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Being a Spoilsport on World Vegan Day

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So many people have asked me if I’m celebrating World Vegan Day today, or have wished me a happy day with an enthusiastic smile. Now, I hate to be a spoilsport (again) but World Vegan Day makes me glum.

The fact that there is a day to mark those who refuse to participate in animal exploitation is a reminder of how entrenched and pervasive animal exploitation is. It signals how far we have to go and, worse, how some among us are dragging our social justice struggle backwards. It marks the determination of some vegans to promote welfare reforms, reduced consumption, vegetarianism, and other morally incoherent and practically flawed positions, and to refuse to advocate for veganism as a basic principle of justice. The social events that fill my feed, divorced from any advocacy, flag how urgently we need to shift public perception of veganism away from a mode of consumption and towards the ethical system that it is.

World Vegan Day was founded by The Vegan Society to celebrate its own efforts and commemorate its founding. While I hold the founders of The Vegan Society in highest esteem, the current society has taken a direction that fails to uphold veganism as an ethical obligation; in fact, I sent back my Vegan Society membership card with the “You Don’t Have to Be Vegan” rebranding. So, World Vegan Day also reminds me of the corporate hold over our social justice movement, and of the willingness of vegans to cede the responsibility of advocacy such organisations.

Then again, World Vegan Day highlights, for me, how much work we have to do not only to seek justice for the trillions of animals who are tortured and killed each year for our trivial ends, but also to transcend this damaged, fragmented “movement” that repeatedly calls for rights violations under the guise of promoting “liberation”, that employs tactics that discriminate against humans, whose members often believe that our only moral obligations are towards nonhumans, or that we can campaign for justice for only some. So, while I don’t celebrate World Vegan Day, it serves as a reminder of how much work we have to do, and that can be a great motivator.

Make every day World Vegan Day. Advocate like lives depend upon it. Because they do.

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