What are vegans so afraid of?

I thought my previous piece, Why being vegan is not an all or nothing thing, was a pretty straightforward, rational and compassionately written article. I wrote it from the same angle from which I write everything: to get as many people as possible to join us in the direction of a more compassionate world.

Still (apart from the many positive comments and shares), the article managed to arouse a lot of anger in certain vegans – to an extent that was surprising and even shocking to me. I won’t bore you with the details, but let’s just say I’ve been called quite some names (some examples here, in case you don’t believe me).

Apart from finding all of this quite sad, I also find it fascinating. How can people on the same side fight so much and so intensely? How can some people so easily find proof of betrayal in other people who share their cause?

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So I tried to put myself in these angry vegans’ shoes and tried to imagine what it could be that angered them so much in what I wrote.

First of all, it seems some people misunderstand my intentions. Like I said, I always write with the purpose to help this movement be more effective at reaching its aim of “animal liberation” (or however you want to define the goal). I may fail at this, but at least this remains my intention. My first concern is definitely not to spare omnivores’ feelings, or to give people reasons or excuses to continue using animal products. Nor would I ever be happy with partial animal liberation or partial veganism (on the contrary: I want to go much further than most vegans want to go, and I’m also concerned, for instance, about the suffering of animals in the wild – suffering is suffering, whether inflicted by humans or not).

Now, here are some of the fears that I notice in people’s reactions to my suggestion to be pragmatic and a bit flexible in our defining of the term vegan.

1. The fear that the concept of veganism will be watered down.
Vegans understandably wouldn’t want to undermine the idea of “being vegan” or “veganism.” They wouldn’t want it to mean anything else than what it means (or what they believe it means): products, food, consumption, a lifestyle… without the involvement of animals. I think the fear is to end up with a watered down version of this concept, where vegan would mean something like “almost free of animal use or suffering.”
Two answers to this. First of all, like I wrote, it is an illusion to think that a vegan lifestyle is a lifestyle that doesn’t inflict any suffering on human or non-human animals (that this argument is also used by meat eaters against vegans doesn’t make it any less true). Secondly, we have to help people take the first step, rather than the last. The last steps, the details, will be taken care of automatically, as a consequence of animal byproducts becoming more and more expensive and hard to come by. If we get to a 95% (or even a 75%) vegan society, then there is no reason we can not bridge the remaining gap. It is not productive to worry about the tiny bits now and make it all too difficult, because that may easily prevent people from moving at all.

2. The fear that people may get confused about what is vegan and what is not, or who is vegan and who isn’t.
If a vegan makes an exception (e.g. eats a non-vegan cookie), they are making other people – so the argument goes – confused and these people will end up not knowing what veganism is. Or they will – God forbid – serve us something non-vegan! All I can say is that if this is what we worry about at this stage of the movement, when 65 billion land animals are killed for food yearly, then we have to re-check our priorities. We have to think a lot more strategically than this.

3. The fear that vegans will be seen as inconsistent if they ever do an unvegan thing.
When I make e.g. my lasagne argument, saying that in order to make the idea of veganism more accessible I would make tiny exceptions here and there in special cases, some vegans think this will be interpreted as inconsistency (worst case: hypocrisy). Let me tell you: the concern for inconsistency is mainly in our own heads, not in the meat-eaters’. What other people see is something that is really really difficult. Showing that in, whatever special cases, exceptions can be made, would make us and veganism seem more attractive rather than less. Consistency is, in my humble opinion, often overrated. That doesn’t mean we should just do whatever. But 99% consistency will be perfectly fine.

The question is whether fears like these are enough to explain the angry reactions to the post. I feel there’s something much more threatening going on for some vegans when the definition of vegan is being questioned. What I feel is going on is that on some level, some people experience that a very important part of their identity is being questioned. I’ll write about that some other time.

What was also quite interesting to notice was how people, who kept repeating “you are either vegan or you’re not!”, referred to other domains, issues, identities, personas… that were supposedly also black or white. In every single case though, I could see a lot of gray. One person said a Christian or a Muslim is not like 95% Christian or Muslim. My thought was exactly the opposite: both in terms of their (mental) faith and their (outward) behavior, people have different degrees of being religious. The same for having racist thoughts or exhibiting racist behavior: we seem to all do it to some extent.

The often mean reactions made me realize more than ever that being vegan is not an end point, and that as vegans we generally should not claim to be better than others. All of us can still grow in compassion. If we can’t open our minds to ideas that don’t coincide with our own, if we can’t even listen, read, talk or discuss compassionately, then there’s still a long way to go.
And rest assured, I count myself among the ones who still have a lot to learn.

Let’s keep an open mind and believe in each other’s good intentions.

 

49 thoughts on “What are vegans so afraid of?

    1. of course. i know i can’t reach the most close-minded of them, but that’s not who i’m aiming for 🙂 Thx.

  1. Yeees, the identity thing is so real. I feel like some vegans act like they’re in some sort of very cool exclusive club and don’t want any new members unless they are as cool as them, otherwise their image will be stained os something.

    1. What I never get about these sorts of people is that they make an argument from vegan dogmatism and instead of practicing an individualistic and non-dogma brand of veganism……they just go entirely in the other direction.

      1. Alicen Grey had special and personal reasons for abandoning veganism – and critiquing it – as a cult survivor she found vegansim too cult-like. Also she did not rebound into standard omnivory: she moved (at least initially for all I know) to a vegetarian diet (hence the provocative egg).

        This thread is about what vegans fear. I offered the link as a possible answer (about some at least) – any threat to the cult. A lot of the reaction Grey got simply confirmed the cultishness going on.

        Do I think veganism is a cult? Overall no – but that is because veganism as a social/ideological grouping is too diverse and vegans in their thinking are too diverse. But that very diversity is telling – however, that’s a different topic. Do I think there is cultishness within veganism – most definitely, yes.

        As for people reacting to dogmatic veganism by going in the opposite direction – perfectly understandable. Most will eventually find an even keel once the squall has passed.

      2. Thank you, Mr Toad, you gave me the impetus to re-read the Alicen Grey piece.

        Really wondering now how someone like Alicen, who tells us that she is a cult survivor, has corresponding psychological issues, and suffers from an eating disorder, and is asking whether, “high-demand”, veganism is good for psychological health, ends up as, “these sorts of people”, who are not objective and stoic enough to calmly steer individualistically away rather than just (allegedly) reacting.

        Further wondering, why Alicen’s acount of embracing nuance and uncertainty and being OK with eating eggs is going, “entirely in the other direction”, rather than an attempt to move towards balance.

        Yeah, just wondering…

        1. This is an example of the problems from dogmatic veganism: it pushes people away, even when they’re already in, and then these ex-vegan go preach anti-veganism, and it hurts the movement and the animals even more, convincing people that veganism is a cult. That and the misinformation about nutrition, as well as beliefs in intuitive eating (one article about an ex-vegan talked about how her doctor told her that if she’s craving meat, she must eat meat, not it’s nutritional equivalent or even a less boring meal) The belief that you only need to watch your proteins as a vegan is also dangerous

          1. 1) Why do you think it is “dogmatic” veganism that pushes people away? Is it possible that some people find too many intellectual and political failings in veganism per se?
            2) Do ex-vegans preach anti-veganism, or do they raise legitimate criticisms of veganism that vegans just don’t like?
            3) “Hurt the animals even more” because the vegan movement gets criticised. This presumes that veganism is, or will, help animals. Where is the evidence for that assumption?
            4) “Convincing people that veganism is a cult”. First of all, do you dispute the experiences that Alicen Grey had, and do you think her interpretation of them is invalid? There is cultishness within veganism, best to address it.
            5) Misinformation about nutrition. Yeah, but that also occurs from vegans aswell. The vegan diet requires care and diligence and supplementation, vegans should be honest about that.
            6) Intuitive eating – that is indeed garbage. But so is the garbage put forward by some vegans that humans are really herbivores.
            7) You kinda do need to pay a little attention to protein as a vegan because plant protein is slightly less well absorbed and one or two particular amino acids can be a bit short.

            1. 1. I do believe dogmatism is what pushes people away the most. And yes, maybe there is some failings that people see, but I cant… Do you have any example?

              2. I believe that the ex vegans truly believe that veganism isn’t good and their points are honest (though there is some rumors about professional trolls who fake being ex-vegans, but I really don’t know wether it’s true or not), but from what I’ve read they either had mental ilnesses that didn’t respond well with veganism, they held innacurate beliefs about nutrition, they were not lacking any nutrients but had obsessive thoughts about meat as well as feelings of fatigue and moodiness (wich might be caused by hypoxanthine addiction, hippoxanthine is a stimulant similar to cafeine and found in animal products), had boring meals or felt rejected socially. These are all problems that they can go trough by becoming vegan, but they do not mean veganism is bad (except for people with mental ilnesses that might worsen or be hidden by veganism).

              3. If the world go vegan, there would be fewer reasons to hurt animals, because we wont eat them, wear them, use them for entertainment, or destroy habitats either to adapt it to ”game” species, create grazing lands or lands to grow animal feed. Constructive criticism is actually pretty good for the movement, but these articles about ex-vegans are often in the goal of dismissing veganism by propagating the myths that it’s a cult (all of it, not just a part of the vegans), that it’s unhealthy (no matter how well planned) and that it makes you miserable (it can, if you don’t have the right skills to cope with being vegan in a non-vegan world, but it’s not always the case). Of course, not all of these ex-vegans preach anti-veganism, for example Alicen said that once she gets better, she might reconsider veganism, but a lot of people trying to prove veganism is bad use them for that… Wich cause people to not even listen to vegan’s agruments, because they better stay away from that ”cult”. In short, it keeps the movement from growing, wich prevents the abolition of animal agriculture, clothing and entertainment.

              4. I agree we need to do something about all this cultishness. And I don’t dismiss Alicen’s experience, I believe going vegan can be dangerous if you have a tendency to join cults, or if you have a mental ilness.

              5. I actually was talking about misinformation from vegans as well, but I guess I didn’t precise that. We souldn’t exagerate the benefits or downplay the difficulties, it’s dangerous…

              6. I don’t believe that either. It is true that we have an anatomy that is closer to herbivores, and different from most omnivores (though pigs have similar gut lenght to body lenght ratio as us, no claws and not so big teeth, and they’re still omnivores), but we have enzymes for meat digestion so we definetly are omnivores, though I don’t think we’re meant to eat as much meat as in the mainstream western diet, because this overconsumption causes a lot of health problems.

              7. It’s a bit true, but I’ve seen statistics that claim that, on average, even vegans ingest more proteins that they need, but maybe it’s because most vegan try to eat as much proteins as possible to avoid being deficient.

              1. 1) Intellectual and political failings of veganism? Too many to list here. So just one, the vegan boycott concept – a few points: consumer choices by an individual has absolutely no effect on supply, the idea that demand determines supply is very simplistic, even if half of America became vegan, investment would shift to China, India and other places so animal agriculture would continue at the same level.
                2) Standard vegan view – ex-vegans left veganism because they didn’t understand nutrition (did veganism wrong), succumbed to cravings, just couldn’t hack it for some reason. And because THEY failed, veganism clearly is no way at fault… Put to one side the pathetic tales of some bloggers, and consider a) that legitimate questions about veganism may have been part of the mix for some; b) whatever the personal impetus, it leads to legitimate questioning of veganism. I’ve read ex-vegan stories that raise philosophical questions and issues about sustainability.
                3) I asked for evidence – you give ideas about what might happen if the world goes vegan. But we immediately hit a problem – what evidence gives us any basis for thinking the world will or can go vegan? Let focus on the biggy -the world. First of all certain parts of the world are not suitable for arable farming, if you import massive amounts of food to those areas, you will destroy the livelihoods of agarians and turn them into more urban poor, you will also shackle these economies, you deprive such areas of the possibility of food sovereignty in a world made increasingly precarious by climate change, and you integrally support big agriculture with all the problems that relate to that. There are many other, different problems with the proposition of the world going vegan. So, I ask again, what is the evidence that veganism will help animals?
                4) Cultishness – too easy to just focus on people with a tendency to join cults or have mental problems.
                5) OK
                6) OK
                7) I actually tend to agree protein is a bit of a red herring. But Vit B12, Vit A, Vit D, iodine, long-chain omega 3, calcium, iron and zinc are not.

                Please respond if you wish, but I’ll leave you to it. I have a limited interest in debating vegans, like I have no interest in debating Jehovah’s Witnesses.

                1. Last sentence is not aimed at you personally, it’s just that my observation is that one can not generally advance debate with vegans because they won’t grapple with certain issues and often use the switcheroo – e.g. when it ain’t working for them rights-wise, they switch to suffering.

                  Anyway, thanks for taking the time to engage with me so far.

                  1. I’ve dealt with the switcheroo for years…..whenever you offer an argument the goal post just changes…..and as such there is never a fixed moral claim being made.

                    Glad to see that I’m not the only one that notices this sort of disingenuity in the vegan community.

        2. I took the egg has being symbolic, not a statement that she is some sort of vegetarian now. Its actually not clear what point she is trying to make, okay so veganism lacks nuance…..so then what? What about the underlying issues?

          1. You don’t think that within veganism there is cultishness going on that is damaging for some people is an issue? You don’t think that veganism/demands of vegan diet being psychologically unhealthy for some people, and therefore being another reason why veganism is not for everyone, is an issue? You are dismissive of what she says because she hasn’t written the kind of treatise you want to read?

            You skip past my question of why you insultingly labelled her as “these sorts of people”. And you skip past my question of why you grossly mischaracterised her new stance as going, “entirely in the other direction”.

            It is unclear what point she is trying to make? No. She makes her point perfectly clearly, in fact, imo, to the extent of being too insistent and unqualified. Your problem is that you are not interested in her point and see it as irrelevant to what you think is the important issue(s) and you consequently toss her aside as “these sorts of people”.

            What “sorts of people” are you, Mr Toad?

            1. Veganism can be very cult-like……but I don’t see this as an argument for anything as one can be vegan-ish without being part of the vegan community. Perhaps veganism is unhealthy for some, but I think what usually happens is that people with particular mental illnesses are more likely to be attracted to veganism and as such veganism probably doesn’t make matters worse…..without help they are likely just to move onto something else that plays the same role (for example, the oddity of people going from vegan to paleo).

              I’m dismissive of what she says because she doesn’t address any of the actual issues. Why did I label her as “these sorts of people”…because I find that her comments match a certain ex-vegan pattern. I don’t think I’ve grossly misrepresented anything, instead referred to my interpretation……she wasn’t very coherent so its only natural for different readers to have different interpretations. We obviously disagree about how clear she was, perhaps because we are looking for different things.

              Everyone is some “sort of person”, I guess that is up to the observer. But I never subscribed to veganism….so I don’t identify with the polarization that one often finds with vegans and vocal ex-vegans.

  2. I find that while a lot of people are busy being compassionate toward animals they have forgotten to also be compassionate toward their fellow humans. If we can show people that being vegan isn’t scary by guiding them in that direction one gentle step at a time while also being kind and helpful toward them, we have a much better chance of more people becoming vegan. People who bash others, cuss at them, and call them disgusting names for not being “vegan enough” do more harm than good if having more vegans in the world IS actually their true intention. Thank goodness I had kindhearted people to help me when I became vegan. If I had come across these “holier-than-though” people first, I may have completely changed my mind about becoming vegan.

      1. True, but I guess they feel angry about all the bad stuff humans do… It’s not a reason to be aggressive though, actually that rarely convince anyone to be open to change, it usually do the opposite. I actually felt like that too, being so angry and sad towards humanity, but in these case you have to use some self control to behave rationaly, and learn to deal with being in such a cruel world, for the sake of your mental health and for better advocacy

  3. It always surprises me that some vegans don’t seem to get that by giving permission to make an exception such as a piece of non vegan cake at a birthday party, it helps newbies to go and stay vegan whereas they might otherwise decide that being vegan is too difficult to do. Isn’t it better if people eat vegan sometimes rather than never? As you said, it’s taking that first step or those first few steps. If we want a world where more than 1% of people are vegan, we need to do this. Furthermore, even if people never become vegan, it saves more animals when they eat less animal products. All or nothing results in more animal suffering.

  4. When the vegan police act up I feel embarrassed but I never feel like changing my identity as a vegan. I think it may be difficult for some committed vegans to understand those who aren’t there yet. It may, to some, seem like “coddling” to welcome and embrace people who are still on the fence. Perhaps this is why they act so angrily?

  5. Hi Tobias! I have read your posts for just a few months now. I responded to that first one saying how refreshing the writing is and also how refreshing the writing of the responders is. You are inspiring. Your stance is effective because it is begins by being realistic about the situation, emphasizes patience, and preps the soil for joy. I have a visual, a simple pie chart divided into suffering on one side and not suffering (whatever word you want to use) on the other. It represents all life as we know it, including my own. I want to be on the non suffering side, in no small part to shrink the other side. You can’t reduce suffering worldwide and be on the side of suffering. Anger is not the lowest state but it is still suffering. Acting out of anger only causes more suffering, so imagine how much of the suffering on the chart is simply suffering as a response to suffering. Some people suffer because they equate it to their cause. Yes there is much needless suffering, but it has been proven that outrage is outdated as a motivator if you want to put a dent in suffering. It is difficult enough simply to try and educate people from a simple passionless ‘just the facts’ standpoint since they already equate veganism with outrage. I realized I am not a persuasive person so I just let my great health and abundant protein-made hair speak for me.

  6. Tobias:

    I can’t thank you enough for having the courage to write about vegan-spectrum issues, regardless of how much resistance and acrimony you’re met with. The ongoing battle about purity among vegans is, I believe, the biggest threat this movement has to further progress. For myself, I recently decided to stop self-identifying as vegan, because I realized, after much fretting and soul-searching, that I really don’t fit the expansive and strict definition of vegan. Instead, from now on, I’ll just be “plant based.” I’d be interested to know if anyone else is moving in a similar direction? (I enjoyed Judith Lautner’s thoughtful comment on this issue.) Thank you again, Tobias, for all the work you’re doing.

    1. hi elizabeth, glad you found it useful.
      personally, i am advising that if you would like to call yourself vegan, and you’re close enough to vegan (and you decide that with your own conscience) you call yourself vegan. i’m not talking about people who regularly eat this or that, but who for all practical purposes are vegan. Intuitively, i feel that people with some sense of grey are much better ambassadors for the vegan cause than those without. we have to make sure that the omnivorous population is not just confronted with vegans who have an alienating effect on them. just my blasphemous opinion 🙂
      best of luck!

  7. Excellent points Tobias. Most people have not been educated in behavior change or in the kind of communication needed to educate/inform others regarding veganism. Strong emotions can be blinding, and many feel a subjective bias such as: “I did it so everyone else should be able to.” It makes sense that presenting being vegan as a long list of “no”s would cause people to be defensive. Peter Singer has expressed that being flexible with some areas could endear people to veganism vs. witnessing a vegan scrutinize every ingredient in a salad or giving a waitress/waiter the 3rd degree just to order son food. I have not yet chosen to compromise my commitment but am aware of how I maneuver my choices when dining out. Also, I lighten up the conversation when I see people may be reacting with some confusion to my vegan choices. For example, I ordered an enchilada without cheese at a (very nice) Mexican restaurant and afterwards said “The chef is probably swearing in Spanish being asked to make an enchilada with no cheese.”

  8. I think you are right that the main thing is that it is people’s identity. So many vegans think “vegan” makes them part of an exclusive and superior club, and thus any attempt to “dilute” that is mocking their superior identity. I really believe your one interview hit on what needs to be done: No more use of the word “vegan.” http://bit.ly/1stduaz

    1. I believe it might come from the frustration of being in a world where almost nobody gets what’s going on and keep on participating in horrible practices. But it’s true that it is better to calm down and encourage every single step in the right direction, even if I’m sure that all of us would love to see the world turn vegan overnight (if we don’t think about all the problems such a huge change would cause)

    2. For those who live vegan for (primarily) ethical reasons, a compromise is seen as participation in cruelty to sentient beings who are just as deserving of respect aa dogs and cats people love as pets. When we understand (by living it) the “why” of vegan ethics then it no longer appears dogmatic but a stance for justice. However, given the pervasiveness of animal industries and cultural history of eating animal products, Tobias’ approach makes sense. He is not criticizing vegans who appear dogmatic, yet some of those replying to his post are.

  9. Hi Tobias I agree with everything you wrote, thanks for sharing this thoughtful piece.

    To play devil’s advocate and pick up a thought you tossed aside — identity and tribalism are powerfully ingrained in our species and may explain the strong reaction to weakening the definition of veganism. I anticipate you believe that vegans should move past tribalism, but have you considered embracing it instead? If tribalism is really something innate and fundamental in our makeup attempting to ignore or work around it may prove a fool’s errand.

    On the other hand, making tribalism work for the animals could conceivably be a winning strategy. If people had to choose between playing on Team Compassion or Team Suffering the choice would be an easy one, and imagine if we could get people to put a fraction of the energy and interest they devote to their favorite sports team to living compassionately? Introducing shades of gray eliminates the opportunity for tribalism and thereby reduces the movement’s ability to hold people in thrall.

    With all that being said, us versus them does not strike me as a compassionate state of mind. Is it obstacle we can overcome, or is it baggage we’re stuck with?

    1. hi alex, thanks for your comments. I think it’s definitely a two edged sword, with its up and downsides. what may also be the case is that, as many things in our movement, the efficiency of it may be dependent on the phase where we are in our movement, meaning: it may work better in the future than it does now.
      in any case, i think we could be pretty tribal even without being negative and fundamentalist. so i mean, there may be different ways of living this tribalism 🙂
      Of course if as you suggest it is true that it is hard to change it, then my suggestions may not be very relevant at all…
      I’m planning to write and think more on this topic in the future. if you want to know more, there’s a chapter on this in donna maurer’s “vegetarianism: movement or moment?”

  10. Question – what is veganism? Elsewhere, Mr Toad has offered an answer. Veganism IS the doctrine of consumption practices, and “justifications” (e.g. animal rights) have been applied post hoc: and inevitable tension occurs between the doctrine and the justifications.

    Question – can veganism as a philosophy be distinguished from veganism as consumption practices? Some have pondered this
    http://eco-health.blogspot.co.uk/2011/06/critique-of-consumption-centred.html?m=1

    So, if a person fully agrees with veganism as a philosophy, but does not do the diet *at all*, are they a vegan? If the answer is no (I can not imagine any vegan saying yes), then consumption is the definitive criteria of veganism. Veganism qua veganism is consumption practices.

    Bickering about strict adherence to the diet is not just about individuals’ flaws, their lack of strategic nous, or their psychological need to maintain “identity”, it is a reflection of veganism itself.

  11. The “vegan identity” problem is real, but the examples you give are not entirely convincing. Two other possible explanations are mental illness and professional trolls. Mental illness is a bigger issue in the movement than most people give it credit for. Professional trolls (from a government or from corporations) may establish multiple identifies and sometimes deliberately sound like “disturbed individuals” and I suspect this is also a factor. So I wouldn’t jump to conclusions about what “vegans” think based on Facebook posts. Blogs would be a better indication because then you have some indication the person is real.

  12. Great! Dogmatic vegans are either mentally ill or professional trolls deliberately sounding like “disturbed individuals”. Well Keith, you are either a cautious and objective psychiatrist who, after careful and extensive survey, feels that mental illness may be a factor, or you’ve done a grand job of notching up another deplorable ism going on within the vegan movement.

    1. Question, Keith – do you think the dogmatic adherence of so many vegans to the vegan boycott concept, which is obviously so full of holes, is also, possibly, indicative of mental illness?

      It is really puke-making how often vegans throw “mental illness” at other vegans and non-vegans, and how anti-vegans* throw it at vegans. You are all contributing to the stigmatisation of mental illness.

      *Anti-vegan is not to be confused with ex-vegan.

    2. I don’t think they’re mentally ill, they’re probably very frustrated by the cruel world around them and either find it difficult to cope with it or refuse to calm down because they think they would betray the animals if they approached life more positively, wich is indeed dangerous for their mental health, but it doesn’t mean all of them are mentally ill

  13. There is a presumption in Tobias’ essay that the true fundamental motivation for veganism is compassion. Its presented as a fact. Any other motivation is dogmatic. You are shocked that others may have a different view. You harp over and over on “suffering” as if that is some bright shining line not to cross.

    Compassion is a great motivator for becoming vegan but compassion is subjective. What you consider compassionate may be on one hand cruel to one, or overly emotionally anthropomorphic to another. I’ve had many arguments with well meaning non-vegans about their “compassionately killed” meat.

    For me, its more than compassion: we have no moral right to take the life of another sentient being. (period) You may needle pick away at this view – but it is a far more encompassing justification for being vegan than relying on the whims of us humans.

    So compassion, of course, but don’t be so close-minded as to claim your basis for being vegan is the be-all and end-all.

    1. pslebow, i don’t know if it’s *me* you’re accusing of being dogmatic or close minded, but if there’s one thing i’m not, it’s dogmatic about motivations for being vegan… either you haven’t read much of me, or you’re talking about someone else, or i am not getting you at all.

      btw, seems like your rights view would not allow for mercy killing?

  14. “All of us can still grow in compassion. If we can’t open our minds to ideas that don’t coincide with our own, if we can’t even listen, read, talk or discuss compassionately, then there’s still a long way to go. And rest assured, I count myself among the ones who still have a lot to learn. Let’s keep an open mind and believe in each other’s good intentions.”

    This past week I got to listen to and discuss with Gary Francione at the Cleveland VegFest. Following your articles, I obviously don’t agree with Gary’s viewpoint. But the more I listened to him, the more I understood his position. He certainly has good intentions. He loves animals, apparent in his diet, lifestyle, and by the fact that he’s rescued his plentiful dogs (I think he has 6 of them). It scares me to see vegans fighting other vegans while we miss the larger issues.

    1. “…vegans fighting other vegans…”. If you ain’t a Francione-style abolitionist vegan, as far as the F is concerned, you are just another speciesist welfarist “animal person” promoting the exploitation of animals. The F and his followers are notorious for attacking everyone who does not subscribe 100% to the F’s ideas. Spend sometime on his abolitionist approach fb page. Francione is one of the major motors for vegans fighting vegans.

  15. Yeah, I generally eat vegan, but I try to keep the word out of it. I do it for health, not necessarily the animal benefits. The animals benefit, tho. You can eat all junk food and still keep it vegan. I just know that animal protein is not that good for you, and concentrated fats (all oils) are also detrimental.

  16. Agree. The Francione-styled vegan bashing is one good example of this rift. For me, veganism only makes sense as a cause or a movement, not as a lifestyle or a religion. To claim that you have to be 100% perfect to be vegan is to equate veganism with a cult mentality that drives people away and promotes unnecessary fights between vegans.
    When I define myself as a vegan, what I claim is to try to be vegan as much as possible. Same with being environmentalist, feminist, etc. I don’t claim not to be inconsistent here and there. In some cases, I will be inconsistent without being aware of it and if someone points that out to me I will listen and then think of a way to address the inconsistency. In other cases, it might just be too difficult or impractical to be vegan, impossible even.
    Let me give an example that I like to give. Some years ago, I was in a foreign city and, after waking up from a nap, I realized that it was dinner time, I was hungry and I had no idea of where I could find some place to eat. I left the hotel and wandered on the streets, realizing that nothing was open. By the time I thought I was going to bed without eating, I saw a McDonald’s open which, to my surprise, had a veggie burger for sale. Now, it’s probable that this burger had egg in it. More importantly, I boycotted McDonald’s even before I was a vegan. Still, I felt (and still feel) that it was a minor concession, so I ate the burger. It was weird having that Mcawful taste in my mouth after two decades of being Mcfree, very weird. But I didn’t feel like I was betraying the cause nor did I feel any guilt, why should I?
    And here’s where I’ll probably be polemic: I rather have a vegan activist that can open an exception occasionally when not doing so implies being undernourished than having a vegan purist that never opens exceptions because for him/her, veganism is all about individual behaviour. I think the former is far more effective in fighting animal exploitation.
    In fact, how could I ever be 100% consistent with my principles when, for instance, I have to choose between a vegan cookie that has palm oil and a cookie with egg but no palm oil? Should I sacrifice my veganism or my environmentalism? More importantly, what about the connections between the two causes? Can I really consider palm oil to be vegan when its production is involved in deforestation and, therefore, results in the death of a huge number of wild animals? Is the life of the orangutan that depends on the forest less important than the life of the chicken?
    To be an activist is to face these connections and to understand that, while you thrive to be consistent, you can never be 100% consistent while you live in a world different from the one you idealize. So, let’s just cool off a bit and understand that the problem of animal exploitation has nothing to do with the fact that some or most vegans will open up an exception here and there.

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