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Fact: Rainn Wilson is right and we’ve all got veganism wrong

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The rules of veganism have been updated and Rainn Wilson is here to help us all get familiar with them.

The star best known for playing Dwight on The Office took to Instagram to inform his 839,000 followers of exactly what it means to go vegan and why you should do it.

THE FIFTY YEAR OLD VEGAN So about six weeks ago or so, my wife @HolidayReinhorn and I decided to try Veganism for a month. (Is that a thing? A word? VeganISM?) As an experiment. We were so dependent on eating animals and animal products, we just wanted to try it. Give our digestive systems a change-up. It was TOUGH. Especially that first week. I wanted a steak and eggs so bad. I felt tired and cranky and hungry all the time, even with the buckets of Quinoa I was shoveling into my mouth. Ugh. But then, sometime in the second and 1/2 week, things shifted dramatically. I noticed that I had more energy! I was sleeping better and deeper. I didn’t need naps in the afternoon as much. I started to drop some pounds. And, bonus, it’s supposed to be good for the planet. Personally, I have no moral issues with killing and eating animals. But the health and planetary benefits seem pretty good. Who knows, I may start adding some fish or some eggs. Or some fish eggs. But I’m enjoying the journey so far and want to leave you with a single promise: I WILL NOT BE ONE OF THOSE ASSHOLE VEGANS WHO IS ALWAYS TALKING ABOUT HOW THEY’RE A VEGAN!

A post shared by Rainn Wilson (@rainnwilson) on

Let’s break it down.

  1. Veganism is something you can try for a month as an experiment.
  2. VeganISM isn’t really a thing, or a word. Or is it?
  3. It’s all about giving your digestive systems a break.
  4. It’s also all about a challenge, because OH MY GOD it’s hard to not eat steak and eggs.
  5. You must eat buckets of quinoa, only. And be sure to promote that as the vegan food.
  6. Quinoa must always be spelled with a capital Q (as it’ll be your new Queen).
  7. Veganism is only worth doing if you receive extra energy, better sleep, and lose weight (go ahead and quit if you don’t feel the epiphany).
  8. The benefits to the Earth (whatever those are) are a bonus prize.
  9. There’s nothing morally wrong with killing and eating animals (ugh, so poetic and true).
  10. In case you didn’t catch it on the earlier rules, veganism exists for health and planetary benefits.
  11. You can reincorporate some fish, eggs, or fish eggs. ‘Cuz why not?
  12. Enjoy the personal journey, it’s about you.
  13. Talking about veganism makes you an asshole, so keep it to one Instagram post every six weeks.

Yes, owning a pot belly pig you don’t care about morally gets you extra vegan cred, as does taking the journey with your equestrian wife. It is a requirement, however, to promote causes like The International Fund for Animal Welfare if you’re going to get on Rainn’s level.

Where would we be without celebrities to guide us? How would we possibly know how to navigate pseudo-veganism or continue the narrative that vegans suck and animals don’t matter without Rainn? How can we ever expect to help others go vegan if we don’t have leaders with six or more weeks of sort-of experience on the subject?

Yes, the sarcasm has reached a boiling point here and I can go on no longer. We cannot celebrate having Rainn Wilson join the team when his “promotion” of veganism does nothing but further muddy the waters of confusion on why we should go vegan and how. If the message is this confused, we should consider it detrimental to the cause that it’s flaunted to such a large audience. Or do we want another Ellen or Beyonce (or Ricky, Leo, JoJo…I could continue) to feel let down by in a month?

Question, which celebrity should we learn about veganism from? False, none of them. Fact, if we don’t believe in inflicting unnecessary violence and suffering on animals, we must go vegan.

 

EDITED TO ADD:

And in case you think Dwight’s arch nemesis isn’t proud, they are.

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0 Comments
  • Sunil Hingorani

    A Vegan will never not talk about Vegan. He/She has attained enlightenment, and wants all others to share the treasure.

  • Is Rainn Wilson even vegan? It doesn’t really sound like it. But the bigger question is, does it matter?

    Quite honestly, I think PETA’s response is the right one – praise his decision, even if undergone for the “wrong” reasons. If we wait for everyone to have the right reason for going vegan, we will never achieve a vegan world. Of course, it depends on whether we want to create a vegan world, or VEGANS.

    Like it or not, people care what celebrities do, and having someone like Wilson interested in veganism makes it more mainstream, which matters to MOST PEOPLE. I get that abolitionist vegans are emphatically NOT most people, but if we want most people to stop eating animals, we need to stop insisting they have motivations that are precisely the same as our own. I could care less if people go vegan as long as we create a vegan world where animals are no longer used for food or treated as property. That will take a wide variety of approaches and people…not just abolitionists.

    • In your recent comment on the “veggie-vegan” essay, you argue in favour of vegan education without mentioning the word “vegan” (you call it “gentle” education) because all the baggage attached to the word. On the other hand, here you say that PeTa, by praising someone who not only isn’t vegan, but who said that talking about veganism makes us an asshole, did the right thing. How is praising someone who makes derogatory comments about promoting veganism *not* reinforcing the stigma attached to veganism?

      The fact that people care about what celebrities do means that everything, both good and bad, gets amplified thousandfold. If a celebrity becomes vegan and promotes unequivocal veganism, fantastic thousand times. On the other hand, if a celebrity makes derogatory comments about promoting veganism, the damage their words create gets amplified thousandfold too, and such impact has nothing to do with “making veganism more mainstream”.

      “…I could care less if people go vegan as long as we create a vegan world where animals are no longer used for food or treated as property. That will take a wide variety of approaches and people…not just abolitionists…”

      It is logical that promoting unequivocal veganism is the only approach that creates a vegan world. Promoting nonveganism, in this instance, congratulating a nonvegan for “trying a vegan diet”, and than stating that “it (merely trying a vegan diet) really is one of the best things someone can do for the animals, their health, and their environment”, is an approach that reinforces a nonvegan world.

      A vegan world can only be created if people actually go vegan first, so if I care about creating a vegan world, it is logical that I do care very much whether people go vegan or not.

      • For the record, I don’t favor avoiding the word ‘vegan’ at all – it’s just not what I always choose to lead with (I can probably count the interactions I’ve had in the past few months that HAVEN’T lead to a discussion of veganism on one hand). But I would have to disagree that people need to go vegan before we can achieve a world where animals no longer eaten and treated as property. As appealing as the idea is, I find the notion that people all over the world will slowly convert to veganism out of enlightened good will about as plausible as the notion that we’ll all share one religion in the future.

        Fortunately, people don’t have to be morally convicted that eating animals is wrong in order to stop eating them. There are many reasons to stop doing so, and I believe the moral justifications will come after we decide collectively that animal agriculture is bad for our health, the planet, and the economy.

        • “…But I would have to disagree that people need to go vegan before we can achieve a world where animals no longer eaten and treated as property…”

          Unless one is vegan, one engages in animal exploitation. If those who engage in animal exploitation did not want to keep their privilege of exploiting animals, they would not be exploiting animals in the first place. As long as the majority exploit animals, there is no way any meaningful change can take place, not even in theory.

          • Again, I’d have to disagree. I realize that the idea that all non-vegans engage (and will engage in the future) in animal exploitation is a central part of abolitionist doctrine. However, I would argue that if one does not use animals in any way – i.e., eats a plant based diet, doesn’t buy clothing made from animal products and doesn’t go to the circus or witness other forms of animal entertainment – they are not engaging in animal exploitation (aside from the fact that they live in a world that was built off an animal exploitation, which of course, vegans also benefit from).

            You might argue (correctly) that there are few such people today. But in the future, it will be the norm. Animal products are inferior to synthetic ones, whether as food or clothing material. Ditto animal entertainment. It will take time for people to recognize this, but they will (and those who don’t will be forced to due to economic and environmental necessity). I’m curious how abolitionist vegans will feel about this, because it’s a bit of a threat to an identity that is very much tied – as you say yourself – to how meaningful a choice veganism is. Personally, I think most vegans will be happy that the world no longer wants to participate in animal exploitation. But it may cause a bit of a crisis for people who tie their identity to “being vegan.” I’m a vegan, but my concern is the abolition of suffering, not solely spreading veganism (I see veganism as one powerful way to prevent suffering, but I think “not causing unnecessary suffering” is the moral baseline, not veganism).

          • The only people who do not engage in animal exploitation, meaning do not eat, wear or use animals for entertainment and other purposes, are ethical vegans. But whatever we want to call those who do not exploit animals, the fact remains that in order for a vegan world to come into reality, people must be convinced to disengage from animal exploitation first. There is no way around to it.

            The idea of reducing suffering and veganism being only one of the ways to achieve that goal only normalises animal exploitation further. The reason this idea is popular because one does not have to stop exploiting animals in order to reduce suffering, at least not in theory. We can genetically engineer food animals so they feel less pain. That would reduce suffering, and make nonvegans more comfortable about exploiting animals.

            All animal exploitation is black-and-white unnecessary. If one is against causing unnecessary suffering, one is committed to go vegan. So if not causing unnecessary suffering is the moral baseline, being vegan is a moral baseline too.

          • “All animal exploitation is black-and-white unnecessary” – unfortunately, this is not yet true. There are certain forms of animal exploitation that unfortunately are still necessary, such as animal ingredients in vaccines (which will hopefully soon be replaced with cultured alternatives that can avoid both animal exploitation and potential for allergic reactions).

            Of course, it’s unfortunately necessary to point out at this juncture that Gary Francione does not believe in vaccines. If one subscribes to the idea that Francione is the prophet of veganism, I suppose one must also argue that “all animal exploitation is black-and-white unnecessary.” I prefer to remember that little in this world is as simple as it seems to us when we believe we possess the ultimate Truth.

          • There is no vegan alternative to vaccines, some vegans take vaccines and others do not, so any disagreement about the necessity of vaccines does not alter my point that if one is against causing unnecessary suffering, one is committed to go vegan. So, if not causing unnecessary suffering is the moral baseline, being vegan is a moral baseline too.

            About the necessity animal ingredients in vaccines, no one can prove that animal ingredients in vaccines are necessary regardless whether vaccines are beneficial or not.

            Professor Francione argues that no one can claim that medical experiments are necessary simply because we don’t know what the alternative scenario would be at this point in time had we never used animals in experiments. In fact, there are concrete examples of being better off without animal experimentation, such as in case of proving that smoking causes lung cancer; because animal experiments failed to prove the link, it took additional twenty years to put smoking bans into place. Same with asbestos. This same argument I believe applies to the argument about the necessity of animal ingredients in vaccines.

            Professor Francione’s other argument that comes to my mind is that using humans in medical experiments would be far more beneficial for saving human lives, therefore we could argue more successfully that using humans is necessary, yet we do not, because we consider using humans in medical experiments unethical. When it comes to using animals, we have no better reason of “necessity” either. The only reason we have is that we are humans and they are not, which is no different from saying that we are white and they are not, or we are male and they are not. In conclusion, no, it is not necessary to use animals for animal ingredients in vaccines, although 0.0001% of animal use may not be as black-and-white unnecessary as I previously stated, but unnecessary nevertheless.

            The system does not allow me to post links here, but for more clarification on Professor Francione’s position I recommend going to his website and searching for “Vivisection, Part One: The “Necessity” of Vivisection” and “Vivisection, Part Two: The Moral Justification of Vivisection”.

            What is really unnecessary is “Francione is the prophet of veganism” ad hominem attack.

          • ubuntupanther

            I just discovered this site through my personalized Google news Veganism topic and initially I was very happy. The rebuttal to the abysmal QZ article for ‘the Vegan hell’ was epic and I was certain that I would find more articles like this. But now I am not so sure…
            I am a Vegan for 3 years and before this I was a vegetarian for another 3 years. I maintain a rather popular collection in G+ about Veganism and I will promote certain articles from this site.
            Alas I don’t think that a post like this is promoting Veganism. It promotes a moral indignation towards other Vegans or wannabe Vegans who supposedly are compomised and lacking morality. The tone of the reply from Linda to a fellow Vegan in this discussion was unacceptable to say the least…
            I will study the books of Professor Francione and I am sure that they are filled with valid arguments, yet it’s hard to swallow the dismissive arrogant mood of his supporters.
            Furthermore after visiting the abolitionist Vegan site I found some bad arguments and some crucial omissions about the Vegan cause. The FAQ section is poorly written especially in the sections of Hitler and the plant agriculture. For example, no mention that Hitler has forbidden the reduction of meat rationing when German was losing the war. A justification of the murderous car industry when addressing the topic of direct and indirect killing. But all these pale in comparison when considering the omission of Veganics.
            We should know that all kinds of agriculture except Veganics involve byproducts of animal slaughtering. Veganics is the only form of agriculture that doesn’t use animal manure or any other animal byproduct.
            If I wanted to use the offensive tone of Linda I could write that she is a hypocrite who eats plants which have grown upon immense animal suffering while abstractly speaking for Vegan morality. But this is not my purpose.
            My purpose is to grow the Vegan movement respecting all the different shades of it.
            This can’t be an all or nothing approach. At least as long as Veganics isn’t the basic form of agriculture this can’t be an all or nothing approach.
            As I former Vegetarian I know very well that is absurd to attack vegetarians for being worse than carnists. For many people to become Vegans is a gradual process. Yes it is a journey no matter how much this word is vilified in this site. For a consciousness to evolve and grasp some deep revolutionary truths isn’t easy, especially in our carnist society. And consciousness needs to keep on evolving so to face all the challenges that a 100% Vegan life stance presupposes and that needs time for many people who don’t experience a miraculous epiphany.
            In our era of ecological collapse, Veganism is a Moral AND an Ecological imperative.
            To downplay the one against the other is to diminish the full scope of the contemporary Veganism.
            I wish this site will publish more articles responding to the enemies of Veganism like the first article I discovered here and fewer articles ridiculing wannabe Vegans who don’t follow the specific doctrine of abolitionist Veganism.
            At the end the enemy is a system which treats as objects both human and non human animals through the impersonal forces of market and profit, a system which generates infinite misery, suffering and death for all the sentient beings. The enemy can’t be Vegans or wannabe Vegans who haven’t understood the intricacies of the abolitionist Veganism.
            As about me, I am a non violent Veganarchist and I strongly agree that we can’t treat animals as objects. Hence I have the gut feeling I will strongly agree with the abolitionist Veganism with which I was totally unaware it existed as a current.
            But let’s all Vegans find a basic common ground while respectfully discussing our differences in tactics and specific ideological perspectives.

          • 1. The FAQ section about the “Hitler was a vegetarian” argument was not meant to address vegetarianism or to offer Hitler’s biography in three paragraphs, but to briefly respond to a common nonvegan argument: Hitler was a vegetarian says no more about vegans than the fact that Stalin ate meat says about nonvegans. Further, the FAQ section was written almost two decades ago when the word “veganic” was non-existent.

            2. When we talk about the immorality of exploiting animals, we make it clear that we do not judge people as being immoral, but the action of perpetuating animal exploitation. I cannot post links here, but in their latest webinar found on Gary L. Francione’s YouTube channel, Professors Francione and Charlton make this distinction crystal clear. They also address all the other issues discussed here, for example that we would never excuse racists for “being on a journey” only because it might have taken us years to address racism in our own lives; only when it comes to treating animals as things that we subscribe to such nonsense and ask for evidence that promoting veganism works better than promoting speciesism.

            3. Vegans reject all animal use to the extent possible and practicable. In a nonvegan world, it is impossible to avoid all animal exploitation including bank notes containing animal products, indirect killing of animals in intensive agriculture by using pesticide, or using slaughterhouse byproducts in about everything from farming to carboard boxes, concrete, tyres and computers. Yes, veganic gardening is emerging, but is still in its infancy, and veganic products are not a readily available alternative to most people. On the other hand, fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes, nuts and seeds in general are widely available to most people.

            Animals are produced, raised, tortured and killed for meat, dairy, eggs, honey, wool, leather, fur and other animal products. No one raises, tortures and kills animals for their byproducts that mostly end up as toxic waste. So, the fact is that when one eats meat, dairy or eggs, one is directly perpetuating injustice, torture and killing; eating organic kale, driving a car or using a computer does not.

            4. If we agree that it is morally wrong to treat animals as objects, then it is logical to realise that vegetarianism and “journeys” involve treating animals as objects. No, vegetarians and those on a “journey” are not our enemies just like our nonvegan friends and relatives who eat meat and go fishing are not our enemies either, but we are clear that animal exploitation is morally wrong and most people are emotionally intelligent enough to understand and accept our argument, or reject it if they do not care enough to go vegan.

            5. If we agree that it is morally wrong to treat animals as objects, then it is logical the common ground to be promoting unequivocal veganism and not turning a blind-eye to speciesism.

            6. The respectful thing would be to address what we say and express disagreement by stating *how* what we say does not make sense if it doesn’t. Using inaccurate descriptions such as “the offensive tone”, “taking higher moral ground”, “attacking fellow vegans and wannabe vegans” and putting words into our mouths that are factually incorrect without addressing any of the points in our argument, yet asking for “respectfully discussing our differences” leads nowhere.

          • Linda McKenzie

            Instead of tone policing, please respond to my substantive arguments. I have every right to object to ad hominem remarks, and to repeated, egregious misrepresentations of the abolitionist approach, resulting in straw man arguments. It’s also perfectly reasonable to point out basic deficiencies in the arguments of ModVegan, such as not understanding the meaning of the word, “vegan,” in a discussion about veganism, and to suggest that she needs to inform herself first by doing some reading on abolitionism. Putting forward endless, uninformed, straw man arguments is indeed a complete waste of everyone’s time. In any other area of discourse about an important issue, we would expect that someone understands the basics before they weigh in—or are at least open to learning—and that they refrain from misrepresenting the position that they are supposedly criticising. Why should it be any different here? This is not about providing a social club, or ego reinforcement, for vegans. There is a lot more at stake than that, namely, standing up for the trillions of victims of animal exploitation and abolishing that exploitation.

            As for your criticisms of the Abolitionist Approach website, you seem to have missed the fact that the focus of abolitionism is the moral issue involved in animal exploitation. That’s not to say that the health and environmental issues are not important. They are, and the site acknowledges these repeatedly. We leave it to others to specialise in the areas of vegan nutrition and the environmental damage of animal agriculture. However, it’s not just that one person cannot be an expert in all areas. It’s about the fact that to put environmental and health concerns on the same level of importance as the moral issue of trillions of sentient beings being tortured and killed unnecessarily is like saying that the health hazard and the environmental pollution from toxic fumes from the burning of bodies of victims of the gas chambers in the Holocaust ranked equally in importance with the fact of millions of innocent humans being incarcerated and then murdered. See the problem? Until people understand that this is first and foremost a moral issue and an issue of basic justice, then we are not going to make any significant progress in abolishing animal exploitation. As long as we continue to make it about us, instead of them—the animals—we’re going nowhere.

          • Frances McC

            Gary Francione’s opinions on vaccination is only relevant to the discussion in so far as it involves animal use. And in a two-part essay on Vivisection, he writes that >>even if animal use in [the context of vivisection] is not transparently frivolous in the way that our other animal uses are, that does not mean that it is morally justifiable<<. The same applies here. What is morally excusable must be distinguished from what is morally justifiable. But as you acknowledge yourself, there are alternatives in development that means that animal use per se is not essential to the creation of vaccinations.

            None of this changes the fundamental wrongness of the fact that we exploit and kill trillions of animals per year for food alone, and that is what we need to address. The only way to address it is by pointing it out and by advocating veganism clearly and unequivocally. That means that while we are being encouraging and supportive advocates, we must be explicit about how animal use causes tremendous harm, and about how veganism is a moral imperative.

            Your imagined future, where people no longer participate in any form of animal use, will not be brought about by promoting veganism as a health plan or weight-loss kick (how many people do you know who quit wearing leather shoes to lose weight or who stop going to see animal acts to improve their sleep?) or by any other form of equivocation. It will be brought about by clear vegan advocacy that tackles all forms of use at once.

            It's so frustrating that vegan advocacy is actually far more easy than those who promote journeys and baby-steps would lead us to think. After all, journeys and baby-steps involve convoluted processes and all kinds of mental contortions and emotional bargaining. If only more people realised that one can go from A to B without taking a whistle-stop tour of the entire alphabet first, our vegan world would be closer.

          • I’m certainly not arguing against the concept of “the fundamental wrongness of the fact that we exploit and kill trillions of animals per year for food alone”, or that “we must be explicit about how animal use causes tremendous harm, and about how veganism is a moral imperative.” I take issue with the idea that being “unequivocal” is helpful. Because it is not a black and white issue. Animal exploitation is part of the fabric of our society, and unravelling and separating it from our lives is not nearly as easy as many advocates wish to pretend.

            Ecorazzi does an excellent job of pointing this out when it comes to things like tallow in money and biofuel, etc. But there is definitely a focus on policing people’s reasons for going vegan that I think is unhelpful. I don’t promote the idea of going vegan for health or weight loss, but i don’t go out of my way to discourage it, either. If humanity is on a journey towards a vegan world, it’s not hard to imagine that it will be a process for individual people as well.

          • “…I’m certainly not arguing against the concept of “the fundamental wrongness of the fact that we exploit and kill trillions of animals per year for food alone”, or that “we must be explicit about how animal use causes tremendous harm, and about how veganism is a moral imperative.” I take issue with the idea that being “unequivocal” is helpful. Because it is not a black and white issue. Animal exploitation is part of the fabric of our society, and unravelling and separating it from our lives is not nearly as easy as many advocates wish to pretend…”

            You are contradicting yourself. If something is a moral baseline, it naturally follows that our position on the matter is unequivocal. It would not make sense at all to agree that rape is morally wrong, and then go about how sexism is “part of the fabric of our society”, “not a black and white issue”, and “separating it from our lives is not nearly as easy…”. If we agree that rape is morally wrong, our position is unequivocal no matter whether humanity is on a journey toward equality or not, what the cultural norms are, or how easy or black-and-white the issue seems to be.

            “…there is definitely a focus on policing people’s reasons for going vegan that I think is unhelpful. I don’t promote the idea of going vegan for health or weight loss, but i don’t go out of my way to discourage it, either. If humanity is on a journey towards a vegan world, it’s not hard to imagine that it will be a process for individual people as well…”

            I cannot imagine someone rejecting to buy a pet or a leather jacket for health or weight loss, in fact, I often hear “environmentalists” arguing that wearing secondhand leather is more environmentally friendly than wearing synthetic materials. People do not go vegan for heath or weight loss or any other reasons; they may go on some form of a vegan diet for health or weight loss.

            Not promoting the idea of going vegan for health or weight loss, and not going out of the way to discourage it either, would involve simply saying nothing. But that is not what is happening here.

            What is really happening here is that the writer of the essay points out important common misconceptions such as: 1) there is nothing wrong with killing animals, 2) there is nothing wrong with reincorporating some fish or eggs, and 3) that talking about veganism makes you an asshole. These issues are so basic and sooo black-and-white, that every vegan with a little bit of knowledge and common decency should speak up against. Not only are you not speaking up, but you are taking a position on “Ecorazzi’s focus on policing people’s reasons for going vegan” (“policing” is another of those words used by vegans to give unequivocal veganism a bad name) without pointing to any specific quote or offering a substantive argument, and you are taking a position that PeTa did the right thing by congratulating the person who spreads such misconceptions about veganism. And you defend people going on journeys as helpful because that is what people are naturally inclined to do. We don’t. We acknowledge that we would never defend being on a journey when it comes to discrimination against humans, and we take the position that promoting journeys when it comes to animal exploitation is speciesist.

          • “I cannot imagine someone rejecting to buy a pet or a leather jacket for health or weight loss”

            – Like most vegans, I’ve met many people who are ethical vegans today, who started out following a plant-based diet for health. I think that, while admirable in many respects, a hard-line approach (“you need to stop calling yourself a vegan until you have eliminated all animal exploitation from your life!”) alienates people who might be very interested in hearing more about ethical veganism. It doesn’t mean we can’t talk to them about it, but I see no reason not to congratulate them on making a positive decision, and then focus on what can be improved.

            “in fact, I often hear “environmentalists” arguing that wearing secondhand leather is more environmentally friendly than wearing synthetic materials.”

            – I see no problem with this. It’s slightly delusional, but it’s not hurting animals.

            “Not promoting the idea of going vegan for health or weight loss, and not going out of the way to discourage it either, would involve simply saying nothing.”

            – Unfortunately, I’m not sure exactly what you’re referring to here. PETA congratulated this man on his decision, and then reinforced the idea that veganism is one of the best things we can do for the planet, the animals, and ourselves. They didn’t say “it’s fine to eat fish, Rainn!” Or “yeah, people who talk about veganism suck!”

          • ‘…I’m not sure exactly what you’re referring to here. PETA congratulated this man on his decision, and then reinforced the idea that veganism is one of the best things we can do for the planet, the animals, and ourselves. They didn’t say “it’s fine to eat fish, Rainn!” Or “yeah, people who talk about veganism suck!”…’

            If we take the position that veganism is a moral imperative, then naturally our message is that veganism is the *only* good thing we can do for the animals, the very minimum we owe to them, and not one of the best things alongside other positions that involve animal exploitation such as vegetarianism, reducetarianism, Meatless Mondays, “humane”, “cage-free” and all the other stuff that PeTa people promote for a living. For the record, PeTa didn’t say that “veganism was one of the best things one can do for the animals; PeTa said, *trying vegan* was one of the best things one can do for the animals.

            No, PeTa didn’t say, “it’s fine to eat fish, Rainn!”, not this time anyway. PeTa said nothing. Congratulating in combination with being silent in the face of someone promoting speciesism, by the eyes of the mainstream public who see PeTa as the authority on animal rights, is seen as there is nothing wrong. Besides, PeTa has said million times that it is fine to eat fish or any other animal product, and that veganism is extreme, purist, elitist, “screw the principle”, etc.

            ‘Bell & Evans shows that animal welfare and good business can go hand in hand…and by listening to consumers’ wishes, Bell & Evans has set a new standard for the chicken-supply industry.’—Ingrid Newkirk, President of PETA.

          • Alan O’Reilly

            Claiming that some minuscule proportion of overall animal use, such as vaccines, may be considered necessary provides justification for avoiding unequivocal vegan advocacy makes as much sense as arguing that continuing to consume animals is morally acceptable because rodents may be harmed during crop harvesting or that the Inuit are unable to grow lettuce. The notion that most people will embrace veganism only if we sneak up on them with it, and never mention the word itself, is preposterous.

          • “The notion that most people will embrace veganism only if we sneak up on them with it, and never mention the word itself, is preposterous.”

            I completely agree. I’ve never said that (though I don’t always lead with “go vegan!” before I’ve even had a chance to introduce myself or determine if the other person knows what veganism actually is.

            But arguing that we should effectively pretend that no exceptions on animal use exist, just so we can advocate more stridently for veganism, is dogmatic and unhelpful.

          • Alan O’Reilly

            “But arguing that we should effectively pretend that no exceptions on animal use exist, just so we can advocate more stridently for veganism, is dogmatic and unhelpful.” This is a straw man. Nobody here is arguing that. You, on the other hand, appear to be claiming that these exceptions, if they exist, justify not unequivocally advocating veganism.

          • Linda McKenzie

            You are completely ignoring the actual meaning of “veganism” in these straw man arguments. First of all, you’re treating veganism as a diet when you argue that people may go “vegan” for health or weight loss. What you’re referring to here is a vegan diet, not veganism, i.e. no animal use, which is what we are concerned with. As pointed out, no one is going to stop wearing fur or leather or stop going to zoos for health or weight loss.

            Secondly, you’re ignoring the fact that veganism means avoiding all animal use as far as is *possible and practicable.* It doesn’t mean avoiding absolutely all animal use, which is impossible in a non-vegan world. We all have to drive on roads and walk on footpaths, and some of us need to use medications that do not have vegan alternatives. The fact that some avoidance of use is not yet possible or practicable, because we live in a non-vegan world, does not constitute a justification for not being clear about the need to uncompromisingly avoid all use that *is* possible and practicable to avoid. (For the vast majority of us, that means avoiding all animal products for food, as a minimum. For most of us, it’s also perfectly possible and practicable to avoid all animal use for clothing and personal care products). It doesn’t provide a justification for failing to unequivocally advocate this as the moral baseline to others. You sound more like a resistant non-vegan than a vegan in your attempts to evade this simple fact, and in your misrepresentation of veganism as some impossible standard of perfection that we are “pretending” is possible. As the numbers of vegans increase, industry will cater more to the demand for vegan products, so that more use will be possible and practicable to avoid. But we are not going to get to that point if we skirt around using the word, “vegan,” and fail to educate people clearly and unequivocally on veganism as a moral imperative.

            You’re also misrepresenting the abolitionist position regarding the adoption of a vegan diet for health or weight loss, or for that matter, the environment. Neither Gary Francione nor any other abolitionist has *ever* said we should discourage that. There’s nothing about abolitionism that requires us to discourage people from making good choices for their own health or the environment—that would be absurd. As abolitionists, we may even encourage someone to go on a vegan diet for their health, but we would never pretend that this has anything to do with animal ethics, or is the same thing as going vegan, and we would continue to advocate unequivocally, if they are open to it, for veganism, i.e. no animal use, as a moral imperative. We can only advocate to those who are receptive in the first place—those who actually care and want to do the right thing. If they don’t care, they won’t do anything anyway. If they do care, why would we not be honest with them about what caring actually and coherently requires? i.e. going vegan. It’s nonsensical to say that we can care about animals while still exploiting them, and to collude in this speciesist nonsense shows a real lack of integrity on the part of vegans who know better.

            I agree with Alan O’Reilly that the notion that we should not be honest with people and that the only, or best, way to get them to go vegan is to manipulate them in some way, or sneak up on them, or go along with the notion that it’s fine to carry on violating the fundamental rights of animals as part of some narcissistic “journey” is not only misguided and ineffective, but morally odious. Your response to Alan, “I’ve never said that (though I don’t always lead with “go vegan!” before I’ve even had a chance to introduce myself or determine if the other person knows what veganism actually is” denies and contradicts exactly the message you’ve been putting across here. If you object to advocating unequivocally for veganism, then it’s logical that you support advocating for something less than veganism, as a supposed indirect way to eventually get people to go vegan. We utterly reject that as manipulative, dishonest, ineffective and speciesist. It’s speciesist because we would never take that approach when it comes to the violation of basic human rights, as Balint Balasa pointed out.

            Secondly, this response to Alan is just another instance of frankly obnoxious and repeated misrepresentation of what abolitionists say and do. *No one,* i.e. no abolitionist, has ever suggested that in our vegan advocacy we should lead with “Go vegan!” before we introduce ourselves and determine whether the other person is even receptive to a conversation. That’s just silly and shows that you really have no idea about how abolitionists advocate. If you’re going to invest time and energy in arguing with abolitionists, please, at least find out first what we say and don’t say, and how we advocate. Avoiding ad hominem and snide remarks (such as the one about Gary Francione) would be appreciated. It would also help to understand the basics, such as what the term, “veganism,” actually means, so that you’re not engaging in straw man arguments. Otherwise, it’s just a huge waste of time for all of us.

          • Thank you for taking the time in your reply. My reference to Francione was not meant as an ad hominem attack, simply a reference to (what I perceive to be) a somewhat unfortunate instance of what some outsiders might perceive as a cult of personality. I have read Professor Francione’s books, and essays, and I enjoy the majority of them, though I clearly do not agree with them completely.

            There is clearly so much that is good about the Abolitionist Approach. But it supposes a great deal about its audience – more than anything else a belief that enough people want to do the right thing that together they can change the world. While I find this very admirable and aspirational, I do not find it pragmatic.

            Fortunately, my own feelings on the matter are utterly meaningless in the grand scheme of things. But perhaps saying I have “no idea how abolitionists advocate” (i.e., that they don’t lead with “go vegan!” and are perfectly reasonable), is difficult to argue when these comments were written in response to an article about someone who has embarked on a plant based diet, and apparently deemed unreceptive. Because, honestly, isn’t telling people to go vegan about all an Abolitionist can really do? They clearly can’t tell someone “congratulations, this is how to do better”, because that is “manipulative, dishonest, ineffective and speciesist.”

          • Linda McKenzie

            “My reference to Francione was not meant as an ad hominem attack, simply a reference to (what I perceive to be) a somewhat unfortunate instance of what some outsiders might perceive as a cult of personality.”

            I’m sorry, but it’s hard to avoid the impression that this is one, long trolling exercise on your part when you come out with such nonsense in what is ostensibly a serious discussion. Who cares what “some outsiders” (outsiders?) think? Some people think false and ridiculous things. Why repeat such garbage unless you, yourself, think so too? People tend to make such absurd and vacuous statements when they have nothing of substance to say. It amounts to just another ad hominem in the act of denying your previous ad hominem, since clearly you would not be repeating this accusation if you didn’t agree with it, and it has nothing to do with the issues we’re discussing. But this is of a piece with your repeated denial and contradiction of your own statements. I have to conclude that you are not engaging in good faith. If I’m wrong and you really are attempting to communicate seriously, then your communication style leaves a lot to be desired. And if anyone is making this about Francione’s “personality,” rather than his arguments, it’s you.

            “There is clearly so much that is good about the Abolitionist Approach. But it supposes a great deal about its audience – more than anything else a belief that enough people want to do the right thing that together they can change the world. While I find this very admirable and aspirational, I do not find it pragmatic.”

            Abolitionists recognise that people need to have moral concern in order to be receptive to the logical arguments for veganism. If people simply don’t care about animals, or about morality, then it’s quite futile to advocate to them—we need to move on to those who do care.

            And if you think you are going to get people who don’t care to go vegan by advocating non-veganism, or manipulating them in some way, then I strongly disagree. That’s not “pragmatic;” it’s delusional. If you think that people who just don’t care are going to anything at all, I find that, again, lacking in any kind of logic or even basic common sense.

            The fact that many people don’t care is something we can’t change. But it’s also the case that many people DO care, just as we care, and those are the people we need to focus on. Those people really do want to do the right thing by animals, and we’re short-changing those people by advocating anything other than veganism. Most of us wish someone had explained to us much sooner why we needed to go vegan. At this point, there are many, many people out there who do care, who haven’t yet ever encountered an abolitionist argument, and we need to reach them. We don’t need to persuade the entire world to go vegan. We just need to get a critical mass to become abolitionist vegans, and that will start to change the conversation from treatment to use.

            You’ve failed to even attempt to address the fact, pointed out a number of times, that advocating anything less than veganism is speciesist, in that we would never do the equivalent in matters of human rights violations. If animal advocates start out from a platform of speciesism, then that’s all they’ll succeed in communicating to others. How are we supposed to end speciesism when so-called animal advocates are steeped in speciesism? Again, this makes no sense. We ought to be clearly and unequivocally advocating veganism, and then what people do with that is up to them. Everyone already knows about the other options—reducing consumption of animal products, vegetarianism, “happy” meat, etc. We don’t need to encourage that, and it’s immoral to do so. If people want to go vegan but feel they can’t do it right away, then we can suggest a strategy like going vegan for breakfast for a while, then for lunch, and then for dinner. That’s just one possible strategy. The point is that our strategies, when they’re necessary, are always focused on going vegan, and nothing less.

            “Fortunately, my own feelings on the matter are utterly meaningless in the grand scheme of things.”

            I disagree. Everything we do matters. Just by getting one other person to go vegan, we make an impact. Multiply this and we soon have a movement. With a real movement we can shift the paradigm of animals as things to animals as persons. How we advocate—whether we advocate veganism as a moral imperative or not—is critically important.

            “Because, honestly, isn’t telling people to go vegan about all an Abolitionist can really do?

            For starters, abolitionists don’t “tell” people to go vegan. It’s really very frustrating, as I said, when you have no idea about abolitionist advocacy as is obvious in this kind of statement, and keep throwing up these straw man arguments. PLEASE do some reading to get up to speed. What we do is we engage in a respectful conversation with people, where we talk *and* listen; we first of all ascertain that they care at all; and then we present a moral argument, based on their own profession of caring, for why that caring means going vegan. This is a far cry from your caricature of “telling” people to go vegan! If that’s what you think abolitionist vegan advocacy is about, i.e. giving them orders, then no wonder you reject it! But you are rejecting something we don’t do, and that we don’t advocate that others do.

            Aside from advocating veganism, abolitionists provide support for people who want to go vegan. That’s why we have a website called “How Do I Go Vegan?”. We provide education for people, such as with reading groups run by the International Vegan Association and private individuals, and obviously by interaction on the AA FB page and other social media pages. Ecorazzi is doing its bit by publishing essays. Some people write songs or draw cartoons. We help people by referring them to nutritional information. We can go shopping with them and teach them how to prepare vegan meals. There are so many things abolitionists can do, other than “telling” people to go vegan, which we don’t do, at all.

            “They clearly can’t tell someone “congratulations, this is how to do better”, because that is “manipulative, dishonest, ineffective and speciesist.””

            You’re right that we’re not going to congratulate someone on reducing their meat consumption, because that would be speciesist and immoral—we’d be praising their ongoing exploitation of animals. But that doesn’t mean we can’t encourage and support people. I would say something like, “It’s great that you care enough to make a change. But you know, unless you go vegan, you’re still engaging in the exploitation of animals. What can I do to help you go vegan?” And then, I’d do whatever I could to support them in going vegan, if they agree that it’s necessary to go vegan, whether that’s suggesting how to make the transition, providing recipe ideas, going shopping with them, etc. Or helping them to understand why it’s necessary to go vegan—getting to the heart of any misconceptions about animal ethics or mental blocks about going vegan.

            It’s a false dichotomy to say that we either congratulate people for continuing to exploit animals or we say and do nothing at all to support and encourage them. This is all part of the way you’ve repeatedly caricatured the abolitionist approach. I suggest, again, getting informed on what we actually think, say and do before engaging in a lot of straw man arguments. It’s a matter of basic intellectual integrity if you’re going to argue against abolitionism to do that much.

          • Again, thank you for taking the time to reply. I think perhaps the fundamental disagreement here is merely over the tone of the original article. I know the Abolitionist Approach favours non-violent, creative vegan education, and that’s great!

            But while I think the article is creative and meant to be humorous, it’s clearly intended for a vegan audience. I absolutely love that you talk about encouraging and supporting people in your reply, but there was none of that in the original article. I realize Abolitionist vegans get frustrated with reducetarian messaging, but I don’t think that means we need to become accusatory and mean-spirited. I really do think something as simple as saying (as you do, in your reply) “It’s great that you care enough to make a change. But you know, unless you go vegan, you’re still engaging in the exploitation of animals. What can I do to help you go vegan?” Is fantastic!

            My concern is that too often, vegans take the opportunity to point out what is wrong with someone’s approach, while offering little support and encouragement. I don’t think the person in question perceives himself as a vegan educator! Yes, he’s spreading misinformation, and yes, that’s problematic, but I fail to see how taking the example of anyone – celebrity or not – who misunderstands veganism, and saying nothing positive whatsoever, is helpful. If Rainn actually reads this article, what is likely to be his response? Do you consider this piece to be effective advocacy by Abolitionist standards? Because although you say Abolitionists don’t “tell” people to go vegan, that is precisely what this article seems intended to do.

  • Michael J Platek

    Yes it is.morally wrong to eat and have animals killed if you have other options .

France’s ban of faux-meat branding won’t stop veganism

I’ll take “mycoproteinous food tube” over a tube of dead pig any day.

Concerned about endangered animals? Stop eating them

Methods of animal conservation that support the exploitation of animals don’t exist for the animals, they exist for human profit.

What you can do if live exports disturb you

The outcry should go further than importation and should be directed at the fact that the animals in question were on their way to slaughter in the first place.