What Is an Industrial Vegan? Craig Ferguson's 'The Hustler' Has Vegans Wondering

The term “industrial vegan” seems to be making its way around the internet, but what does it actually mean?


Jul. 16 2021, Published 2:15 p.m. ET

What is an industrial vegan?
Source: Getty Images

If you’re unfamiliar with the term industrial vegan, you’re not alone. This fairly new descriptor entered the vernacular in June of 2021, when actor Craig Ferguson first questioned the meaning of so-called “industrial veganism” on his ABC game show, The Hustler. Since then, the internet has been abuzz with folks trying to understand what exactly defines an industrial vegan.

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What is an industrial vegan?

The truth is, there is no such thing as an industrial vegan — not yet, anyway. According to The Vegan Society, regular veganism is defined as a way of living that excludes all forms of exploitation and cruelty to animals. Vegans do not use animals for food, clothing, or any other purpose.

Craig Ferguson
Source: Getty Images
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Craig Ferguson brought up "industrial veganism" on his show, 'The Hustler.'

The term first appeared on the television game show, The Hustler, hosted by Craig Ferguson. According to the ABC website, the premise behind the show is that one of the five contestants on each episode secretly knows the answers to all the trivia questions presented by the host. The five contestants work together to build a collective prize pot that increases with every correct answer.

Meanwhile, the “hustler” — the contestant who already knows all the answers — must keep everything secret in order to eventually win the pot for themselves. By the end of the game, two contestants have been anonymously eliminated and the remaining three must decide the true identity of the hustler. If the hustler is found out, the two other contestants win the pot. If they aren’t, the hustler wins it all.

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Are there different types of veganism?

According to Veggie Visa, there are at least four different types of vegans out there: ethical vegans, environmental vegans, health vegans, and religious vegans. Based on the descriptors themselves, it’s easy enough to guess the reasons behind why the folks in each of those categories have chosen a vegan diet or lifestyle.

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Ethical vegans tend to choose veganism because they are firmly against cruelty to animals, while environmental vegans tend to go that route because of animal agriculture's contribution to the climate crisis. Health vegans do so because of the nutritional value of a balanced vegan diet, and many athletes actually swear by a plant-based diet. Religious vegans, such as those who practice Jainism, choose veganism because the diet is part of their spiritual beliefs.

Within those overarching groups, there exist many other subcategories as well. Those who follow certain dietary restrictions even within the auspices of their vegan diet are a prime example. Take raw vegans, who eat mostly fruit, vegetables, nuts, and seeds, according to The Focus.

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There are also dirty vegans or junk food vegans. Dirty vegans tend to be considered ethical vegans, who have adopted the lifestyle for the animals, but still wish to enjoy vegan versions of all the old junk food they used to love. Think plant-based burgers, pulled jackfruit BBQ sandwiches, and mountains of french fries.

Just because the term industrial vegan hasn’t been officially coined as of yet, does not mean that it won’t eventually become a part of our collective terminology. Who knows, maybe one day we will learn what an industrial vegan actually is. But for now, it’s little more than an off-hand comment by a practiced "hustler."

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