Don Robertson
Don Robertson

There has been a lot of talk, discussion, agreement and disagreement within the Vegan Community about Jennifer Lopez and her recent decision to become vegan.

The star told New York radio station Z100: ‘Being vegan, it’s basically no diary, no meat, everything is plant based and from the ground. Butter is the one thing I miss!'” ” She said: ‘You do feel better. I do recommend the vegan diet because you wake up and feel great!’

Don Robertson, a vegan whom I greatly admire, lends his wise voice to this recent announcement.

Great News! Actress and singer Jennifer Lopez has shifted to a total plant-based (vegan) diet. It’s a wonderful cause for celebration when a person takes such a huge step toward a healthier, sustainable, and more peaceful way of eating. Still, some vegans will insist, that since Jennifer has linked her dietary change mainly to health, fitness, and feeling good (apparently without mentioning animals) on finding her at fault for not being a “true vegan”. I would hope that before we make such dismissive comments we might consider the extent to which we think they might encourage non-vegetarians to connect with vegans through Facebook or local Meetup groups. If the answer is very little or none, we might reconsider our efforts.

My reply to his comment is not polished or edited ( I fixed a couple of typos and misused pronouns). I would love it if you would take a look and let me know what you think.

“When I first became vegan I, like many others, did not understand the scope of what being vegan means. I knew that my goal was to end the suffering of nonhuman animals, but I still wore leather shoes, would bow to pressure in social situations and so forth. In other words, I limited my veganism to mostly what I ate. I am happy to say this is no longer the case.

I applaud people who decide to become vegan, but I do believe there is a spirit inherent in this choice and I do believe that the intention behind it needs to be advocacy for the freedom of nonhuman animals. As we learn more, we fine tune our choices and become true vegans. This is a journey of discovery. And that is laudable.
I think there is a danger inherent in calling a plant based diet a vegan diet, because it is simply not the case. We risk making veganism about us and what is good for us, thus diluting the message. I just don’t think there is any wiggle room.

I am happy for Jennifer Lopez; I am happy for the nonhuman animals who will not be tortured now that she is eating a plant based diet. I hope that she will embrace veganism in its truest sense. But, if she is taking this journey other than for the sake of nonhuman animals, then she is not really a vegan.
Intention is everything in this issue. We must set our intention and let our journey flow from there. Mistakes made along the way become a part of that journey and that is okay.

This is not a question of being exclusive as a vegan. I am all for compassion, understanding, encouragement and inclusion. But, if we do not make the distinction, nonhuman animals may be spared in the short term, but will suffer in the long term.
Think for a moment about the word “baby” and all that its definition means to us. We love our babies, take care of our babies and do what is best for them, because they need our protection. We sacrifice much for them. If we were taking care of our babies only because it was good for us, do you think we would do such a good job?

Language is so important, especially in life altering issues. Why do we think mothers and babies of species other than human are called sows and piglets, cows and calves, by the farming industries? Do we think any of us would treat them as commodities if we were allowed to remember that they are beings with the same relationships we hold so dear in our own lives?

I would love to be able to reach out to Jennifer and congratulate her on her switch to a plant based diet and to offer her some help in understanding what veganism really is.

Annie’s Vegan View

It seems to me that there can be, as Don points out, dismissive comments made within the Vegan Community judging those within and without. Some of these comments can be very rude and unkind and vulgar. I definitely do not agree with this tactic, nor do I use it when I advocate for nonhuman animals. It is a matter of respect, as a good friend of mine once said to me.

But, I do not feel that clarifying, in a respectful manner, the definition of veganism is, in any way condemning the people who misuse it, whether by design or by error.

Protecting the integrity of the definition of being vegan will help people to choose veganism for the sake of the nonhuman animals and the suffering they endure at our hands. Veganism is not about us or for us even though it does benefit us. Therein lies our salvation.

May all beings be happy and free.






  • May 19, 2014 at 1:29 pm

    Most of the people do not know about what “Veganism“ means. There is and will be a constant education to do to explain what it is. It is not bad that people would like to improve their eating habit. It is a step in the right direction. There is one more person today that will eat less meat and fish. Let`s inform her about veganism.

    • May 20, 2014 at 10:24 am

      It is always good to have people on one’s side. and for me, inclusion is the way to go. Being vegan is a gift one can give to oneself for the sake of all the nonhuman animals out there. I am always happy to inform, now that I am starting to understand what it really means to be vegan.

  • May 19, 2014 at 2:13 pm

    Is it about you, or is it about them? If it’s about you, then it’s plant-based, if them, vegan. So I think you’re very right about making that distinction. Having said that, I struggle with the “either you’re vegan or you’re not” dichotomy because I want more folk to aspire to vegan ideals even if it’s not always for the best reason. The less animal consumption there is, the better, and with so few of us being vegan in the first place (let alone because we don’t believe in animal use), I’m not sure if we can afford the luxury of wanting people to identify as vegan for what we think is the right reason.

    But I tend to go back and forth on this issue, because well, I’m an imperfect vegan for sure. 😉

    p.s. found your blog via some thoughtful comments you left on Honk If You’re Vegan, another blog I recently discovered…

    p.p.s. I may have articulated my thoughts better in this post:

    • May 20, 2014 at 10:34 am

      I think that it is about the nonhuman animals. I definitely agree that less nonhuman animal consumption is very important. That is why I struggle a bit with the differing views of abolitionists and welfarists. I believe in abolition but if I could do one thing today to reduce the suffering of a nonhuman. animal, I would. If I were to condemn anyone for not understanding the true meaning of veganism, I would be condemning myself as I was in that position not too long ago. And I am still learning. That is why I try to keep my intention simple, reminding myself every day that this is not about me.
      Don’t you just love Celeste and her blog ? I am glad that you found some of my comments thoughtful. Thank you for that.
      On another note, I tried to check out your blog. I think I have read the post to which you are referring, but I get a blog not found notice. I will try again.
      Many thanks, Anne

  • May 21, 2014 at 11:20 pm

    Anne, I agree with you when you say language (words) is important. You’ve explained your point clearly and succinctly. There is a difference between eating a plant-based diet and living as a vegan. As you said, it’s a journey and while it can be different for each one of us the outcome is the same and it’s life changing.

  • May 22, 2014 at 6:51 am

    Hi Cindy, Good to hear from you. I like the term living as a vegan! Being vegan has certainly been life changing for me. As Ellen, in the documentary Veducated says to the creator of said documentary, “Thank you for the gift of being vegan”. It is for me, a very authentic way of living which brings with it a measure of peace, even though I now know more about the treatment of nonhuman animals within our cruel practices for our own pleasure. A plant based diet seems like logical place to start this journey. It is what I did. I still wish that I had understood sooner what it really means to be vegan. I was happy when my daughter pointed out the difference to me. It did help speed things along.Many thanks, Anne

  • May 25, 2014 at 10:54 pm

    Yep, it’s definitely about the animals. I always say that even if veganism was bad for my health (which fortunately it isn’t), I’d do it anyway. And being vegan for ethical reasons makes it far less likely that we’ll go back to consuming other animals.

    Sorry about the “blog not found” notice. Typepad was down for a while with technical issues. Even machines get hit with bugs! 😉

  • May 28, 2014 at 6:03 am

    Hi, I did find your blog-lots if interesting and insightful articles. I also tell people that I am vegan because of the nonhuman animals. There is usually an awkward silence and then my conversation partner either changes the subject or usually says, “Where do you get your protein?” or “I love meat and I am okay eating animals”. Still working on being more informative when these conversations come up.
    Many thanks for your comments!

  • September 27, 2016 at 7:11 am

    Hi Anne!
    I found what you were saying about the language of veganism very interesting. I have never really thought about it in any depth before but you make lots of valid points. As you say if people thought of piglets and calves as “babies” then would they be thought of in the same way?

    I think it is a natural progression to go from thinking of being vegan as mostly about diet at first. Like you, when I first became vegan in April I still wore leather shoes. This is no longer the case and I don’t have any clothing items or shoes made from leather or animal products now. Next I moved onto changing all my household cleaners and toiletries to cruelty free ones containing no animal products and not being tested on animals.

    The next stage was to become an activist to help inform others of what being vegan really means. I don’t think it helps to criticize people for their efforts as it is all very overwhelming at first but as you say I think that clarifying in a respectful manner the definition of veganism is in no way condemning the people who misuse it. As you say it is about intention.

    Veganism isn’t about us. It is definitely about the animals but the benefits to our health and the planet are certainly a nice side effect.

    Your website does a very good job of clarifying this definition and helped me realise the true meaning of being vegan.


Leave a Reply