There’s a perception of veganism, and of many vegans too, as vociferous and/or challenging. We’ve all seen comments that go, ‘thank goodness you’re not one of ‘those vegans’ and no doubt this is intended as a compliment by those who are not vegan themselves.
This ‘compliment’ sits alongside a nonvegan perception of themselves as passive, just quietly minding their own business, not wanting to be challenged about their ‘choices’ in the same way that they consider themselves to be tolerant of the ‘choices’ of others.
I’ve seen posts shared humbly, even apologetically by vegans, aware they will be viewed by those who aren’t vegan, knowing that they are likely to be subjected to some form of retaliation for disturbing the tranquillity.
And it occurs to me that although not being vegan is the default state for the vast majority of us, it is VERY far from being a passive state; an extremely long way from minding one’s own business, and in fact, is as lacking in tolerance for other sentient individuals as it’s possible to be, despite the mantra ‘live and let live’ making a frequent appearance.
So it seems to me that those who are not vegan are every bit as much ‘advocates’ as any vegan is; the obvious difference being that they advocate harming animals. What’s more, when we are not vegan, we advocate persistently, on a daily basis, with almost every purchase we make; we advocate aggressively, flaunting our violence everywhere we go, for all to see.
We advocate openly and unrepentantly in supermarkets, browsing the bloodied and dismembered remains in the chill of the mortuary aisles, loading our trolleys with dead flesh, openly gathering products made from the milk that mothers made for the infants we took from them and killed; remorselessly picking up eggs from gentle little birds whose entire bleak existence was spent toiling abjectly in a body selectively bred for our use.
We share callous images of our victims’ corpses and secretions on our plates; we delight in images of flayed skin – from owners whose species we do not even know – admiring them, calling them ‘clothes’ and ‘accessories’.
Through our advocacy of harm, we reassure ourselves and each other that we’re behaving in socially acceptable ways, conforming to the expectations of our peers and of society. Through our actions as consumers, we pump cash into the industries that deal death and destruction on our behalf, ensuring that incarceration, gore and torment remain lucrative business opportunities for us to return to day after day.
This all would be heart breaking enough, were it not for the ultimate and deeply tragic irony; almost every single one of us claims to care about animals and is outraged to hear of their being harmed; is utterly appalled by injustice and oppression inflicted on vulnerable individuals who are powerless to defend themselves.
And then it just gets worse.
When we are not vegan, almost every single one of us would be repulsed, horrified and sickened … by the actions that WE OURSELVES are actively participating in and promoting.
Truth needs no disguise
And this is all that ‘those vegans’ are seeking to do. They’re not trying to offend, not trying to change the thoughts of those who advocate nonveganism. No, they’re simply trying to make each advocate of nonveganism aware that what they’re doing goes against their OWN deeply held code of conduct.
On the day each of us finally opens our eyes to the consequences of our actions, all we need to decide is whether to really become the person we always thought we were. The only way we can do that is by being vegan. Once we do that, I wonder how many of us will consider it a compliment to be told we’re not one of ‘those vegans’?