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.
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!
12 thoughts on “Suppose there was a vegan island. Would you go live there?”
Of course I wouldn’t live there! Being vegan is all about being superior, and looking down on the idiot meat eaters!!
>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???
Could we go there on holiday? 😀
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.
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.
I’ve heard that Berlin is becoming something of a vegan haven. Lots of vegan eateries and even vegan supermarkets…
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. 🙂
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.
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!
Please post and share!!
We are writing to share an exciting possibility for the vegan community.
It has recently come to our attention that there is a magnificent piece of land on the Big Island of Hawaii that would be the perfect place for a nature reserve, an animal sanctuary, or the home for a collective of vegan land-owners. As it is situated next to an existing 34-acre vegan retreat, recently purchased by Gentle World, our vision is to acquire this second plot, with the help of others, and create an entire vegan landscape.
This 88-acre piece of paradise has three water sources, the deepest soil in the island of Hawaii and the perfect elevation for year-round growing of everything from coconuts and mangoes to soy beans. Your neighbors would be Gentle World, the longest-standing vegan community and educational center in the world, whose plan is to build VeganLand on the 34 acre piece it has just acquired. Their goal is to create a sanctuary for vegans, an educational center for potential vegans and a place of rejuvenation and inspiration for animal rights activists in the international hub that is Hawaii. It will be the first of its kind and the unifying force the vegan movement so needs.
The 88 acres is currently owned by a corporation that plans to strip this beautiful land of all its vegetation. As they are currently poised to begin this process, time is of the essence. Please reply if you have interest in more information or if you know other vegans who might have the means to be a part of acquiring this $1.5 million haven. Please note that the land is able to be subdivided into four separate parcels of 22 acres.
This is a magnificent property, located on the foothills of the Kohala Mountain.
Together we can make a vegan world!
SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT TO ALL VEGANS
GREAT OPPORTUNITY FOR VEGANISM
CREATE A VEGAN COMMUNITY IN HAWAII
THE BEST ALL YEAR ROUND WEATHER
AND A PERPETUAL GROWING SEASON
THERE IS A BEAUTIFUL PARCEL OF LAND
AND WE WANT VEGANS TO OWN IT !!!!
BELIEVE ME, THIS LAND WILL SUPPORT
ORCHARDS AND GARDENS
COMBINED WITH AN ANIMAL SANCTUARY OR
JUST SOMEONE WHO WANTS TO ESCAPE THE MAINLAND MADNESS.
WE WANT THIS VERY MUCH BECAUSE
WE ARE A VEGAN NON-PROFIT ORG. ON THE ADJACENT LAND.
I am VERY much interested in this possibility. I am the founder and former executive director of Full Circle Farm Sanctuary, Inc., a non-profit 501(c)(3) farmed animal sanctuary located near Atlanta, GA.
I am wishing to move to the Big Island and would love to become involved with this project. I definitely have much experience in running an animal sanctuary and have been an ethical vegan and animal rights advocate since 1989.
Please let me know how I may find out more information.
Thank you so very much!
Certainly..there is a good chance we can see a completely vegan nation where crimes of abuse and murder do not exist..a peaceful country with positive people where we can meditate and practice eco conscious living. I read how 250 Jain monks had succeeded in banning of meat and eggs as well as prohibition of slaughter in Palitana, India, however they still use dairy..therefore not vegan. If there is a single place on earth where all forms of abuse and killing are illegal we can set an example for the rest of the world to follow. When people see that such places and cities are coming up and complete islands, towns, cities or even nations are going vegan by banning slaughter and abuse of all animals, we can start a chain reaction and intensify the healing and ascension of the planet. Until then we are not home as yet! https://www.change.org/p/end-slaughter-and-abuse-of-all-animals