i’m so tired of thinking about this, but… i’m finding it harder and harder to be Vegan with a capital “V” at this point. i’m still vegan and i will always be vegan. but to me, veganism has always meant the belief that animals are not objects and the recognition of speciesism. the BELIEF. not the action. i think that your actions should follow suit with what you believe, but ultimately it’s up to you to decide how far you are comfortable with taking that.
now, typing that out felt like such bullshit. because in the past, i’ve always thought there was no excuse for using products in any way that were derived from animals or the exploitation of animals. however, the extent to which animals are used is OVERWHELMING. even though i follow a strictly vegan diet and even though i don’t use products tested on animals and even though i’ll be the first one to protest the circus…there’s still a ton of stuff that interferes with living a life free of animal exploitation. that probably wouldn’t be the case if i lived in a commune somewhere and we all lived off the land, but i don’t plan on doing that any time soon so i’m kinda stuck.
the definiton of veganism i’ve always preferred is the one that says not to exploit animals or kill them etc etc etc “within reason.” Within reason. People have different limits and different amounts of resources and different things that they consider “within reason.” This makes the most sense to me, as long as they recognize speciesism.
So I’m sure you’re wondering okay then, what’s the problem then? My problem is that that shit sounds weak. It’s like saying you don’t have to practice veganism, you just have to believe it! But…i guess that kind of is the truth, right? I mean, once most people believe it they may practice it to an extent and after that point, who am I to determine to what extent that is? I will say that so often, I’ve been confronted about veganism by people who say things like “but why do animals matter when there’s human problems that are going on?” and “animals don’t feel pain” and “dairy isn’t rape, don’t compare women to animals!” THAT I have a problem with, across the board, no matter what. you can’t argue with me about speciesism with speciesism. It’s not my right to tell you what to do in your personal life or how to eat or what to buy, etc, etc. But! I would like for people to realize that I don’t believe in the whole “humans are more important” argument. Or “animals are ours to use.” Once you get past that thinking, then it’s completely up to you as individual as to what you want to do. The issue is there are a lot of vegans that want both. They both want to yell at you for being speciesist and then yell at you for what you do about it. I just want to talk to you about the first part.
Then there’s that whole issue with the fact that the way we get our vegetables and such is through exploited human labor. A common response to that is - see there’s no point in being vegan! That’s still cruelty! - and it is! It is cruelty. But i think what people are really responding to is vegans who make a big deal about the fact that they are free of all cruelty, free of all discrimination, free of all abuse of power, free of all their privilege. That shit ain’t true. So the vegan response shouldn’t be to DENY that issue, but rather to acknowledge it just as much as they acknowledge the exploitation of non-human animals. I guess it’s acting perfect, acting like veganism = evolved thinking that is really bringing shit down. If you don’t have the ability to see problematic things about your own systems of belief, how can you ever be effective?
I got lots more thoughts on this, but i’m making chili right now so I’ll leave that til later.
I think this makes a lot of sense. I mean, I don’t like to think about veganism as an all or nothing thing or as the solution to the world’s problems. No, being vegan isn’t going to rid the world of suffering or make everyone’s life perfect. However, being vegan is one thing that you can do to lessen the amount of suffering, as is volunteering, as is giving to reputable charities, as is educating yourself and others, as is buying more from thrift stores and less from big box stores, as is buying locally grown food and organic food, and driving less, and being nice to people.
I would also like to add that I think veganism is a potentially powerful movement and personal decision. Even when I was vegetarian I found it much easier to think of animals as objects and property. Of course, that could have been because I was younger and just not socially minded too, but after going vegan I found it much easier to reevaluate my beliefs and views. Not only did veganism help me to identify and change my speciesist views, but I think it also helped me to better understand sexism and racism too.
What I see happening is that often people, when speaking with a vegan about veganism or animal rights, sometimes try to point out the imperfections of veganism or the vegan individual. And then, that vegan feels the need to prove that person wrong. I sometimes feel that non-vegans bring up human rights issues, not because they are doing anything to end it, but because they want to find the fatal flaw in veganism.
I try not to be an angry vegan, but it’s definitely an easy thing to be when so many discussions about veganism are spent arguing for the existence and pervasiveness of speciesism. Of course it exists, and I guess I feel that if people would just accept this, the better able they would be to recognize oppression in all areas of life and take steps to end it. (Not that there aren’t sexist or racist vegans out there, but there seems to be a natural correlation between veganism, feminism, and awareness of human/civil rights issues)