Hardheaded Vegan Bullies, and What to Do About Them
I’ve come under a lot of fire from vegans for writing about veganism. Generally, all it takes is the criticism of a non-vegan, animal rights promoting celebrity or the examination of the ineffectiveness of shouting vulgarities at strangers during protests to start a back and forth Facebook commenting war. So I’ve been called an asshole, a non-vegan (what?), and most recently and perhaps most upsettingly, a nazi…all for promoting the idea that we need to educate others on veganism more than we need to keep them out of zoos, from wearing fur coats, or from accepting Meatless Monday. Because, well, a vegan wouldn’t do those things.
So what’s a girl to do when the internet tells her to pipe down? Speak up, naturally. Not unlike the hardheaded opinions of my non-vegan father who insists he’s an animal lover, vegan bullies spend their time telling me how wrong I am for not picketing with them when their actions continue to hurt animals (however directly or indirectly that may be). My “fighting words” are not calling someone “elitist,” “stupid,” or a “lunatic.” They’re “education,” “freedom,” and “equality.” Until vegans are able to recognize criticism of their methods as being just that, and not an attack on their personhood, we stand to continue these wasteful arguments.
They don’t listen when I tell them protesting fur makes people comfortable wearing wool and leather. They don’t understand that demanding humane treatment of animals raised for slaughter helps their exploiters and supporters feel better about their killing. They won’t hear me out when I explain that we cannot take animal advice from people who don’t accept that veganism is what we owe to all animals first. And no amount of ignoring it makes it less true.
Above and beyond the detriment their bullying has on their chosen methods of “helping animals,” I can’t help but cringe at the thought of the watchful non-vegan gaze, once again loaded with ammo to keep them from considering veganism for a reason completely outside of veganism. A stigma has been assigned to people ‘crazy’ enough to cast off animal use that this behaviour supports, that all vegans fight and can’t get along. Surely, it’s the continued perpetuation that there’s more than one kind of veganism; that vegetarianism saves animals; that unless you’re the loudest one shouting, you’re not that mad. But trust me, I’m mad. Every fur coat, ever cage, and every advertisement for the grass-fed, humanely raised, and healthy lies I see around me stings the same way it stings the vegans who yell me. Don’t question for a second if we’re in this for the same reasons, it’s the animals. Every word I write, every conversation I have, it’s with them in mind. I just know that until veganism is on the lips and tongues of all those who want meaningful change for the forgotten billions, ‘good enough’ will continue to prevail. Long enough lives, big enough cages, and kind enough killing will win.
So I see the success of faux leather leggings the same way I see the success of bacon, the result of demand. And what better way to raise the demand for a vegan world than through vegans? What better way is there to make change then by sharing the absolute importance of veganism with people just like us, who are just as capable of understanding it? To know that I could help support one more person to refuse animal use, and that they may help another, is more valuable than knowing all the red carpets around the world would never be graced with fur again. Just one more vegan speaking up against the unspeakable crimes against animals is enough, because it’s everything.
I don’t recommend continuing the feuds, the wars, and the bullying. Our time is best spent remembering why we’re doing this and taking the only effective measure against it – veganism. Put down your picket signs, your petition signing pens, and your thesaurus. I’ve heard your pleas, your bargaining and your fears, and veganism is the answer to all of it. Not part way, part time, or any other way. Not for a diet, a trend, or a fashion statement. We need to stand for veganism because it’s the least we can do for animals – not the most.
So to my bullies, I say thank you for the motivation to ensure my work continues for veganism. Not just for the non-vegans, but for those who want to help animals but have forgotten the most important way to do that.