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.
- To help people go vegan
- 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