If every vegan made one vegan in five years…

Suppose every vegan made one vegan in five years, and those new vegans did the same thing in five years, we’d have a vegan world in no time.

Ever heard that argument? It’s one of those things that sounds good at first sight, but gets problematic once you spend some time thinking about it. 

multi
Somtimes this argument is used to argue for the position that we don’t need any big animal rights organizations, or laws, or big companies… but that we can realize all the change that we want by just having vegans talk to other people about animal rights and moral obligations.

But if it would be that simple, why don’t we have a vegan world yet?

Some would answer this question by saying that, quite simply, it’s never been tried. They would tell us that we have never, consistently and as a movement, given omnivores the straight vegan truth and the go vegan message. In this sense, veganism, for some, is like communism: it’s never been tried hard enough.

Of course that’s not true. Surely, for as long as there have been vegans, many or most of them (at least the “ethical vegans”) have been trying to convince other people to join team vegan. And at times they were probably successful.

But still, no vegan world. Why not?

Let’s dial the numbers a bit. Let’s start with an extremely low present number of vegans: one. Yes, one vegan. Imagine that there was just one vegan, but that this vegan would make one new vegan in one year, and that each of those would do the same in one year. The whole world – the whole WORLD! – would be vegan in… 38 years.

With exponential functions, everything goes very fast. But that doesn’t mean much. Multiplying ourselves is not as simple as it looks. If it were, there would have been many sects who would have conquered the entire world by now. But the fact is we haven’t been all convinced to become Jehovah’s witnesses or Scientologists.

Maybe we think for veganism it’s different because our argument makes more sense, and potentially more people would buy it than they would buy some dogmatic religious idea? Maybe, some day. For now it didn’t work yet. For now there’s many more people buying weird religious ideas, for instance, than our rational vegan ideas.

One problem of course, is that not all of us are expert communicators and that the way we talk about veganism is not always attractive (in the worst case we turn more people off than we attract). Another point is that vegans seem to fall off the wagon almost faster than we can “make” them. For every vegan there’s three or four times as many ex-vegans. One step forward, two (or three, or four) steps back, it seems?

The point I mostly want to make here though, is that a one-on-one approach, based on moral arguments, is never going to cut it. It’s not that we haven’t been trying it. It’s that it’s not enough, and not even the most important thing we can do.

So the “imagine if every vegan makes one more vegan…” argument is not an argument that would justify only focusing on one-to-one outreach and grassroots activism, as some would have it. We need much more than that. We need lobbying and product development. We need laws. We need supermarkets and restaurant chains to work with us. We need the power of big groups. We need to fundraise a lot of money. We need to be present in the education system. We need influencers in all domains of society, from celebrities to business leaders to politicians, who can help many more people change their behavior and their minds. And above all, we need to think about strategy and psychology, so that our one on one advocacy can be effective.

64 thoughts on “If every vegan made one vegan in five years…

  1. As someone who once did these calculations 15 or 20 years ago, I didn’t publish the idea to argue that we don’t need big groups, or that other work shouldn’t be done. Rather, I did it to point out that with *effective* advocacy, the world could change, and relatively quickly.

    But the key here is to be *effective.” This shows that we have been falling down:

    “vegans fall off the wagon almost faster than we can “make” them. For every vegan there’s three or four times as many ex-vegans. One step forward, two (or three, or four) steps back.”

    I don’t know how we can make real, lasting progress until we accept, internalize, and adapt to this reality.

    Thanks again, Tobias!

  2. A few years ago, I was in Toastmasters and during one conversation a few friends and I remarked if each of us would only get one friend to join in a year, we’d double our membership worldwide. The reality is that membership only increases by about 3% a year…and not due to word of mouth, but by many different approaches which require a lot of organization and deep commitment from select individuals.

    In the animal world, this would equate to the big orgs and the professionals. The ones who say each Vegan can convince one person to go vegan a year and soon we’ll live in a vegan world are not living in reality.

  3. The right hypothesis is: if every made 1 vegan in 5 years and every meat-eater made 1 meat-eater in 5 years…

  4. There’s another problem: people are not equally receptive to the vegan message. At the beginning, it can be easy to convince one new person every year because we talk to the more receptive people. But after that, you get newly convinced vegans (who are less skillful) who are supposed to convince actively the remaining people, even if those who remain are the more difficult to convince… In fact, we always stagnate at the very beginning of the exponential function.
    (English is not my native language, I hope my comment is understandable.)

  5. VieFruitée has a point. There are plenty of meat eaters being made every day! On the other hand, I’m grateful for the changes I see. I have a vegetarian (mostly vegan) friend who is extremely winsome when speaking about animal products. She was influential in my becoming vegan, and now my whole family is mostly vegan. Speaking of strategy, maybe a moms-first strategy would work well, since moms do a lot of cooking!

  6. I think you had it right when you started to compare with religion….vegan advocacy is really akin to religious proselytizing. The overall behavior of many vegan groups is almost identical to religious groups.

    1. @Mr Toad. And that’s where street epistemology kicks in, it’s not about proselytizing, it’s more about helping others to self-reflect.

          1. I don’t have any issue with strategies to get people to reflect on deeply-held beliefs. But reflection doesn’t guarantee a particular outcome…..I reckon vegan advocates want a particular outcome, namely, the person becoming vegan. Right? So, as I claimed earlier, there is a similarity to religious proselytizing.

            1. Yes, we do want a particular outcome. And if mere wanting a particular outcome when talking to carnists makes it similar to proselytizing, then it makes many other conversations about many other subjects similar too. Anyway, from all the techniques one can use for spreading veganism, I think street epistemology is one of the least similar to proselytizing. Too often, we hear about annoying, ‘preachy’ vegans, with street epistemology that won’t be the case at all, we won’t be ‘preachy’ anymore. I recommend we all learn about street epistemology (along with Melanie Joy’s work on psychology of eating meat) for more effective vegan advocacy.

            2. When the outcome is adherence to a particular ideology, yes, its very similar to religious proselytizing……that is true regardless of the mode of advocacy. Did Melanie Joy conduct any studies on the “psychology of eating meat”?

              1. Are you sure the word ‘very’ is really needed there in ‘its very similar to religious proselytizing’ ?

                Regarding the studies, I don’t think she conducted any.
                I’m half-way reading her book “Why We Love Dogs, Eat Pigs, and Wear Cows: An Introduction to Carnism” and I don’t expect to find anything about ‘a study’ in the remainder of the book. I have watched a few of her videos and I don’t recall her mentioning any study which she conducted.
                It would be nice though, to have a study like that, however it might be even impossible to do it:

                “There’s a glaring problem with knowing that the strategy of using the Socratic method to help people overcome faith works: there are no studies to support the effectiveness of this approach. In fact, there are no studies at all documenting the use of the Socratic method as an intervention to alleviate people from their faith. Here’s why: in order to conduct a study that uses human subjects (people), the researcher must submit approval through an IRB. IRBs are independent ethics review boards, usually associated with universities, that grant approval for studies that use humans as subjects in experiments. Their purpose is to protect research subjects from abuses. It would be impossible to receive approval for a study that would help people overcome faith. Proposing this sort of study would be considered not just far too controversial, but also abusive and damaging to subjects. No researcher could ever receive IRB approval for such a study.” – Peter Boghossian, A Manual For Creating Atheists (the book about street epistemology)

                Besides, I cannot even imagine what a study on the psychology of eating meat would look like.

                So, as far as I know, there was no study, but she did a lot of research. The bibliography at the end of her book is impressive. More importantly, she says that many people self-report they became vegan thanks to her presentations/videos/book. We cannot tell exactly what the percentage is (it doesn’t have to be 100% ‘conversion rate’, not even 50% or 25%). But we can tell Melanie Joy’s approach works, it’s not rocket science that even requires a study. Street epistemology works too.
                I think they both should be combined and used for effective vegan advocacy. So I recommend all vegans watch those YouTube videos I shared links to above.

                1. I’m confused – if there isn’t any data (“we can’t tell exactly what the percentage is”), how do you know that Melanie Joy’s method works? Because people self report? Like a self-selecting sample demonstrates what exactly?

                  What’s the data on street epistemology? Is there any? What would be the criteria of success? People being vegan for one year, five, ten, a lifetime? How can you gauge success if you don’t have follow-up studies?

                  1. How do we know Melanie Joy’s approach works? Because it makes people think and examine their carnism/speciesism, because it plants the seeds of doubt in their minds and yes, because people self-report. And with street epistemology, you can see it in work. There are no follow-up studies, but there is is a follow-up feedback. A street epistemologist can even use a scale to ‘gauge’ progress. Anthony Magnabosco is a renowned street epistemologist who films his interventions, I recommend his channel on YouTube: http://tinyurl.com/PL-AM-SE-TOP5

                    What is your goal here on this website? What ideally would you like to achieve? It would be interesting to know…

                    1. Follow up feedback – what methodology is employed to make sure the sample is representative, take account of false-positives, etc?

              2. Without studies there wouldn’t be any “work” on the psychology of eating meat….at least not scientifically speaking. I really have no idea what Melanie Joy does as an advocate, or if she does anything at all to this end, but the book doesn’t have any scientific subsistence….its mostly just rhetoric. But that isn’t surprising, the question of why “we” (i.e., westerners) love dogs, eat pigs and wear cows is inherently cultural….and Melanie Joy isn’t an Anthropologist.

                In any case, regardless of your approach….if the primary goal is to convert someone to some ideology than what you’re doing is akin to religious proselytizing.

                1. Feel free to re-read what I wrote above and check the links I included. I think you will understand it more if you do just that.
                  All the best Mr. Toad.

                    1. Don’t get the point of that link. The shape of the Earth is a physical fact that can be scientifically proven. Carnism/veganism aren’t analogous “facts”, they are philosophical/ideological constructs.

                  1. KB,

                    I’m not having trouble understanding what you’re saying, instead I’m questioning it. “Re-read” isn’t an appropriate response, what I’m questioning is how you can pretend to know something without having any studies demonstrating it. The personal experience of an advocate doesn’t mean anything, their experience is riddled with confirmation and selection bias and there are no follow-ups.

                    And, as I said, the mode of advocacy doesn’t change the primary motivation….which is to convert one to a particular ideology.

                    1. Would you say only studies demonstrate what works and what doesn’t? Instead of ‘re-read’, let me try: ‘I invite you to check the videos I shared links to. You might find this sufficient, without any need for a study. Also, I’m glad you mentioned the ‘pretending to know’ thing. I am anti-faith, so I don’t pretend to know things I don’t know. 🙂

                    2. KB – you don’t pretend to know what you don’t know, but you assert that Melanie Joy’s approach and Street Epistemology work, even though there aren’t any studues … Fine to voice *opinion*, KB, but opinion IS opinion.

  7. Is there, and has there ever been, any other movement that focuses on the individual making a change in their consumption as the prime factor in bringing about change? Both slavery abolitionist movements in the US and Britain had campaigns to avoid buying slave-produced goods but these campaigns did not end up dominating abolitionism in either case.

    Perhaps those hordes of ex-vegans should be used as a stimulus to question veganism as a strategy rather thrashing around for a way to make advocating veganism more effective.

    https://speciesandclass.com/2014/10/25/what-can-animal-activists-learn-from-the-free-produce-movement/

  8. Interesting article……when you think about it its strange how few people seem to question the standard orthodoxy here, namely, the value of an individual boycott/abolitionism. So why the big difference? I think its due to the religious background of veganism (via vegetarianism in eastern religion) and the consumer nature of the movement. That is, being product focused benefits those making the products so vegan food companies will have an incentive to promote organizations that promote veganism.

    1. Mr Toad – with regard to the “religious” aspect of veganism, I think it was there from the start. In one of the earliest documents produced by the newly constituted vegans in 1944, Donald Watson asks for articles on “my spiritual philosophy”. I think that’s really interesting – he doesn’t ask for ideas about how veganism can build a movement to liberate animals, he asks for people to waffle about their spiritual beliefs. In that document elements of physical cleanness, moral evolution and psychic development are all present.

      As for the individualist-consumerist nature of veganism that is absolutely true. It all forms a triad with the moral – morality works on the individual level, consumerism works on the individual level, therefore a person can be moral through what they consume. This is ofcourse wonderfully expressed in something like vegan margarine – no cow has suffered in the quest to moisten your bread, so why bother about the orang-utans, other wildlife, and people killed or devastated to provide the palm oil in your margarine? Vegan companies are of course keen to support vegan advocacy – it gives them a market for vegan goods containing ingredients that screw wild animals and people in other parts of the world. Vegans draw an arbitrary line in terms of morality, they always defend themselves by claiming to be at least lessening harm, but they rarely seek going further, like calorie-restriction ir atleast spurning organic produce that is always produced with animal inputs (including inputs from factory farms).

      It is really refreshing to hear of a vegan who has finally moved on – like Mickey Z.

      As for here, the given premise is vegan critical mass, so I do not think one can expect any reflection on whether achieving vegan critical mass is achievable or worthwhile.

      http://www.ukveggie.com/vegan_news/

      http://worldnewstrust.com/dear-world-I-am-sorry-for-being-such-a-vegan-mickey-z

      1. leone, can you tell me where to find the VS material (re. spiritual philosophy etc) that you are referring to? i’d be interested to take a look

      2. Thanks. I’ll look at the old vegan material when I have more time, it will be interesting to explore the earlier thinking more.

        Your tone with regard to veganism seems to be getting increasingly negative, is your thinking shifting more?

        1. I must be honest and state clearly that I no longer identify as a vegan or practice as a vegan (yeah, one more added to all those ex-vegans, although I prefer the description ‘post-vegan’). I didn’t fall off the vegan-wagon because I had cravings for animal food or because I thought I had health problems – it was a lot to do with realising that veganism fails intellectually and politically. Veganism is not a vehicle for achieving anything except on an individual level – that *you*, as an individual, *feel* better for being vegan (unfortunately that “feel better” can often include “feel superior”.)

          The Vegan Strategist presents tactics for achieving vegan critical mass. But is vegan *critical mass* achievable? I ask again, what movement ever changed anything on the basis of individual consumption practices? Why assume that shared consumption practices translate into a political force, a political “class” with shared outlooks and goals?

          Veganism as an individual practice requires significant care and diligence and supplementation to be nutritionally adequate. It requires a level of education to negotiate the nutritional information in depth. It requires a certain standard of living. And it was going back and looking into the nutritional information in greater depth that was one of the things that led me to becoming post-vegan. The vegan diet simply is not appropriate for many people for a variety of reasons. If that is true, then promoting veganism as a movement for change is bloody elitist!

          But you know, it takes time to get your decree absolute when you divorce from veganism – hence the not unknown phenomenon of ex-vegans hanging around vegan sites…

            1. Well, as I said I no longer practice veganism.

              I take the view that 99% of people (and vegans) are speciesist and always will be. I therefore hope for benevolent speciesism (hope not expect). Correspondingly, I think the only strategy is animal welfare. I am currently focussed on rescued greyhounds.

              The main thing I *do* differently, is think differently. And ask different questions. For example, veganism is always, explicitly or implicitly, promoted as an adequate diet. Ask these questions – is it adequate for everyone, everywhere? Do individuals vary? Do different populations vary? Does agriculture have to vary according to terrain – if so, what is the point of a vegan diet in an area unsuitable for arable farming? Once the universality of veganism is undermined, its power as a panacea is gone, and it becomes what it is, a choice for the individual for their own reasons.

              Vegans think that “recidivism” is about people just finding being vegan too difficult – it isn’t. At least some ex-vegans have developed critical thinking and seen the holes in veganism – you don’t have much chance of getting those people back. And so that’s another thing I tend to do now – critique veganism.

              1. Leone,

                Yes, you think differently and aren’t vegan…..but what has that amounted to in your daily actions? Did you, for example, return to your prior diet?

                What does rescuing greyhounds achieve?

                1. Hmmm… No, my current diet is not quite the same as pre-vegan diet.

                  Greyhound rescue achieves something for the individual greyhounds. I have no conceit that I as an individual can do anything tangible beyond some small things for other individuals.

                  Was vegan “doing” something? Literally, of course, it was, in terms of actual actions. But if you are asking does my current “doing” contribute to making some sort of change – cultural perhaps – my answer is no. No – because I don’t believe in the efficacy of individual actions with regard to changing systemic problems. So, you could say I do nothing differently because neither now or then was I actually doing ***something***.

                  1. So what are the differences between your current diet and your prior vegan diet?

                    I guess I’m not sure what it means to “rescue a greyhound”. Does this just mean adopting a greyhound that may have been used for racing? Or does it mean forcefully removing a greyhound?

                    1. Re. my diet – don’t see this as a substantive issue . Also, on personal level, no comment.

                      Re. greyhound rescue – google for a definition. Also, on a personal level, no comment.

                      Final word – (repeat) I don’t believe in the efficacy of individual actions with regard to changing systematic problems.

                    2. Googling “greyhound rescue” isn’t going to answer my question. And whether its a “substantive issue” or not…..it would be interesting to know what you’ve decided to do personally. But if you don’t want to answer that is fine.

                      So you think systemic problems can be resolved without any individual actually making any effort to implement that change within themselves? So, for example, historically slave owners were promoting human rights? Its one thing to deny that effectiveness of a consumer boycott, its another to deny the efficacy of individual action as a whole.

                    3. Don’t get “the slave-holders promoting human rights” analogy?

                      Individual action becomes meaningful when it is political – individuals acting collectively in a poltical way. What I eat, what you eat, what Tobias eats and what Ms Vanilla Rose (who seems to have it in for Tobias) eats, is not substantive. This “what *I* do matters” outlook is one of the pitfalls of veganism.

                      It is perfectly possible to want to see, and to work *politically* for, a future that is much different for animals, and will mean substantial changes in diet, consumption, etc, without changing your individual consumption now. People need to be willing to accept, or just accept, change, they don’t need to embody that change now.

                      Also this “efficacy of individual action” outlook is horribly elitist. It is based on the notion that people have the privilege of making choices about what they consume and other stuff – lots of people don’t have that sort of privilege. For that reason alone, I thoroughly and emphatically reject it.

                    4. “Agreeing with the objectives” rather than “practising the behaviour entirely”. ..

                      First of all, elsewhere I have asked whether someone who agrees with veganism as a *philosophy* but doesn’t do the diet at all, could be called a vegan. I think this is practically impossible because veganism *is* consumption practices, that is the only thing it has ever consistently been, and, as Mr Toad has argued, it is what it essentially is (everything else being bolted on post hoc, and, indeed, ad hoc). Therefore, dogmatism about the diet (as the major, and definitive, consumption practice) is inevitable when consumption is veganism. If we are talking about the vehicle of vegan critical mass as the means of achieving the ultimate objectives, we are not aiming for something that can develop politically because no movement for change has been based on consumption. And the movement must be political because its aim has to be to laws or radical change.

                      Furthermore, one of the main strategies for achieving vegan critical mass is promoting other consumption practices (e.g. reducetarianism) as a way of making things more conducive to a shift towards veganism. But this is still elitist – it still assumes everyone has the privilege of choice.

                      I don’t think there is any way around it – veganism is consumption, and as such it fails politically. It doesn’t matter whether some leniency is allowed with regard to behaviour, it is not the means to achieve the objectives. And do vegans actually share clear, precise objectives … but that is another issue?

            1. Pretty much standard farming practices stuff, and being younger, naiever, less sophisticated, less critically-thinking, that I took the bait proffered and jumped to veganism. I wasn’t aware of, or didn’t think about, a lot of stuff that I am now cognisant of.

              1. Could you elaborate on ‘standard farming practices stuff’ ? What specifically did veganism have in itself to attract your being ‘younger, naiever, less sophisticated, less critically-thinking’ ? I mean, there are many different movements, ideologies, beliefs that can attract a person. Why veganism?

                1. I find it intriguing the way you are framing veganism – movement, ideology, belief. Like veganism is out there on par with socialism – really? How about this instead – knee-jerk emotional reaction to some serious badness in the world.

                  Standard farming practices would be killing male chicks, etc. I read about them in the context of vegan texts – hence “the bait proffered and the jump to veganism”.

                  Veganism offers the naive comfort that one’s consumption practices as an individual make a difference – this is power for the course in a consumerist society: we are all programmed for that message. It offers the naive assumption that if enough individuals accumulate that will amount to a force for change – this is why veganism is a liberal construct not a radical one, and certainly not revolutionary. It also falsely allays the fear that as an individual we are meaningless – we all fear psychologically that we are eclipsed in a system too big and powerful. All this and more applied (or probably applied) to me.

                  It offered a simplistic relationship with animals, that didn’t address so much about them and about us. It’s so easy to feel”good” because you don’t eat x, y and z, and so you aren’t exploiting “the animals”, and it’s hard to think out the possibility that a better world for our species and other species may sensibly include some exploitation of animals.

                  1. I don’t think I framed nor described veganism at all. And I am not sure I understand your message. Would you say veganism doesn’t make a difference? Do you suggest all vegetarians and vegans should start eating meat and dairy again? What should I do?

                    1. Does veganism make a difference? What difference is it supposed to be making? My own opinion is that veganism won’t deliver animal rights or even a significant improvement in the condition of animals. I make no suggestions about what individual vegetarians and vegans should do – if they are happy as individuals being veg*ns, then they should continue to do so. Mickey Z is a vegan who is still a vegan: he just doesn’t promote veganism anymore.
                      http://worldnewstrust.com/dear-world-i-m-sorry-for-being-such-a-vegan-mickey-z

                      As for something that is easily accessible, I would recommend reading the blog ‘Let Them Eat Meat’. Some of the arguments there are rather strained, and it doesn’t focus much on economic or social issues, but it certainly provides a launch pad for a critical analysis of veganism

  9. Once again, I’m not sure I understand, Please clue me in. Would you say veganism doesn’t make any difference now? Or it’s unlikely that someday there will be a vegan world (no animal farming, no animal products in shops, restaurants) ? I think it’s possible and I think we’re getting there. I’ve read the ‘Let Them Eat Meat’ blog. Not a big fan and I don’t understand the blogger’s goal. But I support free speech and the blogger’s right to blog.

    1. I take his goal to be similar to vegans, namely, to create a false dilemma. He argues against veganism, which is an easy target, as an attempt to justify the status quo which is ultimately rooted in the way vegans frame the issues, namely, that veganism is “cruelty-free”, etc.

      There is, I think, a tendency of reasonable ex-vegans to do a U-turn in regard to their thinking once they discover the many flaws of veganism. My personal view is that vegans are, in many ways, to blame for this U-turn because once you disagree with veganism you are then categorized, as you like to say, a “carnist”. Psychological people like to belong to something, which is in part why people get sucked into veganism, but this has the opposite effect when people start disagreeing with some aspects of veganism……they are pushed where they will belong again. Namely mainstream society.

      Even the reasonable vegans take a patronizing tone with ex-vegans, instead of taking a serious look at their disagreements they pretend as if its their “process” towards veganisms.

      1. Vegans have a number of attitudes to ex-vegans. A quite common one is to state that the ex-vegan was never a vegan in the first place because a true vegan doesn’t stop being a vegan.

        Vegans who actually care about improving things for animals would do well to listen to ex-vegans. First of all listen to why they stopped practicising veganism, and take their reasons seriously. Listen to their critiques of veganism, and take them seriously.

        Mr Toad is probably correct that most ex-vegans will probably find a place to “belong” in mainstream society. However, I think many ex-vegans still want to find a way to improve things for animals, they just no longer see any evidence that veganism is the means or the end.

        1. I’ve heard a lot of ex-vegan stories over the years and typically they aren’t making any sort of coherent case so I don’t think there is much to learn, in general, from what they have to say. Plus, and I guess this is part of my overall view of psychology, I don’t think people provide very accurate descriptions of their behavior.

          While Rhys Southan at times brings up some reasoned things his overall argument just seems to be a false dilemma. To me, and I point out some of the same things, much of what he says is an argument against vegan dogmatism…..but by no means a justification for the status quo.

          1. Not sure Southan exactly justifies the status quo (though it often looks like that) but he certainly advocates, and, I think, substantiates, that there is no escape from speciesism and giving animals rights won’t work. I don’t think he has a fundamental problem with, for example, better animal welfare.

            I still think when an ex-vegan says my health was suffering or it just didn’t add up anymore they should be listened to.

            With regard to ex-vegan “stories”, I think those on the internet tend to be bloggers who made a thing out of being vegan and, consequently, have to made a thing out of no longer being vegan.

            As for making a coherent case – why should they? The psychology is not the negative, but actually one of the most instructive aspects of the ex-vegan phenomenon.

            We all speak from our own subjective being and position. Behind every ex-vegan “story” is a host of influences and socio-political factors that don’t get articulated. The same is true of every vegan’s story. And also true of every critic of veganism who is looking for coherent cases…

            1. I don’t find his arguments to be particularly good…..but an argument against animal rights isn’t an justification for the use of animals for food, etc. As such his arguments always seem like a false dilemma.

              In regard to ex-vegan stories…..I just don’t give them much credit. The explanations people give for their behavior are typically post-hoc rationalizations and the real reason is likely to be something basic……like it being difficult to practice, it being socially problematic, etc. And in terms of making a coherent case, well, that is what I’m primarily interested in….namely the underlying philosophic issues. And on that end there doesn’t seem to be much substance from either vegans or ex-vegans….most don’t seem to come vegan for rational reasons and don’t leave for rational reasons.

  10. I don’t know what the LTEM blogger’s goal was, although I suspect part of it was to have a hit blog. I also think his goal may have been simply to expose the contraditions, flaws and dangers of veganism as an ideology.

    Look – no I don’t think veganism makes any difference now and it won’t in the future. There is no precedent for a movement based on consumption practices. Consumption practices do not operate as an alternative for politics. There are only political solutions (or ameliorations), there are no cconsumerist-individualist solutions. Politics is primarily a contest of interest groups – veganism doesn’t line up with any interest group and therefore is easily side lined. There can be no vegan world when 1) simple geography does not make arable farming suitable for all parts of the world; 2) people in different parts of the world will resist veganism for cultural, economic, political reasons; 3) the diet vegan is not suitable for many people for various reasons; 4) corporate powers will simply profit from animal industries in other parts of the world and will fight to maintain their market everywhere (think analogy to tobacco industry); 5) the vegan boycott strategy is hopelessly inept, especially with it’s simplistic view of supply and demand; 6) recidivism is a massive problem, and for every new vegan created, how much does animal consumption increase in China, India, etc (and if you ain’t looking at the problem in global terms, you just ain’t looking at the problem)?; 7)… do I really have to go on?

    Nobody should kid themselves that the plethora of “vegan” products is a sign that veganism is making headway – it’s just a sign that 1) veganism has had a degree of fashionableness; 2) there is a market for plant-based that is probably as much about health as anything. If the future is plant-based, this will be an economic result (perhaps because environmental collapse makes industrial animal farming increasingly untenable), not a sign that animal rights is winning. And you can bet your bottom dollar that meat and dairy luxuries will still be available for those who can afford them, while the cheapest, most awful meat products for the poor will be churned out while there is still profit in them. Meanwhile animals will still be exploited in ways other than food and in new ways too.

    Hope you understand my view now because I won’t be explaining any further.

    1. I often see memes on social media from vegans where the implication is that vegans are “winning”, that the world is changing…….obviously these people aren’t looking at the data….or stopped looking when it no longer confirmed their beliefs. Per capita meat consumption in the US was stable between 2011~2014 and increased in 2015….and is due to increase again in 2016. So what measurable impact are these vegan products having? None….it would seem.

      I haven’t tried to look at the data in detail, but I reckon there are two trends in the US that would help offset any reduction created by vegan products. 1.) The increased popularity of pet foods with higher amounts of meat…you know so your pet can eat how “nature intended”. 2.) The paleo-diet re-framed the health concerns with meat consumption and likely got many to increase consumption…or at least stopped them from thinking they should reduce meat intake.

      I don’t think vegan groups have much of a chance to counter industry, the incentives are all wrong, vegan groups have an incentive to collect donations and do the sorts of things that attract donations in the vegan community…..industry has an incentive to sale products and do whatever it can to attract consumers to their products. Vegan food producers could, in principle, provide some reasonable resistance….but at the moment they are too small.

        1. I’m not sure what you mean by “by corporations” since they are, generally speaking, already corporations….you mean bought by larger food businesses? That is likely to happen if they are proven successful……large businesses frequently buy up successful start-ups rather than try to develop internally. I’m not sure how this would play out in terms of resistance to the meat industry, large food conglomerates really don’t care whether they are selling meat patties or soy patties so they would have no reason to resist a move away from meat…..but its hard to see that they would try to promote it.

          So I guess in this sense, there is unlikely to be any powerful counter-weight to the meat industry.

          1. Yes, I meant that vegan producers will be bought out or squeezed out by non-vegan big food businesses. Therefore vegan producers are unlikely to function as a meaningful “resistance” or “counterweight”.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *