As someone relatively new to the world of veganism, I’ve done a lot of exploring the internet in search of community. I craved like-minded people to learn from and converse with. I shouldn’t have been surprised to find that many people in this community are anything but like-minded. To be honest, it’s rather divided. I’ve come across people who use their social media to mislead people (knowingly or not) about what a healthy plant-based diet looks like. I’m not an expert, but it concerns me to see so many people promoting eating nothing but fruit. I’ve seen people argue that anyone who was isn’t actively vegan is essentially a bad person. These are not positions I agree with nor do I want to be associated with them. However, I’ve also found some people that I could learn from. I don’t want to view veganism through rose-colored glasses. I want to know the good, the bad, and the ugly. I think it’s dangerous to put this concept on a pedestal and act like it’s treacherous to criticize elements of or individuals within the vegan movement.
First of all, there is a reason why many people associate veganism with pompous, egotistical people. Some vegans make their lifestyle about themselves, not about the animals and it shows. They ignore science and promote nutritionally inadequate, albeit aesthetically pleasing diets. Maybe their compassion for animals seemingly overrides their compassion for people. That’s the stereotype and the individuals who feed into it harm not only the public perception of themselves, but also the movement itself. I don’t believe that to be the majority, but perhaps just some of the loudest among us. A change this big takes time. It won’t be accomplished by shaming people or destroying property, and no one should attempt to accomplish this by spreading misinformation. I don’t believe this behavior comes from a place of ill-intention most of the time, I just think sometimes people allow their anger or pride to get the best of them. However, the reality is movements gain traction through numbers. You have to reach out to others, be inclusive, and willing to meet people where they’re at.
The best one could hope for in this lifestyle is to not intentionally harm or exploit any animals in your daily life. Unintentionally, things do happen. Vegans step on ants when they walk outside just like a non-vegan does. Animals are killed during crop production. Some of these things are unavoidable. There’s also a lot of gray areas that I’d like to touch on more in the future. This leads to shaming within the community that certain people aren’t ‘real’ vegans because they don’t come to the same conclusions about these gray areas that many of the more well-known vegans do. It’s one thing to disagree, it’s another thing to try to push people away from the community because you think their actions aren’t as ‘pure’ as you’d like. In fact, it’s rather counterproductive to alienate those who are supposed to be your peers and possibly driving them away from the movement in it’s entirety. The truth is, no matter what decisions you make, you’re not pure or perfect. Far from.
None of this means that I’m opposed to the preachy vegan, per say. When you believe in something you should stand up for it. All the terrible parts of our history haven’t changed for the better because people kept their thoughts to themselves. They protested. They talked about why certain things were wrong to anyone who would listen. They marched and made a spectacle of themselves to draw attention to their cause. I guess what I’m trying to say, is lift up the movement, not yourself for being a part of it. Be honest about the reality and don’t act like veganism is without flaws. Just because it isn’t perfect doesn’t mean it’s not worth doing. An imperfect world with more compassion, for animals and people alike, is a world everyone can benefit from.
Sources I’ve found to be Honest and Transparent
Unnatural Vegan: https://www.youtube.com/user/FitOnRaw
Cheap Lazy Vegan: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCEjkioV3LO_OIUaSWRxFZ3A