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Not Vegan

I'm not a "vegan," I'm not a "vegetarian," I'm not an anything.  I am a person; I don't identify myself by any diet label.  My diet ITSELF is the only thing that has a description or label.  Here is what my diet consists of:  whole plant foods.  That means (with very few exceptions) no animal products, no refined or processed foods, no chemicals.  Proponents of this diet often use the very descriptive label:  "plant-based, whole foods (PBWF)".  That's a mouthful.  And I think it's silly to say plant-"based".  It's not "based" on plants, it just IS plants.  That's like saying "water-based river," "grass-based lawn," "flight-based aircraft," or any other silly redundancy pretending to sound important.  So although this popular label does accurately describe my diet, I don't like its mouthfulness and silly redundancy.  So I use a different label.

I use the label "vegetarian" to describe my diet, despite the flaws of that term.  This word was traditionally used to distinguish from a diet that included animal products.  However, much sloppiness occurred, as people using that label often made exceptions for dairy, eggs, or fish, requiring further descriptive terminology.  So that word fell out of favor for having its meaning diluted.  That is what prompted the invention of the word "vegan," to distinguish that it excludes all animal products.  But still, I use the word "vegetarian" to describe my diet, because the CLEAR implication is that such a diet consists of plants, without any animal products.  When I use the word, I may go on to add more details about my diet, but I am content to answer a question about my diet by starting with "vegetarian" because it is so inherently descriptive.  The next best alternative I sometimes use is "plant-food" diet.  It's self-explanatory, while being only moderately a mouthful, and without silly redundancy.  I often augment either of these with the phrase "junk-free."

I don't use the label "vegan" to describe my diet.  This term means no animal products.  It is a sloppy term for two reasons.  First, it fails to distinguish between healthy food and junk food, or whole food and processed food.  Junk foods, and processed foods and ingredients, such as refined sugar, refined/depleted grains, vegetable oils, and chemicals, are all vegan, but extremely unhealthy.  It has a false appearance of healthfulness, but it's not a reliably healthy standard, including when evaluating product labels or restaurant menu items.  Second, it is popularized by environmentalist activists, and thus it implies such ideology as its motivation and goal.  If you want to avoid animal products for the sake of kindness to animals, or for any ideological or environmental reasons, fine, and I have a little bit of agreement with some such agendas (but not much).  But I'm not in solidarity with the general ideology of popular veganism/environmentalism, and my diet choices are not the result of ANY ideology, they are based on what is actually healthy; my rationales are health reasons alone.  So for all those reasons, I don't use that label to describe my diet.  And due to its unhealthy standard, I have no health reason to recommend that concept or label for anyone (except that it could be at least one step closer to healthy, for avoiding animal products).  In other words, I'm not an ideologue, my only goal is ACTUAL SUCCESS through objective truth and practicality.  In fact, I was the LAST person you'd expect to adopt a vegetarian diet, I was the guy who, while grilling steaks or burgers, would gleefully exclaim, "those vegetarians don't know what they're missing!"  So when I say I'm interested in reality over ideology, flexing as necessary to adapt to what I learn, I mean it.

By the way, consistent with my standard being defined by health alone, I do not promote automatically ruling out animal products altogether for the average person.  I think a diet consisting of, say, no more than 10% animal products can be healthy, assuming such items are good quality (organic, etc.).  However, the issue is, what is optimal for the particular person in their particular circumstances?  For example, in my case, fighting deadly cancer, I can't afford to take unnecessary risks, so my optimal standard is virtually no animal products (unless I learn facts to the contrary, which is possible).  And even though I've overcome cancer, my cancer history proves my susceptibility to it, therefore despite my progress, I maintain my strict regimen.  The same would be true for someone fighting any serious chronic condition.  But for someone without any chronic condition, whose primary goal is optimal health and disease prevention, a less strict regimen is probably okay, as long as the necessary level of strictness is maintained, not evolving into a lax standard.

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