Animosity amongst vegans — a disservice to the Animal Liberation Movement
By Priya Tallam
I am drawn to those who choose being vegan. As I observe the many vegans active in the ‘arena,’ who write, who consciously raise my awareness, who are willing to litigate for the cause, I grow. I grow in my knowledge of veganism; and there is inner growth. Every vegan has gradually pieced together for me the absolute necessity of the holistic and disruptive nature of this social movement.
Watching vegans at work, is peace-giving. It is reason to hope. It provides impetus for personal activism. It means that necessary work is being done driven by motivated animal liberationists to gradually disrupt systemic inequality and oppression of the vulnerable — species ism, able-ism, classicism, sexism, racism, homophobia and the like.
My personal experience of veganism is one of re-configuring my relationship to animals; and therefore, revisiting my relationships with: my thoughts and behavior, my family, my friends, food, the environment I live in, non-vegans, habitats and the other living. It is about causing the least harm to every living being and the living earth around me. Veganism for me a peeling off of accumulated layers of conditioning that are primers to thinking and acting out of habit in predictable ways.
Each time a layer of conditioning is questioned and analysed, I sense growth within. And this growth happens daily. There is no end to growing with understanding. We begin developing a stronger base from which to explore more and thereby, grow more. However, the new-found information can be exciting. It invokes a strong urge to now share it with others!
We often seem to learn the hard way that we don’t own the newly-found truth or information. That is, not until we have lived it for a sufficient amount of time to stand in its truth.
I have deeper respect for long-time vegans as I can only imagine their state of being. But, here’s what makes me sad: long-time vegans, often, have it out with each other seeming to come from a place of judgement. In their lashing out at each other (I speak specifically to social media confrontations), they go at another’s personality, history, track record of accomplishments, previous statements, character, and even approach. If they are not directly confrontational, they leave close-ended remarks refusing to further the conversation, which doesn’t help a growing infant like me. I often observe coteries and camps unwilling to give each other the chance/time to converse, or, of having evolved or evolving.
This cannot bode well for the vegan movement as a whole.
There is so much more to veganism. To me, veganism is an infrastructure by which we can analyze ALL oppression. Via veganism we have the ability to critique intersections of many phenomena — cultural-thinking, our animal being/nature, the history of white authority, inferiority/superiority complex, inter-sectional feminism (human and non-human bodies) and more.
When long-time vegans react or worse, respond from a place of judgement, how can veganism as a movement against all oppression be explained to newbees (like me) watching the scene? It is not easy to understand how big this movement is and just how much needs to be done?!
Those motivated by animal liberation, will continue on the path; but, those who may have just come upon the scene (wanting to understand veganism), are likely to turn away from a bunch of cynical squabblers with little respect for each other. They get diverted from the necessary path needlessly. In everyone, is a potential vegan. And, we have to take this seriously no matter, how long we’ve been vegans.
As a person who has recently made her foray into the vegan scene, I post various articles or photographs that mean something to me. These articles or pictures represent my stage of learning. It doesn’t help when long-time vegans publicly deride the owner of the article or picture I’ve shared, especially, when the owner often doesn’t have a say (or may not have the band-width to do so). This also subtly nudges me to take a side.
I don’t want to take sides! At least not yet, philosophically. And even when I do, I would still like to understand the other who differs from me, through a private conversation, way before having it out on a public forum where many are strangers to each other.
As I stated in the beginning, I am drawn to many types of vegans. Each has something to offer me. My growth (and I believe everyone’s continued growth) is in seeing the other from a place of love, true compassion and kinship. Only then, can we actually stand in love, compassion and kinship with all the oppressed. The goal is to see all animals live out their natural lives — free from human domination and oppression. For this we have to begin exploring what makes the other’s view so very different from mine? How has she developed this view? There is a lot hidden within ‘narrow’ views for us to learn from.
Each one of us in this journey, has said and done many things, for which our views and behaviors have been honed to reflect the present moment. But the present moment will go on, and out will emerge a new ‘collection of experiences’ from within the growing person.
I’ve read that “the world is vegan if you want it.” As vegans, we all want the world to be vegan.
Let’s keep with this goal when we meet a vegan we don’t like — because everyone’s watching!