1963 Civil Rights March on Washington

Anger: n. A strong feeling of annoyance or displeasure.

Outrage: n. an extremely strong reaction of anger, shock, or indignation

I’ve been in the minority all of my life for various reasons- I know what it is like to be discriminated against for simply existing and my veganism is no exception.  So, to combat all those negative stereotypes (think “angry militant vegan”), I try very hard to afford folks respect during a debate on veganism because…well, because it’s the right thing to do.  No one wins in an argument, it’s only through honest debate that we learn what the other side has to say.  Something like that.

There used to be a blog in my reader that was vegan but is no longer.  I kept this blog in my reader for several reasons.

  1. I simply like this blogger and their blog and wish them nothing but happiness.
  2. Veganism was set aside due to a temporary current health situation.*  I had hopes (due to the blogger’s own writings) that they would return to the vegan lifestyle once this temporary condition changed.

*I am not advocating that we should set aside our veganism “for our health” as this statement implies.  I simply understand why some people think that they have to given the society we currently live in.

Then one day, “the” post appeared.  The one addressing the fact that the blogger is no longer vegan.  It’s the Ye Olde Standard, “I’m listening to my body and doing what I think is best for me.”  It’s the same way that every ex-vegan begins a post to explain why they aren’t vegan any longer.  The ending of the post is always something about thanking the people (non-vegans) for rallying around them and supporting their “decision to live a healthy meat eating diet.”  Which, of course, is always followed by a large amount of anti-vegan rhetoric in the form of comments.  How vegans are militant, crazy, and attack ex-vegans.  Somewhere in there is always a reply from the blog owner to one of the people who commented saying something about how they’ve been getting “emails from vegans and, wow, are they judgmental / angry / threatening / yadda yadda.”

Listen, I’m not calling anyone a liar but, I’ve been running multiple blogs for years on extremely controversial topics and I’ve only gotten a handful of angry emails.  And I piss people off a lot.  Just saying.

Then there’s this:

I went vegan for health reasons and personal choice and not for ethical reasons.

That, followed by the statement that they didn’t want to be judged “on their food choices.”  So, what are we to judge this person on who admits to not having ethics about their food choices and puts personal choice over the lives of non-humans?  Their ability to parallel park?  Excuse me, that’s just silly.  After all, it is a food blog that this person is running.

Some people say it doesn’t matter why you’re vegan- it only matters that you are.

Logic would say that a vegan (me) would agree, right?  Well, if you have no ethics about what you are eating then it’ll be pretty damn easy to set it aside at whim.  After all, who stays loyal to “a diet?”  Not the majority.  So, if you are vegan without any ethical considerations, then it’ll be easy for you to become an ex-vegan when the non-vegan cupcakes are passed around the office.

Does that mean I’m hating on all health vegans?  Absolutely notI appreciate that their vegan diet helps the animals. (That, and I rarely hate on anyone) But if you are a health vegan, why not go all the way?  You’ve already proved that you have commitment to veganism through your diet, why not take it further?  I’d support you, I’d help you and so would thousands of other vegans out there.

I’ve been told before that the vegan movement fails because of “bitter, angry, protesting, raging vegans going around shoving shit down peoples throats like the religious right…ANGER never wins any battles in this war.

The vegan movement fails because most people, quite simply, are unwilling to have personal sacrifice in their lives.  It’s too hard, there’s no where they can eat out, they don’t want to have to look for vegan shoes, jackets, or bedding.  And of course- they couldn’t live without dairy.  Veganism means we look beyond ourselves and extend freedom and life to the animals we share this planet with.  It’s the bigger picture and, sadly, most people just don’t care.

It’s hard to hear that you won’t get to eat out as often or have as many choices when you do, or that you can’t buy those cute shoes you love because they’re leather- I get it.  I’m vegan.  But being vegan isn’t about me or you.  It’s about them- the animals that never have a life beyond cruelty, beyond pain and fear.  It’s about starting conversations about hard topics, it’s speaking your mind when something isn’t ethical- it’s being ethical yourself.  And, sometimes, it is about being angry- or is it outraged?

I think that there can be an appropriate place for anger.  It is appropriate to be angry that these animals are being heinously abused.  That’s why it’s called an injustice. It is appropriate to be angry enough to want to do something about it.  Anger can be a powerful motivator when used in a positive manner.  Control it.  Channel the anger into positive by working to help affect change and raise awareness.

[line]All of the gains made that we received in the area of civil rights have come about because the Negro stood up courageously for these rights and he was willing to aggressively press on. So I would think that it would be much better in the long run to stand up and be aggressive with understanding, good will and with a sense of discipline. Yet these things should not be substitutes for pressing on and with this aggressive attitude. I believe we will bring the gains or other civil rights into being much sooner than just standing idly by waiting for these things to be given voluntarily.
– Martin Luther King, Jr

[line]

Personally, I’m angry that the vegan movement has been reduced to an eating plan on so many blogs.  I’m angry that there are more stories about what vegan foods celebrities enjoy than unifying our movement for real change.  I’m angry that this life and death movement has been sugar-coated by the mainstream- turning it into an “every little bit counts” campaign.  And I’m angry that (in trying to make veganism mainstream) vegans have watered down our commitment so that now consistent is equated to militant.  Why aren’t we standing up for each other, standing by each other, and working together to create a larger more influential community?  Why do we continually try to redefine what veganism is so that it will fit in with the mainstream, the very thing we’re trying to change?

And listen, before you tell me about how my being angry furthers the notion that vegans are militant, angry, single-issue, nit-picking, policing, finger pointers- it’s perfectly natural to be angry.  It doesn’t make me an angry person, it makes me angry at the situation.  Anger is an emotion that anyone can have, vegan or not.  It’s what you do with that anger that’s important.

Me, I’m going to use my anger in a positive way.  After all, I am a voice for billions of animals every single day.  I can’t let them down.