Updated: Nov 14, 2021
The terrible right wing papers love writing articles about people who have apparently gone ex-vegan, having regressed back to eating animals. The 'Ex Vegan' phenomenon may seem pretty common, though if you look closely at these articles, the people involved were never actually Vegan.
In fact they were simply on a plant based diet. To many of these people considered ex-Vegans, they were often trying out a plant based diet for a temporary period of their lives, often with or without the intention to remain plant based. It may be the case that a plant-based diet to some may seem very exciting, it is often considered a new fad, and once some people try it out they often choose to move onto another idea, another way of eating, or may decide that a plant based diet is too much of a sacrifice for them or whatever reasons they became plant based in the first place. They may try a plant based diet for a health kick, or to get better skin, to have a diet like celebrities or friends they admire or they may be interested in the environmental benefits of a plant based diet etc but it must be stated clearly that, however noble and good the intention is, this is not Veganism. The definition of vegan as by The Vegan Society is;
"Veganism is a philosophy and way of living which seeks to exclude—as far as is possible and practicable—all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose; and by extension, promotes the development and use of animal-free alternatives for the benefit of animals, humans and the environment. In dietary terms it denotes the practice of dispensing with all products derived wholly or partly from animals."
In my understanding, people who become Vegan have done so for the consideration of animal ethics (and any other factors are simply other factors, though these may be hugely important too). Otherwise I fully question if they can possibly be considered Vegan if the philosophy is not based around animal ethics.
It is fantastic when people become plant based for health reasons and the environment and a huge number of other factors, in fact it doesnt matter what the reason is, becoming plant based is absolutely something to be celebrated and everyone, all beings included, are winners. My only concern it that when someone becomes plant based and not Vegan (based around animal ethics), they may be much less likely to remain eating a plant based diet.
Someone who believes in Veganism, the non exploitation of animals, would unlikely decide that is it ok at a later date to start to exploit animals and be cruel to animals in other ways.
My hope is that more people come to realise that animal exploitation is dangerous - because peace starts on our plate. In the mean-time more people choosing a plant based diet needs to be welcomed. This has many positive results, opening the way for more plant based options in stores and restaurants and changes the economic system leading to a more plant based system. It makes a vegan world more viable and our capitalist society will support such changes - money speaks. Many plant based eaters often start to develop Vegan seeds of change opening their minds to the ethical issues around our actions towards animals.
It is important we don't mix up Vegans and Plant Based dieters. I feel that when we do this, we reduce the vegan cause to something often more trivial. Veganism is a matter around life and death, exploitation and cruelty. Veganism needs to be seen as a social movement, a liberation movement and not a weight loss diet.
It would definitely suit many agents to belittle Veganism. There is a lot of money to be made through the naturalised exploitation of billions of sentient beings. Thankfully it is slowly but surely being recognised that Veganism is a big part of the solution to pretty much all the worlds problems.. it's really not only about a new pie option at Greggs, though the new pie is definitely welcome too.