This is why it’s hard to be vegan

And why I admire people who are able to commit to the lifestyle:

National Geographic News: Sharks Killed for Oil Used in Swine Flu Vaccine

Vaccines being made to protect people from swine flu may not be so healthy for threatened species of sharks. That’s because millions of doses of the pandemic H1N1/09 vaccine contain a substance called squalene, which is extracted from shark livers.

Animal products and by-products are hidden in so many things…I don’t know how vegans keep up. (I’m guessing impulse buying becomes a thing of the past.)


6 thoughts on “This is why it’s hard to be vegan

  1. 1 – squalene is in the adjuvant for the vaccine. Non-adjuvenated vaccine is available, particularly for pregnant women and other groups.

    2 – most vaccines are made using animal products, e.g. they are cultivated in eggs. I’m pretty sure most vegans are aware of this.

    3 – most vegans are vegan by choice and not by natural or human law. So if they are not aware that the H1N1 vaccine was made with animal products, it will not likely cause them any harm (as opposed to, say, someone who is allergic to animal products).

    4 – Most of the vegetarians and vegans I know are reasonable people and recognize that that their meal choice is an arbitrary (yet virtuous) decision. Meat eaters tend to be under the impression that it’s an all-or-nothing affair. The fact of the matter is, you’re still doing good by simply eating *less* meat. If they are convinced that it is useful to get the H1N1 vaccine, the presence of animal products in its production may weigh heavily, but generally won’t entirely veto getting a vaccine.

    – RG> (Who eats meat and hasn’t gotten an H1N1 vaccine)

  2. I know that vegetarianism isn’t an all-or-nothing thing (and I understand fully that it’s a personal choice, not a natural or human law). But can you really call yourself a vegan if you knowingly use or eat something that is made using animal products?

  3. That type of conversation comes up in the cycling community a lot. “People who don’t wear helmets and don’t obey traffic laws aren’t ‘real cyclists,'” nor, in some cases, are people who don’t ride for transportation/recreation/sport (depending on who’s talking), or people who only ride in good weather.

    Ironically, I see this type of argument on lists of groups whose goal is to get more people cycling, and I think it’s elitist and pointless.

    But then this is why I try to avoid labels, because everybody has different definitions/criteria for those labels (e.g. you say ‘vegan’ means never consumes animal products, ever; I say it’s someone who tries to minimize consumption of animal products wherever possible), which are sometimes hard to reconcile.

    I guess I’m just frustrated because I’ve had so many meals where the entire conversation is a meat-eater challenging a vegetarian to the point of inquisition, with the implied conclusion that if you can’t be a complete vegan at all times, there’s no point trying so you should eat meat. It’s led me to get defensive to this type of argument.

    – RG>

  4. My question wasn’t meant to be an attack or on the offensive, and it wasn’t meant to be an argument for or against anything. It was an honest question, as that’s what I’d always been led to believe “vegan” meant. Perhaps I’ve only ever known vegans who were extremists.

    In any case, I really do appreciate the enlightenment. 🙂

  5. There are definitely degrees of veganism, just like there are degrees of vegetariansim. At one end of the spectrum there are vegans who will not consume or even use anything that involves animal products. So they won’t wear wool or leather. They won’t eat honey or use beeswax candles. And they definitely will not be vaccinated – they would opt for homeopathic vaccinations. Then there are vegans who don’t mind using animal products as long as the animal was not killed for the product and was housed in humane conditions, etc. For vegetarians there are endless variations. I may blog about this actually because it deserves a longer answer.

  6. PS: There are publications and websites that itemize products that contain animal products or were tested on animals. These are strictly maintained and an excellent reference source if you’re not sure — especially for things like soap, cosmetics, medicines, etc.

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