My concern with questions on this basis is that there's a strong danger of them just being opinion. There's no governing body of vegetarianism and veganism that decides what does and doesn't count, it's a personal choice on what a veg*n considers acceptable.

For example this question

Many plants need animals to grow (pollination, worms digging up the soil, etc.); when is it still vegan?

It's now closed as opinion based, because the answer is really just "it depends on what a person thinks". It could possibly be reformed into something more specific asking about how many worms might be harmed by farming, but in this state it's not useful.

Similarly, one might want to ask "Can vegans eat honey?" but there's no real consensus on that. However one could fairly ask about whether honey bee farming has negative environmental effects, or if honey bees suffer in any way from being farmed.

What do people think? Should these questions be closed as opinion based, get a custom close reason or maybe have canonical question/s about the broad definitions of vegetarian, veganism and similar lifestyles?

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  • Please change "Can vegans eat honey?" to "Can vegetarians eat honey?". Please learn what veganism is before using the word.[dictionary.com/browse/vegan?s=t] – user177 Feb 1 '17 at 17:59
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    @Nephenine I know the difference, I do mean vegan specifically since it's more debatable than vegetarian (where it's assumed to apply to meat/fish primarily). Plenty vegans abstain from honey, but I know not every vegan does. – SuperBiasedMan Feb 1 '17 at 18:01
  • When you say "vegan" are you perhaps referring to personal identity? I'm thinking of veganism objectively so to me if (in a given moment) you consume honey than during that moment you are not a vegan, though you might be in the next moment depending on your behavior. – user177 Feb 1 '17 at 18:06
  • Honey is about as Vegan as Cheese, so maybe not the best example. I'd rather the site doesn't turn into every question being 'is X vegan' though – dsgriffin Feb 1 '17 at 18:09
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    @Nephenine please don't try to put veganism in a box. Different people have different opinions of what's vegan and what isn't. Just because a major dictionary says something doesn't mean it's applicable to everybody. – Riker Feb 1 '17 at 19:54

No, because everybody's opinion will be different, and there's no right or wrong choice.

In a similar vein to my answer here, I think that veg*nism is a pretty broad term.

Some people are vegans not to hurt animals, some are vegans to avoid unhealthy food, and some are vegans because of medical conditions. Yes, the latter two are much rarer (and the last one almost unheard of), but that doesn't mean they're not valid reasons.

SE isn't a site to put everybody in a box. We should be as open-minded as possible.

These questions inherently divide people, and that's not a mindset we want to cultivate.

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  • I'm downvoting this post because it doesn't reflect the de facto standards that have evolved on the site. I could only upvote this if we actually started closing all the "is it vegan" questions. – Nic May 14 '18 at 9:04
  • @Nic to be honest? I'd be in favor of doing that. I don't think that's really a good fit for the SE model, but the rest of the community seems to disagree. This post is somewhat outdated though, thanks for mentioning that. – Riker May 14 '18 at 21:31

Yes, let's keep questions about what is/isn't vegetarian.

Over the first year we have developed a significant body of questions about whether things are vegan and I've been curating a tag for those questions. Here's the rationale I wrote in the tag wiki.

Many people who embrace a vegan lifestyle are satisfied to follow a baseline definition of veganism.

However, some people want to take a deeper look at the products we produce, and really take veganism to the fullest extent possible as suggested by the core definition.

This tag [is-it-vegan] is for questions that go beyond the baseline of veganism and really explore the edges of is considered vegan.

I think that the chance of dividing people is reduced when viewing questions from this perspective.

As far as subjectivity, several questions and answers have done a good job of identifying a specific definition and then exploring that definition. For example, there are trademarks and certification programs that verify products as vegan, and it's often possible to answer within those frameworks. Questions about whether products are vegan are a lot more answerable than whether people are vegan. I don't think we need to ban these questions out of a fear of subjectivity, we just need to be vigilant to make sure that answers are providing a minimum amount of nuance, rather than just answering "yes" or "no".

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