Different perspectives on Vegan, Vegetarian and Ethical Lifestyles

When people started to ask me "what does ethical living mean?" I began to realise that there were a multitude of answers and opinions, some of which applied to me, some which did not.

My reasons and choices were unique to me and my individual situation. I could only answer the question according to what ethical living means to me.

There is no rule book to pursing an ethical lifestyle (or at least I believe there shouldn't be!) The advice you will see on this blog and countless other websites/resources is here to help guide and empower you to make your own decisions based upon your own beliefs.

I also think it's really important to share ideas and consider different perspectives at a personal level. Articles and anonymous resources can be great tools, however nothing beats real, identifiable human experience. 

I have found that speaking to others, including my friends and those in my community about ethical issues and their solutions/beliefs has had a profound effect on my way of thinking. 

This informal sharing of ideas from my daily life has served as the inspiration behind this article - which I hope portrays a variety of experiences from those living vegan/vegetarian/ethical lifestyles.

Louise from PaupertoPrincess

Louise from PaupertoPrincess

Hi! My name's Louise and my blog is PaupertoPrincess - it's all about thrifted charity shop clothes and how you can look fabulous, be 100% on trend, and create infinite outfit personalities - all on a bargain budget. I aim to shop ethically by buying 90% second hand, and spreading the word about how much more fun it is than heading to the mall or internet.

 www.paupertoprincess.com

1. Please can you define what ethical living means to you?

I try to buy as much as I can second hand to reduce my waste creation. I don't think you can fight 'fast fashion' by getting people to buy less, so my solution is to recycle through charity shops so each garment goes through several owners and raises money for worthy causes. I source all my clothes, most of my shoes, and anything else I can think of (e.g. homeware) through charity shops, carboots and eBay. It's addictive, thrifty and good for the world!

2. Did you have an "ah ha" moment which lead to the change of lifestyle, or was it more of a gradual transition?

Quite gradual really. An older friend of mine showed me eBay when I was about 13 and I signed up with my Dad's credit card until he noticed how many parcels were arriving! Then as a student my passion for second hand grew as my budget shrank, and on an exchange in America I finally started my blog fueled by the Goodwill charity shop bounty. Since then I've stopped buying almost anything second hand, and have started to become hooked on the ethics as well as the prices. Recently, I did a year long project with a local charity (Lewis Manning Hospice) revamping their charity shops with radical interior designs!

3. Have you encountered any significant hurdles in pursuing this change, or alternatively have you found it very easy to transition?

I've been lucky that charity shops were increasing in number and popularity at a similar time to when I started my blog so I've never been short of options for things to buy. If anything I need a slower supply for beautiful garments as I can't wear them all!

4. Is there anything that you would like to see companies do to help support the ethical community?

I certainly think more shops need to give their samples, excess stock and sale items to charity shops. A lot of places shred, burn, or export the excess stock and I'd love to see charity shops being able to sell more brand new clothes to customers who don't like the idea of second hand.

5. Finally, do you have any advice for others trying to pursue this way of living!

Don't be daunted by the layout or clutter in some charity shops - if you go in with an open mind you can absolutely find amazing bargains! Don't worry about labels or trends, just be drawn to prints, fabrics and garments that make you feel beautiful and powerful.

 Veggie Fashion, Beauty & Lifestyle Blogger. Qualified Make-up Artist, Beauty Therapist and Cosmetic Tattooist, with a passion for Fashion. Digital Media Manager for Right Track Group & Fete Lifestyle Magazine Contributor

www.daniellealinia.com

1.    Please can you define what vegetarianism and ethical living means to you?
For me it means to live as ethical and cruelty free as possible which isn’t just limited to animals 

2.    Did you have an "ah ha" moment which lead to the change of lifestyle, or was it more of a gradual transition?

I went vegetarian initially for health reasons, because I found out that I am lactose intolerant and was suffering with horrendous IBS. The more I researched about vegetarianism, and gained more in-depth knowledge about animal cruelty and animal testing I knew that my decision to go vegetarian was the right one.   

3.    Have you encountered any significant hurdles in pursuing this change, or alternatively have you found it very easy to transition?

To be honest I have found it very easy, and I am lucky to have a supportive family and friends.

4.    Is there anything that you would like to see companies do to help support the vegan/vegetarian/ethical community?

I think companies need to be a lot more honest and open, so that we can make informed choices. In this day and age I really do not think animal testing should be an option at all.
I could go on and on, as clearly not enough is being done about poverty and global warming! 


5.    Finally, do you have any advice for others trying to pursue this way of living!

Educate yourself, stop living in a state of “out of mind, out of sight”
Knowledge is power, you might not be able to change the world single handily, but if everyone pulls together and leads by example the future generation will follow in our footsteps. 


My name’s Valeria and I’m a 29 yo PhD in English literature. In my academic life I struggle to balance my interests for artworks as an aesthetic object in their own right, and their political/ethical outcomes. I wrote my master thesis on the intersection between literature and animal ethics, and I still work in that field. If you’re interested, you can find my work here

1. Please can you define what vegetarianism means to you?
It means more than I can say. It’s intertwined with my personal history, since it came up very early in my life as an emotional necessity (it felt ‘too cruel’ to eat animals) and as time went by became an intellectual commitment to an ethical stance. It is also my attempt to live ethically in at least some areas of my life: whereas my lifestyle is not always ethical (far from that…), when it comes to the commitment to vegetarianism I make no excuses.

2. Did you have an “ah ha” moment which lead to the change of lifestyle, or was it more of a gradual transition?
I didn’t have any sudden revelation. I became a vegetarian when I was 12, and only because my family did not allow me to do that sooner. Even as a small child, I couldn’t understand why people would want to eat animals; I found it unbelievable and disgusting. It was not something I thought of, but an emotional response to what I saw. Of course, as I grew up, I learned to keep my emotions in check – and also understood why people eat meat! But deep down my emotions are the same, and they are now supported by intellectual convictions.
 
3. Have you encountered any significant hurdles in pursuing this change, or alternatively have you found it very easy to transition?
On a personal level, not only was it easy – it was a relief. Since I was 12, though, and belonged to a culinary-traditional Italian family, I had some difficulties in making them accept and support my choice. This may seem incredible, but also some doctors, at the time, were skeptical! This makes me feel very old :)
 
4. Is there anything that you would like to see companies do to help support the vegan/vegetarian community?
More variety, of course, would be helpful – there are many places where it is still difficult to find a vegetarian/vegan alternative. Aside from this, things are different in different countries; I’m Italian, and I dream about suitable-for-vegetarians labels in Italian supermarkets. It would make shopping way easier!
 
5. Finally, do you have any advice for others trying to pursue this way of living?
Not really: if you know what you want, you won’t need any advice. Mockery is inevitable, and it can be hard to take from time to time, but there’s just no way around it. We just have to live with it, and learn how to mock those who mock us!


Hello, my name is Annis,  I've been vegetarian for around ten years, and vegan for the last two and a half - my main motivations are environmental issues and food poverty, though animal ethics are important to me, too. I live in York and work in digital marketing, and like knitting, craft beer and terrible puns.

1. Please can you define what ethical living means to you?

My own ethical lifestyle choice is hard to attach a name to, as I’m mostly vegan but choose to eat/use a few carefully selected animal products on occasion. My reasons for this are primarily environmental and sociological: there is such a sense of entitlement around being able to eat whatever we like whenever we like, and people are happy to detach from the story and process of what’s on their plates if it means they get to have what they want. I’m not fully opposed to the notion of eating meat but I feel that it should be done carefully and consciously to leave as small an environmental footprint as possible, and it’s an industry I don’t wish to contribute to. Additionally, my views on food wastage and poverty surpass my views on animal autonomy and the meat industry – I’m prepared to eat non-vegan foods where they would otherwise be thrown away rather than contributing to a culture of waste.

2. Did you have an "ah ha" moment which lead to the change of lifestyle, or was it more of a gradual transition?

Not particularly. I was vegetarian throughout my teens without any specific motivating ideology, but learning more in my early twenties about the environmental impact of the meat industry and the ethical issues surrounding the meat and dairy industries, as well as the issue of food wastage in western culture, really solidified my opinions. Going vegan in 2013 seemed like the next logical step: the motivating issues are the same, but I feel I’m putting my money where my mouth is a little more these days. It was going to be a gradual transition, but my partner and I found it easier than expected!

3. Have you encountered any significant hurdles in pursuing this change, or alternatively have you found it very easy to transition?

My love of cheese was a bit of a hurdle – I remember eating a last round of cheese on toast to finish off the last block I ever bought and feeling quite emotional! In reality the transition was much easier than anticipated – once the dairy and eggs were out of the house it was much easier to just cook with what was in the cupboards. Other people’s lack of knowledge can be frustrating, but some gentle explanation tends to solve those issues (though I’m sick of hearing that CHEESE AND BACON ARE THE BEST FOODS DON’T YOU MISS THEM I BET YOU DO). Lastly, the lack of choice when eating out can be very disappointing – vegan sandwiches are an absolute nightmare to find!

4. Is there anything that you would like to see companies do to help support the ethical community?

Increased transparency around supply chains, workers’ pay, ethical sourcing and the like – being fobbed off by supermarkets with verbose nothings about the provenance of their palm oil is a pet hate of mine.The vegetarian community is very well catered-for these days, which is a really encouraging step, but I’d love to see food producers making more of those options available to vegans too – the reliance on cheese and eggs in vegetarian food can be very frustrating, and in many products there’s very little reason why they should have to contain these when there are so many more ethically-sound alternatives available – Quorn containing eggs is a good case in point! Better labeling would also be appreciated – companies who specifically label their products as ethically sourced or vegan always get a thumbs up from me.

5. Finally, do you have any advice for others trying to pursue this way of living!

It definitely isn’t the easiest lifestyle to live, but it is getting easier – more and more companies are taking steps to improve their ethical standards or the transparency around their processes, and it’s important to push for these things as far as you’re able – write to supermarkets, sign petitions, make others aware of the potential for change. Do your research before you buy things and keep doing it – recipes and company policies change frequently, so it’s worth keeping up to date. Champion small ethical brands where possible. And stick with the soy/almond milk even if you think it tastes horrid on your first try – you’ll get used to it before you even notice!


Hello my name is Daniel, I have a lifelong passion for the natural world. I love the simplicity and balance of nature, and believe humans have lost touch and become anchored into complex lives. This merely serves to distract us from what is really important in life; expanding within and coming to know our true selves. Many of us are caught in a hamster wheel, missing that invaluable moment of silence, the opportunity to stand and stare. I built wildlife ponds when young, and made a thriving wildlife garden. That bond with nature has remained with me. I followed the sciences and mathematics, studying Biochemistry at the University of York, and now doing a PhD in Biology. I also enjoy learning languages, and computer programming.

1. Please can you define what veganism means to you? 

Veganism to me is following a natural and plant-based diet devoid of any animal products.

2. Did you have an "ah ha" moment which lead to the change of lifestyle, or was it more of a gradual transition? 

I have been a vegetarian for life. I never even remember any decision to become vegetarian. I am told I rejected baby food containing meat. I remember being very young and eating just rice out of a red bowl, while my family had chicken curry. For around two years now I have been following a vegan diet, taking the extra step and ruling out animal products entirely. That was really driven by a desired shift to a more natural and healthy diet. The transition itself was planned but sudden. I lost a stone in just 4 weeks, and now have a stable weight, eating only what I need. A blood test showed me as a very healthy individual, having switched to a vegan diet. 

3. Have you encountered any significant hurdles in pursuing this change, or alternatively have you found it very easy to transition?

The transition was very easy but well planned. There is a barrier to change. People make themselves a comfort zone, settle in it, and don’t wish to step out of it. But really, people gain little from life without overcoming those barriers to change and embarking on new adventures. For nearly two years now, I have been following a strict food regime. I have the same meals every day. Vegan curry, my main meal, at midday, and vegan soup late afternoon. I make large batches every Saturday, and during the week it takes me just minutes to have my meal on the plate. It is a highly efficient way of living, and saves money, time, and energy.

4. Is there anything that you would like to see companies do to help support the vegan/vegetarian/ethical community?

I have always found it easy to be vegetarian in the UK, as vegetarianism is well labelled. It is helpful when restaurants/pubs clearly mark what is vegetarian and have vegetarian sections on their menu. It is helpful when supermarkets have a vegetarian section. Veganism however is more tricky, as many products are vegan but not labelled as such. Seeing more “suitable for vegans” would be very helpful. One thing I note is that restaurants and pubs have very limited vegetarian and vegan options, often just three standard vegetarian meals in the midst of several meat dishes. Vegetarian and vegan foods are much more diverse than that. The plant world can offer a lot more than the animal world. I would like to see companies push more vegetarian/vegan foods onto the market, and I would like to see restaurants and pubs promote vegetarianism/veganism by providing more choice.

5. Finally, do you have any advice for others trying to pursue this way of living!

First, if you’re thinking about it, well done, and don’t stop. By pursuing this change, you will become a much more healthy person, be helping the environment, and not have a guilty conscience. You are not alone. There are many people realising the importance of it and pushing through those barriers to change. If you have been firmly brought up on meat, my advice would be to embark on a gradual transition, first to vegetarianism, and gradually increase the stringency toward veganism. You can start off having less meat, and gradually you’ll see yourself able to let go. Do not feel you are missing out on life’s pleasures by becoming vegan. You really are not. The plant world has so much to offer. If you would like to follow my diet, maximising efficiency and taking control of everything you eat, I am happy to support and advise in any way I can. Please ask :)


I hope it has illustrated that there is no "right way" to pursue a vegan, vegetarian and/or ethical lifestyle. Everyone has different experiences and different reasons/motivations behind their choice.

I would like to thank everyone who agreed to be interviewed for this article! 

As always, please let me know what you think! 

You can email me on bethan@bethanvincent.com

Or find me on Twitter @bethanvincent