you have been introducing wild genetic background and further reduced the genetic homogeneity in your stocks by reducing self-pollination, both efforts "giving back" to the survivability of your tomatoes, or some version of the them, should human intervention not be possible.  I certainly can't claim the same for my chickens....they have already undergone selection for tolerating cold winters, but they are a far cry from the survivability of that local "Chinese chicken" import, the ringnecked pheasant.

We do what we can....and at the end of the day recognize it's part of keeping "the fire" alive with respect to these sentiments so well summarized by Sitting Bull and others.  And it seems in keeping with "... a system of agricultural and social design principles centered on simulating or directly utilizing the patterns and features observed in natural ecosystems."

Two favorite reads further investigating the issue are the chapter "The Domesticators" in Paul Shepard's "Nature and Madness" and the novel "Never Let Me Go", by Kazuo Ishiguro, the latter a modern-day sci-fi on the 'domestication' and gentle rearing of orphaned children for their organs/body parts....with clear metaphorical implications addressing this discussion topic.
 
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