Vegans don't eat eggs. I feel that I have to address the topic of 'vegganism' that has been mentioned in various media outlets over the past few weeks. I'm a regular Guardian reader (now I bet that doesn't come as much of a surprise, does it?) and I've been very impressed with the vegan-centric articles that they've been publishing. I recently read the article 'Can you be a vegan and eat eggs?' (no) by Katy Slater, and then enjoyed Jill Wooster's comments in 'Being a little bit vegan is completely oxymoronic' (my thoughts exactly).
Let's look at this in a little more detail. For many vegans, their driving force is ethical - we don't want to eat animals or their by-products. Why? Because the industries that produce meat, dairy and eggs are cruel and there is no way to avoid this. No animal wants to suffer to end up on a plate; a lifetime of pain for a few minutes of (human) pleasure. By going vegan we opt out of this cycle, our taste buds and cravings are not more important that our ethics and the life of an animal, and let's face it, when you remind your omnivorous friend that the steak they're eating once had a face, they don't want to think about it. The majority of people don't want to know that their lifestyle choices cause suffering to animals, because humans, as a whole, are animal lovers - yet don't connect what's in a field with what's on their plate, and what happened in between.
So, 'vegganism'. Is this even a thing? It appears so. A 'veggan' is someone who follows a plant-based diet yet eats ethical eggs. So in actual fact, a vegetarian. I'm not what you would call a Vegan Dictator, and the more compassionate choices there are in the world, the better, but the reason why vegans don't believe in eating eggs (even if they are from happy hens that have been saved from a terrible fate) is that they are not ours to take. Ditto honey. The ethics of veganism isn't just about avoiding cruelty to animals, it's also about not exploiting them or taking something that is theirs, for human gain.
However, one of the articles I read mentioned the brand Good Food Nation, so I decided to have a look at their website. Whilst I am most definitely vegan and not vegetarian, I have to say that the idea of looking after these little hens is fantastic, and I have no doubt that the animals they look after are happy and enjoying their lives. I also must add that if someone is struggling to remove eggs or dairy from their diet, this could be a great stepping stone to a vegan lifestyle.
The problem with people identifying as vegans when they still eat eggs, is that they add to the already profound confusion as to what a vegan actually eats. Similar to the whole fish-eating 'vegetarian' issue (argh!). In a time where not enough places a) offer anything vegan and b) don't even know what a vegan eats, we really don't need more issues than we already face when explaining our food choices.
In essence, what I hope this article has cleared up is this: you can't be an egg-eating vegan (you are a vegetarian) in the same way a fish-eating vegetarian is actually a pescatarian. Maybe you don't want to feel unable to eat what you like, but don't make it harder for the rest of us; I for one don't want to find egg in my vegan meal next time I dine out.