Beware of vegan dogma

This post is also available in: Italiano

Suppose I asked you to write an online dating profile for yourself. And suppose I told you that you could only use one word to describe what you desire in a significant other. What quality would you first and foremost be looking for?

Mine would be: open-mindedness. It’s the quality that guarantees you can talk and have good conversations no matter what. It’s the quality that helps guarantee empathy, because you’re open to listen to everything and consider all kinds of things. It’s the quality that assures, in short, growth.

The opposite of being open-minded, is being dogmatic. Being dogmatic is basically the attitude of not questioning things. One is not necessarily dogmatic across the board, about all kind of topics imaginable, but one can definitely be dogmatic about certain topics.

If you are a vegan today, then chances are big that, like me, you spent quite a bit of your life accepting certain dogma concerning the consumption of animals. You were in a certain box. I call this box the box of carnism (Melanie Joy’s term).carnism

Being inside the box of carnism – being subject to the ideology of carnism, made you accept all kinds of dogmatic ideas. Like the ideas that eating animal products is natural, normal and necessary.

Then, if you were like me after some time, the light went on. You pushed the box open and jumped out as a vegan (maybe first a vegetarian, but that’s okay).carnism box

Now, the thing is that I realized – only after many years of being vegan – that to a certain extent, I had ended up in another box. The vegan box.vegan box 1Just like I had been dogmatically accepting all kinds of beliefs before, I was doing the same now. I was thinking of veganism in the only way that one is allowed to think about it: honoring the decade-old definition. I would point out that as soon as one made one exception, one isn’t a vegan. I repeated the eternal mantra that it wasn’t about welfare but about rights (and I used welfare and welfarist as dirty words – when did they ever turn into that?). And so on…

So, a couple of years ago, I largely got out of that box. And I began questioning everything once more. I believe I am largely coming to the same conclusions as when I was in the vegan box, but here’s the thing. It is the very act of questioning that is important. It is that that will guard us against fundamentalism. It is that which will keep us open-minded. It is that that will keep us away from dogma. Dogma is what prevents us from improving.

And the need for questioning, for introspection, for self awareness is not over. It is possible that I will end up in yet another box. It could be called… the box of openmindedness, the anti-dogmatic box, the pragmatic box. We can make boxes, ideologies, out of everything.

One box is better than another, but it is better not to be in any box at all and to keep our thinking free.

You can check the presentation on open-mindedness, rationality, empathy and positivity that I recently gave at the International Animal Rights Conference in Luxemburg:

See also: ten vegan things I recently changed my mind about

10 thoughts on “Beware of vegan dogma

  1. Hello Tobias, Im writting from Mexico post earthquake….we have witnessed heroic acts of the canine binomios as they are called, a human and a trained dog who have taken out survivants out from the debris, risking their lifes… Many people now is fan of this dogs, mainly a female dog named Frida…. A part of the animal rights community is angry because they consider its animal abuse to train and use the dogs to rescue people they say it is not vegan. What i see is that common people now feels admiration and empathy to these dogs and maybe to other animals. Dogs, cats, parrots and turtles also have been rescued and people were happy about that and these rescuesbecame viral… What is your opinion about this issue?

  2. Huh, many times people reposting Melany Joy’s videos or interviews or book – I saw how they use the Carnism idea as a material for their new box. They trying to say: “you are jerks carnists!” Or at least: “You serve the system of carnism! Be a rebel against it, otherwise you’re its supporter!” 🙂

    So what is your opinion on carnism as another labeling tool for the people who want to fight against others? Why is this happening? For what degree Melany Joy is also responsible for this? (Or the interpreters just go their way and the initial idea has no degree of such labelling?)

  3. Vegans like to spout moot points quite often. Nobody is saying veganism itself is a dogma, they’re saying it’s a dogma because that’s what its proponents turn it into. What it is on paper is beside the point. I can’t ever justify eating meat because the one asking to justify it is the one setting the standards. But I’m not obligated to be beholdant to your standards. You can scream “but but rapists say that,” all you want, it’s a false equivalency. I consider rape abhorrent because it’s against a human. I consider the holocaust an abomination because jews are just another flavor of human. I care about humans, I care about people with loved ones and aspirations living in society, I don’t care about animals.

    And the f-cking “meat causes cancer bro!” argument. Sigh. That’s a meangingless fact because it lacks causal detail. Tell me, eating processed meat every day increases your risk of cancer by five percent, than you got something. (I don’t do that, I was raised by a family that emphasized fresh food and I find Mcdonalds “food” disgusting) But, “there’s a link bro!” does nothing, it says nothing. Vegans cherry pick and contextualize causually vague facts to offer an artificial infallibility to their rhetoric and pretend to be the arbiters of knowledge, completely oblivious to how naive this is to people who understand science, the scientific process and good old fashioned simple argumentative logic.

  4. Wow, the amount of bull-shit found here is jus more of the same propaganda found in every vegan site.

    How many fallacious arguments do you still have to support your claims? Asking for a friend.

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