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Kathy Freston Sets Veganism Back Six Decades

For the past few months, self-proclaimed vegan Kathy Freston has been posting pro-veg columns on the Huffington Post. “Vegetarian is the New Prius” and “A Few More ‘Inconvenient Truths’” were smart and sassy in their persuasive arguments. It’s heartening to see the media take notice, but it’s a little odd that Freston is suddenly being considered an expert on veganism, considering that up until a few months ago, she only wrote about relationships and religion as a “personal growth author and spiritual counselor.”

But maybe all that meditation has gone to her head. In this week’s post, Freston’s third installment in her go veg series, she not only admits to not caring about the content of much of her food when eating out, but suggests that other vegans should do the same. “You’ll obviously want to avoid dishes served with meat, cheese, or eggs, but it doesn’t really matter if there’s a modicum of butter or whey or other animal product in the bun that your veggie burger is served on,” she writes. “You may give your nonvegan friends–not to mention the restaurant wait staff–the idea that vegans are difficult to please.”

For the record, I, for one, am not pleased, Kathy Freston.

42 Comments

  1. Comment by

    Laura Leslie

    on #

    And we all know that what other people think is more important than our own sense of self-respect.

    *sigh*

  2. Comment by

    moyesii

    on #

    I think she’s just trying to keep it real and accessible for people who are starting out. Many vegans do tend to turn people off by being so finicky. Omnivores are judging us vegans as much as we always seem to be judging them. So even though I consider myself vegan, I think showing a little flexibility is important in order to make veganism palatable and graspable for others. I don’t believe it’s the end of the world to digest a little dairy or honey if you can’t avoid it. As a consumer, I always buy vegan when possible, but even the most devout Christians can be sinners sometimes, and God still accepts them.

  3. Comment by

    Alex

    on #

    I agree with Moyesii, more or less. This is a complex issue. Vegan Outreach is known for trying to get people to ease up on the nitpicking, if you want to read their arguments. Now, claiming “it doesn’t really matter” if there’s a small amount of an animal product in something isn’t the way to go either. If people want to be as pure as “humanely” possible, by all means. I know the longer I do this, the more finicky I get. And why should vegans have to bear the burden of always representing all of vegandom as best as possible? But given our few numbers, maybe to the extent we can, we should try to bear that burden. You know, for the cause. Thoughts?

  4. Comment by

    chris

    on #

    Bruce Friedrich of PETA also says the same thing…. he even used the exact same word: Modicum. He said not to get caught up in it when you’re dining out or you’re going to convince non-veg/non-vegans that we’re out for personal purity, not to make large changes. I don’t think this is the end of the world, not really such a need for histrionics.

  5. Comment by

    Jason Das

    on #

    Moyesii’s analogy to Christian sin comes mighty close to endorsing indulgences. (This is similar to my problem with carbon credits, too – I pretty much agree with this).

    A non-vegan who wishes to lessen their carbon footprint might eat a steak once a year and plant a tree to “make up for it.” And if you’re just trying to eat better for environmental reasons, “a modicum of butter or whey or other animal product” really doesn’t matter much.

    But if as a vegan, it really does matter. If I can avoid it, I do. If I find out after the fact that there was whey in a restaurant’s bread, I don’t try to barf it up, but I certainly don’t order it again.

    A little bit of don’t-ask-don’t-tell for peace of mind is understandable, but that’s not what Freston is advocating here.

  6. Comment by

    Phillyvegan

    on #

    WHY NOT inconveinence them? Seriously though, if a business knows that there are a certain groups of people who eat a certain way, and that they are losing business by not being flexible- at least if enough of us request w/o butter etc- than maybe restaurants will offer more veg varieties. Restaurants are making carb-less, sugarless, fat-free exceptions for the few people who follow those diets, why not make a butterless bread? personally I tend to want to give my business to a restaurant who is willing to pleas etheir customer.

  7. Comment by

    moyesii

    on #

    I certainly don’t endorse not knowing what ingredients are in one’s foods. Whenever we have some power as consumers to make a positive impact by our choices, we should embrace that. Awareness is key. At the same time, I can come to terms with the fact that sometimes Curly’s forgets to veganize my dish and that I can either eat the food in front of me or send it back where it will probably be thrown in the trash. Also, I think that whenever we are in a position to represent veganism around others, it calls for showing more support and less intolerance.

    I think what I should have wrote in my first comment is, “Even the most devout Christians can sin, but they are still Christians.” I personally believe that the most important component of being vegan is the effort. More power to you for striving for purity, but I think it’s also ok to accept imperfection, especially in others’ baby steps. I think that turning people off of vegetarianism or veganism early on is one of the most self-defeating and damaging things we do. There are some realities about this world and about human nature that we need to accept if we want to help our planet heal and relieve animal suffering on a larger scale. By the time many people are in college, they’ve decided that they are confirmed vegan-haters or vegan-avoiders, and I get the feeling that some vegans are actually ok with that. I don’t think that elitism will accomplish our goals.

  8. Comment by

    moyesii

    on #

    Phillyvegan, I think it’s great to ask restaurants to veganize their dishes whenever possible. I certainly do. And I try to patronize only places that are vegan-friendly. I like to talk about veganism whenever I can. My point about flexibility is that in a quest for purity we sometimes commit what I believe is a greater wrong. For example, even though I try to avoid all traces of animal-derived ingredients in my foods, if I’m served food that isn’t vegan, I will probably eat it as long as it’s vegetarian and not a pizza with gobs of cheese on it. I can understand some people’s drives for purity, and I respect their beliefs and convictions, but for my goals, some flexibility is important as it shows that we are thinking rationally and not fanatically. And despite the analogies that I’ve used, I don’t think that veganism is a religion.

  9. Comment by

    chris

    on #

    Also, Erik Marcus said the same thing when the BK Veggie came out. Rather than strive for some vague, righteous personal purity, he wanted to spread the message as widely as possible that there are options out there. Many vegans get up in arms about finding 1/100th of a gram of butter in their bread yet they eat so much processed food that a) is made on machinery that also processes dairy b) contains artificial flavors and colors that are tested on animals c) are made by companies making millions of dairy and such.

  10. Comment by

    Jason Das

    on #

    I can see the pragmatism of Erik Marcus or Bruce Friedrich’s arguments. But if Curly’s screws up and forgets to veganize my dish, I will send it back. Partly because I don’t want to eat it, but also because they need to know it’s a problem. Sure, lots of what I eat isn’t “vegan” according to Chris’s ABC, but for a vegetarian restaurant to think “it doesn’t matter” is not OK. Every time a vegan knowingly accepts non-vegan food, they present veganism as something that needn’t be taken seriously.

    I really respect Peter Singer for not claiming to be a vegan. As he says, “When I’m shopping for myself, it will be vegan. But when I’m traveling and it’s hard to get vegan food in some places or whatever, I’ll be vegetarian. I won’t eat eggs if they’re not free-range, but if they’re free-range, I will.” Imagine him doing all that while claiming to be vegan! It cheapens it for the rest of us. And that’s why Kathy Freston has me pissed off.

    Also, it’s easy to be personally “pure” and to maintain – as Laura nicely puts it – my “own sense of self-respect” without being fanatically self-righteous or histrionic. The trouble comes when you try to impose your diet on others, not when you protect your own needs. The problem is “getting up in arms,” not refusing to eat the food.

    As for those sinning Christians, they have a long history of slaughtering and subjugating each other (just like animal rights activists, they’re no strangers to infighting!) They define their own rules. So do we. Sometimes we disagree, but at least we’re saving lives in the process, rather than “souls” or whatever!

  11. Comment by

    TwinsFanatic

    on #

    Vegans are seen as self-righteous by so much of society. The reasons Vegan Outreach and Erik Marcus argue that we should not worry about modicum ingredients are that: 1) There is about one one-millionth of an animal’s suffering in them; compare that to the 100 animals/year the average meat-eater consumes. So if you turn people off by being vegan police, you harm animals; and 2) it’s delusional, as Ms. Freston points out–there is suffering in everything even we vegans eat. There is a lot more suffering, on a per calorie basis (A LOT MORE) in lettuce and cucumbers than in some tiny amount of dairy in a veggie burger bun.

    So worrying so much in public is 1) counterproductive to our goal; and 2) just logically wrong. Veganism is not about personal purity. It’s about helping animals. Nit-picking when you’re eating out does the opposite of that, as Ms. Freston rightly notes.

  12. Comment by

    Edita

    on #

    Whenever someone uses the word “fanatic” in relation to veganism, it needs to be addressed. If something is morally wrong, there can be no “flexibility” in engaging in it-especially from those who profess to be advocates for the exploited/oppressed group. In this case, the issue is animal exploitation, but you can use many analogies such as slavery, rape, child abuse. etc.
    Veganism is the rejection of animal exploitation.
    One of the posters (moyesii) said that they can “understand some people’s drives for purity,” but that for their goals, “some flexibility is important as it shows that we are thinking rationally and not fanatically”
    I don’t understand what “goals” this person has in relation to ending animal exploitation that would allow he/she to contradict their ethical beliefs by engaging in animal expolitation through some self-defined “flexibility.” Flexibility means many things to many people, and all definitions serve to undermine the core tentant of the abolitionist movement. There is nothing rational about that.
    If we acknowledge that veganism is the foundation of the abolitiionist movement,(and I don’t see how we cannot) then it becomes not about “personal purity” but about being morally consistent by abolishing animal exploitation in your own life through veganism. Those who make veganism out to be some quirky obsessive need for “purity” on the part of the vegan are doing a disservice not only to vegans, but to the animals they profess to want to
    “help.” TwinsFanatic says: “Veganism is not about personal purity. It’s about helping animals.” Not eating animals, or their byproducts (ever), and not feeling the need to apologize for it, but instead embracing veganism and promoting it to others is the best way we can help animals.
    If you are an advocate against child abuse, you don’t label someone as a “nitpicker” who demands that you should NEVER beat or abuse your child-that would be absurd. What other movement that seeks to abolish the exploitation of an exploited group would “worry” about offending the sensibilities of those who still engage in the exploitation of this particular group?
    A “vegan” who would eat a meal containg animal products because it was served to them is no more morally inconsistent than a slave abolitionist who would cheerfully accept a “gift” of a slave-for-a-day because he didn’t want to come across as “fanatical” to the thoughtful gift bestower. Both contradict and betray their abolitionist foundation, thus putting them in the realm of exploiter.

  13. Comment by

    Laura Leslie

    on #

    Thank you, Jason.

    If vegans don’t insist on being taken seriously, restaurants aren’t going to have any motivation to provide more vegan options. If they know we’ll just cave and eat the vegetarian stuff, why would they bother?

    It *is* important to make it clear that we are a real market and that our beliefs actually matter.

    It’s also very important to counter the “preachy vegan” stereotype by being polite and respectful, but that doesn’t mean being a doormat, either. It is possible to stand up for yourself politely but firmly, without coming across as a jerk.

  14. Comment by

    crispyheart

    on #

    i’m not vegan. i’m not even vegetarian. but i’ve been appalled by the number of places that tout themselves as being vegetarian/vegan friendly who consistently phuck up vegan orders. two examples of recent note: organic grill brunch – my friend had to have her order re-made several time during the same meal because it consistently came back non-vegan & not what she’d asked for to boot. & that was their much-talked about vegan omelet. and also curly’s – notorious for fakin’vegan. many times over, i’ve seen suspiciously non-vegan looking food presented as vegan. what up with that? i find that the overwhelming majority of restaurants (regardless of how vegan they tout themselves to be) are quite flexible when it comes to modifying dishes to make them vegan. & really i think there’s nothing “inconvenient” about politely (as laura says) inquiring about the food. i would do that just to make sure i’m eating what i asked for and i don’t promote myself as anysortof-tarian.

  15. Comment by

    moyesii

    on #

    Edita, If the goal is to reach out to the maximum number of people and thereby reduce animal suffering on a wide scale, then I think that some flexibility is necessary. Once people are on the track towards awareness, over time their eating choices will naturally lean towards more fastidiousness IF they are allowed to progress at their own individual paces. I don’t believe that most people are capable of becoming vegan in a day. I’m sure some people here have done it, but I don’t think it’s reasonable to expect it of others. I’m sure that when you became vegan, you did it on your own terms. In our consumer society, people like flexibility and freedom, and to win over the majority and the laggards, we unfortunately have to make the transition as easy as possible. And changing people’s behaviors is not easy, as you are probably well aware, which is why a successful strategy does call for tact, patience, and flexibility. Think of how many New Years resolutions are broken and given up after the first “offense”. That’s why programs such as Healthy Monday and Meatless Monday have been developed and endorsed by the Columbia and Johns Hopkins Schools of Public Health. If we ostracize people for being human and making mistakes, then I’m afraid that veganism has no hope of ever reaching mass acceptance. What we are left with is a small group of hard-core vegans who are happy with themselves, but perpetually alienated from society.

    I don’t believe that I engage in animal exploitation or compromise my beliefs by showing flexibility when it’s necessary. My belief is that in order to change the system, we have to engage the people around us and not push them away. For me, any other way would be irresponsible.

    So although I may not be morally consistent, I certainly try to be consistent in my goal of relieving animal suffering by encouraging people to reduce their consumption of meat and dairy foods. I’m not arrogant enough to believe that my own moral inconsistencies will blow up the fabric of civilization, but I do have enough faith in the power of individuals to believe that the things we say and do can influence others. So if we both agree that promoting veganism is the best way to end animal suffering on a wide scale, then why should I ever engage in behavior that I think is going to turn people off of a path towards veganism? Flexibility allows me to engage diverse people in different situations on a level that is impossible if they are feeling judged, belittled, or powerless.

    To reiterate, if the goal is to reduce animal suffering on a wide scale then it must be accomplished on a societal scale. And if change starts with individuals, then individuals who believe in their moral obligation to stop animal exploitation must be aware of how their behaviors influence others rather than simply dwelling on their own individual purity or moral superiority.

    You ask, “What other movement that seeks to abolish the exploitation of an exploited group would “worry” about offending the sensibilities of those who still engage in the exploitation of this particular group?” My answer: None, because we still have to convince the majority of society to denounce industrialized animal exploitation.

  16. Comment by

    Roseann Marulli

    on #

    I agree, Jason and Laura.

    And moyesii, I think you’re talking about two different things here: what we as established vegans do in restaurants and what other people do while on the path to veganism.

    I’m all for people’s taking baby steps, if that’s what they need to do; I certainly went vegetarian before going vegan. But that has nothing to do with what and how I order when I go out to eat now. It doesn’t take a vegan to be a pain in the ass (a la When Harry Met Sally), and there’s no reason my food shouldn’t be prepared as I ordered it. I’ve seen plenty of meat eaters send back their steaks when they weren’t cooked the way they requested, and they certainly weren’t worried about making anyone uncomfortable or being seen as fanatics.

    It’s all in the delivery, as Laura said, not to mention the company you keep: None of my omnivorous friends has ever complained or gotten tense when I’ve asked questions of waitstaff; in fact, many of them are amazed to learn that their rice might have been made with broth or that their wine might have been clarified with insinglass. They’re actually interested.

    This also comes up with regard to not wearing leather, eating honey, using products that contain carmine, etc. When people ask me if I feel deprived or if it’s a burden to have to research what everything is made of, I tell them that while it can be a bit daunting in the beginning, once you’ve figured out what’s what, you never really have to think about it again; plus, with all the analogs out there, I have more choices than I could ever need. I also tell them that different people have different limits as to what they will and won’t consume/use, so while some might choose to drink nonvegan beer, for me personally, there’s no gray area. This gives them plenty of room to take their baby steps and allows me to remain consistent and to inform without preaching fire and brimstone.

  17. Comment by

    moyesii

    on #

    Roseann, The point is to be mindful of how we interact with others, especially people who are not in our regular circle of friends and acquaintances.

    Since everyone here is a freethinking individual, it goes without saying that each person would handle the restaurant situation in his or her own way. I agree that all types of people, not just vegans, can be difficult restaurant patrons at times. And I think that people should expect to eat what they ordered, and it benefits everyone to bring the matter to the attention of the waitstaff if the food is not what they ordered. But I think it’s also a good idea to acknowledge that if you choose to send your dish back, it will likely be thrown in the trash, and all the resources that went into producing that food will have been wasted. For me personally, that is the worse of two evils, but I can respect others who feel that they absolutely cannot eat the food. If there was meat on the dish, I would certainly reject it. But this is not the real issue.

    Whether it somehow damages a vegan’s integrity to eat non-vegan once in awhile — that is the individual’s choice in my opinion. Kathy Freston seems to know that ideally she would abstain from all animal-derived ingredients, but she understands that it is not always practical. In my opinion, Freston presented her readers with sound and practical advice that should give them a good incentive to try veganism. I think that Freston understands her readers, and she understands that people respect free-thinking individuals, knowing that we all make sacrifices and compromises on a daily basis. Somehow we manage to live with ourselves by focusing on what matters to us most, and ignoring the stuff over which we have little or no control. But no one in our society lives in complete conformance to their absolute ideals. So do we define people by their actions or their beliefs? If we define people by their actions, then no one in this world would be who they claim they are. I’m willing to bet that the majority of vegans do slip from time to time. Why not just fess up like Freston, and make the choice to become vegan less daunting for others who might be interested? (Of course, this site is called supervegan, which I’m starting to realize has serious connotations!)

    To me, for more people simply to identify as vegan would be a wonderful step forward. People tend to act according to their sense of identity. Therefore, we shouldn’t discourage people from identifying as vegans, just because they are not completely there yet. People should feel welcome and comfortable to explore veganism without the pressure to label themselves at every stage or misstep. The flexibility that Freston prescribes allows vegans to make a suboptimal choice when the situation requires, yet keep their long-term goals intact. So can a vegan maintain his or her integrity by compromising in certain situations? I believe so, as long as they realize that they are making a compromise and feel that what they are doing is the right decision in the given context.

    If you are in a position in your life where you can always choose vegan, that is great for you, but many people don’t have that luxury. They can still try their best, however, and that’s what I believe that Kathy Freston is advocating. I don’t believe for a second that just because Freston says “not to sweat the small stuff” will any of her readers who has a sincere desire to be vegan not listen to their own hearts when such a choice is presented to them.

    I applaud you for being tactful around your non-vegan and vegan friends, but I do see a lot of criticism here of Freston, which indicates to me that some vegans might be more concerned about preserving a strict code of veganism and exclusivity at the expense of saving animals. I am confident that once people have taken the first steps towards veganism, they can decide for themselves whether to continue following Freston’s advice or taking their own path. Dwelling on the do’s and don’t's of veganism is in my opinion, counterproductive, and the point is not to present an overwhelming amount of information to people who are barely with us on page 1. All the correct information is out there for people to find on their own, as you have done and I have done before them. As you can attest, enlightenment is gradual and you can be sure that many vegetarians will become vegan if they are given the freedom to find out the information on their own terms, not if they are constantly bashed with a list of things they cannot do as vegans. You might think that to err and forgive is only for mere humans, not supervegans, but I think Kathy Freston knows who her audience is.

    I agree that there are many choices out there for vegans, and in our outreach and marketing, we need to focus on the options and put less emphasis on the restrictions. Emphasizing people’s missteps is also a surefire way to keep veganism to a select few. We need to have more faith in people that they will sift through the misinformation and find out veganism on their own if it’s truly what they want. Nitpicking only serves to exclude people. We’re having enough trouble as it is just getting people interested. We should worry that people are turned off of veganism, because of the emphasis on perfection. We need to encourage people to grasp some sense of veganism that they can build on, instead of pulling the rug out from under them.

  18. Comment by

    susie

    on #

    moyesii: To me, for more people simply to identify as vegan would be a wonderful step forward.

    Of the 4% of people who consider themselves vegetarian, 57% still eat meat. So I don’t think identifying as vegan is a solution.

  19. Comment by

    moyesii

    on #

    A disturbing amount of Americans also think that astrology is a real science. Vegan/vegetarian misinformation is hardly the only symptom of our failing education system. But I agree that it’s important to get correct information out there, and I also understand in some ways that Kathy Freston could be accused of spreading disinformation, but to me it seems much less important than actually getting people to wake up to the concepts of cruelty-free and environmental sustainability. And although the statistics might prove that Americans are severely misinformed on a wide range of issues, they don’t undermine the fact that identity is a strong indicator of thinking and decision-making. To those that thought that being vegetarian meant it was still ok to eat meat, they were most likely behaving completely in line with their beliefs.

    As I said, for the people that genuinely want to pursue veganism for ethical concerns, they will find out the necessary information by their own will. For those that aren’t interested, there’s no reason to alienate them further. Freston’s audience is mostly non-vegs, so any effort that sends her readers in the right direction should be applauded. Sites like supervegan serve to educate mostly well-informed vegs, so I think that both sites serve a very useful purpose.

  20. Comment by

    Edita

    on #

    Moyessi, after reading your latest posts I can’t help thinking that you must be joking! What you are suggesting is essentially that if someone wants to adopt the “identity” of a vegan, their actions are not important, because what really counts is their intention.
    Listen, I think you really need to do a little research and reading into what ethical veganism really means, because clearly you are somewhat confused. Veganism is precisely defined by the actions and personal choices you make in your daily life in regards to animal exploitation. An ethical vegan is boycotting animal agriculture in their daily life.
    This is non-negoitable. If you eat animal flesh you’re not a vegetarian or a vegan, if you eat any animal products, you’re not a vegan. It’s pretty simple, actually. I think part of the trouble you’re having is that you might see milk and eggs as “lesser” issues in regards to animal exploitation, or suffering. This is not the case at all.
    Do a little research into the dairy and egg industries: learn about how veal would not exist without the dairy industry, learn about the intense and prolonged suffering involved in these sectors of animal agriculture. Maybe after you do this you won’t be so quick to deny that your personal actions mean something.

  21. Comment by

    moyesii

    on #

    Edita, You are seriously barking up the wrong tree. And I don’t appreciate the condescending tone, expecially considering that I’ve politely refrained from pointing out your ludicrousness. But thank you, for substantiating what I wrote in my above posts about vegans hurting their own cause.

  22. Comment by

    svenna

    on #

    Veganism IS difficult. To pretend that it is not by permitting ourselves to eat small quantities of animal products is just a flat-out lie.

    Aside from that, seeing that veganism is much less well-known than vegetarianism, I am quite sure that any person I am having a meal with would be able to make a connection and realize that different people have different levels of veggie-ness.

    Most people are aware that all people in a given group fall on a continuum of strictness to their adherance to the practices of that group. In the same way as there are some Christians who never go to church, some who spend every day preaching in the train stations, and many more who are somewhere in between between, so are there different types of vegans. We all act on what we believe in different ways.

    So long as I do not imply to the people I am with that all veggie people are exactly the same as I am, I do not think that my choice to ask about ingredients harms anyone else’s view of veganism.

    However, I prefer to not have to wait a ridiculously long time when actually at a restaurant, so I’ll often try to call beforehand to ask about vegan items. If I can’t do that and the place seems busy, I’ll be ordering the “raw veggie plate, no dressings or dips, please.” If someone I’m with comments on my order I’ll smile and let them know I know of places to get way better food and invite them to one of my favourite vegan restaurants later on in the week.

  23. Comment by

    zoekerr78

    on #

    I’m extremely new to the community, not even totally dedicated yet, but trying to make the transition from vegetarian to vegan, and as a beginner, I found her book to be really encouraging. the only argument I have against the sentiment behind what some of you all have said is that although her standpoint leaves some room for criticism, isn’t it good that someone has been given such a prominent venue through which to promote the lifestyle? it may not be perfect, but I do know that a few of my co-workers (i live in Texas, the land of beef and pork) really thought about making some lifestyle changes, just because Oprah gave the whole thing her stamp of approval. it just seems that, and this is the same for so many groups, that you have to earn your street cred….she’s trying…and she may have persuaded some people to take a new look at their choices, and I think that’s important. you can’t blame Freston for all the inconveniences that come with being a part of a minority group.

  24. Comment by

    leaf1975

    on #

    This is so disappointing. And, unfortunately, also very common to find vegans fighting on these sites. We are all on the same side! Kathy Freston is MIGHTY, we are not. She is doing SO MUCH to advance public awareness of the inherent cruelty in factory farming. I am so grateful. She devotes a large part of her book to the cause. Veganism isn’t popular, and doesn’t sell books. SHE CARES. And you are right. She isn’t a vegan author, and she isn’t an expert on veganism. She is a mainstream wellness author and people who know nothing about animal rights or veganism will buy her book and their eyes will be opened. It’s wonderful. I PERSONALLY choose not to eat anything in non-vegan restaurants that is questionable. The ONLY thing you can ever be sure of in restaurants that do not cater to vegans is raw vegetables. period. Making a stink with a busy waiter is useless. You will not get what you want and you will further the widespread belief that we vegans are all nuts. And in response to the reply to the initial post- of course it matters what people think of us! To date 8 people that have been close to me have become vegans. EIGHT. Including my mother, my brother, my best friend, and my boyfriend. I don’t preach, and I didn’t set out to convert anyone. They are all good hearted, intelligent people who asked a lot of questions and saw how happy I am living my life without causing any suffering. I didn’t judge them or rush them into giving away their leather or cutting out dairy. It wasn’t my deal. I was there for support, but it was their decision and their journey. Had I judged them or lectured them every time they put honey in their tea or ordered the homemade pasta I undoubtedly would have turned them off to the whole thing. Veganism is easy and wonderful once you get the hang of it, but it is initially very overwhelming for most people. Angry vegans slamming other vegans for not being good enough sets veganism back 6 decades. Kathy Freston is advancing veganism by spreading the word. And I for one thank her with all my heart.

  25. Comment by

    dmcgee

    on #

    I recently read Kathy Freston’s book and stumbled upon this site after I decided to look for more information about veganism. I am not a vegetarian or vegan and did not think much about becoming one until after reading her book. I can respect the viewpoints of many of the people here, but for those of you who criticize Kathy Freston for promoting flexibility, I think you are missing the big picture. Were it not for reading that book, I would not be here right now posting on this site and would not have given much thought to becoming vegan. Her approach is more appealing to the masses, and in the long run, has the power to elicit more change for animals than those who consider every minute detail. Going from an average meat eating, dairy consuming lifestyle to complete and absolute veganism is a big leap. By encouraging people to do what they can to the greatest extent they can, she opens the door for many people who may otherwise have been too intimidated and overwhelmed by the thought of such a radical change. I think it is commendable for those who want to live the purest possible vegan lifestyle, but those individuals need to also acknowledge others who are willing to listen and make changes, even if it not to the utmost extreme. I think many people, including myself, have been turned off by veganism because of people like that, who come across as judgmental and elitist, even if that is not their intent. I realize that these individuals are passionate about their beliefs, but sometimes it seems that the interest of animals almost takes a backseat to interest of the individual’s ego, and the person?s need to prove to themselves that they are somehow better than others for being more of a ?true vegan? than others. To me, the label is far less important that the intent. Whether Kathy Freston achieves the highest level of veganism and manages to pass muster with the purists is really here nor there. Her intent to elicit change by living consciously and influencing others to do the same is what matters. And for that, I think she should be commended. She got me thinking, and I am just one person. Her book is currently a best seller read by thousands of people. Just consider the potential for the number of animals that may be spared unnecessary suffering by that kind of exposure.

  26. Comment by

    jc

    on #

    get real…she is the bomb in the vegan world

  27. Comment by

    Bubbles

    on #

    Freston, a self-appointed wellness expert, is presented to the public as an expert on nutrition even though she has no credentials in the field. A few weeks ago, Nightline presented Mark Bittman as an authority on nutrition, and the journalist touring the supermarket with him was extremely deferential as Bittman told him what to buy and what to avoid. The segment opened with the line “Mark Bittman knows about food.” They didn’t mention ANYTHING he had done in the field. The viewer was just supposed to trust him?why, I don?t know.

    I looked up Bittman online and he is a journalist and a cook book author. He has no credentials in the field of nutrition or cooking. That’s fine, but Nightline should not have presented him as an expert on nutrition. They should have informed the audience that he was a journalist and cook book author.

    If Freston and Bittman were minorities they would have to have advanced degrees and decades of experience for the media to present them as experts on nutrition or anything related to health.

    Must be nice!

  28. Comment by

    Tiffany

    on #

    As a “vegan” of only 3 wks (after watching Earthlings, and reading a few books on the subject), let me say that I AM RELIEVED by the comments Moyesii has made about the intention and desire to relieve animal suffering as the important focus when engaging omnivores and newbies. In just 3 wks, I have already begun to question whether total veganism is really reasonable for me if I discover that my pasta salad had traces of egg in it, or if in my weakness, I enjoy a slice of real cake with co-workers…

    Should I just say that I’m a strict vegetarian — because my INTENTION is to avoid all flesh, dairy, and eggs, but the PRACTICE of doing so seems not only daunting at only 3 wks, but highly improbable in the long run if I’m already finding myself ingesting foods that contain the products of violence that so disturbed me several weeks ago. And then, I look for evidence online that this lifestyl choice is not just a struggle for me, and instead find self-righteousness and judgment — the very reason I abandoned the religion of my childhood. Is this simply another way for human animals to be intolerant & “cruel” towards each other, or is there a benefit, as suggested earlier, in eliminating 99% of the animal products once eaten & worn — with the goal of total elimination, if that’s even possible…

    Is it too much to applaud the efforts of those who INTEND to do better, and have drastically done better for animals, or is there one, unwavering — and for many unattainable — standard? Again, being reminded of what I found unattractive about orthodox religion: I don’t punish myself for being human, and won’t allow others to make me feel guilty for being imperfect. I won’t associate with a group or lifestyle that doesn’t embrace that level of tolerance & (self-) acceptance, and really, who would want to?

    –Imperfect ASPIRING Vegan–

  29. Comment by

    Brenda

    on #

    I really appreciate her books and work so much. I can’t imagine how a vegan website would be critical of a person who has done so much to educate people about the benefits of a vegan diet. She had been on numerous tv programs and always is clear and to the point that the more animal products you eat, the more your risk of disease.

    I also appreciate that she is nonjudgemental about not being a perfect vegan because I am one of the non-perfect vegans who eats all vegan meals but still uses milk in my coffee. Believe me it kills me and I don’t want to touch the stuff but soy milk just doesn’t stand up to coffee. I have even tried making nut milks, grain milks, you name it. So I get what she says that you go as far as you can with it and that is where you are. It’s very real.

    And there are a lot of towns and even cities where it is hard to find a vegan meal. So again I think she is being realistic and yet pushing people to rethink food.

  30. Comment by

    Codie

    on #

    No one on this planet is perfect. I’m sure there are many of us out there who have taken our reusable bags to the grocery store only to put our fruit and veggies in plastic bags… we are human, we err, we make mistakes and when we can allow ourselves the ability to do so and then learn, that is when we truly grow.
    I think as many have noted, Freston is an author and healer who does her best to make wellness and veganism a viable option for the masses, and in doing so is showing that taking at least a larger step toward the big picture, is much better than throwing our hands up in frustration and not trying at all.
    Any amount of attention we can throw at this cause is amazing and this conversation, thread, is amazing. It is so nice to see so many involved and it is refreshing to read/hear so many sides.
    Compassion comes in all sizes, even going meatless for one day can help.. and one can only hope, as Freston points out in her book Quantum Wellness, this leads to the full quantum leap of becoming a vegan.
    Once we see that it is in fact easy being vegan, we make extra advances to do so, but give those who are just getting used to it the ability to settle in on their own terms.
    in loving compassion!

  31. Comment by

    Bruce

    on #

    It seems Kathy Freston still has the old carnivorous habit and so does not find any contamination of animal products to be disgusting. In other words, she is still at the stage where she could easily down grade back into an omnivore easily. She hasn’t reached the point of no return yet. She needs to see “Earthlings” and after that any contamination of animal products would be seen as disgusting as the flesh of a human carcase.

  32. Comment by

    Sandhya

    on #

    It is good to be Vegan. I am vegan by birth. There are tons and tons of protein available in vegan. You can see one of the Jain temple website to learn and see the camparison chart about the protein in vegan and meat. You can visit the site BAPS.org. By being Vegan you can do two things. Be healthy and also save the animals.

  33. Comment by

    Sandhya

    on #

    I am imprssed by Oprah show today about being Vegan. ‘Hats off to you Kathy Freston’ World will be a more beautiful place to live in if everybody can become Vegan. In Hinduism the Cows are treated as Mothers because Mother and Cow both give us Milk to drink. But one thing I would like to tell Kathy that milk is Vegan and it is the complete food. Ancient Hindu saints lived only cow’s milk and yoga. And all Yogis(saints) were vegans

  34. Comment by

    swamy

    on #

    milk is vegan?wtf?i think your comment should dispel any false hopes of those thinking vegetarianism is just a station in life en-route to veganism. cow’s milk is a complete food – for it’s calf! And many desis actually are lactose intolerant so they have all the more reason not to consume it

  35. Comment by

    JVMFan

    on #

    TV Host Jane Velez-Mitchell is a vegan. She has been since the 80′s, I think? Her new book goes into it well–Addict Nation-An Intervention for America

  36. Comment by

    ali-oop

    on #

    I just got Kathy Freston’s Quantam Wellness audio book on CD from a library book sale. I had no idea what it was about. I bought it because the title looked interesting and it was only $4. All I want to say to all of you is that I am not vegetarian or vegan but because of Kathy’s Quantum Wellness book, I will make the baby step changes and change how I eat one step, one meal at a time. I never would have considered changing if it weren’t for her. I feel if some vegan friends preach and criticize, it may only make change harder. Change is a challenge for most and many will not or fail miserably and give up. Kathy makes changing how one eats very doable…one step at a time. I know I will get there, thanks to her book’s message. If there are more folks like me out there, and I am sure there are, we will help make a difference, one step, one day, one meal at a time. Because of people like Kathy Preston, in time I think the world will be a better place for all living creatures, humans included. Thank you Kathy! In the meantime I believe we can all do our best to send positive energy-thoughts- prayers of lovingkindness to everyone everywhere everyplace. That isn’t hard to do starting with oneself –”May I be happy, may I be healthy, and may I live with ease and a compassionate heart”. Then think of others–family, friends, neighbors, world leaders, animals, plants, etc– and send lovingkindness to them with the same simple words, “May you be happy, may you be healthy, and may you live with ease and a compassionate heart.” I believe this positive energy too can help spread quantum wellness throughout the world.

  37. Comment by

    yellow-bird

    on #

    I have become a vegan purely from seeing Kathy Freston on Oprah. The first 6 weeks of eating vegan I was very unwell – headaches, incredible thirst, no energy and nausea. I felt so bad I was seriously considering going back to my old diet… I must have been doing some serious de-toxing….anyway I persisted and now I have lost weight, I look younger, my skin is soft and glowing, and I am really enjoying going daily to the gymn. I have cut all processed foods as well, as they always made me sick.

    I’m staying vegan..this is the way I’m meant to eat, my body is showing me that. Seeing Kathy and her vibrancy on tv woke me up. I gag now at the thought of eating meat and of how we kill animals. I may possibly become a social outcast…but I more than hope that with my new glowing health and vitality I will become an example to others of how to be responsible for your own health, how to be compassionate to animals and the planet, how to be a free thinker and break free from societal programming and the crazy belief systems that have been implanted in us since children. ( Oh…I’m 44 – so it’s been a long time coming )

    I think Kathy’s doing a great job, she will change many people with her example, but being overly righteous, nit-picking or fanatical about veganism and condemning others, just puts people off…and makes veganism look anti-social, hardcore and hardwork – she has balance and grace and I only hope to follow in her footsteps.

  38. Comment by

    cmic

    on #

    I have yet to meet a vegan who is not a complete pain in the ass. Whilst the effort to minimise a carbon footprint and lessen animal suffering is admirable, the vegan judgement of anyone who dares not to exist out of their “holier than thou” paradigm, without a doubt,harms the vegan cause most of all.

    If you want to convince people that a plant based diet is healthier, kinder and better for everyone in the long run, then BE healthier, kinder ETC and don’t be some ^?!!&%$%$ that objects to everything under the sun. Even bread has yeast in it – that’s alive, why not make a big song and dance about the bread?? If you’re a “super vegan” it should be off limits too!

    Kathy Freston has done more for the vegan cause than anyone of you lot have with all your sanctimonious preaching and condemnation.

  39. Comment by

    Lynn Cee

    on #

    Kathy Freston, a former model and spouse of former media executive Tom Freston, was on Charlie Rose the other night and she chalked up mostly blunt negative comments from Charlie’s smart viewers, who found Freston vapid and ultra-lean on substance. You really need to take a look at Freston’s titles on Amazon, on topics such as finding one’s soul mate … (no kidding), to her buzz-titled vegan tomes to see that she’s all about marketing (and surely a ghostwriter, given her lack of convincing and consonant presentation).
    There are so many wonderful, substantive, highly-qualified advocates of a vegan lifestyle, some of whom have written bestsellers; why is Kathy Freston getting all of this undue attention? Her Wiki entry is downright flimsy, opaque and undisclosing, and that, right there, should be a big red flag for anyone considering Freston’s lifestyle and health advice: It’s mostly baloney, derivative, recycled and prepackaged in a cute and catchy wrapper, just her like her amusing didactic shop at Whole Foods Market, courtesy of the Oprah show (most families don’t shop like that). Someone needs to take a long overdue look under Princess Kathy Freston’s crown.

  40. Comment by

    Omnivore

    on #

    I think your attitude is extremely counter-productive. It was a big breakthrough for me when I realized that things didn’t have to be black and white “vegetarian” or “omnivore”. Attitudes like yours just hurt the cause. There is such a thing as making an effort to eat more ethically. When I go out to restaurants, I am going to eat just like everyone else because (I know from my stepdad) people who are finnicky even when going out are a pain in the ass. Nobody wants to eat out with my stepdad!

    A lot of people will go, “I can’t stop eating out all together” and decide they can’t be veg. I used to be one of those people. You’ve effectively hurt the cause, because you’re not making them consider the possibility of making small but meaningful changes.

  41. Comment by

    Omnivore

    on #

    Also, yes, I know you are morally superior to me. I don’t have a problem with this. However, you really need to stop acting like it for the sake of people who can’t handle it.

  42. Comment by

    Sarah S.

    on #

    Moyesii, I love you! You said exactly what I would have. And yes, I call myself vegan. VEGAN, not perfect!

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