How to advocate for veganism online….without the speciesism
Guest Post by Carter Felder
In a world where non-veganism is as contagious as it is, it’s more important than ever that we be clear about what we want when advocating for veganism online.
If we’re serious about promoting veganism, we would be hypocrites to promote, share or “like” material from non-abolitionist, animal-related sources. Why would we ever direct anyone to sources which don’t make it evident that veganism is morally mandatory? We don’t want to lead viewers to material which is inconsistent with what we actually want. The animals need us to be definitive about what we want, and this shouldn’t mean falsely hoping that our viewers will get the right message out of numerous wrong messages.
You see, the idea that we can use animals as long as we treat them “humanely” has been around for far too long. Because of this, we should avoid sharing from animal welfarists who promote—under the guise of “humane treatment”— more economically efficient animal exploitation; exploitation which also happens to appeal to the “concerned feelings” of many animal product consumers. Here are examples of “more compassionate” harm: animals crowded and packed instead of caged, animals killed with gas instead of electrical water baths, or animals stunned instead of having their throats slit.
It’s also important to avoid sharing from new welfarists who promote “less animal suffering in the meantime,” while they ultimately promote an “end to slaughterhouses,” no… “animal liberation,” no… ending “cruelty” to animals… aw heck, who knows what they are actually asking for! In all seriousness, many new welfarists do want to end animal use, but they promote counterproductive, speciesist measures in the meantime—in other words, their means are inconsistent with their ends.
You may ask, “shouldn’t we share from “vegan-related” sources that have a large following? This way non-vegans may take the information more seriously.”
Although popular, non-abolitionist material may garner more attention, it still gives viewers an inconsistent message, as well as the unintended promotion of non-abolitionist sources. Even if we include an explanation of what we disagree with, or a clear disclaimer, we are still walking on thin ice. Why? Because it’s more important than ever that we not give anyone the idea that there can be any speciesist exceptions to animal rights.
Remember that it’s different if we are criticizing the material we share. In this way we make it obvious that we disagree with what we’re sharing and why. It’s the opposite of intentional support and promotion. It’s an opportunity to help others understand what’s wrong with non-abolitionist advocacy.
You might say, “but we need to support all the animal advocates we can. If we refuse to share from them, our vegan movement will be divided and fail.”
Today, animals are used and killed more than ever. Therefore, I think it’s more important than ever that we separate ourselves from non-abolitionists. Let’s focus on building an abolitionist countermovement for real change with a clear, consistent, non-speciesist message. As Gary Francione has said, we don’t really have a “vegan movement.” A vegan movement would actually promote veganism, and veganism only—nothing less or different.
You might say, “some posts really hit me emotionally, so I know it may hit others emotionally and help them make the connection.”
There are many ways you can appeal to the emotions of non-vegans without sharing speciesist material. Take what you like about a post and write about how it made you feel. Share a non-graphic image which relates to the subject and share your thoughts. Just be sure to always emphasize the importance of veganism, because non-veganism is the reason animal exploitation exists in the first place.
You might say, “but the sources I share from, they do ask viewers to go vegan!”
You may be referring to animal organizations or groups. They may say “go vegan,” or promote veganism at certain times, but ultimately they all promote some form of speciesism and fail to emphasize that veganism is the only way to respect animal life. They promote veganism only as an optional “lifestyle choice,” or just “a way of reducing suffering.” Why would we ever want to lead others to this type of deceitful inconsistency?
Most individual animal advocates are also inconsistent in their advocacy. While they may promote veganism, they also often promote speciesist things like vegan “challenges,” animal organizations/groups, non-vegan vegetarianism as a speciesist “stepping stone” to veganism, Meatless Monday, cultured meat, graphic imagery (which focuses on treatment instead of use), etc.
So, what can we do in order to be consistent with our online vegan education? Here is a list of abolitionist vegan sources I highly recommend you follow and share from: Abolitionist Vegan Websites & Facebook Pages. Also, Gary Francione and his volunteers have created endless material which can help guide you in your online advocacy. A simple way to get started is to share abolitionist posters which interest you along with your own thoughts about them. It’s always better to share your own thoughts, as it gives your followers something more personal to read, and encourages discussion.
Being consistent with your online vegan advocacy by not sharing from non-abolitionists will help influence others to do the same—to never compromise the moral message.