By Published On: 28 February 2013968 words4.9 min read

AnneHathaway

I’ve read more tweets, Facebook posts, and “news” stories about Anne Hathaway wearing vegan shoes and mentioning vegan ice cream at the Oscars this week than I can count.  I’ve even had my own discussion about her this week and it was that conversation that spurred this post.

Whenever I start talking about vegan celebrities I get unfollowed on Twitter, unliked on Facebook, and I’m told I’m condescending.  Perhaps it’s my natural aversion to idolizing celebrities, perhaps it’s my sweeping generalization that celebrity culture as a whole is absurd, or perhaps it’s my views on veganism itself that pisses people off.  I’d like to say I’m sorry about it, I really would- but I’d be lying.  I don’t get worked up over seeing someone who starred in a movie or sang a song eat a vegan meal that one time, just like I don’t get excited over Meatless Mondays.  I’m not saying that these things don’t have benefits, of course any time that someone leaves an animal off of their plate it’s a good thing.  But celebrating these types of things as “wins” baffles me, I always feel like they miss the vegan point.

And oh, people hate that.  They do.  They think that every step deserves a celebration- a party of fanfare, tweeting congratulations, write-ups on popular vegan blogs.  If you aren’t celebrating alongside them it’s because you’re a compassion-less asshole who doesn’t recognize that everyone gets to veganism in their own way and time.  Worse, you’re part of the vegan police.  That elusive group of people who troll the internet looking for people who muck up veganism so that they can attack them with barbed words in the form of comments.

I’m none of those things.  I’m a thoughtful, compassionate person who approaches each conversation with respect and an open mind.  I’m that person that will actually sit down and have a long conversation with anyone about anything because humans are just so damn fascinating to me.  I’m that person who actually wants to talk about the ethics of veganism, even if we are on separate sides of the slaughterhouse.  But also, I’m that person who is going to speak her mind- I believe that respect does not equal acquiescence.

When I say that I don’t consider someone a badass for putting on a pair of vegan shoes, it’s not because I’m being an asshole.  It’s because I don’t think it’s badass to wear shoes.  Most everyone wears shoes.  If I say that Kevin Bacon ordering a vegan cookie one time at a restaurant isn’t vegan news, it’s not because I’m being a jerk- it’s because it’s not news.  It’s gossip and it doesn’t require a celebration.  It doesn’t help the animals, not in any meaningful way.

So when I saw that Anne Hathaway wore her vegan shoes and talked about vegan ice cream on the same night she also wore a custom designed silk gown, I grouped it into the same category I usually do with other celebrities- fluff.  But I couldn’t get it out of my head.  I didn’t know much about Anne Hathaway as a person, I admit.  I don’t know how she came to be vegan- if she does it for her health or for the animals, I still don’t, but I had read some quotes by her that sounded pretty ethical and it was just confusing.

After some research, some conversations, and a lengthy Facebook discussion, I found out that Anne is a new vegan just starting out.  Or, that’s what I was told.  I still have no idea what’s true about Anne Hathaway, I don’t know her.  But the general consensus is that she’s still learning about veganism and is trying to move in the right direction.

I keep thinking about that.  It reminded me of my vegetarian days.  I honestly thought that I was doing the right thing for animals.  I didn’t eat them but I still consumed dairy in the form of yogurt on a very regular basis.  I didn’t know about the connection between dairy and veal- I didn’t know that cows didn’t produce milk continuously their entire lives.  I didn’t know about the lives of animals.

If I think back, I had been taught at a very early age that cows produced milk- no one ever explained how and I just assumed it happened on it’s own.  Every cartoon I watched, coloring book I had, story I read- they never mentioned one time that a cow doesn’t produce milk unless she has a babe to feed.  Similarly, I was never informed that a lobster isn’t red unless cooked, chickens don’t get pregnant, or other facts about the lives of animals.  Instead I was fed the same fairy tale that all children are fed- farm animals live on a picturesque farm with a loving farmer and his wife who care for them.

I had forgotten how much I didn’t know in those early days and how outraged I was when I realized the truth.  The moment I learned, I evolved.  I have never, not once, craved a single non-vegan food.  I have never, not once, gone back to consuming animals in any way.  The truth really does set you free.

Anne Hathaway reminded me of the value in sharing information with others and remembering that some people haven’t been given the proper amount of knowledge in order to make good decisions (like more information about the lives of silk worms perhaps).  That, sometimes, vegans do things that aren’t vegan because they have no idea it’s not vegan.  That we all have a lot more to learn about the lives of animals- a lot more to learn and a lot more to share with each other.

It’s a good reminder to have.

Photo credit: Hourstr4n via Flickr

By Published On: 28 February 2013968 words4.9 min read

AnneHathaway

I’ve read more tweets, Facebook posts, and “news” stories about Anne Hathaway wearing vegan shoes and mentioning vegan ice cream at the Oscars this week than I can count.  I’ve even had my own discussion about her this week and it was that conversation that spurred this post.

Whenever I start talking about vegan celebrities I get unfollowed on Twitter, unliked on Facebook, and I’m told I’m condescending.  Perhaps it’s my natural aversion to idolizing celebrities, perhaps it’s my sweeping generalization that celebrity culture as a whole is absurd, or perhaps it’s my views on veganism itself that pisses people off.  I’d like to say I’m sorry about it, I really would- but I’d be lying.  I don’t get worked up over seeing someone who starred in a movie or sang a song eat a vegan meal that one time, just like I don’t get excited over Meatless Mondays.  I’m not saying that these things don’t have benefits, of course any time that someone leaves an animal off of their plate it’s a good thing.  But celebrating these types of things as “wins” baffles me, I always feel like they miss the vegan point.

And oh, people hate that.  They do.  They think that every step deserves a celebration- a party of fanfare, tweeting congratulations, write-ups on popular vegan blogs.  If you aren’t celebrating alongside them it’s because you’re a compassion-less asshole who doesn’t recognize that everyone gets to veganism in their own way and time.  Worse, you’re part of the vegan police.  That elusive group of people who troll the internet looking for people who muck up veganism so that they can attack them with barbed words in the form of comments.

I’m none of those things.  I’m a thoughtful, compassionate person who approaches each conversation with respect and an open mind.  I’m that person that will actually sit down and have a long conversation with anyone about anything because humans are just so damn fascinating to me.  I’m that person who actually wants to talk about the ethics of veganism, even if we are on separate sides of the slaughterhouse.  But also, I’m that person who is going to speak her mind- I believe that respect does not equal acquiescence.

When I say that I don’t consider someone a badass for putting on a pair of vegan shoes, it’s not because I’m being an asshole.  It’s because I don’t think it’s badass to wear shoes.  Most everyone wears shoes.  If I say that Kevin Bacon ordering a vegan cookie one time at a restaurant isn’t vegan news, it’s not because I’m being a jerk- it’s because it’s not news.  It’s gossip and it doesn’t require a celebration.  It doesn’t help the animals, not in any meaningful way.

So when I saw that Anne Hathaway wore her vegan shoes and talked about vegan ice cream on the same night she also wore a custom designed silk gown, I grouped it into the same category I usually do with other celebrities- fluff.  But I couldn’t get it out of my head.  I didn’t know much about Anne Hathaway as a person, I admit.  I don’t know how she came to be vegan- if she does it for her health or for the animals, I still don’t, but I had read some quotes by her that sounded pretty ethical and it was just confusing.

After some research, some conversations, and a lengthy Facebook discussion, I found out that Anne is a new vegan just starting out.  Or, that’s what I was told.  I still have no idea what’s true about Anne Hathaway, I don’t know her.  But the general consensus is that she’s still learning about veganism and is trying to move in the right direction.

I keep thinking about that.  It reminded me of my vegetarian days.  I honestly thought that I was doing the right thing for animals.  I didn’t eat them but I still consumed dairy in the form of yogurt on a very regular basis.  I didn’t know about the connection between dairy and veal- I didn’t know that cows didn’t produce milk continuously their entire lives.  I didn’t know about the lives of animals.

If I think back, I had been taught at a very early age that cows produced milk- no one ever explained how and I just assumed it happened on it’s own.  Every cartoon I watched, coloring book I had, story I read- they never mentioned one time that a cow doesn’t produce milk unless she has a babe to feed.  Similarly, I was never informed that a lobster isn’t red unless cooked, chickens don’t get pregnant, or other facts about the lives of animals.  Instead I was fed the same fairy tale that all children are fed- farm animals live on a picturesque farm with a loving farmer and his wife who care for them.

I had forgotten how much I didn’t know in those early days and how outraged I was when I realized the truth.  The moment I learned, I evolved.  I have never, not once, craved a single non-vegan food.  I have never, not once, gone back to consuming animals in any way.  The truth really does set you free.

Anne Hathaway reminded me of the value in sharing information with others and remembering that some people haven’t been given the proper amount of knowledge in order to make good decisions (like more information about the lives of silk worms perhaps).  That, sometimes, vegans do things that aren’t vegan because they have no idea it’s not vegan.  That we all have a lot more to learn about the lives of animals- a lot more to learn and a lot more to share with each other.

It’s a good reminder to have.

Photo credit: Hourstr4n via Flickr

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  1. KD Traegner March 6, 2013 at 5:48 pm - Reply

    @Debby Sunshine – Thank you!

    @Anne Stinnett – Yes, exactly! It’s important to continue the process of learning. I’d even go so far as to say that this is true for anything and not just veganism :) I’m glad to bring to light things you may not have considered before!

    @Sylvia – I hope so!

    @Nicole – Good discussion and points. I think celebrity culture only has “power” because of the sensationalism that it receives, even from other larger vegan blogs. We continue to “celebrate” every time a non-vegan does something accidentally vegan. While I agree that it helps the animals short term, it does nothing to raise awareness long term.

    @Ligeia – Thank you for sharing your perspectives!

    @joesgirls3 – “great minds” and all that! Thanks! :)

    @Malia Frankel – Thank you for demonstrating exactly what I was talking about. I encourage you to re-read the article, I think you missed some important parts.

  2. Vegan Rabbit March 3, 2013 at 12:25 am - Reply

    This was such a well-written and meaningful post. I loved every word!

  3. Malia Frankel March 2, 2013 at 12:55 pm - Reply

    So you’re saying that people (who through no support of your own) turning vegan or promoting compassionate choices (eating a vegan cookie, wearing vegan shoes) is not worthy of celebration? All steps, all points and all attempts in this world of cruelty and ignorance are worthy. You sound arrogant, even in your last paragraph when you knock Anne’s efforts. Meatless Mondays happens to be a great idea for the masses who are not yet ready, educated or whatever to give up their diet.

    You’re talking from a superior perspective and we don’t live in that kind of reality. We live in a reality of compromises, of meat eaters and of difficult choices. Don’t knock the people who are making headlines for something as irrelevant as a shopping trip when they make headlines for something that benefits the cause for veganism as wearing vegan shoes to the Oscars. Get real. People love celebs, they always have, and if they’re making better choices for animals then that is a cause for celebration.

  4. joesgirls3 March 2, 2013 at 10:21 am - Reply

    I could have wrote this article…you sound so much like me it’s scary..:) Thanks for sharing

  5. Ligeia March 2, 2013 at 9:59 am - Reply

    Thank you for such a good post. It was a good read and I find that I agree with it. There can be a lot of judgement in the vegan circles of others and who is “more vegan”. I have been vegetarian my entire life yet have only become vegan less than a year ago. Only 2 years ago did I learn about silk worms being boiled to death for silk and just now reading a comment by Anne Stinnett, did I learn that some wines are connected to the animal abuse industry. I only wonder what I’ll learn tomorrow. Judging others only pushes them away, I find. Here in Thailand, I hear people judging “those horrible tourists who come here to ride elephants and watch them perform tricks and paint” and yet the same people eat meat, for example. Ever since I got Dengue Fever, I have killed many mosquitoes so they don’t bite me. This can be rightfully judged as well, I suppose. And imagine going through the vegan conversion process in the public eye where criticism seems to have become an art form. I can only imagine the vegan mistakes I’ve made and will make in the future. Thanks again for sharing this post.

  6. Nicole March 1, 2013 at 5:44 pm - Reply

    I think that public comments by celebrities trying to do the right thing are extremely important and I would venture to say that the reason the author does not find them important is the very reason they wouldn’t actually be effective if the world were filled with people like you. You probably aren’t infatuated by the lives of stars. Many vegans are iconoclasts and autodidacts at this point because it is still a new idea to America and we are still going against the grain; but, most people don’t function that way. Many people are infatuated with stars and use them as paradigms. As annoying and offensive as it is, most of society vets new ideas in this way. They see aspects of people they admire and look to assimilate the obtainable ones. Some move past that phase and excel beyond their inspiration, becoming better vegans or what have you than the celebrity ever was. Celebrity veganism or veg inclination isn’t perfect but it does raise awareness.

  7. Sylvia February 28, 2013 at 11:28 pm - Reply

    In this case the celebrity culture is a good thing for veganism. How many people watched the Oscars? Millions probably. How many will admire Anne Hathaway and think, “I wonder about this vegan thing…” and that might be the start of their journey.

  8. Anne Stinnett February 28, 2013 at 9:59 pm - Reply

    I was completely vegan, or so I thought, for a year or two before I learned that some wines are filtered with animal bones. It’s hard sometimes to see things coming that one would never conceive of doing oneself. That being said, although I agree that someone eating a vegan cookie is not news, I do think that every bit helps. Meatless Mondays may not make a big difference by themselves in the number of animals being killed and abused, but anything that helps make the choice to eschew animal products (of any kind) familiar and attainable is a good thing. And taking in to account the way we as Americans tend to hang on the every word, action, and purchase of celebrities, the sight of someone whose films we love eating a vegan cookie or wearing vegan shoes does at least (I believe) help keep these options in the collective consciousness. To perhaps make people consider animal welfare even briefly, and then again, until hopefully they become motivated to change. To do the right thing.

  9. Debby Sunshine February 28, 2013 at 9:40 am - Reply

    Hopefully, Anne Hathaway’s learning process about veganism will continue and we won’t see her in a silk gown next time. I totally agree with you that the celebrity culture has gotten out of hand but the truth remains that it is here and we will continue to be reminded of every vegan shoe worn by a celebrity and every single vegan meal eaten by a celebrity too! This may have to be our #1 method to inform the public about veganism…through celebrities! Oh well. Great post! I really enjoyed it and I also live by “respect does not equal acquiescence.”