Suppose there was a vegan island. Would you go live there?

Suppose there was a vegan island, somewhere in the Pacific Ocean, quite far off any coast. Living on the island is comfortable. There’s an abundance of vegan foods and the entire population is vegan. There’s natural beauty, and you’re never at a loss for things to do. Your life would be completely fulfilled. There would never be anyone near you eating chicken nuggets or saying that animals just exist for us to use. No one would ever ask you where you get your protein or tell you that plants feel pain too.

vegan island
Imagine there are no practical considerations to take into account (there are jobs on this island, your loved one(s) want to join you, etc), would you pack your suitcase and go move there?

Here’s the catch I want to talk about: living in this vegan paradise, you would have few opportunities to have any positive influence on the non-vegan world (we could, for the sake of the argument, assume that there is no way to reach the rest of the world through the web, for instance). So you’d feel great (hopefully) with all this vegan company and all the vegan amenities, but you would be leaving the rest of our planet to its own non-vegan devices.

There are different kinds of vegans (and different kinds of people in any “alternative” movement). One of the divides is the one between those vegans whose priority it is to have a comfortable life in the midst of other vegans, and those whose prioritze to veganize the rest of the world. This is not a judgment, but more an observation.

So here is my point: the desire that people have for other vegans who are just as strict as they are, who are 100% on board, and on board for the right reasons, probably emerges in part from a desire to share one’s ideology, dreams, and feelings… In a world where most people are, consciously or subconsciously, cruel towards animals, it is only natural that we want to find kindred souls. This is also part of the explanation why we are disappointed when other people who we thought were on our side, turn out not to share exactly our views or behavior.
While I understand this need and desire to find people who are of like mind, and the disappointment that comes with people who almost are, I personally think that living in the real world and helping people to feel compassion for animals and eat vegan, is a lot more important.

You can apply the island-concept to many things: vegan restaurants are rather “islandish”: they are safe places where you’ll never eat anything wrong. But going to a non vegan restaurant can push the restaurant and its chef in the direction of providing more vegan options. Vegans-only Facebook groups are islands. It’s good that they exist, we can discuss our views safely without annoying questions, bullying or ridicule from others, but we’re not going to influence other people with it.

Of course, it’s quite possible to move between our island and the mainland. We can, for instance, live on the non vegan mainland most of the time, and go to our vegan island when we need a break or want to vent.

Also, it might be useful to recognize that some of us are more suited to live on the island than on the mainland. While there are people who are really good at reaching out to non-vegans, others simply may not have the patience for it. Not to worry in that case: there’s great work to be done on the island to. Catering to and caring for other vegans’ needs and desires is probably an important aspect of making veganism more sustainable – something that is much needed, given that only one in five vegetarians (not even vegans) sticks to it!

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9 thoughts on “Suppose there was a vegan island. Would you go live there?

  1. Of course I wouldn’t live there! Being vegan is all about being superior, and looking down on the idiot meat eaters!!

  2. >Vegans-only Facebook groups are islands. It’s good that they exist, we can discuss our views safely without annoying questions, bullying or ridicule from others.

    Where is this Facebook group without bullying???

  3. This question is one that is part of just about every social justice* movement, Separatism.
    II reckon, if our veganism it is all about us, then yes we go and live on the island.
    If it is all about animals then we stay on the mainland and push the boundaries.
    I suspect I would soon tire of vegan nirvana, when you are a political animal your driver is change.
    I’d rather stay on the mainland and do my bit to try to change it into the Vegan Island.
    That said, the vegan movement is a political movement and the personal IS political/the political is personal. The difficulty with the advocacy FOR animals is that it is a new paradigm of ‘power-over’ our assumption is to speak for them, yet we are an imperfect voice, because who really knows what the animals want? I am currently studying that in a spirit of enquiry because we have all these assumption, philosophys and ethics that have been written and instituted by a movement that is not fluid, we have a job in front of us to stay fluid, dynamic. When we just repeat the dogma of the Priests of Vegan we are not doing our jobs well either, that is a metaphorical Island in itself.
    Our job (activists) is to not ‘perfect’ everyone’s veganism, rather be inquisitorial about how best to bring about a veganised world and keep adapting to the new landscape.
    Hasta La Vista, Vegana

    *Radical Feminism, socialism, LGBTI, people living with disabilities.

  4. Great one again. The fact that you call out both and accept both worlds is a good thing I think. I traveled through this (literally) vegan island in Thailand (Sri Thanu in Koh Phangan). Lots of vegan restaurants, like minded people and amazing vibe. It was nice for a while but I felt I need to connect to non-vegans to really make a change, the people here were already conscious and caring.

    Although lucky us that we dó have internet and actually can reach out from our vegan island or bubble. So while you point out both worlds, lucky us that there is this bridge-world. Live in our safe bubble, where we can go out for hassle-free eating and like-minded conversations, while when we feel the need, we can reach out to the non-vegan world. And hopefully in a more calm and compassionate way; because living in a non-vegan world can sometimes put a haze of anger in front of this calm-(maybe more effective)-state.

  5. I’ve heard that Berlin is becoming something of a vegan haven. Lots of vegan eateries and even vegan supermarkets…

  6. A vegan island would be very tempting, but I can’t help but think that the abolitionist vegans there would find something somewhere somehow to complain about and make it a miserable place for me.
    I agree that “living in the real world and helping people to feel compassion for animals and eat vegan, is a lot more important.”
    Thanks for another great post, Tobias. 🙂

  7. Live on the island, work and volunteer on mainland.
    I would need the love, understanding and “ability to relax” to be able to still veganize the mainland.

    1. I should have read the whole article. Sorry. :-/ It’s because there is no island yet that I don’t find the energy anymore to even read things to the end.
      Courage and succes to all!

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