So, Ellen DeGeneres is back in the news with the announcement of her new clothing and shoe collection. She is in the proverbial lentil soup, seemingly for using leather and merino wool in these lines. As we all know, it is definitely not okay for vegans to buy, use or promote these cruelty born “products”. This is not the first time Ellen and her confusing messages about her veganism have come spinning onto my radar. I wrote a post about this last year and think it is well worth revisiting before I comment about the latest scoop. Without further ado:
Reposted from March 4th 2014
I did not watch the Oscars on this past Sunday night, but the next morning I did peruse the internet to see who had won what. There are some very talented actors out there and I am happy to see when they are rewarded by their peers for some of this great work.
Ellen DeGeneres, who hosted the biggest Hollywood event of the year, passed out Pizza to some of the audience as part of a comedic routine. Okay, a bit like this is not unusual for Ellen and can often be quite amusing
But, boy, was I surprised and disturbed to hear the answer to the question Ellen posed to the delivery person.
What kind we got here?
There was Cheese Pizza on the menu. She did not mention that it was plant based Cheese Pizza. I also read that there was some pepperoni lurking in the mix, but have not been able to confirm that. In her favor, there was also some plant based pizza.
What is up with that? As many of you may know, Ellen did tell the world sometime in 2008 that she had become vegan. In an interview with Katie Couric in 2010, Ellen explains her reasons for making this important, kind and compassionate decision:
It (animal rights/welfare) is just about the right to be left alone.
I do it because I love animals.
These are beautiful and seemingly sincere statements that fit well into the The Vegan Society’s 1979 definition of veganism:
The word “veganism” denotes 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 humans, animals and the environment. In dietary terms it denotes the practice of dispensing with all products derived wholly or partly from animals.
Brilliant, right? But here is where things seem to get a bit muddled.
In 2008, Ellen became a spokesperson for Cover Girl, which is neither a vegan nor a cruelty free company. This means that they test ingredients and products on helpless animals and use animal by products as ingredients in their formulas.
In 2011 Ellen announced that she was launching a new website called Going Vegan with Ellen, which has been renamed Ellen’s Healthy Living. Now, I checked it out and it seems to be a completely vegan site, the recipes are plant based and The Tips, The Famous Vegans and the Gentle Barn are all about veganism.
Late in 2012, in a segment on her show, in a conversation between herself and Ellen Pompeo, DeGeneres said:
We have neighbors that have chickens … we get our eggs from those chickens, cause they’re happy, they’re really happy chickens.
Apparently there was a huge uproar from vegan and animal rights activists. Now it has been noted by some that Ellen did not say that she herself eats the eggs. This is in fact, true. This is a matter of interpretation, but in my view, the word “our” implies ownership and participation in some regard. My understanding is that Ellen did not respond to their comments, some of which were respectful, many of which were not.
I must say that I am still confused and somewhat disappointed by the latest happening at the Oscars. One could argue that Ellen is on her own personal journey of discovery in terms of what it really means to be vegan. She has most likely made some false steps along the way. Heck, I think many of us have been there. But it has been a while since she announced that she had become vegan-since 2008. She has had six years to draw her line in the sand.
Annie’s Vegan View
By definition, veganism is a truth that eschews, wherever practicable and possible, the exploitation of nonhuman animals.
Veganism is not a lifestyle choice or a diet for health (unless we are talking about the health of nonhuman animals caught in all of our death for profit industries) or an inconvenience to be set aside in favor of a comedy bit.
I get it-some thought it was funny. But consider the powerful message that Ellen could have conveyed if the cheese and pepperoni had been plant based.
May all beings be happy and free.
So, it seems that, after fast forwarding to September of 2015, the old adage still applies.
The more things change, the more they stay the same.
Ellen still says that she is vegan, that she does not eat animals. Now, with all due respect, I would like to know how she defines the word vegan . This is such a murky subject out there in the world at large with so many misconceptions swirling around in all media. Many vegans and animal rights activists have been chastised for being extreme, exclusive, demanding perfectionists because we insist that veganism is actually a universal truth. It is not a diet, not a journey for humans discovering themselves, not a fad, not a belief. Ridiculous descriptions like Raw, Before Four, Ethical, Dietary and the like abound in the news, on blogs and websites and in diet and health cookbooks.
For the sake of clarity, not condemnation, let’s all understand, once and for all, that veganism is about the animals who are intentionally being exploited and who suffer incalculable harm as we speak. We need to continue disabusing people of the notion that veganism is about anything other than returning freedom to said beings and letting them live in peace as they see fit. We accomplish this by continually repudiating the “fad term” of the day, by reiterating the definition of veganism, by being a pebble in the collective shoe of non vegans. Vegans do not, “wherever possible and practicable” buy, use, consume or profit from the exploitation of other species for their flesh, secretions, fur, wool, skin, for entertainment, for medical research and product testing.
Annie’s Vegan View
If Ellen does indeed, like so many others, not understand the meaning of the word vegan, then we need to ask her respectfully to inform herself and to adjust her actions to reflect her declaration or to start calling herself plant based.
May all beings be happy and free.