And if you're not "indignant" about the lack of commitment to the vegan ideology, then you are ignoring a problem that will only get worse and that will reduce our credibility as a serious movement trying to affect change.
The last time that I sat down to write a post, I had a hard time doing it. I typed out my thoughts, only to erase them and start over. I did that for days on end until, finally, I realized that I just needed to walk away from my computer. And so I did.
What spurred me, a self-proclaimed internet junkie, to just walk away from my computer? (I even, shockingly, shut. it. down.) Glad you asked.
It all began with a certain so-called “vegan” company and an article that they published about how to “live by example” as a vegan. The Quiet Influence of Living by Example: Ten Tips, by Lisa Cottrell-Bentley is one of the most infuriating articles I’ve read in a long time and I’m stunned that more people haven’t said anything about it. The article, in case you didn’t click on it, is about how to be “mainstream” without “repelling” non-vegans. No, really- it is. And her tips? Her bullshit tips? Yeah, they are things like,
“Advertise it as “green”, not vegan. For a variety of reasons, people are scared of the “v” word. Yet, “going green” is popular currently, so go with the flow on that!”
“If you must use a “v” word, emphasize Vegetarian. People don’t bristle when hearing that.”
Let me tell you right now, I am the one bristling– over the use of term vegetarian (And “green,” because like I’ve said before, Green is the New Fat-Free)! I can’t imagine a vegan would ever tell you to “emphasize vegetarian instead of vegan,” it baffles me. Let’s play a game. Let’s change a few words in Cottrell-Bentley’s tip and see if it holds a similar meaning…
- Advertise it as “Christian”, not Wiccan . For a variety of reasons, people are scared of the “W” word. Yet, “Christianity” is popular currently, so go with the flow on that!
Not quite the same thing, is it? Well, for vegans, vegetarian isn’t the same thing either. (I can’t believe I have to point this out to someone who is obviously educated) For some, there is no difference between a vegetarian and an omnivore and so it can be considered offensive to some- like me for instance.
You know, vegans have a hard time already, don’t we? We fight for a cause that most people can’t wrap their heads around because they’ve been fed mainstream bullshit all their lives. Most have grown up believing that meat and dairy is essential for good health, and that animals are here solely for human use. This mainstream idea is, of course, what vegans fight against every day- in every single conversation that is held about animal use. And don’t mistake me, I don’t mean we are all out there being “in people’s faces” or doing something that is illegal- you can fight a battle with respect and intelligence too. But vegans are making it harder, the problem bigger, when the message is diluted so it “fits in” with the mainstream.
How are we ever going to get anywhere if we can’t be honest with each other and the non-vegans? Why hide your ethics from someone who probably needs to hear your views the most? Why waste the opportunity to educate respectfully? Why hide behind a lie? Do you think that, by lying, you’ll be sending a positive message to non-vegans? That they would take you at your word that veganism is important, even if you won’t mention it in passing because you don’t want to lose their money? Whatever. That ain’t veganism people, that’s bullshit. Candy-coated bullshit, or what I call candy-coated veganism.
For the animals, veganism is life or death. That’s it. Your choices in life either spares an animal or it doesn’t. That’s what veganism is about. Vegans make choices to minimize and eliminate, as much as possible (from educated earnest attempts), animal products from their lives. And before you start in on me, I am aware that I will never fully remove every animal product or by-product from my lifestyle. But my choices in consumption are done so with care and never without investigation. I read labels, I look up ingredients, I look up companies, I look up words I don’t know on labels- I do my best to be educated. Let’s solve the billions of animals consumed each year for food, then worry about the mice in the fields being killed during harvests. One death isn’t more meaningful over the other- they are both sad. But one is choice, the other is the unfortunate result of having to farm on larger and larger scales. It isn’t the same thing.
Veganism is important, it means a lot to me and I’m proud of my own evolution and advocacy work. I’m one of those folks who believe in living by example, so the article touched a real nerve with me. I know the stereotypes surrounding vegans, it’s my job to make sure that I don’t perpetuate the ones that aren’t true. Vegans are not tree-hugging, hemp wearing, crazy (and angry, people love to say how vegans are angry) people who love worms more than humans (and eat nothing but twigs and berries or tofu). We are smart, insightful, compassionate people who (eat really freaking good) have evolved into veganism (that may wear hemp, that may hug trees – but that doesn’t mean that one is exclusive of the other). So I try to keep myself in check. It’s been my belief that you can afford someone respect, even if you don’t agree with them, while still debating points. It’s also been my belief that it’s important, vital even, to support other vegans in their endeavors. It’s that whole Vegan Unification thing, you know?
I realized something after trying to write a post about that article, the reason I couldn’t write the post is because I was trying to censor my response because I felt bad about calling out another vegan. But I was wrong. How can veganism ever be efficacious if there’s no consistency in the ideology? Too many “vegans” are too willing to let their ideals fall lax for a perceived “greater good” or to avoid conflict. A vegan telling another vegan to advocate for veganism by calling it vegetarianism is outrageous and someone should say so. That’s like telling a child to conform to peer pressure in order to “fit in.” It’s bullshit and it pushes the vegan movement back. Animals deserve nothing less than ideological purity. And if you’re not “indignant” about the lack of commitment to the vegan ideology, then you are ignoring a problem that will only get worse and that will reduce our credibility as a serious movement trying to affect change.
Stand up for your beliefs and the animals, do it respectfully and intelligently. If you don’t- who will?