By Published On: 23 March 2015823 words4.1 min read

By KD Angle-Traegner, Founder & Editor

Recently, I came across this article that I had started two months ago and, for whatever reason, never published. I re-read it and feel that the conversation I was trying to start then is still valid and important now, so I’m publishing it to see if you feel the same. Let’s talk; I want to hear what you think.

I read this article on Choosing Raw that has stuck with me for the past few days. I can’t get it out of my head. Here is the bit from the article, the emphasis is my own:

. . .my friend Ethan of VeganMos wrote a really raw, honest piece about his participation in vivisection during medical training. It’s not a political discussion of animal testing in medical research so much as a personal reflection on what it feels like to have become attuned to animal rights years after this kind of experience. It definitely struck a chord for me; I opted out of all of my dissections as a pre-med, and I’ve wanted to write about what that was like (and offer some practical resources to other vegan pre-meds), but I’ve been nervous to tackle such a controversial subject in a post.

That makes me so sad. And it’s not the first time I’ve read something like that either. I’ve seen other bloggers mention how they do not want to address any personal ethical convictions on their blogs. Hell, I’ve even seen large animal welfare organizations recommend saying vegetarian in place of vegan as a marketing strategy.

You guys, why aren’t we talking about our experiences and how we navigate our vegan lives? Don’t we need people sharing experiences to show others how it’s possible to live compassionately in a world that isn’t? Why are there vegan topics that are too controversial to talk about? Who decides what those topics are? Is talking about anything other than vegan food controversial and off-limits? What are the rules?

Veganism forces us all to rethink everything we’ve ever been taught, ever learned, and ever thought was true- it’s not black or white. Living in a society prevents vegan perfection and navigating a world not designed for you can have certain challenges. How is anyone going to learn how to live as a vegan if we don’t talk about it? Don’t we need each other? Shouldn’t we learn from each others experiences?

I’m not saying that bloggers have to write about topics that they don’t want to or aren’t comfortable with, whatever the reason. And I’m certainly not judging this blogger either, let’s just get that out of the way right now. I enjoy Choosing Raw and admire the honest dialogue that Gena brings to her blog, and I’m happy for the opportunity to start this conversation.

But at the same time, I wonder about the kind of environment we are building as a vegan community. What does it say that there is trepidation to talk honestly about living imperfectly in an imperfect world? Can we really call ourselves compassionate if we aren’t compassionate with each other? If someone wants to tackle a topic and offer practical resources, then it is only a benefit to the vegan community- shouldn’t we as vegans support them? The answer is yes.

Listen, I try to encourage conversations about tough topics here at Your Daily Vegan. I do this for several reasons.

  1. To help people go vegan
  2. To help people stay vegan

Daria said it beautifully in her post, Vegan in a Non-Vegan World:

In order for us to advocate for non-human animals, we need to be honest about what it is we experience. We need to take a “warts and all” approach. Let’s not pretend that it’s all sunshine and rainbows, because in case you’ve forgotten, the omnivorous, non-vegan world is certainly filled with its clouds and rain, too.

Don’t let our best selves be the enemy of the truth. Let’s be honest. Let’s talk about what really matters. Let’s share and let’s solve. It isn’t fair to expect us to sweep the troubles and quandaries and ill-will under the rug – not to us and not to those we advocate for. Critical thinking about the ins and outs of veganism is something we should all be considering. So, then, let’s drag that line over here, where it’s sometimes messy and hard and sad. And let’s talk through those experiences.

The mainstreaming of veganism shouldn’t mean the silencing of all things vegan ethics; just the opposite- it should mean more conversations about how to live by your ethics in a non-vegan world. The world desperately needs more advocates willing to tackle tough topics, and the animals certainly need them, too.

What do you think? Are there vegan topics too controversial to talk about? Tell me in the comments.

Photo: Alberto Ortiz

By Published On: 23 March 2015823 words4.1 min read

By KD Angle-Traegner, Founder & Editor

Recently, I came across this article that I had started two months ago and, for whatever reason, never published. I re-read it and feel that the conversation I was trying to start then is still valid and important now, so I’m publishing it to see if you feel the same. Let’s talk; I want to hear what you think.

I read this article on Choosing Raw that has stuck with me for the past few days. I can’t get it out of my head. Here is the bit from the article, the emphasis is my own:

. . .my friend Ethan of VeganMos wrote a really raw, honest piece about his participation in vivisection during medical training. It’s not a political discussion of animal testing in medical research so much as a personal reflection on what it feels like to have become attuned to animal rights years after this kind of experience. It definitely struck a chord for me; I opted out of all of my dissections as a pre-med, and I’ve wanted to write about what that was like (and offer some practical resources to other vegan pre-meds), but I’ve been nervous to tackle such a controversial subject in a post.

That makes me so sad. And it’s not the first time I’ve read something like that either. I’ve seen other bloggers mention how they do not want to address any personal ethical convictions on their blogs. Hell, I’ve even seen large animal welfare organizations recommend saying vegetarian in place of vegan as a marketing strategy.

You guys, why aren’t we talking about our experiences and how we navigate our vegan lives? Don’t we need people sharing experiences to show others how it’s possible to live compassionately in a world that isn’t? Why are there vegan topics that are too controversial to talk about? Who decides what those topics are? Is talking about anything other than vegan food controversial and off-limits? What are the rules?

Veganism forces us all to rethink everything we’ve ever been taught, ever learned, and ever thought was true- it’s not black or white. Living in a society prevents vegan perfection and navigating a world not designed for you can have certain challenges. How is anyone going to learn how to live as a vegan if we don’t talk about it? Don’t we need each other? Shouldn’t we learn from each others experiences?

I’m not saying that bloggers have to write about topics that they don’t want to or aren’t comfortable with, whatever the reason. And I’m certainly not judging this blogger either, let’s just get that out of the way right now. I enjoy Choosing Raw and admire the honest dialogue that Gena brings to her blog, and I’m happy for the opportunity to start this conversation.

But at the same time, I wonder about the kind of environment we are building as a vegan community. What does it say that there is trepidation to talk honestly about living imperfectly in an imperfect world? Can we really call ourselves compassionate if we aren’t compassionate with each other? If someone wants to tackle a topic and offer practical resources, then it is only a benefit to the vegan community- shouldn’t we as vegans support them? The answer is yes.

Listen, I try to encourage conversations about tough topics here at Your Daily Vegan. I do this for several reasons.

  1. To help people go vegan
  2. To help people stay vegan

Daria said it beautifully in her post, Vegan in a Non-Vegan World:

In order for us to advocate for non-human animals, we need to be honest about what it is we experience. We need to take a “warts and all” approach. Let’s not pretend that it’s all sunshine and rainbows, because in case you’ve forgotten, the omnivorous, non-vegan world is certainly filled with its clouds and rain, too.

Don’t let our best selves be the enemy of the truth. Let’s be honest. Let’s talk about what really matters. Let’s share and let’s solve. It isn’t fair to expect us to sweep the troubles and quandaries and ill-will under the rug – not to us and not to those we advocate for. Critical thinking about the ins and outs of veganism is something we should all be considering. So, then, let’s drag that line over here, where it’s sometimes messy and hard and sad. And let’s talk through those experiences.

The mainstreaming of veganism shouldn’t mean the silencing of all things vegan ethics; just the opposite- it should mean more conversations about how to live by your ethics in a non-vegan world. The world desperately needs more advocates willing to tackle tough topics, and the animals certainly need them, too.

What do you think? Are there vegan topics too controversial to talk about? Tell me in the comments.

Photo: Alberto Ortiz

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  1. […] exploit the occasional animal? You can’t.How can we advocate for a philosophy, a lifestyle, an ethical stance if we can’t even agree on what the word we use to identify it […]

  2. Jean Engstrand May 17, 2015 at 10:54 am - Reply

    Thank you so very much for starting this discussion, and allowing me to join in. This is the first one of your posts that I have read, and I am anxious to read more, but I had to stop and respond. I am awed by your thoughtful approach to this issue, and your very patient responses to the comments.

    I was drawn to the title of this post, because I am in the uncomfortable position of living in a rural, animal-based world, and I have never found a way to express my feelings about veganism to anyone around me (including and especially my husband.) I think I’ve read every book on the subject, and I’ve tried out every technique I can think of, but I am still talking to blank stares or irritated phrumping (My word. Arms crossed, settling back in a chair with an expression of anger and distain.) So I withdraw into my isolation. To keep from being so totally depressed that I often want to end my own life, I drink a few beers, and try to pretend I’m somewhere else, just to get through my day.

    Let me explain my situation. I am 65 years old, and I’ve been vegan for about 7 years. I was a quasi-vegetarian for 28 years before that. In all those years, I had never know another vegetarian or vegan, until the last 4 or so. Then I helped start a vegan group in a town an hour from here, and I try to keep the group going even though most of the people are not dedicated enough to help me with it. All but 3 (maybe 4 or 5) of the people in it are vegan for their own health. Only 2 others care about animals. So we never talk about the subjects that interest me the most. (I have never even been able to interest them in discussions about human hunger as it relates to veganism.) We only talk about recipes and nutrition.

    Please understand – these are good, caring people, and I am honored to know them. I just don’t feel I have any real friends in the group. The 2 people who care about animals don’t want to discuss it most of the time, or don’t have the time.

    So I am still desperately alone. I am tired of reading blogs that say: If you feel isolated as a vegan, seek out a vegan group around you. And they confidently declare that there are other vegans living in close proximity to everyone in the world that I can relate to. I want to scream at them – Get out of your urban bubble! Come live in Northern Michigan! Tell me where these people are! (There are plenty of groups in southern MI, but that is very far away.)

    Susan – I felt very much in tune with your response. You say that you are starting to find your voice, and that “Certainly part of becoming more willing and able to speak out has been due to building a community of like-minded, passionate people around me, both on and offline.” This is what I need. I, too, am socially awkward, but I know I could be a stronger person if I had just one person I could talk to.

    The discussion morphed from “staying silent” to a “welfare vs abolition” debate, a necessary discussion in another place. But I would like to bring it back on topic – how do we express our ethics in ways that actually make changes in the hearts of caring people, and affects their behavior. And, just as importantly, how can we develop a supportive, ethically-based vegan community online for those of us who are so absolutely, completely alone in the physical world.

    I am so grateful for this blog, and hope you will accept my comments from time to time. But I also think it would be helpful if someone with an online presence can start a page where people can share email addresses to communicate on a more personal level, sharing intimate details of their lives and their struggles that we may not be comfortable with putting out in cyberspace.

    Thanks, KD (and Susan)

  3. Susan March 26, 2015 at 1:23 am - Reply

    Okay, let’s try this again!
    I am quite a shy and socially awkward person, and my natural setting is to go out of my way to avoid any sort of conflict or attention. When I first went vegan nearly 15 years ago, I was the only vegan I knew for several years. For many years I was what I can only describe as an ‘apologetic vegan’, I kept quiet on the issues and spent far too much time trying to reassure my omnivore friends, which often led to them making jokes in front of my at my own expense and me laughing it off. Vet school was another matter. I am thankful that the vet school I went to did not do terminal surgeries, though I still did dissection pracs on already deceased animals. I didn’t know that there could be another way, I don’t know what my university would have done if I had requested it. I suspect they would not have been too supportive. There were a few practical classes I did refuse to take part in (euthanasing chickens in fourth year for no other reason than to get injection practice, for example). I had to go and do prac work on farms. I tried to minimise the activities I had to participate in on the farms. There were things there that still make me shudder and cry. I felt like a total fraud to myself, but I felt that I just had to do these things, to not make too much of a fuss.

    Now several years later I am starting to find my confidence and voice as an activist. This is confusing for those people who knew me before when I don’t laugh at their stupid bacon jokes or want to hear about their meat-a-thon dinners. Certainly part of becoming more willing and able to speak out has been due to building a community of like-minded, passionate people around me, both on and offline.

    I am still shy about speaking out about some things. For years I was involved in the ‘horse world’, even when I first went vegan. While it has been several years since I smacked myself in the head and walked away from it, I still know people (none of whom are vegan, mind you), who love to jump on me anytime I post something about these issues with a smug ‘oh, but you used to be really into this’, which makes me feel like a fraud who has no right to speak on these issues.

    I would love to move my blog a bit beyond food and kitties (though they are two very important things, of course!) to occasionally bring in some discussion of other issues. I would like to be a better communicator, both within and without the vegan community. But I certainly know from my own experience that it can be very daunting to take that first step! But it’s a discomfort worth pushing past and a step worth taking if it helps open even a single person’s heart to what is going on.

    Gosh, that ended up being a giant ramble! Sorry.

  4. Joyless_vegan March 23, 2015 at 1:47 pm - Reply

    As an abolitionist vegan, I find it difficult to talk to welfarist vegans because they don’t engage in actual intelligent discourse. I get the “tra la la, I’m not listening to you, namaste” type of response, and the “why can’t we all work together, we’re all on the same side” crap, which is not true at all. In terms of engaging with someone who used to participate in vivisection but is now vegan and not a welfarist, by all means–I’m up for that. But what I’m not into is half-assed veganism and excuses from welfarists, which seem to be a good number of vegans I come across. Not saying you are one–just saying that welfarism is really getting in the way of good discourse.

    • Captain_Sakonna March 24, 2015 at 12:01 am - Reply

      A comment that starts with stereotyping and ends with a species of ad hominem is a GREAT way to promote intelligent discourse … not. Welfarism is a set of ideas that can be dissected intelligently, like any other. If someone is refusing to have an intelligent discussion, that’s a problem, but it’s not welfarism that is “getting in the way of good discourse,” it’s the attitude of the individual welfarist you are dealing with. And if your attitude is “welfarism is teh evil, I’m not listening to you” then you are shutting down intelligent discourse just as heavily.

      I don’t identify as a member of either camp. I approve of abolition as the end goal of the vegan movement, but I also value pressure for welfare reforms as a stopgap and step on the way to getting there. As “welfarist” tactics were an important part of my own vegan conversion process, I can’t completely discount them as something useful.

      • KD Traegner March 24, 2015 at 7:54 am - Reply

        I know many others who have said similar, Captain Sakonna, that a single issue campaign brought them to veganism. It is a good reminder that there is no right way to advocate veganism. If there were, we’d all be vegan. Thanks for the comment!

        • Joyless_vegan March 24, 2015 at 11:06 am - Reply

          It doesn’t matter what “brought you to veganism”. What matters is that we need to educate others on why we must be vegan and not exploit animals. We don’t need SICs for that–we need vegan education.

        • Joyless_vegan March 24, 2015 at 11:08 am - Reply

          And how many people have NOT been “brought to veganism” because while they are happy to donate to organizations that promote SICs, they do not wish to change their lives in any meaningful way and the SIC-promoting organizations don’t challenge their thinking because it might jeopardize their donor base?

          • KD Traegner March 24, 2015 at 11:52 am - Reply

            True, many people will not change their lives in any meaningful way as a result of a SIC…or anything else (like vegan education) for that matter. But please don’t think that there are vegans out there not willing to challenge the status quo of large animal welfare organizations and their penchant for proclaiming husbandry reforms as victories- there are and I am one of them, so is this website. I’m pleased every time I get to have a conversation about hard topics (like this one) with people just like you. We’re out here. We’re trying.

            • Joyless_vegan March 24, 2015 at 12:20 pm - Reply

              I’m glad, because these are the conversations we need to be having. I am happy to know there are vegans who are willing to challenge the status quo of large animal welfare organizations–I am one of them, and I am glad you are too. We can’t do that by supporting them and advocating other vegans to support them–they need to be dismantled and replaced by a grass-roots movement that is free of the corporate culture. When you have to worry about alienating your donor base, you start to compromise the vegan message and start trying to make your donors feel good about doing nothing so the money keeps pouring in (a la The “Vegan” Society). That does nothing to help animals. We need to get rid of MFA, PETA and other ridiculous welfarist groups like them and get down to actual vegan advocacy. Sure, maybe there are people who won’t make meaningful change because of vegan education, but we can’t expect ANYONE to make any kind of change when the message is obfuscated by these big corporate welfarist machines. If people are going to make any change at all, it will be because they receive a clear and consistent vegan message.

      • Joyless_vegan March 24, 2015 at 11:05 am - Reply

        I didn’t start it with stereotyping. I was fairly clear in saying that has been MY experience with welfarists. I did not end with an ad hominem. And yes, welfarism is most certainly a set of ideas that can be dissected. However, I have yet to actually meet a welfarist who will honestly examine their welfarist ideas with any degree of anything approaching intellectual discourse. And it most certainly does get in the way of intelligent discourse. They are so busy defending all the ways in which they feel welfarism “works” that they don’t take a second to entertain the thought that in fact, no, it doesn’t “work” and is actually detrimental to animal rights. How can anyone say that working with Burger King to phase out gestation crates over ten years is in any way, shape or form a “victory” for animals? It is NOT “helping animals now”; it is not doing anything for animals now. You know what does? Not exploiting them, and educating others at every single opportunity not to exploit them. THAT is helping animals. Welfarism has been in place for well over 200 years, and we are now using more animals in more horrid ways than ever before at any point in our history. So, no, welfarism doesn’t “work” for anyone but those who work with exploiters to make the public feel better about needlessly exploiting animals.

        • Captain_Sakonna March 24, 2015 at 11:12 am - Reply

          ” I was fairly clear in saying that has been MY experience with welfarists.”

          No, you weren’t. You said, “they don’t engage in actual intelligent discourse,” thereby implying all of them. And the end of your comment is an ad hominem because you said that welfarism itself shuts down intelligent discourse, when in reality only people can shut down intelligent discourse — you implied the philosophy was bad because of the behavior of (some of) its adherents. Perhaps this was a failure in communication and not your intent, but it certainly came across badly.

          • Joyless_vegan March 24, 2015 at 11:20 am - Reply

            Oh, you are complaining about a fact I stated. Fact–I have yet to meet a welfarist who will engage in anything other than defensive rhetoric and refuse to talk intelligently on the matter. Call that whatever you want. I was not implying that the philosophy is bad because of the behaviour of some of its adherents–THAT would be a miscommunication. The philosophy IS bad, inherently, and the ridiculous behaviour of every one of its adherents I have come across to date only serves to underscore just how flawed it is. Hope that clears things up.

            • Captain_Sakonna March 24, 2015 at 1:36 pm - Reply

              So … you’d be willing to see blog posts from and/or engage in dialogue with a welfarist, so long as his conversation is intelligent. You have not yet met such a person, but if one could be found to write an article, you’d read it with an open mind. Good. Glad we clarified that.

              • Joyless_vegan March 24, 2015 at 2:19 pm - Reply

                Oh you are so gosh darn funny–I see what you did there.

              • Joyless_vegan March 24, 2015 at 2:30 pm - Reply

                I don’t get how much more open-minded you want me to be–I’ve listened to all the welfarist rhetoric, and it’s weak and indefensible. Welfarism doesn’t work–that’s not really an opinion, more of a fact. It’s led to the “humane” movement, which is incredibly successful. But I keep hearing the same tired old defenses, which are no more *right* after the thousandth time I’ve heard them than they were the first. It is a flawed way of thinking–I’m not sure how you can’t see that or why you’d defend such thinking. But then it’s much easier to just be sarcastic than to actually engage.
                *Namaste*

                • Captain_Sakonna March 24, 2015 at 5:04 pm - Reply

                  I’m not engaging you in the welfare vs. abolition debate because, as I already said, I don’t identify strongly with either side. However, I am interested in maintaining open dialog between vegans who do identify with one side or the other. I’m also amusing myself by poking holes in your hypocrisy, and sarcasm can be an effective tool for that purpose. As I see it, the only person trying to shut down intelligent discourse around here is you. You’ve apparently redefined “intelligent” to mean “not a welfarist,” and you’re prepared to exclude this group of people in their entirety from the vegan conversation. I’m not especially interested in convincing you that incremental welfare reforms and/or SICs are a great idea — all I’d like to see is a little less intellectual hubris out of you.

                  If you want better debate partners, learn to be one. If you’re really interested in how I think you could be more open-minded, here are some tips:

                  *Don’t conflate “intelligent people” with “people who agree with you.” Always leave open a small possibility that the other side has a good argument or piece of information you haven’t heard yet. Hey, I even think there are some intelligent carnists out there, though I absolutely do not agree with them or find myself convinced by them! Maintaining dialogue with people whose ideas you consider flawed is important if anyone is going to learn anything.

                  *Any declaration that something is A Fact is empty without proof. Until you can present hard statistics which show the conversion rate and amount of reduction in animal exploitation produced by different vegan advocacy approaches (and combinations thereof!), your opinion of whether they do or don’t work really is just an opinion.

                  *If you’re truly smarter than the people you disagree with, your arguments *and evidence* should be enough to prove it. Beginning a conversation by implying that the people you disagree with are unintelligent and unworthy of even being listened to, just makes you look like a pompous fool.

                  I have some work I need to concentrate on now, so I’m going to bow out of this conversation. “Namaste” isn’t an expression I ever use, so I’ll just say bye, it’s been fun.

                  • Joyless_vegan March 25, 2015 at 9:17 am - Reply

                    They DON’T have a single good argument. That’s what I’m saying. I’m not conflating “intelligent” with “agrees with me”. But I also don’t conflate intelligent with “baby steps”, “the world won’t go vegan overnight”, “something is better than nothing” etc because every single one of those sad arguments has been repeatedly dismantled. I think the evidence is in the fact that, as I SAID, for over 200 years welfarism has been a thing and yet we use more animals in more horrible ways than ever before. So, yes, you move along and tend to your work–you obviously have little to contribute besides sarcasm and silliness. It sure has been fun!

      • Joyless_vegan March 24, 2015 at 11:09 am - Reply

        Also, sarcasm is a great way to respond to what someone is saying………not.

    • KD Traegner March 24, 2015 at 7:51 am - Reply

      While I don’t identify as an abolitionist (or welfarist), we do share a common goal- to end dominion over animals. Some may feel that the focus of our advocacy work should be solely on vegan education- that there is no difference between the use or treatment of animals, and that supporting single issue campaigns suggests that some forms of exploitation are less problematic than others.

      While it’s true that working on campaigns to stop one issue of exploitation does not end every kind of exploitation, it’s also true that all issues of exploitation and dominance are connected. Defending one animal is as important as defending ten million. They are all individuals who matter.

      I want to clarify that my support of some SICs is not the same as saying, “Anything that reduces suffering is a good thing and a step in the right direction.” These single issues also have no connection with incremental steps, as it relates to animal husbandry reform (which I do not support). Rather, we can and should respond to these issues whenever possible- whether singular or not, while also advocating a clear and consistent vegan message.

      For example: Let’s use the ban on fur in West Hollywood from a few years ago to illustrate my point. I support the ban on fur, even though it doesn’t eradicate the use of all animal skins such as leather, wool, or silk. It is important to realize that fur and leather goods are separate industries. The use of leather shouldn’t be dismissed, but is more of a by-product in the sense that the animal is raised primarily for it’s flesh. As more people become vegan, less and less cows will be bred- the demand for leather will decrease. Fur, on the other hand, is from animals that are normally free-roaming and undomesticated. If we end the use of fur (wherever possible) those animals could live free (right now). Anytime our actions liberate animals from our dominion it is a good thing. Right?

      Advocating (and educating) with a crystal clear and consistent vegan message will address the cow’s situation. In the case of fur, these animals could benefit from our direct action right now. And I’d like to help as many animals as I can right now.

      • Joyless_vegan March 24, 2015 at 10:59 am - Reply

        We DON’T share a common goal, that is the point. Abolitionists want to end animal exploitation, period. Welfarists work hand-in-hand WITH exploiters to find “nicer” ways to exploit animals, which allows people to feel better about exploiting animals so they consume MORE animal products. Supporting a ban on fur shows people that fur-bearing animals are somehow more worthy than other animals and that exploiting fur-bearing animals is somehow worse than eating or otherwise using other animals.
        This idea that we are somehow “liberating” animals by means of SICs is just plain wrong. If we were to instead advocate for veganism and nothing less, it would take care of ALL animal use without us ever having to waste time and energy focusing on SICs.

        • KD Traegner March 24, 2015 at 11:44 am - Reply

          I disagree. We very much share a common goal. I want to end dominion over all animals and I believe that is your goal as well. As for welfarists working to find nicer ways to exploit animals, I can’t speak on that. Like I said, I don’t support husbandry reforms or “nice” ways of commodifying animals.

          • Joyless_vegan March 24, 2015 at 12:30 pm - Reply

            Sorry, I meant to say that welfarists and abolitionists don’t share a common goal. We cannot possibly, because one group–welfarists–focus exclusively on treatment; how animals are treated, not that they are used to begin with. Abolitionists seek to end all animal use, and we realize that we cannot do that by fixating on treatment. We can’t make people feel okay about using animals for any reason. Welfarists do NOT share the goal of ending dominion over animals–if they did, they would focus on the fact that we use animals needlessly, rather than focusing on how those animals are treated. It doesn’t matter how they are treated, and once people feel good about eating/wearing/using animals who are treated “humanely” (whatever that even means), it’s incredibly difficult to then try and convince them that we ought not to use them at all. The logical question is, then why did you just spend all that time and effort convincing me that “humane” treatment is a good thing? And it’s a damn good question–why do welfarists do that? It’s NOT a good thing, and we should not be doing anything to indicate it is. Neither should we make people feel good for not wearing fur while they wear leather, down, silk and wool and continue to otherwise exploit animals. Working to free animals one SIC at a time is nonsense–we need people to see the bigger picture, which ONLY happens with vegan education.

      • Joyless_vegan March 24, 2015 at 11:16 am - Reply

        And you aren’t “helping animals right now”. Even if you let minks out of cages on fur farms, they get replaced the next day because you’ve done nothing to address the real problem–demand. And even when you protest fur, by staging a demonstration somewhere, you are not helping animals. You are focusing on one type of use, which doesn’t help animals. You are saying only that killing animals for fur is wrong, but leather, silk, wool and down are fine and every other use is also fine. It confuses the real issue, which is ALL animal use. People might walk away from your demonstration feeling that they won’t buy fur but they’ll happily scarf a hamburger for lunch on the way home.
        Also, anti-fur campaigns are sexist. It’s easy to target women–but I have yet to see an anti-leather demonstration that targets men in leather jackets and boots (that would just as useless, but at least it wouldn’t target women the way anti-fur campaigns do).

        • KD Traegner March 24, 2015 at 11:39 am - Reply

          I understand where you’re coming from, yet I have done something to address the real problem of fur production with my use of consistent vegan education. This would encompass silk, leather, wool, and down among others. These things should be mentioned anytime that there is a campaign to end fur- you are right about that and I think we both agree on that point. In fact, I address these issues at length and say much of the same in our “Learn” section (link is on the left bar if you are interested).

          • Joyless_vegan March 24, 2015 at 12:37 pm - Reply

            If what you are saying is that by educating people about veganism, you have got some people to stop wearing fur and to stop engaging in all other animal exploitation, then yes, I agree with you because vegans don’t exploit animals, including by wearing fur. If you are saying that you focus on the SIC of fur, but then also somehow wind up talking about veganism, I would ask why you don’t just advocate veganism instead of prefacing it with an SIC. If you are just going to talk about veganism anyway, why not be perfectly clear about it and not make it about fur in any way? That is what is so confusing to me–if we want others to be vegan, we need to say that. We don’t need to wrap it up and possibly confuse the matter in SICs. Vegan education addresses all animal use, fur included.

      • Joyless_vegan March 25, 2015 at 9:33 am - Reply

        “As more people become vegan, less and less cows will be bred–the demand for leather will decrease.” The exact same thing could be said about fur (and every other animal use)–the more people become VEGAN, the more demand will decrease. So again, if we just forget SICs and concentrate on vegan advocacy, we will make the biggest difference. I don’t see what point you are trying to make about “free-roaming and undomesticated” animals and how if we end fur use now then somehow they’ll all be…what, returned to the wild? No, I don’t think it quite works like that–it works like it does for every other form of animal use. If we eliminate demand, period–which we do by advocating nothing less than veganism–then demand goes down and fewer animals of any kind are used in any way. Again, why focus on one small group of animals? I mean, we could break into zoos and “liberate” a bunch of animals right now, but it wouldn’t go well for them. The best thing to do is to educate people why using animals in any way, including for entertainment, is wrong so they stop creating the demand.

        I think the real reason people focus on fur is that it’s easy to advocate. The animals are cute and easy PR, and many people already don’t wear fur–they don’t have to make any significant changes and they are comfortable with that, so it’s a feel-good for everyone involved. Advocates feel like they’ve “helped animals now!” and the audience feels good because they aren’t like those awful people who wear fur (even though they wear leather and eat burgers). Anti-fur targets wealthier people, who can afford fur, and we tend to hate those types anyway because they are better off than us, so it’s just easy. It also targets women, which is problematic for obvious reasons.

        No, sorry, I will never agree that anti-fur advocacy does anything to help animals. It doesn’t.

      • Joyless_vegan March 25, 2015 at 9:34 am - Reply

        Also, back to “free-roaming and undomesticated”, most animals used for fur are farmed. They are raised on farms. They are not “free roaming”. They may not be fully domesticated, but they aren’t “wild”.

  5. Lisa Slovin March 23, 2015 at 12:28 pm - Reply

    Great post. I am navigating this one on my blog (thirdactevolution.wordpress.com) as well. The message I hear often is “people won’t listen if you make them uncomfortable”. Too bad. I think it’s crucial that we speak our minds, especially on our blogs. It’s crazy-making to continually worry about offending someone. I find what’s going on around me offensive (re the animals, environment, health) most of the time. And BTW using the word “vegetarian” to market a vegan restaurant feels wrong to me. Total pandering and misleading and a disservice to the vegans who support these places. I go into these restaurants wondering where they eggs and cheese are hidden. I love your blog precisely because you tell the truth. Please keep up the good work.

    • KD Traegner March 24, 2015 at 7:29 am - Reply

      Yes, I completely agree with you about replacing vegan with vegetarian- it drives me bananas. The vegan movement cannot progress without honest discourse about what it takes to live as a vegan. We shouldn’t waste any opportunity to respectfully educate and raise awareness. I discuss this topic at length here if you’d like to read it -> https://www.yourdailyvegan.com/2010/08/24/candy-coated-veganism-is-giving-me-a-bellyache/

      Also, thank you for the kind words and the comment. I appreciate both very much.