Many people like my ideas on veganism and animals, some people don’t. Of the people who don’t, some give fair criticism. That is of course all right. Other people’s criticism is less fair: it can be a mixture of ad hominem arguments, strawman arguments, misrepresentations, half-truths, and even downright lies. These people often also badmouth me and just generally try to depict me as anti-vegan, a traitor, or whatever. It is sad, but yes, this kind of thing also happens within the vegan movement.
I try to ignore people who unfairly criticize me as much as possible, and in all the years some of them have gone after me, I think I have not mentioned any of them by name so far on this blog. Here I’m making an exception and talk about one of them: an Irish activist named Roger Yates.
Why do I name him and write about this person? Because he keeps badmouthing me and misrepresenting my views as much as he can. And now and then other people just run with his stuff, uncritically accepting it (maybe because it fits in their views). Whoever wants to know more about Yates’ beef with me can get some information in this post, and judge for him- or herself if they should take this person seriously.
Roger Yates is a longtime animal rights activist. I have no doubt that he cares deeply about animals and has their interests at heart. Unfortunately, that doesn’t prevent him from bashing other activists, like me. Here’s a brief list of examples of some of his nasty behavior toward me.
- Ever since he got familiar with my work, Yates has tried to point out I am into activism for the money, calling me a careerist. He is, in other words, thinking he can mindread my motivations and intentions. I have pointed out to him that in about 15 years of full time or more than full time activism, I have received a fulltime salary for exactly 3 months. The rest of my work was either as a volunteer, or at very low pay. Today I speak around the world and only get my expenses paid. Apart from a small sum (250 € after tax) for part of my work, everything I do is unpaid.
- Yates has made several video compilations about me, where he frames what I say in a way that is meant to engender negative feelings about me from whoever watches them. When for instance I state that I would eat a steak for 100.000 euro and give the money to an animal rights organization, he cuts the video off right before I’m saying that i would give the money to an animal rights organization, while playing a tune about money in the background. This one example is very indicative of how disingenuous he can behave.
- RY has made unauthorized recordings of things i said, including personal sensitive things, where I didn’t know i was being recorded, and has put them on the internet.
- My position is that now and then making exceptions (e.g. when a non vegan friend has made a pasta dish for you but forgot about the tiny bit of eggs in the dough) is a viable option in the sense that such (pragmatic) exceptions would help others not have an overly difficult idea of veganism, and thus help more animals. Yates makes of that that i actually “encourage people to eat animals”. I believe it’s easy to see that this is a gross and dishonest representation of my ideas.
- Here’s another example. When i say that to some non-vegans some of our behavior might look a bit crazy at times, Yates makes of that that I “tell new impressionable vegans that consistent vegans are mentally ill”.
- Yates has suggested that during my time at EVA (Ethical Vegetarian Alternative), which has received subsidies from the goverment for almost fifteen years now (and which is actually quite an achievement), I sold out for that reason.
Yates has been attacked and misrepresented by Gary Francione, and I’ve seen Yates ask other people not to believe whatever Francione is writing about him. Strangely, Yates himself doesn’t seem to realize he is doing exactly the same thing to people like me.
I have suggested at least ones that Yates and I sit down to have a conversation. He refused.
I do not want to judge the character of Roger Yates across the board. All I’m saying is that to me, this guy has been behaving quite dishonestly and nastily for about four years now.
If you want to judge me or my views, be a slow opinionist. Read what I write, listen to what I have to say, and don’t go by critics like Yates, who are out to poison the well just because they have a different opinion.