Tuesday, October 26, 2010

No Such Thing As a Vegan

The article "There is No Such Thing as a Vegan" has been spinning around the internet pretty quickly in the last couple of days. And it's spawned a whole lot of smack-talking on message boards and comment fields. Not surprisingly, it's making it easy for people to demonize vegans, or say that we're not really vegans, or say that we're doing it all for nothing. It's not exactly helping the cause.

Here's the illustration that is the focus of the article:

The truth is that most vegans ARE aware of those and all products derived from cows, fish, and all animals. But, as the founder of veganism, Donald Watson, himself explained, being a vegan does not mean being perfect. The definition is as follows:
"..."veganism" denotes a philosophy and way of living which seeks to exclude — as far as is possible and practical — all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose; and by extension, promotes the development and use of animal-free alternatives for the benefit of humans, animals and the environment."

Note the words possible and practical.

Here's a particularly scathing response in the comments, from "David":
"Vegans are stupid.

Everything has to die eventually, even you. What do you think it's proving to avoid animal products? I don't condone the unnecessary torture and suffering of animals, but under normal regulations, the life of a cow is hardly insufferable. And even if it is -- oh well. It's a cow. Who gives a shit? Life feeds on life -- you think bacteria feels bad when it eats your decomposing ass? Stop with the bleeding heart nonsense and find bigger issues to worry about rather than where your crayons came from. Forget the cows, there's a lot of PEOPLE that need your help, if you wanna be all compassionate about something. Or just get rich -- f* it, you live once. The world is fine. Enjoy it and die. That's life."

That guy, David, is stupid. His logic is as follows: Animals are suffering and people are suffering. People are more important than animals. Therefore helping animals is stupid. This argument is flawed on so many levels. By this logic, spending time, money, or effort on anything other than helping suffering people is a bad idea. Somehow I think he would disagree with that.

But, there were a lot of positive comments, too. And, once the back and forth escalated, the author of the GOOD.is article, Siobhan O'Conner,  explained her intentions in the comments section: 

"Wow what an amazing response, people. Just to clarify—our intention here was not to actually say it's impossible to be a vegan (that is, however, what the drawing says), but to highlight how HARD it is to avoid animal-derived products altogether. I knew about some of this stuff (particularly cosmetics and non-animal-seeming food products that contain cow parts) but a lot of it was news to me. I guess it raises an interesting question, though, about how far people can go, realistically, in the name of veganism. I myself adhere to a vegan diet most of the time, but I also mindfully indulge on occasion in other things. After years and years of varying degrees of vegetarianism, that's what's worked for me. Vegan cosmetics, when you are using only natural products anyway, can be relatively easy. Eating vegan, to me, is easy. Non-leather shoes, however, I have found to be a little tricky. How far do you go?"

So, she is basically a vegan. As good of one as any of us can hope to be. Maybe a different title would have been better. Maybe not, though. I'm sure it would have fired up the same haters. All I can do, and anyone can do, is our best.

1 comment:

  1. I've been a vegetarian for 25 years and I'm heading down the vegan path. I'm glad you made the point that people can't be perfect. All we can do is do our best to avoid animal by products.

    I find that those who are scathing about vegetarians and vegans are usually the type of people who don't care about anyone or anything. They have no morals and criticise those of us who do. Stuff the lot of them.

    P.S David is the stupid one. Or as we say in Scotland, he is an eejit.