“Accidentally vegan”? What does that even mean? If veganism is a deliberate choice, how can one “accidentally” be vegan? I’ve seen this a lot on vegan forums, in comments, in social media, and it saddens me. Why should it matter how someone chooses to describe themselves or their journey to veganism? The operative word is “vegan”, not the description. I don’t care if you’re a lifelong vegan, or only “occasionally” vegan, or “accidentally” vegan. I don’t even care if you’re just jokingly calling yourself vegan because you had peanut butter off of a spoon for lunch fifteen minutes ago. Thanks for saving some animals. For preventing some suffering. For reducing your footprint.
What about the other way this phrase is used? You’ve probably heard it floating around at some point or another. “Oreos are accidentally vegan” (at least here in the U.S.). What?
This is usually applied to common foods, other than produce, which contain no animals or their byproducts in the ingredients, which aren’t specifically marked as vegan or marketed to vegans. They’re usually ready-made snacks, prepared sauces, microwaveable meals, and canned soups.
Life Cereal? Vegan.
Nutter Butters? Vegan.
You’ll notice that most of the products are ones which even health-conscious omnivores will usually avoid. The point isn’t to say, “Hey, wanna go vegan? Eat this!” The point is to get people to look at the labels of the foods they normally buy. After all, if that junk is vegan, what sort of foods might they already be eating that are vegan or almost-vegan?
The point, you see, is to make veganism more accessible.
Yes, go ahead and make the argument that the sugar used in these processed foods is probably filtered through bone char, so not technically vegan. I get that. I really do. But you have to let people start small. Give them a chance to make less harmful choices. As they learn and become less intimidated and more adventurous, maybe they’ll make the switch. To be honest, I don’t care if someone uses regular granulated sugar or evaporated cane juice. They’re not eating animals or their secretions. End of story. Once that stops, so will the use of these byproducts. Other, less harmful means will be found. Start small. Have some Oreos. Or better yet, have some of this:
Quick Frito Pie
- handful (or 2 or 3) Fritos
- 1/4 C vegetarian baked beans
Place Fritos in a bowl. Top with baked beans. Microwave about 30 seconds to warm the beans. Consume. (If’n you wanna get fancy, top with some shredded greens, onions, salsa, guacamole, vegan sour cream, vegan cheese, etc.)
[Recipe courtesy of Chris H. Holla, bro!]
PETA. “Accidentally Vegan Food List”. PETA.org. Retrieved February 3, 2013 from http://www.peta.org/living/vegetarian-living/accidentally-vegan.aspx.