I have been a vegan since 1983. And through those years, I have met many vegans and most of them are making erroneous statements about what it means to be vegan. I notice it's getting worse and worse as the years go by as the definition of veganism gets unethically watered down more and more...It's very disconcerting. These same "vegans" are also making things even more worse by teaching non-vegans incorrectly about what it means to be an animal rights activist.
So let me give you the facts if you have believed any of the following misconceptions:
#1. VEGANS MUST LOVE ANIMALS.
Nope. Even though most vegans do love animals, you don't have to love animals to be a vegan. I don't know of any person who honestly loves every single animal on this planet--and I don't think anyone does. I certainly don't! Liberating animals has got nothing to do with loving them. Animal liberation has everything to do with justice and freedom to allow sentient beings to live as they want in peace.
#2. VEGANISM MEANS BEING CRUELTY-FREE.
Nope..not exactly. Sure one must be cruelty-free to be vegan but that isn't the main reason to be vegan. Veganism is about being exploitation-free. There's a difference. One example is using service animals. Service animals, be they being used for a business or privately--even treated very well physically--are still animals being used; it is still exploitation and exploiting any being is unethical and not vegan. So just because animals are not being treated cruelly--in the sense that they are not being beaten, starved, or killed, the fact that they are being used in any way is exploiting them. Regarding keeping animals as companion animals, we only do this because humans unethically forced animals to be kept to serve or to be used as companions many generations ago, domesticating them to the point where they have lost most of their natural wild instinct to survive in nature. It's now pretty much a fait accompli where we have no choice but to keep them as "companions" otherwise they would die very quickly in the wild, at a great unjustly disadvantage.
#3. NOT EVERYONE BECOMES VEGAN OVERNIGHT, SO VEGANS MUST NOT TRY TO PERSUADE EVERYONE TO GO VEGAN IMMEDIATELY. EVERYONE HAS THEIR OWN JOURNEY AND STILL CAN BE CALLED, OR CONSIDERED TO BE, VEGANS.
False and totally missing the point of being a vegan. We must teach people the truth and nothing but. They must know what being vegan means, and let them decide on their own whether they want to become vegan immediately or sometime later, but we never give them suggestions (different ways of still exploiting an animal in their journey) of how to get there--and as they go on their own journey, they are not vegans. That is their decision, and one they have to live with if they choose to be vegan later. They must know being vegan means one does not eat, drink, use, or wear ANY animal product item, nor is tested on animals.
No, there is no such thing as a perfect vegan but if one strives daily and honestly to remove as much animal products from their life as possible, this is what it means to be a vegan. I am constantly researching to find exploitative-free items to replace things in my house that is from an animal--or tested on animals. And with SO MANY vegan things around in this day and age--from expensive to free; from intentionally to unintentionally--vegan, there's no excuse to wait to be vegan.
It's devastatingly sad that many known vegans are teaching falsehoods like the above to non-vegans. Just speak the truth in love. Don't insult people by hiding the facts or saying things just to make them feel less guilty. If, for instance, they choose on their own to start with being vegetarian, just encourage them to become vegan from time-to-time and show by example the vegan life.