Is Veganism a Toxic Culture?

Today as I was scrolling through my reader I came across this video and post from Tobias Leenaert at the Vegan Strategist. It’s one of the best talks I’ve seen in the past few months on the topic of Veganism, especially as I’ve been trying to formulate and organize my thoughts on the next stage of my personal Veganism, which I now call Secular Veganism.

Source: Anti-vegan: the lasagne

Tobias makes several great points throughout the talk, but here are the ones that really struck me:

  • practice slow opinion
  • what goes into your mouth is less important than what comes out
  • anger does not make you a better activist
  • “winning an argument but losing a customer”
  • guilt doesn’t help convert people to veganism
  • take your thinking further than the accepted logic of the movement

I also loved the portion about whether we want a vegan club or a Vegan world. For me, the question relates back to what I wrote about a few days ago, with regard to whether you identify or qualify. Is Veganism a club that you can be accepted into/kicked out of based on ticking off items one-by-one from a litmus test-like check list, or does it have the potential to become something larger?

The AR movement has been around long enough now that you’d think we would have developed a more robust discourse for self-reflection and critique, but I rarely see it. In my experience, we have a lot of sacred cows at the core of Vegan ideology and attempts at critical thought quickly devolve into vegan-blaming.

We (Vegans) need to consider whether or not we have become a toxic culture, and what that means for the movement and for the animals.

How much of a fundamentalist are you?

  • If a Catholic uses a condom, are they a Catholic?
  • If a Jew eats a cheeseburger, are they a Jew?
  • If a Vegan drinks a glass of milk, are they a Vegan?

Personally, I’m more concerned with how one identifies than whether or not they qualify. This is a complex world, and sooner or later anyone with convictions can be made to look like a hypocrite, a liar, or a fraud.

I think Neal Stephenson wrote it best in The Diamond Age:

For, you see, even if there is no right and wrong, you can find grounds to criticise another person by contrasting what he has espoused with what he has actually done. In this case, you are not making any judgment whatsoever as to the correctness of his views or the morality of his behaviour–you are merely pointing out that he has said one thing and done another.

That we occasionally violate our own stated moral code does not imply that we are insincere in espousing that code.

Until Every Elephant Is Free

It was announced today that Ringling Brothers Circus Plans to stop using elephants in its shows by 2018. FTA:

The company cited growing public concern for animal welfare and a “mood shift” from audiences as the reason behind its decision. Company president Kenneth Feld also claimed it was getting too expensive to fight anti-elephant legislation in cities around the US. Ringling’s three shows visit 115 cities throughout the year, some of which, like Ketchum and Sun Valley, Idaho, have recently passed “anti-circus” ordinances.
[…]
PETA has already responded to the decision, saying, “If Ringling is serious about this decision, then it needs to end its use of elephants now.

Animals are not ours to use for any reason, including in circuses, zoos, Sea World, and rodeos. If you view these forums of animal abuse and exploitation as entertainment, please: rethink your position.

This is not about what we individually choose to eat. Fundamentally, this is an issue of Justice. Humans have no right to imprison other sentient beings who feel pain, create art, live in family units, and mourn the losses of their loved ones. In every way that matters, they’re just like us. What doesn’t matter is how well you believe the animals in these prisons are cared for. A prison is a prison. They shouldn’t be there in the first place.

Justice can be hard to come by for Humans, but it’s non-existent for these majestic, intelligent beings. For they truly are the salt of the earth: Do we care for, learn from, and protect the species we share this planet with, or do we cast them out, to be trodden under our feet? Do we cherish the last days of our endangered friends, or do we mock them as we systematically eliminate their habitats, round up their young, and imprison them for a few fleeting moments of entertainment?

One day, every cage will be empty, every lab will be abandoned, and every slaughterhouse will be demolished. They will stand forever as pockmarks across the land, reminding our species of the atrocities we once accepted, even celebrated.

In solidarity, Until Every Animal Is Free.

Food Rules and Vegan Food

Re: Class, privilege & vegan food

I don’t believe a healthy vegan diet is more expensive than an omnivorous diet. That said, junk food is pricey, whether or not it’s vegan. Be smart about your health and be smart in the grocery store.

Any set of “food rules” can result in poor health and a strained budget. The point is to only set “rules” that are realistic and that fit your lifestyle and personal belief system.

Yeah, vegans can be incredibly pretentious and classist. Anyone can. What else is new?