Patience in vegan advocacy
Source The Vegan of Aus
About a month ago after having a great chat with a nonvegan he informed me that my case for veganism was (at least somewhat) compelling and that he “might give veganism a go some time soon.” I replied that if he’s interested in stroking his own ego then that might be a suitable response but if he now understood the imperative for veganism then the right thing to do was to start living vegan immediately. Right now! A number of (mostly vegan) friends listening in on the conversation tried to soften my call; they said that such an urge was harsh and that the type of progress my interlocutor was affirming to take part in was a step in the right direction.
The only step in the right direction is an actual step, in the right direction. Not a glance, or a thought, but a step. The only way to put down a sword is to actually put it down, not just to think about putting it down after wielding it on some discretionary number of victims if and when you feel like it. The only way to stop being a bigot is to actually stop being a bigot, not just talking about stopping being a bigot. Just imagine a kid brought before a teacher at school for bullying and telling him “I might stop being a bully at the end of term.” That’s ludicrous. As is someone suggesting they’ll go vegan when they feel like it. You don’t go vegan because you feel like it, you go vegan because if you have a shred of decency towards nonhumans it’s the right thing to do.
The fact that the imperative for veganism is so often diluted to something that can be done according to the oppressor’s whims rather than the victim’s needs is a prime display of how deeply entrenched speciesism is, even amongst vegans. Speciesism has corrupted our minds and hearts over thousands of years so it’s not surprising that its relics die hard. But if justice is to be justice then die they should. Just like nonvegans have no legitimate, moral excuse for being nonvegan, so vegans have no legitimate, moral excuse for advocating anything less than veganism.
I don’t expect people to start living vegan the moment they hear my advocacy; they have their own interests and hang-ups and resilience against accepting obvious truths. But to tell anyone that less than veganism is acceptable is an utter betrayal of those victims whom I try to represent.
In the same conversation it was brought up that I did not go vegan overnight. That’s right, I didn’t. But so what? First, no-one ever presented veganism to me as a moral imperative; rather I was presented veganism as an option. Is it at all unexpected then that I would take the easiest option rather than one that seemed the hardest? Not that there’s anything actually hard about veganism, but when it’s presented as the pinnacle of a range of approaches then it is hardly surprising that it is automatically construed as the most severe form of change suitable only for the most dedicated adherents. Veganism is not hard – it’s simple! As simple as stopping any other bigotry.
Second, even if I was presented such a case and I didn’t go vegan immediately that doesn’t at all detract from the case for veganism itself. If I assume that others will fail similarly then I am being prejudicial against them. This is actually just self-flattery: if I can’t do it then I can’t expect them to do it either. That’s rubbish! They are their own masters and can do what they want. If they want to go vegan right now they will, if they don’t they surely don’t need vegans to pat them on the back about it.
Today 200 million sentient individuals will be intentionally tortured and killed. “Some time soon” is not soon enough for them. To not call for an immediate end to this is grossly immoral and a sell-out on those whom we purport to stand for.
Vegan advocacy requires patience. It does not require silence, corruption, or otherwise corroborating continued oppression against our fellow animals. There is a difference.
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from an ideological mallet
many will squirm.
we share our goals and desires
with a gentle hammer,
we applaud the once nonbelievers
for each positive step…
(although at times it feels like
a long “schlepp”.
we will gain new ground as
and slowly but surely kindness
will fill up most plates…
but the secret is the process
is all about
Karen Lyons Kalmenson