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Part 2: The Second Indoctrination – Speciesist Vegans

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Find Part 1 of this essay here.

Part 2 – The Second Indoctrination

For some reason, vegans stop thinking again at this point, they refuse to see or even consider the paradigm of speciesist corporate self-interest. We see vegans cling on to these organisations with blind faith, repeating the mantras, which they don’t realise are there to garner donations from anyone and everyone. “It’s not a black and white issue”, “we must do something”, “choose compassion”, “the world won’t go vegan overnight”, “animals are suffering now”. These mantras and plenty of others reinforce a defeatist position of compromise from a vegan perspective, but they also allow nonvegans the opportunity to avoid addressing or even knowing about what is really a simple and clear moral position-using animals as a resource is morally wrong.

These usually well-meaning vegans follow along and believe virtually without question that people can’t be educated about veganism. It’s quite strange really; a person who was educated about veganism and became vegan, then takes the position that others cannot be educated. Thinking about it, this is really quite an obnoxious position to take, that individually we are more special or that we are just more “compassionate” than others, that others lack “compassion”. This is not about us, or our “compassion”, this is not an issue of “compassion” at all, this is about justice for animals. It’s about doing the right thing, not simply accepting right ways to do the wrong thing.

If we reject the exploitation of other sentient beings then the last thing we should ever do is suggest on any level that any form of participation in exploitation is okay for anyone. It’s not; it’s always wrong; it is black and white. Vegans know this, we draw the line at not using nonhuman sentient beings as our property and for virtually everyone it’s very easy to do.

The very least we can and must do for animals is stop using them, by taking action and going vegan. This should be the clear message front and centre by anyone who claims to represent the interests of animals. I certainly wouldn’t want anyone representing my interests if they promoted and accepted eating me on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday but not Monday and by default suggesting that eating products of exploitation which result in the suffering and death of my other friends instead on Monday is okay. I wouldn’t want anyone promoting my going to slaughter by road transport as a better alternative to me being exported by sea to be killed in another country. Obviously I wouldn’t want to be killed at all, or to be bred into enslavement for use as a resource in the first place. I wouldn’t want anyone representing my interests who told people that they should try and simply reduce their exploitation of me. I wouldn’t want to be exploited as it would be wrong; I’d want people to ask it to stop!

And that’s exactly what vegans need to be doing; it’s pretty logical: *vegans educating others about veganism*. It doesn’t cost any money. It’s a consistent, uncompromising message of justice, in that it truly represents the genuine interests of nonhumans not to be used at all. We’re missing, and in most cases deliberately forgo, the opportunity to educate people and fully inform them about the significant difference they can make by going vegan.

Now for many this requires a bit of critical thinking, a bit of education, some insight into how to engage people in conversations about veganism as a moral imperative. So what is stopping vegans from doing this? Is it the time or effort here that causes vegans to outright reject even contemplating this basic and logical approach? Is it their own bad experiences with people because they focused on treatment and single issue campaigns and graphic images, as led by the large animal donation organisations? Is it because the animal donation groups don’t want people doing it in place of their “successful” fundraising single issue campaigns?

We should remember that these organisations have tactics that focus and rely on soliciting more donations. They don’t take a position of justice; they conflate veganism (when they don’t outright reject it) with vegetarianism and other morally compromised positions. Vegetarianism is certainly not a morally coherent position: it still involves death, suffering and the use of nonhumans as a resource, it is just a diet. It’s only a “gateway” to continued participation in the exploitation of the vulnerable. We are not vegetarians, we are vegans and there’s reason for that.

These large animal charities through their conflation of positions of exploitation, with claims of representing animals, have created a massive confusion movement. A movement that now partners with animal exploiters and does one thing well-it takes money from vegans and nonvegans alike. It creates coalitions of vegans and nonvegans who claim to care about animals, but mainly targets nominal use single issues that nonvegans can get onboard with supporting. These many and varied speciesist, single issue focused, fundraising campaigns, will just go on and on forever, $$$.

This speciesist “animal movement” puts time and resources into anything but changing the paradigm for animals. What the animals need is a clear consistent, upfront and uncompromising message of justice. The animals need a *vegan movement* and as vegans, promoting anything less than that message is incoherent. Anything less than a message which clearly states- that if you truly care about or respect animals then veganism is a moral imperative-is a message which compromises the very position that we as vegans claim to believe in and live by.

Reject the second indoctrination; reject anyone, any group or any position, which involves sending any message of continued exploitation of nonhumans. Reject speciesism. The only message we need, the only message that covers all of the issues, the unjust use of nonhumans, is a message that states clearly that veganism is the only way there can be justice for animals.

This is a social justice issue and we need to change the paradigm; to do this we have to change the conversation. As vegans we must lead the way and be consistent and uncompromising in our message for justice. Educate yourself and then educate others. This is a black and white issue; the only grey area is the donation zone. Veganism is the moral baseline.

Based on The Abolitionist Approach by Gary L. Francione

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  • Cenk Tekin

    “Before we deal with unbelievers we must bring the heretics to One True Faith.”

    I don’t know if Puritanism is funny, sad or distasteful.

    • KC Starr

      What are you even talking about?

  • Paulr

    Thank you for this. I will certainly add to my reading list Gary Francione.
    I find this all quite interesting. What if when people tell people that animals are not ours, that they have a moral imperative not to harm them, and they continue with this message for many, many decades, then at what point does the approach change? When I consider that Di Vinci knew it was wrong, Tolstoy knew it was wrong, Einstein knew it was wrong, and things just got worse, I struggle to see how this stands a chance of working. (maybe I’ve got the wrong end of the stick?)
    Then I look at campaigns like Veganuary, which you are rejecting as it “by name” authorises 11 months of abuse, and I see many coverts to veganism, I’m left confused.
    Then there’s the issue of salaries and organisations. Can activists not do more if they do not have to worry about paying the bills by holding down a “normal” job? Practicalities are we all have bills to pay. Should everyone vegan never take any money for spreading the message? If so who pays their living costs?
    Is this a paid for site? Hows it funded and is it your job?
    Totally agree the front and centre message should be justice for animals, I’m not sure about how best to deliver that message. I like black and white, just in my experience things cannot always be that way, as hard as we try.
    I suppose it boils down to this, do we say “eat potatoes” if this results in action and many animals being saved but doesn’t say why. Or do we say “do not exploit animals” even if it results in no action.
    I do not like a compromised message at all. But, what if a comprised message works better?

    • KC Starr

      You might get a few converts to veganism via Veganuary but that’s not to be considered a success because what you also get is a whole load of other people who see veganism as “optional”, a “personal choice”, a fad to “try out” to see if it “fits” with them and their personal preferences. Veganuary just supports these notions. It does not deliver a message that veganism is a matter of fundamental justice, it sends a message that you can try veganism for a month and drop it if it doesn’t work for you. Can you imagine a campaign encouraging people to “try” refraining from violence towards women for a month to see if it “works” for them? Of course not. Refraining from violence against animals is a moral imperative not a personal dietary option.

      • Paulr

        yeah I get your point. Still not convinced its a negative thing however, I think its a lot more people than “a few”, and what if people are generally more open to watching the likes of Earthlings and listening to animal rights talks, because they have now stepped out of their meat filled bubble to try vegan? Maybe veganuary should have a justice message more front and centre and focus less on people. But yeah get your point it is certainly not something to “be tried out” but a fundamental injustice that needs to be understood and then acted upon. Thanks.

      • Joan Kennedy

        But KC, veganism IS a personal choice. The only way to make a vegan is to expose an open mind to vegan logic and vegan options and hope they decide to adopt vegan beliefs. And only rarely will one decide to even give it a try to see if it fits. Most often it’s a big fat Nope to even trying it. Once you’ve decided to be vegan, it can seem like the only decent way to go. And you might decide others should go that way too. But if others do, it’s because they personally choose to do so. That’s true in any open society where personal liberty is a basis for custom and law.

        This website is always mocking celebrities and others who decide to try veganism on and see if it fits, but that’s how people become vegan when they do. It’s rarely an instance of being struck by the rightness of it and forswearing animal products forever after and never lapsing or cheating or throwing it over. For many vegans the idea of taking it on sprouted and grew over time, and eventually took. Why be so hard on these people? Many vegans try and fail and try and fail and try again, and eventually come over for good. And every black bean and avocado salad they ate during their attempts equated to birds or shrimp or beef parts they didn’t consume at that meal. People who live in carnist homes with carnist cooks and meal planners, who work among carnists who send out for pizzas for working lunches, who don’t relish breaking Grandma’s heart if they don’t partake of her turkey, have real-world challenges that push back against their dawning ideas about animals, animal agriculture and human health. Long-held beliefs don’t give way willingly, and long-time habits can take years to supplant. That’s just the way humans are.

  • Joan Kennedy

    It’s hard enough to change your own mind, much less anybody else’s mind. People can and do educate themselves about animal justice, but can rarely educate others unless they’re public speakers. People in general don’t take well to “being educated” about veganism by another person on a one-to-one basis. Someone like Gary Yourovsky has educated a lot of people through public speaking, but I’ve heard him talk about close family members he doesn’t speak to anymore, he was so disgusted that they were impervious to his attempts to educate them. I’ve known people in my own life decide to give veganism a go, and possibly knowing me had some influence in that direction. But they got there on their own, not from anything I said to try and turn them. I think it really helps to hear it from someone who doesn’t know you, someone you don’t have to face in shame if you stumble or give up. That’s not defeatism, just observation of things that do and don’t seem effective.

  • KC Starr

    Excellent, on-point article. Couldn’t agree more.

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