Sorry Vegans, But Your Perfection is in Another Castle

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TW: Discussions of rape, sexual assault, and violence towards both non-human and human animals

First off, I guess I should clarify the sort of perfection I’m referring to in the title. The point of this post isn’t to talk about vegan purity or what level vegan one must obtain before your hair looks amazing. I’m more concerned about the idea that veganism is the perfect form of activism than whether or not someone who takes public transit or drives a car (something something animal products in the tires) can call themselves a vegan.

As it stands right now, veganism (especially white veganism) has some serious work to do on itself, and it also needs to address the ways in which other forms of oppression connect with it. Most of our leaders are problematic, many of our leading organizations need to be dismantled, our methods are questionable, and the community itself seems to be focused more on celebrity (seriously, I love Queen Bey for plenty of reasons, but how many times are we going to celebrate her going vegan before we stop throwing a party?) and consumerism.

Of course, it’s not just the problems within the vegan community that should be addressed before any of us consider our activism anywhere near perfect (side note: it never will be perfect, and accepting that is an important step). In fact, it’s the apparent unwillingness or inability of those within the community to acknowledge problems outside of it that is the main reason for this blog post.

I’ve lost count of how many debates I’ve had online while trying to get people to consider other issues and the ways in which they are linked with animal rights, veganism, etc., and I’ve also lost count of how many times I’ve been told that someone was only in it “for the animals”, “the voiceless”, “the ones suffering the most”, or some other slogan that can fit on a cloth bag. Trying to make the majority of those people understand something like why it’s important to consider the inherent cruelty involved with capitalism while discussing the latest cruelty-free list is often as pointless as trying to convince a commenter named “MmmBacon1979” that pigs are intelligent.

And yet, in order to truly make the world a better place, these are the kinds of things that we also need to tackle. No matter how many different infographics are shared about the dramatic change the world would undergo if everyone went vegan, the truth is that such a thing wouldn’t solve all of its problems. Hell, I would argue that it might even create some new ones while also allowing others to continue, and I’m not talking about all the cows that would apparently be left roaming around after the factory farm gates were left open for them.

Instead, I’m talking about things such as the Israel/Palestine conflict, which many vegan organizations and people don’t mention when it comes to the boots and food the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) provides its soldiers. The fact that vegans are willing to ignore the long-term conflict itself, and the blood that is spilled on the vegan shoes worn by a military used to enforce a brutal (and illegal) occupation, is a great illustration of how focusing solely on pushing veganism will not lead to a peaceful world..

Since Israel’s greenwashing campaign is a little quiet currently, there are movements getting more attention in the media that can also be looked at. When it comes to #metoo and #timesup, having a vegan world still wouldn’t lead to the end of sexism, rape culture, or the dismantling of the patriarchy either. In fact, if past events are any indication, the vegan and animal rights community has plenty of issues to face when it comes to sexism and male privilege and it even has its own hashtag. Given the prevalence of the use of rape comparisons in AR messaging to try and convince people of the horrors of things like the dairy industry, one would expect the community to be incredibly active in fighting this cause too. Sadly, that doesn’t seem to be the case as many continue to defend prominent people who have “done so much for the animals” while also blaming the victims out of fear that the controversy will harm the movement.

Of course, these are just a couple examples of the issues that going vegan wouldn’t directly address. Without detailing more of them further, it’s easy to say that in a vegan world (based on the current interests of mainstream veganism today) people would still suffer, multinational companies would still swindle, factories would still pollute, politicians would still lie, and much more. Sure, we’d be able to find a great vegan burger wherever we went, but what good is that if people are unable to make a living wage while preparing it for the masses?

The bottom line, as always, is that we can do better. More importantly, we have to do better. Veganism is just one part of the challenge, and focusing solely on it isn’t going to give us a win. If we want a better world, for both non-human animals and ourselves, we can’t just be happy with tackling one level. We have to keep going, and we have to do it together.

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