Veganism, as it was originally intended to be, is dead.
Maybe it never existed in the first place.

Post-veganism is a reflection about what it means to be a vegan,
now that the word has completely lost its meaning in the dominant culture.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Do Vegans Hate People?

On its surface I think the question "do vegans hate people/humans?" is really bizarre, but as time goes on I find it's something that needs to be addressed. If you're reading this I assume you agree. This is a big question that hopes to explain the ethics and values of thousands of people. As a vegan that's talked to, been friends with, been family to and cared about omnivores, vegetarians and vegans I think I'm qualified to answer from my own experiences. That being said I can only answer for vegans who think like I do or have had similar experiences. So take this blog as one small part of the answer to that very big question.

I will be up front and honest about my opinions. Vegans do not hate people; to hate humans is actually an anti-vegan sentiment. If I hated people I would not call myself a vegan.

To explain why it is anti-vegan to hate humans I will give a general definition of what veganism means to me. Veganism is a lifestyle that tries its absolute best to not participate in the use or oppression of any animal. That sentence obviously includes the typical vegans don't eat eggs or drink milk, but it also includes the less typical (for whatever reason) vegans don't eat honey, don't wear wool, don't wear leather, and don't buy products that test on animals. It says tries its absolute best because it's impossible to be perfect, we live in a culture built on the dead bodies of animals. We may slip up now and then, but cultural change and not personal perfection is the ideal, so trying the actual 100% best each person can is how we be vegan.

Note that in my sentence I said any animal. Humans are animals. It is part of veganism to not use or oppress other humans. That is why nearly all vegans I know are anti-racist, anti-homophobic, anti-ageist and so forth. Vegans consider humans to be just like any other animal. We care for all animals equally - and we care for them all a lot! Have you ever asked a vegan how much they care for a cow? Well if they're like me they'll go all starry eyed and go on about how beautiful and wonderful cows are. Ask me in the exact same way how much I care for humans, and I'll say the exact same thing. Humans are wonderful and beautiful too! I love humans, just as much as I love all animals.

So why then do vegans get the stereotype that they hate humans? Well that's hard to say for sure. I think it has to do with the fact that vegans are so adamant about their love for non-human animals because they want to speak out loudly about an otherwise ignored group. Saying I love humans is pointless. We are human. We should love humans. It goes without saying. We need to say I love non-human animals and I think they have rights because that doesn't go without saying, it's not part of the norm.

I think the problem is that this open love of non-human animals has made people worried and defensive. It's an action done without enough information to actually understand where vegans are coming from, because if the people who said this did understand they'd laugh at how silly it sounded. Saying vegans hate other humans is a defensive action, it's a desperate attack to dehumanize vegans. Once vegans are dehumanized, they are no longer given the consideration we should give all humans and can be put down and ridiculed. So in this light it is something done to vegans because the person saying it doesn't want to hear or understand vegans. They are legitimizing this lack of want.

So don't worry. I'm vegan, and I still love you. Whoever you are.

1 comment:

  1. I think this has to do with many vegans claiming the vegan label to their own accord and set of beliefs. By it's definition, veganism MUST be a spectrum since "as far as possible and practicable" is conditional to the person who is on the journey to veganism. I can call myself a vegan (which I am), but I also have to acknowledge that no matter what product I buy, no matter what service I use, etc. - it will not be 100% vegan no matter what. I think some vegans would see this as an attack on the meaning of the word "vegan," but in reality the definition of veganism allows for plenty of wiggle room. A vegan purist would have to avoid any product or service that exploited any animal, human included, and also have to check to make sure that all of their food did not contain tiny insects - because...once we know the insects are there, we have to remove them otherwise we aren't vegan because we're willingly consuming them (impossible considering it's impossible to NOT consume insects).

    Veganism is making major strides recently, but at the same time the purist/traditionalist vegans are crapping all over the plant based, flexitarian, reducitarian, vegetarian, etc. movements because they "aren't good enough." But in reality, even the staunchest vegan advocate can be considered not good enough by someone else's standards. As long as people are moving towards less and less exploitation and they can acknowledge their slip ups and move past them, then I believe they hold the vegan philosophy at heart.

    It just kills me that veganism has been turned into some sort of exclusive club and divided itself into sects much like a religion where each "brand" of veganism is either holier or less holy than the others. I think plenty of us vegans get very ideological in our thinking to deny that some animal death and suffering is necessary in order to prevent further animal death and suffering or on a more massive scale (like demonizing hunters that only consume their own hunted meat rather than supporting agricultural animals - being rational in the sense that I'm a realist and I acknowledge that a 100% vegan world will NEVER happen without totalitarian control).

    While supporting some level of animal death and cruelty (because it's impossible NOT to, especially regarding human business) is pretty anti-vegan, even us vegans would be considered non-vegan in that sense. This is why I believe veganism is a spectrum of always trying to do better, but at the same time acknowledging that the state of life on earth itself makes it impossible to have no exploitation or death for a greater cause without a complete encapsulation of humans away from other forms of sentient life.

    The main point of this rant is to say that vegans really need to quit being so dogmatic and just accept that some people are trying to do better and that the definition of veganism is basically subjective and MUST exist on a spectrum - otherwise most vegans aren't actually vegan. So in order to solve the stereotype of vegans hating humans, we have to spread the message that it's NOT okay to bully anyone for not being a vegan purist (whatever that actually means).