We don’t need non-vegan celebrities telling us how to treat animals
We vegans are a devoted bunch. We’re quick to whole-heartedly support something we love, and even quicker to jump on something we don’t. So why is that every time I open up Facebook, I’m flooded with notifications from vegan acquaintances sharing the same memes, one-liners, and quotes about animal rights from non-vegan celebrities? Why aren’t we calling them on this bullshit?
I’m sure you’ve experienced a scenario or two like this: twenty or more likes and a handful of positive comments will populate the space below a Ricky Gervais image. On it, a quote reads “wearing cosmetics that were tested on animals makes you ugly on the inside.” Okay, you think while taking it in, it’s true that the cosmetic industry is incredibly exploitative of animals. But at what point do you look at Ricky Gervais, consider what he does to participate in equally immoral activity and think wait a second…
I’ve previously written about my non-vegan friends sharing cute kitten videos and petitions to save the monkeys, but that still makes a bit more sense to me than vegans sharing animals rights advice from people who continue to use them. My non-vegan friends haven’t made the connection…am I to assume my vegan friends haven’t either?
It’s hypocrisy at best, and a disgusting display of moral highways at worst. Why does Ricky Gervais think that women buying makeup that either employs vivisection or the dead parts of animal directly is worse than his own actions, as a man, buying let’s say a steak or a pair of leather loafers (I went full stereotype there). There is obviously absolutely no reason to think one is more frivolous than the other, or that those buying in to one example of the injustices we enact upon animals is someone worse than another. I don’t think the rabbit in the slaughterhouse considers whether or not she’d prefer to be used in a jacket or a side dish. I also don’t think it is anymore morally reprehensible to blindly choose animal un-friendly cosmetics than it is to order a meat and cheese laden entree for dinner.
So we share Leonardo DiCaprio’s speeches about saving the planet, and Oprah’s meatless Monday pledge, and Nikki Reed’s vegan bags. And no mater how much we want to save our planet, encourage our friends to stop eating animals, or want more vegan products to be available, we’ve gone ahead and muddied up the waters by supporting exploiters directly without question. Whether or not it was our intention, we have raised the Ricky Gervais’ of the world up on to a pedestal, and have given them permission to criticize others for not taking the steps they themselves haven’t made. We’ve given them free rein to be the voice of our movement, without ever having participated in it. WHY!?
What if Donald Trump had a brilliant one-liner about ending racism? Would we ignore each and every one of his racist remarks and actions, and share his words as encouragement for others to end their racism? Of course not – we’d tell him to change his own ways. We’d no sooner let someone off the hook for rape because they publicly advocate for consent. Why are celebrities actions less important to the masses than the shareable, highly contrived, one-off blips of fanning interest they give to something (a petition, a fad, a single-issue campaign) in an attempt to remain favourable in the public eye?
Listen Ricky, you may think that by having an audience you need to speak up, but the old adage is true and your actions speak louder than your words. You aren’t morally superior for choosing “humane” meat, for bullying hunters, or for declaring predominantly female products are more cruel than predominantly male ones. If you want to make a difference, and you want to continue being a Twitter-poster-child for calling out the crap involved in animal exploitation, you have to stop being an animal exploiter. It should be really simple because you already feel for some animals. Just add chickens and cows to the list, and go vegan. Then, work on educating others to go vegan and you won’t have to waste anymore time hopping from issue to issue. Until then, it’s you who is “ugly on the inside.”
I hope that I’d be called out criticizing Ricky Gervais for not being vegan if I myself weren’t. I also hope that people don’t believe that a catchy phrase or put-down somehow negates behaviour. It doesn’t help animals and it doesn’t help veganism to have someone speak out without following through with the everyday choices they make.