I kinda feel like I am in the vegan doghouse. You know, the place where vegans go when they are viewed as being too extreme, too confrontational, too negative, too soft, too wimpy. We can be sent there by both vegans and non vegans. You gotta know what I am talking about.
So for instance, there are lots of vegan views out there about how we vegans should get our message out, how we should act in public and with whom we should associate, lest we be declared not really vegan. It goes without saying that when I am talking about vegans, I mean those of us who are vegan by virtue of our ethical stance against the cruel and unnecessary exploitation of non humans for our personal wants, not needs. Many will argue and actually insist rather aggressively, that they are vegan if they eat a plant based diet. This is most likely a misinterpretation of the definition of veganism, rather than an attempt to ride on the tailcoats of those of us who are actively advocating for the liberation of all non humans trapped in all of our various death for profit industries. I continually point this out to people at the risk of being called the vegan police or militant or exclusionary and the list goes on… Believe you me, from time to time, I am called all of those derogatory terms. I am exclusionary and picky if I say that Beyoncé cannot be considered vegan simply because she is selling a line of plant based food. She does, after all still wear fur when out and about and “pet” captive wild lions and tigers when vacationing in foreign lands.
I said the same thing about Samuel L. Jackson who extolled the virtues of being vegan because he wants to live forever. Well, we all know what happened there. Mr Jackson is no longer vegan because his plant eating lifestyle is interfering with making money on his upcoming film. I do not deride either of these celebrities, but they do hurt the efforts of other vegans who get fingers pointed at them when so called “vegans” stop being so.
“Ha!”, the naysayers say, “Veganism is not really about ethics after all is it, if people can come and go so easily”.
And so, we are left to explain once again what it means to be vegan, that it is not a lifestyle choice based on food or health. Let me say once again that all vegans are plant eaters, but not all plant eaters are vegan. So with that out of the way, let’s address how some, definitely not all, vegans view and sometimes treat one another on social media.
You are not really a “good” vegan if you:
Eat supper with those are who not vegan.
Socialize with non vegans even if they are close family members.
Support single issue causes, like the dolphins at Taiji.
Believe that the individual should not be sacrificed for the whole.
Drive a car with leather seats in it, even if you can’t afford a new one.
Feed your cats meat based cat food because they are obligate carnivores.
Take a necessary med that was once tested on non humans.
Rescue beloved nonhuman animal companions who should be able to live freely without anyone’s interference.
Don’t look the part, physically.
This begs the obvious question:
“Why look at Social Media, why pay any attention to it?”
To me, the obvious answer is that Social Media has done much to further the cause of liberation for all nonhuman animals. We hear about stories that
would never be covered in mainstream media. We can share these stories, raise awareness and hopefully bring about change: change for the elephants and rhinos who are hunted for their tusks, change for the captive orcas at SeaWorld, change for the dolphins at Taiji, change for farmed beings. We are made aware of petitions that we can sign, we learn of prominent and self sacrificing advocates like Philip Wollen. We meet wonderful dedicated advocates who share our passion and work with us in our common goal. I use social media to promote my website, ever hopeful to get the word out with kindness and compassion, in order to awaken kindness and compassion in others, to change hearts and minds.
So, how do we handle the rest, the derogatory comments, the infighting, the back biting, the invective? Do we answer it hoping to disabuse people of their ridiculous notions? I will usually try once, hoping to inform and to support my fellow vegans. If that doesn’t work, if I receive back another strong and personally insulting comment, then I usually leave the thread. Nothing to be gained there.
However, I do feel that this diatribe which is very rampant now, especially on Facebook, makes us look like a community divided, angry, bitter, verbally abusive and ridiculous. It definitely takes the focus away from the real reason for being vegan in the first place. Yes, that is right, the non humans for whom we advocate. Norm Phelps, a very clever and dedicated advocate for the liberation of all non humans died recently. He wrote a wonderful book entitled, Changing the Game. I recommend that everyone looking to band together to achieve our common goal read this brilliant work. In his book, Norm Phelps states that the fight for the liberation of other species from slavery by humans is the first social movement in history in which the victims cannot actively advocate for themselves. Therefore, he says that it is imperative that we all work together, whether we be abolitionists, welfarists, politicians, scientists, writers, philosophers and so on, to achieve what the enslaved will never be able to achieve on their own.
Annie’s Vegan View
Invective and diatribe never accomplish anything positive.
Seek to inform but then ignore attention seekers whose goal it is to take focus away from the real goal.
Liberation of all non humans enslaved for our selfish pleasures is the real goal!
May all beings be happy and free.