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Other vegans think I’m an asshole

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I’ve come to expect non-vegans to despise me. With each post I write, literature I recommend, and dairy-free cheese platters I serve, I expect their meat sweats to kick in and incite a verbal lashing. After all, I’ve made it my full-time job to help educate people who aren’t vegan to understand why they’re wrong (unapologetically, no less). The thing is, the non-vegans I encounter have never sworn at me. None have taken the time to call me out in a public forum, or recommend boycotting events I’m involved in. At worst, they implore as to how they’ll survive without bacon. Not a single non-vegan has called me an asshole, at least not in respect to my vegan activism. Sure, I’ve seen “dear vegan” sorts of rants on YouTube that I’m sure I fit in to, but non-vegans have generally left Eva Lampert alone.

Now, some vegans on the other hand, have taken every opportunity to tell me what’s wrong with my character, my feelings, and my approach, and in the process,  removing animals from the equation almost entirely. While I strongly encourage debate and discussion on the articles I write and the subject matter I present, I can’t claim to welcome name calling (although that’s an unfortunate side effect to publishing your work online). I wonder how having an unpopular viewpoint on morality and an emphasis on making new vegans has made me a target more worthwhile than the exploitation of animals, and has afforded me my own space to be mounted on the hall-of-fame walls of vegans other vegans hate.

For those unfamiliar with the divide in the vegan community, look no further than our Facebook page. If I criticize the efficacy of ‘meatless Monday,’ PETA, or other well-known welfarist organizations and advocacy efforts, other vegans always come out swinging. How dare I say that the animal rights activism of a non-vegan is frivolous when they participate in killing animals themselves? How could I possibly believe that regulations that control how animals are killed make it easier for businesses to be celebrated for “caring” about animals while killing more of them? And oh my gosh, she did not just criticize [insert famous person who eats vegan meals sometimes]. I shit you not, I have been single-handedly blamed for turning people off of veganism because of my online existence, by people who themselves are functioning vegans despite me (hah). All the while, those who disagree with me have nothing to support the claims that the information I share is incorrect, that their methods are more effective, or that I’m truly an asshole (they’d have to know me to know that).

Thing is, I’m not interested in whether or not you think I’d be worthy of sharing a vegan taco with. I don’t mind being unpopular if it means I get to continue doing work for animals, and communicating respectfully with those who will listen. The focus should always, always be on what’s being said, and not the speaker. Otherwise, our bias or preconceived notions are going to get in the way of logic. When our ideas are challenged, we have to work out how we feel for ourselves, and not react based on how we’re told to feel. This isn’t a battle we should let the right hemisphere of our brains win, as most appeals to veganism target our emotions and can bring up a great deal of pain. We need a healthy dose of left-brain to see things critically and logically, so we can figure how best to guide our hearts. I don’t think these name calling vegans are mad at me as much as they are upset about the state of the world – the difference is the world just isn’t listening.

So many of us are still in the dark on a number of topics. I hope that I reach people before all the petitions, donation buttons, and graphic imagery meld to somehow craft the sheltered “angry vegan” that non-vegans ridicule, the same people that think dismissing me through name calling is going to welcome the lurking non-vegans to get on board. I don’t care so much about re-writing “the vegan” stereotype because I’m too busy focusing on veganism itself, and the stereotypes surrounding the impossibility of the lifestyle aspects. Still, it stings to hear my non-vegan sister say it’s the vegan who harass me that make her afraid to transition.

It’s the disconnect between veganism and morality, and the way people believe religion owns morality, that makes vegans fear me like a nun with a ruler. But all the negativity in the world will not shape me because if it did, I’d probably not be a vegan at all, right? Maybe I’d just reduce my meat intake, start wearing a Ricky Gervais t-shirt, and attend enough charity BBQs to make my backside match the size of my heart. But those things do nothing for animals, and neither does keeping my mouth shut, or playing along with the welfarism model.

A handful of vegans spend more time deciding whether or not my actions will offend non-vegans than all my non-vegan readers combined. And while they’re insisting someone ought to kick me, or hide meat in my food, they’re focusing on how no one is perfect, when perfection isn’t the goal; veganism is. Am I the self-entitled, arrogant “fuckwad” that vegans make me out to be? Only if non-violently sharing my views makes me one. Only if believing part-time vegans and people who feel like exploiting animals when it’s convenient aren’t doing right by animals. Only if believing that everyone has it in them to make the right decisions for themselves and the non-human animals that are counting on them. We don’t need another voice recommending people take baby steps or begin buying humane, and I’ll never be that, no matter how colorful the language used to describe me gets.

If Mahatma Ghandi’s famous line were spoken in the era of social media, it would read this way:

First they ignore your website

Then they laugh at the content on your website

Then they fight you in the comment section of your website

Then you win

In this case, “winning” isn’t having the last word in a thread; it’s knowing that all great social movements require scrutiny, and that explaining veganism as it pertains to morality is going to have a lasting, positive effect. The role of vegan education is not to make more friends, it’s to make more vegans, and to do so nonviolently with non-humans and humans in mind. Until the shift comes, I’m just going to have to be comfortable being labeled an asshole, because I’m uncomfortable being censored.

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0 Comments
  • Welcome to the club, Eva. What a breath of fresh air you are in the antiquated world of animal welfare. Your clarity of thought and eloquence regarding Abolitionist vegan truth renews my hope in a vegan world.

  • daniel

    Small clarification (not a hater, I promise!), Gandhi never actually wrote/ said that “first they ignore you” statement. It’s one of the very many quotes that are misattributed to Gandhi.

    • ecorazzi

      Thanks for bringing that to our attention!

    • T.A. McDonnell

      Great essay, Ms. Lampert. For what it’s worth, this came across my news feed recently.

      • Mark Caponigro

        Thanks for that, T.A.! From what little I know of him, I’m a fan of Schopenhauer’s; and the saying, in whatever form, sounds a lot more like him, famous ironic pessimist, than like Gandhi.

  • Amazing Eva – you’re the best…….another wonderful article from you…. definitely Scottish warrior in your genes!!!, love it….. so meant to be that I won the long straw from the Prof… love you…. your Scottish Mother xxxxx

  • Andrew Murin

    You are not an asshole, to reverse the famous film quote, you’re just wrong.

  • blessthebeasts

    I’m I full agreement. Halfway measures just don’t work. I know too many people who claim to be “going vegan” and yet will joke about eating cheese, chicken, etc.
    I try not to be an asshole about it but it’s no laughing matter!

    • Mark Caponigro

      Right, it’s absolutely “no laughing matter”!

  • G B

    This is tight. I am with you!

  • vegan truth seeker

    Honestly I don’t understand why all of this time and energy is spent on what should be non-issues and why there are all these divisions and fights among animal rights activists!

    Shouldn’t we all be focused on saving animals!?

    This is war people and we’re (= the animals) are losing big time and the animal industry is laughing at us…

    I’m an ethical vegan, I’m all for the abolition approach (I even go further and defend that all domesticated animals worldwide should be neutered and spayed so they never procreate again), however, I don’t think that single-issue campaigns or the ‘welfare’ approach are completely useless and let me explain why: let’s not fool ourselves, humans in general will always eat animals and thus by simply saying that the fight for the ‘welfare’ of animals isn’t valid is an all or nothing approach – if animals are still going to be eaten by humans, at least the lesser evil would be that they wouldn’t be tortured and kept in cages; also, if people want to fight for whales or elephants, for instance, it’s great – let’s not invalidate that by saying that their fight is irrelevant if they still eat other animals; that being said, what should always be emphasized is that all animals are sentient beings and all of them have the right to be left alone, and that if people are concerned with the well-being of some animals they should expand that concern to all animals and go vegan.

    Otherwise, it’s the same as not supporting and invalidating the fight against child slavery because there still exists human slavery in general and therefore only fighting for children is futile! It’s absurd…!

    How many whales has Sea Shepherd, for instance, saved so far? Even if some of the crew members and those who make donations aren’t vegan is their work less valid!? Of course not!

    Regarding educating people on veganism… let’s face it, humans are not rational beings, they’re emotional beings and the animal industry takes advantage of this fact to make people consume animal products – who hasn’t seen, for instance, a commercial where they show a few ‘happy’ cows, very clean, in an immaculate field on a sunny day promoting a brand of milk? Then we see this white, silky milk being poured in a glass or in a bowl of ‘delicious’ cereals… that creates an emotional response in people by making them want to go and drink milk.
    Also, the products in stores are placed in a certain way so we buy more; the stores are made in a way so we stay there more time, feel good, and therefore buy more!
    All the ads are made in a way to appeal to our emotions, not our reasoning.

    If we’re to win this war we have to start playing their game and although educating people by reasoning with them would be the ideal that’s not the way to convince people to go vegan in large numbers.
    Reasoning, in most cases, comes afterwards.

    We’re not going to win this war if we are 100% ethical and truthful in our approach! No wars are won that way!

    You can present all the arguments you like but it you show a non-vegan images of animals being tortured what do you think is going to convince them to make the change?
    Whether you like it or not, people like Gary Yourofsky, Erin Janus, and so forth, and the work they do are more effective in making people go vegan than all the essays and articles combined.

    We have to shock the shit out of people, we have to play dirty, we have to use all the means to make people go vegan, because we’re not fighting for ourselves, we’re fighting (or should be) for the animals.

    What we need is a global, organized ALF, and vegan hackers to hack into the surveillance system of slaughterhouses, of the labs where animals are tested on, and so forth, and put it everywhere online so that people can see what’s really going on.
    I also believe that all the facilities where animals are raised and tortured should be set on fire or destroyed in some other way, preferably without hurting humans and obviously without hurting animals!

    We must strike the animal industry where it hurts them – PROFIT!!

    Until we start striking back we’re just wasting time, energy and resources on irrelevant issues and fighting among ourselves, while the animal industry is thriving and more and more animals are being slaughtered.
    The animal industry is laughing at us and letting us fight with one another without having to lift a finger to stop our fight!

    Wake up and smell reality!
    Educating people is the ideal approach, but if that doesn’t work shock the eff out of them with all you’ve got even if it’s not accurate or all true!
    What matters is to convince people to make the transition, because after that they will most likely educate themselves on veganism.

    I hope what I wrote I was clear and that it will stir some heated debate because we need all the different perspectives, opinions, approaches and thoughts we can get otherwise we’re not even going to make a dent in the animal industry…

    • StrangerThingsHappen

      Your attitude is violent, and that’s never the answer.

      • vegan truth seeker

        tell that to the billions of animals slaughtered each year…

        this is war…! you don’t win a war by playing nice or being peaceful – I’m not condoning we should go out and start killing non-vegans but I definitely condone bombing or burning the shit out of labs or slaughterhouses for instance!

        I’m sick and tired of the hippie-peace-and-love-vegans who think that we’re going to make a change without ‘rocking the boat’!

        oh and ‘mostly vegan’ in your profile is nothing! either you’re a vegan or you’re not!

        • StrangerThingsHappen

          I agree. “Mostly vegan” is bullshit and was something I should have changed years ago. I’ve evolved to realise that – I just forgot it was there.

          Non-violent action is not “playing nice”. It’s a powerful tool, if used properly, that others can not fight forever. We’re not going to change their minds, attitudes and behaviour to our side by being violent towards them. As much as we’d like to be violent (and boy, would I like to burn them all at the stake), it only makes them want to fight back harder. It’s human nature. Violence begets violence. That’s an undeniable truth. We need to be the example of peace, not lower ourselves to their level. They are violent. We must show them how to be peaceful. That is how everybody wins and how we make it a permanent state – because we’ve helped them change thwir way of thinking, not because we’ve forced them against their will.

          I can hear our fellow Earthlings screaming and crying for our help NOW. it drives me crazy. This is why I’m constantly trying to learn the most efficient ways to permanently change people’s minds. Meeting violence with violence is not the answer, no matter how satisfying it might seem to us in the short-term.

          I’m most certainly not advocating welfarism. The vegan lifestyle (not just a plant-based diet) is always the end goal and must always be kept in focus. Unfortunately ultimatum-style messages aren’t working as well.

          • vegan truth seeker

            I’m glad you’re fully vegan now 🙂

            I partially agree with you, however, as I pointed out this is war…

            If we can educate people in a peaceful way and it works, great, that’s the ideal, but if it doesn’t work we should use any means possible to shock people into veganism and to cause as much damage as possible to the animal industry…

            we’re running out of time… the planet cannot sustain the pressure we’re putting into it much longer and the animal industry is one of the most destructive industries.

            we must fight back with all we’ve got.
            if they slaughter billions of animals each year why shouldn’t we burn down slaughterhouses or animal test labs?

          • Aaron Owens

            Just set farm animals free so other animals can eat them.

          • Tracey Frebertshauser

            You are a troll

        • Aaron Owens

          And vegans wonder why people don’t like them. So do you plan on making every living creature vegan? If nature saw eating meat as a moral evil, why did it allow for the existence of predatory animals and encourage a violent food chain that revolves around life feeding on life?

  • Aaron Owens

    After all, I’ve made it my full-time job to help educate people who aren’t vegan to understand why they’re wrong (unapologetically, no less). –

    Call me crazy, but maybe this is why people don’t like you.

Why we SHOULDN’T genetically ‘disenhance’ animals

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Never mind the fact that exploiting an animal is immoral regardless of the scale of that exploitation, the size of the animal being exploited also isn’t up for debate.

Why the media is quick to identify the YouTube shooter as vegan

To capitalize on a tragic incident like this, creating the narrative of a militant extremist for the sake of page views instead of reporting the facts, is irresponsible journalism.