Vegan Shaming – It’s Counterproductive!
Vegan Shaming Is Bad For Veganism
What is vegan shaming? Broadly defined, it’s when one group of vegans judge another group based on there reason for becoming a vegan.
There are about 1 million vegans in the US and number is growing daily. As more and more of the vegan-curious consider changing their diets and mindsets they can find the infighting within the vegan community intimidating and confusing. In my opinion “levels of veganism” are counterproductive.
I read an article today on Reddit about the different levels of veganism. There were varied opinions on which group can/should claim vegan “supremacy” so to speak. The groups, animal rights, environmental or health advocates all have their relevant and impactful arguments to make for pro-veganism.
There are three general approaches to veganism – animal rights, environmental and, health concerns.
What is a Vegan
This may seem like an academic question, but it is important to define what a vegan is. My friend, Anne Dinshah, is the daughter of Jay Dinshah, the founder of the American Vegan Society. In her book Powerful Vegan Messages her father talks about ahimsa the total absence of violence in body, state and mind. Related: What is Vegan Exactly
Compassion towards oneself and toward others is a critical understanding and practice that needs to be promoted. Veganism is not merely what you eat but what you consume from a holistic perspective. This includes what you eat, read, listen to, say, think, how you move through the world. It’s much more than eating a Buddha Bowl, fighting for animal rights or fighting against Monsanto. Refraining from consumption of animal products is a key activity, however the practice of berating others for their reasons for choosing veganism is anti-vegan.
Vegan for Animals
The origin of veganism was based on the aversion to animal slaughter and exploitation. The general population is disconnected from the slaughter processes that get the food on their plates, milk in the glasses and clothes on their backs. All you have to do is watch any of the documentaries Forks Over Knives, Cowspiracy or What the F**ck to get a deeper understanding of factory farming and animal exploitation. Those documentaries are painful to watch and drive the advocacy of animal rights supporters. This is where I’ve observed advocacy gone awry. Environmental or health conscious vegan concerns are deemed not as important or in some opinions sacrilegious to the exploitation of animals. The fact is all of these concerns are intertwined. In-fighting among vegans is a waste of energy and not in alignment with ahimsa.
Vegans for Environment
Clearly Vegans for Animals and Vegans for the Environment should share the same grave concerns regarding the negative impacts to our planet. These issues are interconnected, again vegan shaming is counterproductive. Our message is stronger by being united.
Vegans for Health
There are a growing number of people who are choosing a vegan lifestyle for the undeniable health benefits. I am one of those people. I suffered from type 2 diabetes before I chose veganism. The change in my diet has been life-changing for me. My experience with physicians and the medications they prescribed to deal with my diabetes (and watching family members die from the medicine and disease) urged me to search for a natural solution to stabilizing my blood sugar.
As a result, I no longer take medications and I created a business that promotes a plant based diet. According to the American Dietetic Association, “appropriately planned vegetarian diets, including total vegetarian or vegan diets, are healthful, nutritionally adequate, and may provide health benefits in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases.“
As I learned and matured through my vegan journey the connection and appreciation of animal suffering and environmental impacts became clearer to me. Vegans for Health should not have to defend their reason for becoming a vegan. We, vegans as a whole, should be elated whenever we have new converts, regardless of the reason for their choice to become vegan.
This brings me back to my original comment about the levels of veganism. Over the past few years I have been reading posts or have been engaged in conversations where the Veganism for Animals or Veganism for the Environment advocates “vegan-shame” those of us who are (or where) primarily in the Veganism for Health category. Sometimes there is a reluctance to reveal the focus on health due to negative feedback. The positive health benefits of a plant based diet in no way diminishes the horror of factory farming or environmental abuses. In fact, the respect for our planet, the animals and ourselves highlight the key to veganism that Jay Dinshah shared. Ahimsa the total absence of violence in body, state and mind. Compassion towards oneself and toward others.
Are we as a vegan collective ruining our message by insisting that one mindset or approach to veganism is superior to another?
What difference does it make how or why we started our vegan journey. Isn’t our destination and the powerful way we are CHANGING THE WORLD more important and impactful than petty infighting? If our ultimate goal is to live kindly, respectfully and lovingly maybe we should start with ourselves.
Vegan shaming – it’s counterproductive.