Many people like what I write. I’ve been getting lots of invitations to talk all over Europe and have been travelling quite frequently to spread a message of friendly and pragmatic vegan outreach.
From a few other people, I get criticism. Sometimes this criticism is constructive. Most of the time it is quite unfair and often it is very nasty.
It seems that activists who bring a different, less orthodox message than the vegan-is-the-moral-baseline one, are – at least to some people – fair game to be ridiculed, attacked, shamed and misrepresented. This is disconcerting and doesn’t bode well for our movement.
Just a few examples of the crap I’ve had to deal with lately – without naming any names. One person has published his own compilation of video fragments of my talks, with no sense of fairness, cutting off where he felt it was okay and interjecting the snippets with comments of his own. The same person has published his own secret recording of a podcast debate that the podcast organisers eventually decided not to publish. He has also secretly videotaped me answering his public demand for an apology, during a talk in Dublin, for using the words “crazy vegans”. He published his recording – in which I admitted to a few personal things, unaware of the fact that I was being recorded – on the web.
I recently left one forum, where I was continuously abused by some of the critics. The moderator couldn’t be bothered with interfering and has at times actually encouraged the bullying. I left the group. Since then, as people kept discussing and bashing me, a temporary cease-tobias-discussion was called for, but apparently to not much avail.
At a recent festival where I spoke, the organiser deemed it better to provide personal security for me (a bodyguard), which he now claims I asked for (when I asked if disruptions of talks, like what happened At the 2015 Luxemburg International Animal Right Conference, would be allowed). The organizer doesn’t agree with my views, but to his credit let me speak anyway. Since the talk though, the organizer – now very much influenced by “the abolitionist approach” – has behaved very unprofessionally towards me, saying I encourage people to exploit animals, and has stated he would no sooner invite me again as a speaker than someone from McDonald’s.
These people are supposed to care. They seem to want to phase out ableism, sexism, ageism etc, along with speciesism – which I support. But while doing that, they are behaving more unpleasantly than I imagine most ableists, sexists, racists or speciesists would behave. In any case, I can honestly say that in 17 years of activism, I never got this kind of nastiness from farmers or people in the animal abuse industry.
There is a person behind these blogs. A person who wants a vegan world (at least) as much as the next vegan. A person who at times feels hurt and sad at all these allegations and misrepresentations. I’ve had two serious burn-outs over the years, the last one quite recently. I guess I’m more resilient than most, and I can perfectly imagine that many committed people have given up on being active in the vegan movement after abuse like this. I’m afraid me giving up on activism is what these people are after. That is a very, very sad thought.
Frankly, I’m quite disgusted. I have blocked most of the people waging this vendetta against me, and though they keep popping up here and there, I am usually doing a pretty good job at ignoring them. I wrote this piece, and my response to their criticisms, as a way of explaining myself to people who might be tempted to believe any of their allegations.
If you appreciate what I do, you can help by sharing and promoting this blog, my Facebook page and video presentations. That way you can help me make up for some of the time I need to invest in replying to these ridiculous statements. And you can help bring more much needed pragmatism to our movement, and thus help animals. Thanks for your support! I’ll focus on the positive!
And if you have questions, feel free to ask them!