Veganism is (Not) the New “-Ism”

In the week before spring break, there was considerable discussion on this campus about veganism and encouraging students to take part in veganism. This is a continuation of what I have seen in my past three years here — this includes graphic depictions of animal killings and conditions directly outside the dining hall; comparisons to rape, stoning, and homophobia; as well as general online guilt-filled rhetoric to encourage students to try giving up animal-based products.

While I agree that there are issues regarding animal cruelty and abuse that veganism does address, these methods in pushing the vegan issue on campus are harmful to students and to the community overall. Some of these approaches might seem acceptable to raise awareness of the harms of eating and using animal by-products. However, the dangers that these extreme comparisons bring to this campus are not worth it.

There are students on this campus who have issues with food. Disordered eating and a plethora of food allergies are present on this campus and make simply getting access to healthy and safe food difficult. Personally, I’m allergic to gluten, wheat, barley, rye, sesame seeds, and soy. My diet in the dining hall consists of Chex and skim milk. Guilting me, and other students like me, into further restricting my diet is not helpful for my health, mentally or physically. For students who have disordered eating, being faced with graphic images or posters that force them on a dramatic guilt trip can be enough for them to turn around and leave the dining hall, without eating at all. There is enough food guilt involved in simply eating within a society that favors the thin without adding in animal-based guilt. Not to mention that a movement that can only attract new members via guilt-tripping is a movement that really needs better methods of recruitment to its cause.

Now, perhaps those reactions seem like a fair threat — not eating is better than taking part in the system! If you believe that, this article isn’t for you; personally, I think that survival on this campus is the number one goal, and for some that means eating dairy or meat — or eating anything at all.

So, my argument isn’t that veganism is bad, or that vegans should not talk about their issue, or that this is a systemic issue rather than a personal one. My argument is about how some activists are framing non-veganism as the new sexism, racism, homophobia, or rape culture. Sarina Farb’s article regarding this issue compared veganism to stoning. There are posts on Advancing Animal Compassion Together’s Facebook page (see below) that compare eating meat to holding slaves, raping, and the “starving kids in Africa” trope.

I never really thought that my thinking that people had more rights than animals would be that shocking, especially when faced with the idea of dehumanizing minorities and belittling their deaths and struggles as those of animals. The keeping of slaves is not the same as keeping animals for the purpose of eating them for human survival, nor are dairy cows rape victims based on any reasonable definition of consent. Suggesting that these issues are comparable dehumanizes people that need our help more desperately than animals.

On some level, our fundamental differences may prevent us from engaging in productive dialogue. For instance, I do not believe that speciesism is a meaningful term. I think there are implications of that concept that need to be addressed — for instance, where do we draw the line? Are mammals the only animals that should receive rights nearly equivalent to those of humans, or do we extend those rights to birds? Fish? Insects? What constitutes sentience; what constitutes consciousness? What implications would this have on stem cell research? Should dogs vote? I can argue my computer is sentient, or at least as sentient as an ant — is my code an abuse? If speciesism does exist, what arguments justify placing it on the same level as homophobia, transphobia, sexism, racism, or rape culture? These are questions that need to be answered, or at least considered when using this hostile, open-ended humanistic logic. I do not believe that someone who is pro-animal rights must also be vegan, and I do not believe that a movement that needs to resort to coercion in order to further its cause is a movement that deserves my full respect.

You can be a vegan and have it be an important issue for you without threatening people and guilting people into a choice. Activism takes energy and being a vegan is a choice that affects you on a daily basis. It’s also expensive, and there are only so many battles that one person can take on at a time, especially on a campus that is so politically active and exhausting. Your political guilt for making the food choice that best suits me, personally, is wrong; your activism is not expressing a freedom, but a public shaming that makes people feel guilty for eating, for surviving.

Make the argument for the animals being cute, make the argument for health reasons, make the argument based on environmental reasons. Don’t come at me with starving children tropes, comparisons to human pain and problems because it makes you look less human. Convince people and educate about your cause. Make people want to be vegan for themselves, not because they fear being on the “wrong side of history” for a cause that isn’t exactly proven, nor ethically always considered, the “right side”. Don’t make your arguments inherently racist, sexist, ableist, and homophobic when trying to align with those movements by abusing the past wrongs that have already happened and are still happening.

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21 Comments

  1. I have trouble reading this. It is full of spinning the truth to avoid dealing with the real issues. For example, when the author says “pushing the vegan issue on campus are harmful to students and to the community overall” that means two things… the first is that ‘pushing’ is wide open to interpretation. Just by wearing a ‘Go Vegan’ shirt, someone could accuse them of ‘pushing’ their beliefs. The second problem is that it tries yet again to make the students the victims and not the real victims, who we all know are the animals.

    The author even says that it is bad to hurt animals. Okay… so stop right there. There is nothing else to be discussed. If it is bad for animals, then you are required by your ownself to be vegan. You are morally obligated.

    The author then tries to create confusion by introducing the absolutely ridiculous that machines could be sentient. Anyone who even introduces that, is just trying to create confusion so they don’t have to deal with the fact that they unnecessarily participate in animal exploitation.

    This article is propaganda at it’s finests. Something that I would expect to see out of the Clinton campaign, spinning lies and making them the victim, when in reality over 1 trillion victims die unnecessarily every year.

    Oh, and for anyone having trouble understanding sentience, it is this simple. If “it” is sentient, it has the intrinsic right not to be used as a commodity or chattel property. If “it” is not, then go ahead and make it a commodity. People are sentient, mammals are sentient, fish are sentient, reptiles, etc. Plants are not sentient. Machines are not sentient. As far as insects, do you really have to commodify them so we have to debate, or can you just leave them alone?

    • Hurting animals is wrong, sure. But so is, for example, supporting sweatshop labor. It is wrong to give money to businesses that profit by exploiting workers (i.e. all of them, but let’s just stick to the most egregious here). You could, in theory, avoid doing so by making your own clothes or buying them all second-hand, and doing without any form of computer (including phones), and only buying products made in the USA or other countries with comparatively good labor laws, and so on. It would be nearly impossible for most people to actually live like this, and I’m pretty willing to assume that you don’t.

      In all ethical considerations, there is a trade-off to be made between the “right thing” and the convenient thing. Under the current industrial capitalist socius, it is basically impossible to behave perfectly ethically, unless you’re some sort of hermit or ascetic monk or something. To you, it is worth it to do the right thing when it comes to abstaining from meat, but it isn’t worth it (I assume) to do the right thing when it comes to abstaining from computers, which involve unethical labor exploitation on several levels. If you agree that sweatshop labor is bad, then I can say, “stop right there. There is nothing else to be discussed. If it is bad for workers, then you are required by your ownself not to own a computer. You are morally obligated.” But of course that’s absurd. It’s more complicated than that and we both know it; there IS more to be discussed.

      For someone with dietary restrictions or disordered eating, the trade-off is often not worth it. I would absolutely rather see students healthy and meat-eating than starving themselves but vegan. (What about this: if you acknowledge that it’s unethical to encourage someone to starve themselves, then there’s nothing more to be discussed; it is morally imperative on you not to guilt-trip disordered eaters into veganism.) And even if you excuse those with special compensations, there is fundamentally no difference between you compromising your morals for the convenience of a laptop and me compromising my morals for the convenience of a cheeseburger.

      Unless you yourself genuinely avoid compromising your morals in any circumstance, insisting that others do so is ludicrous. Do you really think you’ve figured out exactly which ethical compromises are acceptable and which aren’t?

      (And, for the record, as a philosopher and computer scientist, sentient AI is not as ludicrous as you seem to think, especially if you’re willing to give sentience to fish and reptiles.)

      • How very interesting that most people will answer “NO!!” when asked if they think it is alright to harm an animal for pleasure, habit, or convenience. Yet they will go on eating animal flesh and secretions, wear leather, fur, felt, wool, and feathers, and do all kinds of other things that are wholly inconsistent with their stated belief. They simply aren’t walking their talk. While moral perfection seems ever-elusive, authentic vegans nevertheless lean as far to the vegan ideal as they can. They are trying mightily to walk their talk. So why would anyone want to discourage this? Do we really need more people pandering pessimism politics?

        Two questions:

        1. What is preventing you from going vegan?

        2. Assuming a person with dietary restrictions or an eating disorder believes that it is wrong to hurt an animal for personal pleasure, what would prevent that person from immediately adopting vegan principles/values and applying them to all other areas of their life outside of diet (… assuming that would be too dangerous, as you insinuated)? Veganism is, after all, NOT a diet.

      • There’s nothing stopping most people from avoiding animal products in non-dietary areas except, as I said, the convenience. What’s stopping you from giving up all products made using exploitative labor? I notice you didn’t disagree that sweatshops are wrong, yet you go on (I assume) wearing mass-produced clothes and owning computers and a phone. Why don’t you walk your talk? Everyone has to make trade-offs regarding which of their moral principles to compromise on and which to stand firm on. It’s admirable that you avoid harming animals wherever you can, but it’s hypocritical to criticize others for not making the same choices as you when you yourself cannot stand by all of your convictions.

      • Ethics Lad,
        Thanks for your interest in shared dialogue. I appreciate that.
        There’s a lot of ground to cover in addressing your points about phones, computers, and sweat shops, so please bear with me.

        First off, thank you for bringing up the topic of hypocrisy in veganland. I welcome all kind-hearted efforts to help me “walk my talk” in an improved manner. You reminded me of injustices associated with sweatshops, phones, and computers which I was already aware of, am grieved over, and try to rectify as I’m able. Yet it still stands that, as an animal advocate, educating others about animal victimization and promoting authentic veganism remain my top priority, since the greatest URGENCY lies there. (More on URGENCY in the 2nd to last paragraph, below.)

        You and I both know that your comment wasn’t meant to help me… but rather you wanted to hopefully shut me up (as a criticizing hypocrite, you say) and strip animal advocates’ credibility in general. You wanted the focus off my message; I’m going to put it back in focus. People who believe — at heart — that it’s wrong to harm animals for pleasure are already professing vegan beliefs; their next step is to align their core values with their everyday actions and lifestyle by going vegan. While the subject of computer/phone/sweatshop injustice might come up periodically in a person’s life (such as when they’re shopping for clothes, for instance), in sharp contrast, animal exploitation can be found in nearly every part of their day, on some level. That’s how permeative it is. You also minimized or ignored animal victimization completely, citing the reason people eschew vegan principles and practices is because they are merely “inconvenient” . Wow. The truth is, the same arguments against veganism contain the same language ANY addict will resort to when defending their harmful addiction. I’ve seen it many times. When their disconnected, apathetic behavior and underlying (human domination/”Might makes right”/speciesist) belief system is challenged, people addicted to products of animal exploitation and violence don’t want to think of what life might be like without them, and look for endless reasons to justify their intent to continue to exploit and harm animals purely for pleasure. Look, I’ve been there, done that myself. But now I know better.

        Ethics Lad, I didn’t bring up the word “hypocrite”. You did. But since you went there, I’ll share this: The day I vowed to go vegan was the same day I saw all the hypocrisy I would struggle with in myself. I fell to my knees and cried hard; the crying hasn’t stopped. I knew I’d struggle mightily, trying to live vegan in a non-vegan world. But I went forward regardless, desiring to co-create, come what may, a vegan world where the option of non-veganism/anti-veganism no longer exists. Only then will I and other vegans be able to fully walk our talk. I don’t know ANY vegan who sees themselves as perfect OR perfectly walking their talk. Do you? In fact, I can’t think of anyone more aware of the difficulties of walking one’s talk 100% than an authentic vegan would be. (And I do stress “authentic” here.)

        I can’t imagine you calling the late, great human rights activist Cesar Chavez a hypocrite because he wore clothing made in a “sweatshop” while he fought hard for farm workers’ rights. Would you call him a hypocrite when he used his phone to set up meetings that would help establish respect and justice he gained for exploited workers? You can bet Chavez asked people to walk their talk, via boycotts and other means of peaceful, disruptive direct action. And he was vegan. It is very telling that human rights activists are rarely, if ever, criticized for being hypocrites and/or “forcing their beliefs” on others. A FB commenter agrees, stating further, “Yet when we advocate against unnecessary violence and exploitation perpetrated against animals, we are suddenly “forcing our views.” In fact, it is those who pay others to needlessly bully and brutalize defenseless animals who are most violently forcing their views. You can rest assured there is no more forceful imposition of a viewpoint than the forcing of a knife into a helpless individual’s throat, the forcing of a bullet into a brain, or the forcible separation of babies from their mothers which is the basis of dairy farming.”

        Look again at my comment(s). Criticizing others, as you called it, wasn’t my aim; I offer education, information, and a strong encouragement to put one’s critical thinking skills to good use and challenge the groupthink status quo. What I did was point out a HUGE disconnect that most people never recognize they have. Animal advocate Gary Yourofsky puts it this way: “The problem is that humans have victimized animals to such a degree that they are not even considered victims. They are not even considered at all. They are nothing. They don’t count. They don’t matter. They are commodities like TV sets and cell phones. We have actually turned animals into inanimate objects — sandwiches and shoes.”

        So you see, animals have been reduced to THINGS. Most people recognize that an individual exploited in a “sweat shop” or within cell phone and computer production is at least a someONE and not a someTHING. And most people will at least recognize (to some degree) that, like themselves, every someONE has inherent rights; specifically, the right to not be viewed or treated as property AND to be respected rather than exploited; even when these rights don’t exist in legal form, they nonetheless are valid. But non-human animals are left out of that picture. That is one of the MAIN points that vegan activist Sarina Farb (of aact) makes, but the majority of her audience is choosing to ignore. Ask yourself why that is.

        One cannot expect a peaceful world filled with justice and LOVE… if three times a day, their plates reflect otherwise: Violence, injustice, and hate/indifference/selfishness/greed — all for a taste bud addiction. Simple convenience or trade off aren’t the issues here, though I’m glad you brought those up. More and more people everywhere are believing that it’s wrong to view humans as property and exploit them; vegans ask that people look at non-human animal ownership and exploitation in the same light. The top priority and extreme URGENCY of this matter is becoming increasingly apparent, as our planet collapses and species extinctions escalate — MAINLY from the results of irreverence for life and the arrogance/presumed sense of entitlement we humans have towards those individuals of other species. One thing is crystal clear. The numbers of exploited — AND murdered — animal victims far, far outweigh the numbers of those exploited in “sweat shops”, computer/phone production, and any other human exploitation system you want to name (… including the humans exploited inside the animal exploitation system). Anyone needing numbers and stats to convince them should check this page out: http://bitesizevegan.com/ethics-and-morality/quantifying-suffering-cruelty-by-the-numbers/

        PLEASE DON’T miss this point: There are many injustices in this world. An injustice is an injustice; not one is more excusable or acceptable than another. Each of us is free to select those areas of injustice where we feel we can and do make a difference; neither Farb nor I have said otherwise. What WAS said is vegans strike at the roots of ALL other injustice “isms” — that which enables one individual to view another individual as a mere “thing”, unworthy of respect and “Golden Rule” treatment. We do it in any way that will get our message across; plant-based food samples, leafleting, graphic/non-graphic images on campus, memes on FB, protests, direct action, — whatever will reach a non-vegan/anti-vegan and cause them to examine their moral conscience; their disconnect. I encourage EVERYONE to go vegan because I believe everyone CAN go vegan. Dedicated vegans such as myself believe that once the ugly injustice of our insane war on animals is acknowledged and people collectively act to right this unacceptable wrong, sensitivities to injustice as a whole — coupled with the pursuance of justice for ALL beings — will follow naturally. And it could happen in a wink of an eye, no matter what the common pessimism politics will have you believe.

  2. “If someone talks about racism by using analogies to sexism, or if someone talks about sexism by using analogies to racism, or if someone talks about homophobia by using analogies to racism and sexism, virtually all of us know what is being said. We don’t take offense even though racism, sexism, and homophobia are all very distinct prejudices. We don’t say that it’s offensive for someone to even talk about them in the same sentence. We realize that the person is not equating in totality, but rather talking about valid comparisons of prejudicial thought processes and any aspects that are still shared in common. But try to talk about speciesism by making perfectly accurate analogies to racism and sexism and other human prejudices and oppressions, and suddenly many people take offense and act like a complete equating is being made.

    The taking offense, of course, stems from the prejudice itself, and is a form of knee-jerk response in order to deflect and dismiss rational discussion on a subject the person is prejudiced about and is not prepared to discuss or think deeply about. Thus, the accusation is made that animal advocates are being offensive and irrational. But any rational person should strongly reject this accusation. Not only is their taking offense not warranted, but it is in fact we who should be offended. For one, by their prejudice and its many consequences in terms of inflicting tremendous amounts of intentional exploitation, suffering, and killing. And also, because what they are effectively saying is that rational thought is completely off the table when it comes to nonhumans. That logic itself fundamentally changes as soon as we move from humans to nonhumans. That there are in fact two logics: one for humans and one for nonhumans.

    And that, I would argue, is a statement that is truly offensive.”

    http://freefromharm.org/animal-products-and-culture/animal-slavery-and-other-comparisons/

  3. Full disclosure. I am a butcher.
    The immortal Wendell Barry talks about conservationism the same way that I talk about veganism which is to say that removing mankind from the fabric and chain life is not the answer. Placing ourselves above it or beyond it can only end in disaster. I am convinced that a responsible omnivorous life does this planet more good than most vegan ones. Do we eat way too much animal product? Yes. Are most of the animals in our food system terribly treated? Yes. So be an advocate for sustainable animal husbandry.
    How will the soybeans for your tofu grow if there are no domesticated animals to provide the needed fertilization? If the answer is more chemicals, then my friend, you know very little of environmental welfare. A properly balanced permacultre system marries the fertility and protein provided by domesticated animals with rich, organic produce. The system is a loop. Monoculture soy and corn is not.
    And why the great concern for the life of the pig but not the countless species whose very existence is endangered by the expansion of monoculture grains every day. Is the life of the field mouse not just as precious as the chicken? Is the garter snake less than a cow? What about the natural world that our expansive “fence row to fence row” fields and barbie doll subdivisions are stealing away every year?
    The best way to help isn’t by cutting out animal products but by doing something much more difficult all together. Find the local farmers in your area who are raising animals conscientiously and purchase only from them. Go to their farms and help them succeed.
    Dear author, don’t let the haters get you down.

  4. Toby and Olivia,

    I appreciate that you have taken the time to write a response and express your concerns over my article. I am more than happy to talk in person and discuss these issues more in depth if you wish to do so. If you are interested, please feel free to send me an email or message me on facebook and we can set up a time to chat.

    -Sarina

  5. Thank you for this response article, Toby and Olivia.

    You wrote:
    “… and I do not believe that a movement that needs to resort to coercion in order to further its cause is a movement that deserves my full respect.”

    This single statement removes all credibility from the entire article denouncing pushiness. How revealing it is that the word “coercion” was chosen, since the word’s etymology and common definitions more accurately describes what WE human animals do to non-human animals —

    coerce (v.)
    mid-15c., cohercen, from Middle French cohercer, from Latin coercere “to control, restrain, shut up together,” from com- “together” (see co-) + arcere “to enclose, confine, contain, ward off,” from PIE *ark- “to hold, contain, guard” (see arcane).

    coerce
    verb (used with object), coerced, coercing.
    1. to compel by force, intimidation, or authority, especially without regard for individual desire or volition:
    They coerced him into signing the document.
    2. to bring about through the use of force or other forms of compulsion; exact:
    to coerce obedience.
    3. to dominate or control, especially by exploiting fear, anxiety, etc.:
    The state is based on successfully coercing the individual.

    (More at: http://etymonline.com/index.php?allowed_in_frame=0&search=coerce and at http://www.dictionary.com/browse/coerce)

    Anyone having accurate knowledge of animal agriculture’s standards and practices coupled with insight into the word origin of “coerce” should be able to see that, when it comes to non-human animals, non-vegans can and do resort to all kinds of coercions in order to further their cause (which is victimizing animal exploitation; a “might makes right” domination system of oppression from which the oppressors are convinced they benefit). So I ask: Is non-veganism — with its fundamentally coercive foundation — a movement/action/belief system that deserves ANY respect? Hardly.

    Also, Toby and Olivia, please take note: It is unfortunate that you struggle with diet restrictions due to allergies (as you mentioned in paragraph 3). I extend my sympathies. However, a fact has been ignored, and I want to turn your attention to it. The “skim” milk poured into your cereal bowl was stolen. It never, ever was yours to begin with. Not by any stretch of the imagination.

    You wrote that being vegan was expensive. Are you talking about a plant-based diet here… or are you referring to living as an authentic vegan? Either way, you couldn’t be farther from the truth. Do your homework here. With the plethora of educational info available, there’s no reason to stay in the dark about this concern of yours.

    Here’s something else to consider: It’s easier to call vegans “pushy” and blame them for throwing guilt trips your way than it is to question one’s own morality, isn’t it? And on the topic of guilt, I wonder why you are choosing to believe that guilt is a bad thing? Learn to befriend guilt. At times it can be a life saver! Time and experience will surely teach you this, if you are open to it.

    “My doctrine is this: that if we see cruelty or wrong that we have the power to stop, and do nothing, we make ourselves sharers in the guilt.” ~ Anna Sewell

    “My guiding principle is this: Guilt is never to be doubted.” ~ Franz Kafka

    “Negative emotions like loneliness, envy, and guilt have an important role to play in a happy life; they’re big, flashing signs that something needs to change.” ~ Gretchen Rubin

    • False Vegan Scotsman

      April 13, 2016 at 8:11 AM

      TL;DR:

      Thank you for this response article, Toby and Olivia. With my passive-aggressive veneer of desire for respectful debate established, let me take the opportunity to reveal what I was really after: personally attack your character and intentions in an epic maneuver to do everything I can to miss your point. The only acceptable outcomes are for you to magically switch and agree with me, or never dare to publicly disagree with one of my vegan comrades ever again.

      I don’t care that you might be chronically ill, mentally ill, or poor. You should flagellate yourself with a faux leather whip and feel guilty anyway for not being able to meet my moral standards, because that’s the only way plebs like you can ever be useful to animal rights if you can’t reach my level of perfection. My compassion for non-human animals is so boundless that marginalized human groups can go fuck themselves as far as I’m concerned, because I obviously have no understanding of radical, intersectional food justice or what eating disorders are and have no desire to learn anything that might complicate my self-righteous, black-and-white crusade made of plant protein. Screw you for trying to pull my head out of my ass, carnists.

      Best,

      every pissy vegan itt who clearly doesn’t even go here but is clearly brigading from somewhere else attacking others in defense of one of their members’ points

      ——-

      Before y’all get pissed and call me an angry carnist upholding animal oppression or whatever (because those are the only people you might listen to, until they reveal themselves to be No True Scotsmen for dissenting), I should probably tell you that I am a vegan. I’m just not a (complete) asshole.

  6. Tony and Olivia,
    IMHO, you offered more of a personal rant than an article of substantive, helpful content or interest.

    It seems that you are continually missing the point of Sarina Farb’s comparisons. Why is this? She made it clear that any/all comparisons made were comparisons of THOUGHT PROCESS which enable people to disconnect from and, in turn, devalue others unlike themselves. This “otherizing” — this devaluation — must be present in order for people to feel superior, entitled, and to selfishly exploit/harm “others” without much, if any, guilt or remorse. Do you disagree with this point?

    Regarding the “wrong” and offensive behavior (i.e. pushiness, public shaming/political guilt-inducing activism) relating to personal food choices, as you claim Sarina Farb (and aact) has been guilty of; consider the following:

    It is not a “personal choice” when you are eating those whom I love and care about and you are ruining my world. When you made your “personal choice”, did you ask the animal if you could confine, torture, steal from and murder him or her? When you made your “personal choice”, did you ask me or anyone else if I/we mind all your indifference, willful violence, pollution, and devastation?” No, you did not. (Thanks to Dave Warwak for his inspiring quote on this.) Are you at all concerned with how traumatizing it is for an authentic (i.e. ethical) vegan to be near an eating area that proudly displays products of disrespect and violence on the menu — or about how emotionally distraught and physically ill a vegan may feel when they are with or near someone eating/drinking something stolen from an exploited animal (such as their flesh or milk or eggs — in fact, their very lives stolen from them)? I’m certain you are blissfully unaware of how sick the animals-as-food scenario is to a vegan. How can you NOT be? I can assure you this: Simply being in a non-vegan food area ANYWHERE assaults a vegan’s eyes, their nostrils, their ears, their heart,  their sense of equality/fairness/justice, and more. So much so that many vegans train themselves to flip their sensitivity switch to off/standby mode, just to get through their day. In fact, I’m boldly confident enough to say that your experiences of discomfort and difficulty (associated with your diet) pale on all fronts of comparison. You would know this if you walked on both sides of the issue, as I have. (I wasn’t born vegan, after all,… but I wish I had been.) For a very long time up to the present, existing in a non-vegan/anti-vegan world was a given; not many of us consciously chose that world, having been born into it. Overall, this non-vegan/anti-vegan world rewards people in some manner — IF they agree with the status quo by supporting animal exploitation and “necessary” violence to animals. If they don’t, then it’s easy to say (and believe) that those against the status quo deserve whatever poor treatment/disrespect comes of it. Do you agree or disagree with this observation?

    Expressed personal grievances aside, markgil and Matthew made MANY strong points in their thread comments; one of them being that the focus of veganism is primarily on animals and not humans (… though vegans recognize that humans are also victims caught in the animal exploitation system). Let’s look at some numbers: 1 billion people have died in ALL WARS in history. Outrageous, we say! Yet 1 billion pigs are killed every year. 50 billion chickens killed every year. 2.8 TRILLION fish killed every year. And on and on and on. Even as a person who feels humans are far superior over all other species, these animals-as-victims numbers should leave you staggering… unless you’ve gone into complete numb-n’-shutdown mode. (See the cost of battle at bitesizevegan.com/numbers)

    So, seeing graphic images of animals being exploited, victimized, violated, and harmed upsets you, you say? Let’s be clear here —
    1. The graphic images remind you of the realities and consequences of your “food” choices that perhaps you’ve avoided examining before, hence the discomfort. 
    2. If you think that animal flesh and secretions are good enough for your stomach, then descriptive graphic images of these things should also be good enough for your eyes, both inside and outside of the campus dining area. If they aren’t, then ask yourself why that is.

    I would like to address all the other points you made, but I think I’ll end here with 2 quotes that sum things up well:

    “The idea that some lives matter less is the root of all that is wrong with the world.” ~ Dr. Paul Farmer

    “I am sometimes asked, ‘Why do you spend so much of your time and money talking about kindness to animals when there is so much cruelty to men?’ I answer: ‘I am working at the roots.’” ~ George T. Angell

    Thank you.

  7. I’d just like to put forth to the pro-vegan fighters out there that their videos and photos and cries of murder, slavery, and rape are doing to their intended audience very much the same thing that pro-life propaganda does to pro-choice audiences. Your sticks and vinegar don’t seem to be very effective. Perhaps try some carrots and honey (or maple, or agave, or whatever). Because the moral superiority is even more nauseating than the photos.

    • Lookin’ at you, Vicki.

    • Hi again, snewpy butcher.

      Ho hum and yawn. As if vegans haven’t heard THAT one before.
      Here’s my answer; follow the link:

      https://veganrabbit.com/2012/02/22/pot-vs-kettle/

    • snewpy butcher,

      Glad you brought up the always-popular line of defense, in which you, a nonvegan, hurls the “moral superiority” name-calling stunt at a vegan trying to educate others. I know you and so many others would much prefer a smiley-faced, mild-mannered, apologetic “vegan” who handed you a yummy gluten-free “vegan” cuppitycake with cute sprinkles on top and asked ever-so-sweeetly, “Oh pretty, pretty please won’t you someday consider going vegan?… But only when you’re perfectly comfortable with that, of course. Thank you, kind sir or ma’am (or however you want to be addressed).” And they leave it at that. And the only graphic you’ll see in this encounter is the smiley face T-shirt the “vegan” is wearing that says, “Ask me why I’m vegan”. (Which, of course, you won’t. I think we both know why that is.) I’m certain there ARE “vegans” out there who go that route. Perhaps you’ll run into one someday. Will you THEN go vegan? Is this what it will take?

      Let’s imagine that I had an encounter with a person who wanted to talk very openly about the ugliness of rape as it exists in our culture. (Upon hearing this, I admit to myself that I was clueless about the topic.) Then they proceeded to tell me about the injustices of racism, sexism, ableism, and other human “ism’s” in the same manner. They explained, as best they could in such a small time frame, how I played a part in all of those. They told me they had also played a part but were now trying to make things right. They showed me pictures and stats and other places where I could do my own homework on these things. They weren’t judging ME as a bad person… but instead pointed at the relentless indoctrination coming at people 24-7 that causes them to stick with belief systems that said these “ism’s” were A-okay; perfectly normal, natural, and necessary. Then they asked me to consider what they shared with me and to listen to what my heart might be telling me as a result. Well, I didn’t want to listen to that person OR my own heart because what they were telling me was making me uncomfortable and even angry and a little sad. So I put up my iron walls of defense and shut them down. To seal the deal, I convinced myself that they were being pushy, preachy, insensitive, hypocritical, criticizing, and exhibiting “moral superiority”, all of which was off-putting. I simply HAD to come up with derogatory names and labels, you see, because that helped me disconnect. I also felt justified in (hopefully) hurting them with my labels and accusation of “moral superiority”, as I was a little hurt myself. So there. I remain stubbornly racist, sexist, ableist (… and a host of other “isms”), and in favor of rape to this very day — all because a person made me uncomfortable with information I didn’t want to know about and asked that I examine my heart about the parts I play in very ugly, socially-accepted injustices. It’s THEIR fault I remain as I am. If ONLY they would have approached me like the smiley-faced cuppitycake-bearing “vegan” described above; then, and ONLY then, might I have listened to them and changed my ways. Oh well. Of course, it only makes perfect sense that I, as someone who promotes and upholds rape, for example, should know the BEST way to get people to stop promoting and upholding it, right? Of course, right. All it takes is a little “carrots and honey.” And maybe a smiley face sticker.

      I wrote the imaginary-scenario paragraph above because your “carrots and honey” logic is as faulty and absurd as mine in that example. Maybe you’ll see that, and maybe you won’t.

      As far as “moral superiority” goes, I think CMurph says it loud and proud:

      “We don’t feel superior to anyone; that’s why we aren’t willing to kill animals for our taste buds. That’s why we do think of the world as a whole instead of what is only supposedly best for humans. Maybe it’s others who see us as thinking we are superior because they aren’t capable of rising above their own little world and noticing the big picture out there. If anyone thinks they are superior, it’s people who take lives prematurely for five minutes on their tongue…just because they can. It’s people who don’t care that we all share this earth.”
      (From https://veganrabbit.com/2012/02/22/pot-vs-kettle/)

      • Vicki
        Well, now I know where you get your affinity for definitions. And while I’ll admit to some skimming (after all, I’ve not pledged to espouse these beliefs, being a boorish murderer and all) I must say that I would have thought you’d read all the way to the end…

        “To the vegans: Fighting fire with fire is not solving anything. By attacking non-vegans with blaming and name-calling we are accomplishing two things:
        1) casting all vegans in a negative light (do you want their image of a vegan to be the one of you yelling and screaming about how they are a murderer?)
        2) putting them on the defensive so they are sure not to listen or consider anything you are saying because they are too busy defending themselves
        I am NOT saying to be submissive or moderate. You are right to be angry. I’m angry too. Being angry and loud can be beneficial in the right environment and when directed at the right target (ex.: home demo in front of the house of a vivisector). Yes, yell and scream at politicians and other string-pullers in government or at corporations like Monsanto and Tyson, but don’t yell and scream at the people that we once were ourselves. At some point in our lives we were just as ignorant, confused, and stubborn as they are, but we came around eventually.”

        I do believe your classmates fit into that “people that we once were ourselves” category. And I DO ask vegan friends about their choice to be vegan. I listen and we discuss. I don’t call them names or make derogatory remarks. I’ve helped new vegans avoid animal products they were unaware of. I advocate for vegan options at gatherings. And I know that I am could not be alright with consuming animal products unless I was willing to be as deeply involved in the process as it’s possible to be. Is my ability to not only look at, but participate in, the relationship with animal based food that most cannot bear to witness make me commendable? Or am I more the monster?

        And ho hum to you for so gleefully sidestepping my connection of your methods and pro-life propaganda. Your article not only didn’t address the similarity but actively told you to back off.

        Vicki, my vegan cuppitycake darling. Please tell me how your methods are different and/or more effective than a mutilated fetus covered billboard?

        And to Olivia and Toby: If you haven’t figured out who “snewpy” is yet, just ask Kate. I seem to have allowed myself to be dragged into the wildly productive world of online debate. Give my best to Vicki. I’m sure she’s just as warm and companionable in real life as she is online. Given our recent thread, I believe baked goods may bring about a truce.

      • snewpy butcher,

        I read the entire article and each of the comments at the “pot vs kettle” link I posted. It’s an article I come back to many times. It’s good advice to follow the “Golden Rule” whenever possible, as that author makes a strong case for. And that’s what I have tried to do.

        It only took ONE picture — a graphic image — to convince me to go vegan. I knew I wanted nothing to do with animal exploitation and violence after seeing what I saw. No intellectual debates, no begging, coercing, or sweet talking needed. And no cuppity cake temptations. Just a picture. So I have no problem with graphic images used to get a point across. Sometimes that’s all it takes. I really have spent too much time here, word-wise. Maybe I should have just posted a graphic image and left it at that.

        I’m avoiding the topic of pro-life propaganda methods (as you called it) because I can. The focus is always on the animals in my animal advocacy. Their situation is dire; literally, a matter of life and death. Which is why I don’t shy away from urgency in my message. Not everyone’s going to like that. I feel I’ve said at least some of what the animals need people to hear — as far as their horrific plight goes — and in direct relation to Olivia and Toby’s response article to Sarina’s. Everything else past that was v-icing on the cuppity cake, I suppose. (Looking back, I can see that I made my points here without screaming. As an animal advocate who speaks for animals, I’m not sure if that was a good idea on my part, because the animals ARE screaming for their lives… but people are taught to ignore their screams, aren’t we?)

        For what it’s worth, I dated a guy who used to be a butcher. He was a really wonderful guy. Very dedicated and hard working. Had a bit of a snide temper, though.

        Thanks for engaging.

  8. This article is full of assumptions. Biggest one is that being vegan is expensive. The amount of money I spent on groceries went down when I became vegan.
    I do spend more eating out but thats because I’m very eager to eat in every vegan restaurant and discover new hidden gems.

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