In reply to: There are no true vegans. Animal products are in car tires and everywhere
Some have objected to veganism on the grounds that there are no true or pure vegans by virtue of the widespread inclusion of animal-derived products in many everyday items. This complaint, at best, reveals a lack of understanding about the definition and essence of veganism. At worst, it is an attempt to apply standards to veganism that would not be applied to any other cause or movement.
Vegans seek to minimize harm to animals, not be perfect.
Vegans seek to eliminate harm to animals, according to the most widely accepted definition of veganism, "as far as is possible and practicable." There are some items containing incidental amounts of animal products for which there are no viable substitutes or for which substitutes are very difficult to obtain. Automobile tires are one such example.
This situation is beyond our control in the short term. It would be nonsensible to say that because we can't be perfect vegans, we shouldn't do anything. With the wide variety of fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds available to most—as well as an increasingly large selection of processed vegan foods—it is not at all logistically difficult for most to adopt a vegan diet. Adopting a vegan diet would eliminate, by far, most of the unnecessary suffering and slaughter that we pay others to inflict on animals.
Once we stop eating animals, other uses will be eliminated or greatly reduced.
The incidental use of animals in everyday products will take care of itself as veganism gains acceptance and people adopt a vegan diet. Many of the products used, for which there are already alternatives, are byproducts of the slaughter process. As animal slaughter becomes less commonplace, nonanimal substitutes will be used and new substitutes will be developed.
No one objects to other worthy causes just because perfection is unobtainable.
It would be difficult to think of any movement or cause in which perfection is obtainable. No one would say that because we will never completely stop discrimination, we shouldn't try to do what we can. No one would say that because we will never stop child abuse completely that we shouldn't even try. No one would say, for any worthwhile cause, that if we can't do everything, we shouldn't do anything. It seems disingenuous to apply such a standard of purity or perfection to veganism while ignoring it for other causes.
This article was originally authored by Greg Fuller and copyedited by Isaac Nickerson. The contents may have been edited since that time by others.