What does the phrase "strict vegan" really mean? My thought is that the word "strict" is added due to confusion about the differences between vegans and vegetarians, and possibly even to perpetuate stereotypes and propaganda. What it comes down to is: you are either vegan, or you're not. Adding this adjective is like how it would not fly to say "I'm a radical feminist" under the definition, as it implies that theres something radical, scary, even negative about equality among genders and those who advocate for it. There is no such thing as a loosey-goosey sometimes vegan. Those are plant-based dieters cheating or vegetarians or just regular omnivores who want to be associated with the vegan movement.

I decided to ask a few friends what words they associate with the word "strict." Popular answers included "harsh," "severe," and "mean." Overall, the answers all had a negative connotation. The most likely reason for someone to look up the definition of veganism is because they don't know what that word means, many of which probably have never met a vegan in real life and so with lack of real life experience with vegans, they now associate the word "strict" with veganism.

There are a lot of stereotypes about vegans and using the word "strict" practically as part of the definition only reinforces these ideas. The only thing that being vegan means is that this person knows about and actively wants to fight against animal cruelty as much as possible. It doesn't mean that they can only eat lettuce, go around slapping meat off of strangers' plates, constantly attend protests, or anything of that sort. While a vegan could do those things, it is not an aspect of the title itself. The title doesn't say that you have to give up anything or restrict anything, it at best implies that one may need to find alternatives to cruel products.

The vegan movement is gaining support every day, and there is only more backlash. Even though the science backs up the fact that there are only benefits to being vegan in terms of your health, the environment, and the animals, the world resists this movement out of what is seen as normal, habit, and the view that it is necessary to consume these cruel products.

The vegan movement is cutting down on pollution and cruelty, helping to slow climate change, and reverse illnesses with every new vegan, and the last thing that this movement needs is more negativity. We know that you love cheese, but there are so many reasons why you should try out some vegan cheeses instead. It might seem like a huge life change, but it's really as simple as reaching for some almond milk instead of cow milk, and being open to hearing why you should is imperative.

If people associate veganism with being "strict," it's more likely that they won't want to hear anything about it, and that is detrimental to their health, the environment, and the lives of billions of animals. We can't afford this kind of association: a dictionary definition is meant to be neutral, just the facts.