Debunking “There is No Such Thing as a Vegan”

I first encountered the proposition all the way back in 1995, when I was researching Vegan, that industrial society would grind to a halt if it weren’t for the countless byproducts produced by slaughterhouses. It’s a silly if not fraudulent argument but one that takes a little knowledge and thinking to refute.

Yesterday, I saw this same notion expressed in a cartoon that makes authoritative-sounding but totally unsupported and largely inaccurate claims. It rounds up several dozen consumer products that are purportedly of slaughterhouse origin. Trouble is, it’s at least partially wrong about pretty much every item on the list:

Tennis strings? In the 1970s, serious players used gut strings exclusively. But synthetics have long since surpassed them in quality and durability.

Cosmetics? Hard to believe they’d even make this claim. Sure, many cosmetics are made from animal byproducts, but it’s easy to find vegan cosmetics that weren’t tested on animals.

Imitation eggs? Every natural foods store sells vegan egg replacer.

Candy? Spare me.

And so on down the list. This cartoon would have been a whole lot more accurate and honest if the word “some” were placed before pretty much every item listed here.

There is nevertheless a kernel of truth to all this: even if we’re Level 5 vegans, you and I do come into contact with animal products pretty much every day. But the key issue is that our use of the sort of products mentioned in this cartoon delivers scarcely a penny to the meat industry.

A couple years ago, when I wrote my Ultimate Vegan Guide, I devoted an entire chapter to this subject. Now that I’ve made the entire text of the book available for free reading at, you can go read that chapter here.

One final point: I am dying to know the source of this cartoon. Can anyone help me? When was the last time you saw something like this unsigned by its creator? To break into speciesist language for a moment: I smell a rat. (Via Reddit.) Link.