Can you have your animal rights and eat them too? – Episode 9
The Bearded Vegans finds hosts Paul and Andy in a discussion dissecting all things vegan. News, reviews, interviews and in depth discussion of issues within the vegan community are regular features of the show.
This week, The Bearded Vegans wade neck deep into a discussion of the lawsuit PETA has filed against Whole a Foods, question whether you can eat animals and advocate for them at the same time and conclude with an in depth interview with Ethan Ciment and Michael Suchman, collectively know as The Vegan Mos.
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Hey! I wrote this piece and I’m so flattered you took the time to criticize it 🙂
A few comments:
First, why didn’t you tell me you were doing this! I’m super late to the party;)
Second, nice beards.
Third, (and substantively) to the point that the article has a “condescending” tone, I agree completely. I have mixed feelings about it but I wanted to be irreverent and controversial so that more people would read it/share it etc. Maybe that was not the best approach but it seemed to have gotten a lot of traction. My more less abrasive pieces have gotten considerably less attention. I guess there’s a tradeoff between getting your message heard and having a message worth listening to. Hard to navigate.
Fourth, and most importantly, I fear that you may have missed the point that I really wanted to make (I’ll accept some of the blame for that): veganism should be just one (relatively small) component of an individual’s or group’s activism, but instead it is often portrayed as the main event. This also manifests itself in our outreach where the main goal is typically making new vegans, as opposed to new activists.
I think there is a strong bias against “causing harm” (as opposed to merely preventing harm) that causes us to focus on individuals’ veganism (or non-veganism) as a primary measure/criterion of their membership and contribution to the animal rights movement, to the exclusion of other attributes that make a much greater impact for animals (e.g. participation in outreach/advocacy etc.). I felt that your coverage of this piece also demonstrated some of that bias (I think even I’m guilty of this to a degree—it is very pervasive).
All this relates to the point that you made, which I strongly agree with, that we should encourage continuous progress. I hear this line all the time in the movement, but it is almost exclusively in the context of eating less animal products, and rarely about doing more advocacy (which is comparatively much more important).
As a final note, I want to point to the interest and outrage that this piece generated as evidence of the fixation on veganism in our movement. If I wrote a piece arguing that ethical vegans can be considered part of the animal rights movement even if they don’t do any advocacy, I suspect very few would have gotten worked up about it. This should be concerning since an active non-vegan advocate could easily save more animals than the vegan that does nothing except for occasionally talking to her family and friends.
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Hey, I’m listening to this episode now. Andy made a great point: that not all vegans are good animal advocates. That’s something I struggle with myself. I call myself an advocate, but I’m not sure if I’m effective. I’ve worked backwards so I also heard the effective language episode. However, while that was helpful, I still feel like I could use some pointers—what to talk about, how to find common ground, etc. Any advice?