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.
17 thoughts on “I am in the Vegan Doghouse”
Not one to comment, generally, but…
One line in this post resonates with me, because my son says/paraphrases it on a fairly regular basis:
” Invective and diatribe never accomplish anything positive”
Anyone who can understands this can deal with most of what life throws at them.
Great line, great post; keep it up. There really are enough supportive people in this world; we just have to remember they’re there and carry on with what we believe.
Thank you very much for your comment. Your son is a pretty wise person for someone so young in years.
Thanks for your words of encouragement. Yes, there are many supportive people in this world. I know some of them quite well. We shall definitely carry on.
Good article and yes…we ALL need to be on TEAM VEGAN!
So pleased to have your comments. Glad that you like the post. Team Vegan!!! I like that. I look forward to hearing from you again.
As usual, Anne, I think you have hit the nail on the head. Language is important. I actually know people who say they might as well be vegan because they eat very little meat, etc., etc. And there are also those, most noticeably the celebrities, who think vegan is the flavour of the month.
Your statement says it all: “Let me say once again that all vegans are plant eaters, but not all plant eaters are vegan”. That is, vegans are vegan for ethical reasons, advocating for the end of eating /using non human animals, whereas not all plant-based eaters have this reason for adopting a plant-based diet. I believe, as I’m sure you do, too, that if one is truly vegan for the animals, then one will NEVER, EVER stop being vegan. One will never go back to eating or using anything that comes from a non human animal.
I have been asked the question that if I had no other choice and my survival was at stake, would I eat a non human animal. I responded that I’d rather die. And I truly believe this!
You have come to a point where you speak up, say your piece and if you’re met with vitriolic reactions, then you move on. I greatly admire this.
Back in February, I went to a Super Bowl party. I was the only vegan. The hostess very thoughtfully made a vegan chili for me and two other people also brought vegan food that they had made. Of course, there was plenty of non vegan food. Some would say that they would not have gone to this party but would rather have chosen to hang out with vegans. That’s fine. I did have the choice to attend or not to attend. For me, just being there as a vegan speaks volumes, hopefully raises awareness and just might open up someone to ask questions and perhaps even to eventually evolve/grow. It’s an opportunity to just “be”. Each of us has our own way of advocating.
I should have reiterated that we all need to advocate for the same reason (yes, we need to act as “team vegan”) …. that all non human animals are not here for our use / pleasure and every one of us needs to safeguard their rights to exist free from harm.
Exactly…they are not here for our own use!!!!! Thinking we have dominion over any being opens the door to abuse. Abuse of power is as intoxicating as it is vile.
Thanks again for your support. I imagine that many celebrities don’t really understand the true meaning of being vegan and that is why some of them, like others, do not stick with it. Once there is a shift in our behavior based on understanding what is at stake here, I cannot imagine that there is any going back to living any other way. That is why I am a stickler for the preserving and protecting the definition of veganism.
The question of survival is a sticky wicket. None of us really knows what we would do to survive and/or protect the survival of those we love. I am not sure why people ask this question and why it is relevant to veganism. This is such an unusual hypothesis that will probably never occur in our lives. But understand how you feel-not wanting to do any harm.
Thanks again for your input!!!
Glad to hear of your Superbowl experience. At the moment, I feel that it is helpful to be a presence, to hope to bring mindfulness and reflection to the way people view their habits. I may change my mind about this-don’t know!!! But for now, it works for me, even if the smell of cooking flesh and the sight of peopl chowing down on it is particularly abhorrent to me. I do draw the line at Seafood and Steak Restaurants-just can’t do it. and that sends a message too, if I ask people to change the venue.
Anne, you are an absolutely amazing person; I can tell you are a light in anyone’s life, and if someone doesn’t realize that, it’s his or her loss.
As for Facebook, I think that it’s a wise choice to leave a thread as soon as someone starts bashing others; they do not want a dialogue so, at that point, social media does not become a tool for change but a tool for trolls.
I do like how three of CindyM’s Super Bowl buddies brought some vegan dishes for her! I think it’s still important for vegans to hang out with non-vegans and show them that we are not weak, nor misinformed, nor fickle. But, I understand if vegans don’t want to hang out non-vegans; it can be disheartening.
Great posts Anne! I’m glad you are out there!!!
Thank you for the vote of confidence. I have actually come to a place where I do not take personally some of the ridiculous things that are sometimes thrown at vegans on Facebook-even if that particular comment is directed at me. I used to get a bad feeling in the pit of my stomach, but no more. I am getting better at recognizing confusion on the part of the writer and discarding invective directed at just about everyone. I seek to inform and if that does not work and I see that the person is arguing for the sake of argument, then I quietly take my leave. I just do not like to think that the infighting and insults might affect our cause by making us look ludicrous and by distracting us from our mission.
I too think Cindy’s Superbowl experience is a good one. I think we need to be a presence, a positive presence, so that we can stand up for those who are being used and abused as we speak.
Glad you like my posts and even happier that you shared your perspective with me and everyone who peruses this site.
I look forward to hearing from you again.
I totally agree with you.
You have to start with what you believe in. You have to do what you think is good for you.
We just have to concentrate on what we can control.
Thank you for the vote of confidence. I do think that we have to what is good for us, but, and this is a big but, we are free to do so as long as what we are doing is not directly harming others. That is why I try to avoid saying this to people when I talk about veganism. They may believe that using non humans for their own pleasure is “good” for them and could use this as an argument to support their choices, when what they are actually doing is causing great harm to others.
If we concentrate only on what we can control, then we will never shoot for the stars. But we can help ourselves in our efforts if we don’t beat ourselves up for what we are unable to control, while advocating for change, all the same.
Being vegan is so much more than just being on a vegan diet (thank you for pointing this out so eloquently). And I think everyone knows that and anyone who gets into the nitpicky scenarios you describe are simply trying to stir up trouble for their own agenda or someone else’s.
I also especially like your point about being criticized as not being vegan/vegan enough if you don’t look the part physically. Other than being thin, I don’t think anyone would know I’m vegan if I didn’t wear my pins. And even then I guess they don’t know because I do get offered samples in stores for cheese or other clearly non-vegan offerings.
Anyone, celebrity or not, who follows a vegan diet is welcome to say that, but in my opinion, to say “I’m vegan” when only following the diet aspect is misleading and often in a very harmful way. Thanks for a great post!
Yes, I think it is important to avoid being pulled into a ridiculous debate, such as whether or not one is vegan if one drives a car because of the nonhuman animal by products in the tires. We live in a non vegan world and sometimes using these products is unavoidable. So for instance, if I were invited to speak to a group of people about veganism, or death for profit industries, and the only way I get get there is by car or by bus, am I not then a “good” vegan. Not going because I cannot get there without using tires is like throwing the baby out with the bathwater-shortsighted and unproductive. I prefer to concentrate on what I can control and to continue to bring my person ethics in line with my daily life.
I would love it if we could reserve the word vegan for its intended purpose. I wish that everyone would say plant based diet instead of vegan diet, for instance. But I do the use the term vegan diet myself when necessary to attract readers to a post I have written and to get the attention of Google so that inquiries about veganism are directed to my website. I do continually point out the difference, however.
To be vegan is to eschew the exploitation of all nonhuman animals in all of the various death for profit industries, wherever practicable and possible. Therein lies our own salvation.
Excellent post, Anne. I quite agree with pretty much everything. Be advised that there is another category not mentioned. There are infiltrators in the vegan community who are paid by the meat industry for the purpose of disrupting and dividing in order to weaken the movement. They have a larger presence than you might think. Once you are aware that they exist, it becomes easier to identify them.
Welcome to my website! and thank you for your comments. I am very glad that you enjoyed this post. I have heard of these infiltrators you mention and also heard of trolls-not sure if they are one and the same. I presume that if these people are hired by the meat industry to weaken the movement, that we must be undermining their bottom line as well as their sense of security about the future. I am hopeful that this can be interpreted as good news, if this is the case.
I am not sure if I would recognize them, but I do exit threads where there is a lot of insulting and putting down going on. Nothing to be gained there I feel.
Thank you again,
I enjoyed your article and I am so glad there are people like you who try to preserve and protect the meaning of veganism. There are so many people who try to water it down, wether intentionally or not but I believe it is dangerous to our movement. Veganism to me is a social justice movement and extends far beyond just a diet.
I think if you are a true vegan you know in your heart that you will never go back to living the way you did before. There is no question about that in my mind.
I have to admit that until recently I did take ridiculous comments to heart, especially when they came from friends I had known for years. I have lost quite a few friends for the things I post on facebook now but it will never stop me posting them. I have told these people that I still love them, I just don’t like their choices but they still don’t want to see me any more in real life. I would rather lose them as friends than not speak up for the animals. One day I am hoping they will come back and thank me for telling them the truth. That is my wish anyway.
We are taking the road less travelled Anne, but I would rather travel this path alone than be a robot on the road to nowhere and be complicit in the intense suffering of animals. I know you would too!
Go Team McGuigan