Everyone Hates a Preachy Vegan Except the Animals

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Everyone Hates a Preachy Vegan Except the Animals

By |May 9th, 2013|

Everyone Hates a Preachy Vegan Except the Animals

I read an interview the other day from one of my favorite bloggers. This blogger started out five years ago and has successfully built their blog into a full-time job. Generally speaking, it’s a great, informative interview, but something struck me as I read this:

I really try hard to keep it light and fun and totally non-preachy, so that people who are just curious feel welcome.

Something about that statement didn’t sit well with me and still doesn’t.

First, let’s define “preach.”

Preach: /prēCH/ (verb) Publicly proclaim or teach (a religious message or belief).

By definition, is preaching a bad thing? If it is, why do folks go to church to listen to someone preach the gospel? Is the interviewee saying that vegans should avoid publicly proclaiming or teaching someone about veganism? I’m not calling out just this particular blogger either. It is not the first time I’ve read a statement like this. In fact, the past few years have sprung a whole new movement dedicated to talking about “how to be an inspiring vegan without being preachy.” Google it, there are lots of articles about it.

Frequently, I hear this statement during an interview with someone promoting something: a book, a website, a vegan business, or themselves. The interviewee is trying to delineate themselves from those vegans, presumably because they want to appeal to the most amount of people. But in doing so, are these advocates actually promoting stereotypes? Not all vegans are preachy, nor can it be said that all passionate discourse is preaching.

Perhaps they feel as if they are trying to break vegan stereotypes by showing that not all vegans are “preachy.” But does this statement really do that? Let’s look at it another way. Let’s pretend it’s an interview with a successful mathematician, a woman, who said this:

I try to keep math fun and, unlike other women who are poor at math, I really grasp complex equations.

Now, I realize this seems silly. No one would ever say such a thing, but my point is stereotyping. It’s a stereotype that women are not good at math just like it’s a stereotype that vegans are preachy. Stereotyping is wrong. Worse, it could encourage someone not to speak out on behalf of animals for fear of being viewed as preachy.

If veganism is about compassion for animals, then our compassion must extend to all animals, including human ones. And if that is true, then we must extend compassion to all types of humans. Everyone is unique. We all thrive in different conditions: some people love to cook, others do not. Some people love to be in the public spotlight, others do not. Some people love debate, others shy away from confrontation. The world needs all types of people: shy, introverted, silly, extroverted, passionate, outspoken. Indeed, if it weren’t for outspoken people, we would not have had any of the social justice movements throughout history.

The Fifteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution was ratified on February 3, 1870. It prohibits each government in the United States from denying a citizen the right to vote based on that citizen’s “race, color, or previous condition of servitude” (think: slavery). In other words, black men were permitted to vote. Women, on the other hand, fought hard for years, but did not earn the right to vote until August 26, 1920- fifty years later. And although African-American men had the right since 1870, it wasn’t until the 1965 Voting Rights Act that both black men and women were fully protected under Federal law.

(Of course, in many parts of the world women still don’t have the right to vote- or any rights to speak of.)

Black disenfranchisement and women’s suffrage were about rights passionately fought for. Should those advocates not have spoken out? Should those advocates instead have stood by, waiting for rights and equality to be given voluntarily from those who sought to oppress them?

Similarly, veganism is an issue that advocates are passionate about. If veganism is about compassion, and that includes towards humans, then why are we perpetuating negative stereotypes within veganism against vegan advocates? Perhaps instead of proclaiming ourselves to be different from those vegans, we should dissuade others from the notion that one way of vegan activism is better than another.

Let us remember, no one single action or activist style has brought about veganism overnight. And let us remember too, there are injustices being done to animals every single second of every single day. We need passionate voices, outspoken voices, calm voices, and kind voices to speak out on their behalf. We need as many voices as we can raise.  We need to join together, not separate ourselves by advocacy style.  Together we are stronger.

And if we’re all on the same vegan team, shouldn’t we want to be stronger?

Before you leave me a comment about how you know someone who [insert once upon a time statement here],  now is a good time to interject that I realize that there are people out there who are pushy with their veganism. Listen, here’s the thing: We humans are an interesting bunch. What preaching is to one person could be passion through the eyes of another. What I’m saying is that speaking one’s mind doesn’t automatically mean one is preaching. Let’s not judge someone for the passion they feel about animals. Let’s instead admire their convictions and commitment. If we’re asking for respect from others, we must give it ourselves, even if that means we don’t approach things in the same manner. We are all unique, right?

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

Without passionate vegan voices, the vegan movement would  not be as mainstream as it is today. Passionate vegan voices protesting, organizing, leafleting, campaigning, or taking undercover footage speak out on behalf of those who can’t: the animals. They need us. Veganism is a social justice movement. It is a movement about life and of death. It is a movement worthy of our passion.

Let us join together instead of standing apart.

Photo: More Good Foundation

About the Author:

Founder & Creator of Your Daily Vegan. Twitter: @YourDailyVegan

16 Comments

  1. Kat February 24, 2017 at 8:34 pm - Reply

    First off, the word you needed to define was “preachy” –although it originally was derived from the word “preach”, the word “preachy” has a different meaning. According to the Oxford dictionary, preachy: having or revealing a tendency to give moral advice in a tedious or self-righteous way.

    Secondly, the quote you took issue with made no reference to vegans being preachy. The blogger simply says that she/he keeps the blog “light and fun and totally non-preachy.” Whether a blog is about veganism, global warming, right-to-life ideology, vaccinations, or good hand washing techniques, keeping a blog “light and fun” is likely to get your message across better than a blog that is “tedious and self-righteous”.

    Sadly, with public opinion it is often true that one bas apple spoils the bunch. I still remember being harshly put down by a militant vegetarian 25 years ago. I don’t think I ever had any other negative interactions with a vegetarian or vegan, but stil to this day, when I tell someone I’m vegan, I often feel compelled to add “but I’m not a crazy extreme one.”

  2. Sonja Smith October 4, 2015 at 9:25 pm - Reply

    It’s not what you eat, it’s your behavior! Telling people that they are akin to baby rapists, enslavers, that they are sick to eat dead flesh, and all the ways you’ve come to express yourselves appalling, I even been told to just ‘DIE’ , one more meat eater off there planet, and I am currently transitioning to veganism. Vegans aren’t hated because they don’t eat meat and dairy, vegetarians aren’t hated at all, so go figure. Vegan are simply horrible to be around, terrible to other people, because you know, why don’t we just eat dog meat or babies while we’re at it?

    • KD Traegner October 9, 2015 at 10:40 am - Reply

      Hey there Sonja, thanks for stopping by. I’m often told about these vegans who rage against other people and it’s strange, I’ve never met any. Not one vegan has ever told me to die. Isn’t that weird?

      I’m not sure who the “you” is in your comment? Either way, I have to disagree. There isn’t one article or one comment on the whole of this site that has language even close to what you’re using. Are you vegan? I ask because you’re saying how horrible and terrible vegans are for telling people (you) how horrible and terrible people (you) are. So…you’re saying you don’t like it when people do things to you that you do to a group of people? I’m confused.

      • Sonja Smith October 10, 2015 at 9:36 pm - Reply

        Pfft! All you have to do is go to ANY Vegan channel on youtube to find vegans telling meat eaters they deserve to die, have no right to live and/or everyone should be Forced to be vegan. As far as your comment, no one started this shit with vegans, but going into restaurants and screaming at people about why aren’t they eating dog meat, and other such stunts means yes, you’re going to be called fucking jackasses. No message is getting out except vegans are a bunch of assholes.

        • KD Traegner October 11, 2015 at 10:45 am - Reply

          Hey Sonja, you’re back. It’s a little disappointing you don’t seem interested in having a conversation, you seem way more interested in bashing vegans. Again, no one here is using that type of language but you.

          Are there some vegans who are total jerks? Yes. But as a small minority (vegan), the number of vegan jerks is still WAY less than the number of jerks who aren’t vegan. What I’m trying to say is that you can’t judge veganism off of a few people. That’s what you’re doing. You aren’t on YouTube, you’re here. And since you are, I’m going to have to ask that you stop calling us “fucking jackasses.”

  3. […] well constructed articles and not just ramble of me sorting through my feelings on this subject: Everyone hates a preachy vegan except the animals There is nothing pretentious about being a vegan All vegans are preachy, hollier than thou, and […]

  4. ChipsAhoyMcCoy August 13, 2014 at 8:20 pm - Reply

    Complaining about slavery was preachy, complaining about jew discrimination in nazi germany was preachy, complaining about women not being able to vote was preachy, etc.
    “Preachy” is how people who do not want to listen discredit you to serve their own purpose of not having to change. It’s an ad hominem and its used as a distraction from the animal rights debate.

  5. Louise June 12, 2014 at 10:35 pm - Reply

    How preachy is hiii111?

  6. Don Fewox April 19, 2014 at 7:45 pm - Reply

    Thank you KD for your hard work here and for being vegan…I am a vegan that displays a lot of passion..I drive a dumptruck and almost everyday I have to debate “over the CB radio” with the hunter/gatherer types that I must work with..some of my fellow drivers do admire me for being a rebel with a cause but most foam at the mouth when I start “shinning”..at home I feed my birds and listen to new age music and feel at peace and meditate..but at work I have to be a warrior.

  7. Linden February 28, 2014 at 7:20 pm - Reply

    This article articulates so much how we learn to find our own voices, remain true to our own beliefs, and yet, as one of the remarks above pointed out, refrain from coming across as though we are actually morally superior than our audience. While I personally believe that humans actually do have a moral imperative to treat their fellow residents of Earth with kindness and respect, and that veganism is one of the fuller ways to live out that intent, I don’t have to believe that I personally am morally superior to someone who is not practicing veganism, or vegetarianism, or anything else. I did, however, have to choose to open my eyes and look — and I think most people of all times and places prefer to not do so. This is not unique to veganism. Most people have a pretty good innate sense of what is right and wrong — and they simply don’t choose to look, because knowledge generally means if not action, then some sense of guilt. Most people are quite adept at shoving their guilt aside. Sometimes what people call ‘preaching’ is just someone’s points hitting too close to home. I personally welcome the encouragement to be more outspoken — but hopefully dosed liberally with compassion.

  8. hiii111 August 24, 2013 at 2:29 pm - Reply

    The point is that some vegetarians are PREACHY, when we refer to preachy we REFER to a person who makes an over-moralising point, sentence or speech, a person BEHAVES as if they have a sense of moral superiority over other people who differ from themselves, as if the person who preaches is all glorious, holy and a little angel, that’s the shit we hate, that’s how preachy people, no matter what group that person belongs to, comes ACROSS.

    We’re telling people that they are being preachy because they act as if they have morals that we don’t about different subjects, topics, etc, while this is sometimes true, it’s that we don’t give a shit because we don’t have to justify what we do and we don’t always want a point, as if a point excuses anything that is still being DONE.

    We hate over-moralising, preachy vegetarians because they don’t get that part and some of them compare animal slaughtering to concentration camps, auswitz or anything nazi-related shit, while it is nothing near as bad, we dislike them because they have to remind of us how we differ with our different morals, or because they have morals about a subject that we don’t have and we’re fine without them, while some people envy or are jealous of different preachy over-moralising morals, such as vegetarians, pro-choicers or pro-lifers, these are only EXAMPLES.

    So yes, that’s why we can’t stand this shit because they push their moralities on others and they have a sense of over-moralising superiority and we hate the attitude and actions for different reasons that are listed above.

    Does this shit make any fucking sense? ..go ahead and preach, fine, but it won’t change most people, I understand you people defend yourself by saying you only “defend and stand up for what you believe in”, except that you guys simply go over you HAVE to babble out some shit, almost randomly towards somebody else.

    Preachy, over-moralising, aura rainbow-color glowing, halo-wearing, self-righteous, criticizeable, blameworthy piece of shits with a holier-than-thou attitude.

    • ChipsAhoyMcCoy August 13, 2014 at 8:31 pm - Reply

      So I guess those who openly condemned slavery were “Preachy, over-moralising, aura rainbow-color glowing, halo-wearing, self-righteous, criticizeable, blameworthy piece of shits with a holier-than-thou attitude.”

  9. Oozoid May 14, 2013 at 4:58 am - Reply

    It was a church sermon that turned me atheist, so what does that tell you? But I guess I was leaning that way, and I guess that’s what preaching is all about, tipping the balance one way or the other. Perhaps some potential vegans are put off by not wanting to be associated with the self-opinionated sort, but not many are going to be persuaded by silence.

    I don’t think we’re nearly as unique as we like to think, but we are not all the same and we will not all respond to preaching (or any other stimulus) in the same way. Some of us like to be told what to do and some of us loathe it. Talking about stuff is a long-established manner of manipulating minds — politicians and priests do it all the time. Indeed, is morality any more than being coerced into acting against our instincts? So say what you think and let it flavour the pot. Nothing’s better left unsaid. Except sometimes.

    What is a ‘fundamental right’? Until I see an example I refuse to accept there is such a thing. There is nice stuff and there is nasty stuff. There is that which we permit and that which we don’t. There is that which we allow ourselves, and that which we — by ourselves or by our society — are denied. So, personally, I don’t like to see the morality card played. Slavish obeisance is what got us into this mess. Let’s rather encourage people to think about what they do (and eat). Ultimately, I reckon, we each endeavour to live in a way that minimises unpleasantness for ourselves. Sometimes that includes or has the happy consequence of less misery for others, but not always.

  10. Tofu Cat May 13, 2013 at 4:59 pm - Reply

    Interesting points. On the flip side, what often times happens is the more outspoken, passionate, activist some refer to as being preachy or militant, can perpetuate another stereotype by putting down and distancing themselves from the “watered down, passive vegan” who is too concerned with being nice to confront the issues and make a stand for the animals. Likewise, this serves to divide the common ground that could be shared by accepting that there is more than one style of voice for the animals. Much like the many styles of music that appeal to different people, we need as many different styles of voicing our commitment to the rights of animals that we can get. I’m sure many of us who became aware of these issues and eventually became activists, can attest that for some of us it merely took a light tap on our shoulder to get our attention, while for others, it involved being blindsided up side the head with a two by four.
    Some of the activists we most admire and look up to may have been hit by that two by four, and our own path may be traced back to many different styles if we look back through all the layers of influence we’ve had to get us to where we now are. We are but one rainbow of many colors.

  11. Jaime May 13, 2013 at 2:38 pm - Reply

    I think that calling vegans “preachy” in a negative light is a psychological trick that makes us feel bad about speaking out and therefore allowing meat-eaters and the like the ability to continue their practices without feeling bad about it or know the truth about where the stuff comes from. It’s like when a women gets upset she’s told to “calm down” or told that’s she’s being shrill. or sensitive, no matter how valid her reaction. The thing is, is that when one person is correct and they call out another on their behaviour, the guilty party reacts in a way that prevents the other person from calling them out on their behaviour in the future. I hate it. I fall into the trap so many times. And it’s difficult for me being a lone vegan surrounded by meat-eaters who are supposed to be my friends and family. I’m constantly self-censoring and it drives me crazy and eventually I’ll snap on everyone, which isn’t healthy either. When I told my mother that I had decided to go vegan she initially seemed curious about it. Then I said, “Do you really want to know why? Because I’ll tell you and then I’ll show you.” And then she frowned and waved me off, “No, I don’t want to know.” My mom is a good, compassionate person who loves her dog and other animals. I know she would never be okay with the way animals are treated, but she doesn’t want to know, because she doesn’t want to be in the middle of it all and she doesn’t want to have to change either. I find this type of person the most difficult person to interact with, and this is also the type of person who would call me “preachy” if I pointed out where their food and clothes come from all the time.

  12. Animal Welfare Org May 10, 2013 at 1:54 am - Reply

    Interesting comments.

    In my family/friends circle they won’t even discuss Veganism!
    They would rather talk about their friends new carpet.
    Oh poor fluffy wuffy animals, bless.
    I don’t peruse.
    However, they will come across my website eventually and be horrified and embarrassed by their original statement.

    The seed is planted!

    That’s the only way I know how.

    Together we are stronger

    Animal Welfare Org

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