There seems to be a consensus amongst vegans that the reason our friends, family members and society at large haven’t gone vegan is because of us. The chatter is we just haven’t been friendly enough, our tone is too harsh, judgmental, angry, we aren’t inclusive enough, we shouldn’t use the word vegan because it is off-putting, etc. We just haven’t bent over backwards enough to reward non-vegans for participating in Meatless Mondays, buying happy meat, giving up red meat, or for being kind enough to listen to our sad plea on behalf of nonhuman animals.
The reality is that people aren’t vegan because they benefit and enjoy participating in the exploitation of nonhumans. They enjoy a good steak, love their leather loafers, have fun at Sea World, betting on horse races, wearing makeup tested on animals, prefer to buy the purebred dog they always wanted.
I’m not talking about non-vegans who have not heard the vegan message or philosophy yet, but the people in our lives and the people whom we advocate to. They know – and don’t really care. They aren’t waiting for the perfect tone or more love-and-light from animal rights activists, they just don’t care. Maybe someday they will, but not because you’ve pet them enough.
It’s as if we have internalized the negative reactions from non-vegans and are now blaming ourselves – it’s our fault, our problem, our issue. We are internalizing a victim mentality. It doesn’t benefit anyone, human or nonhuman, to weaken our position, weaken our message, weaken ourselves.
Of course I am not advocating yelling, attacking or being an asshole to those around us. As gratifying as that may be sometimes, it’s not going to make new vegans. What I advocate is speaking the truth about how nonhumans are being exploited and brutalized, in a forthright, sincere, truthful, factual manner. We should be proud, confident and powerful in our delivery of the message. Taking the ethical position demands we not apologize for representing billions of nonhumans who are dying every day for pleasure, taste, and tradition.
We cannot allow non-vegans to define who we are – “angry,” “militant,” “reactionary,” “judgmental,” and so on. We cannot allow their desire to continue participating in the violence against animals to weaken who we are, to water down the message and philosophy of veganism. Most of their reactions and resistance are a desire to deny their participation, a desire to live a life unexamined, when it comes to nonhumans. Most of all, we don’t benefit from attacking fellow vegans because they aren’t love-and-light enough.