I saw a meme today, peeps. It was on IG and it intrigued me because it seemed kind of harsh, but I’m kind of a softie, so I thought I would read what other people thought of it – and holy fuck! Some people are just MEAN!
This was the meme:
It’s basically saying people who choose Vegetarianism (as opposed to full-on Veganism) are doing more damage to the movement than those who eat meat, because their “partialism” (now I just made that word up and I think it’s a great new word!) causes people to think Vegetarianism is doing as much good for the animal world as Veganism – which technically it is not.
Are Vegetarians, as this meme indicates, no better than carnivores in the bigger scheme of protecting animal rights? Is it actually worse to be a vegetarian? I don’t think it is. I think it is a step towards a greater good. But let’s have a look at specific meanings first, shall we?
According to Wikipedia, “Veganism is the practice of abstaining from the use of animal products, particularly in diet, and an associated philosophy that rejects the commodity status of animals.”
By contrast, Wikipedia says “Vegetarianism is the practice of abstaining from the consumption of meat, and may also include abstention from by-products of animals processed for food. Vegetarianism may be adopted for various reasons. Many people object to eating meat out of respect for sentient life.”
That’s in a nutshell. There is wayyy more information for each on Wikipedia, and the links are there if you’d like to have a look.
So, I see both lifestyles may be adopted out of respect for sentient life, religious reasons, moral reasons, environmental reasons, and health reasons. Vegans choose to use or consume absolutely no animal products or by-products for ethical reasons, and Vegetarians might still use some by-products, such as dairy or leather. So far, so good – I can see Vegetarians perhaps don’t go all in, but surely their actions count for something – and surely they can’t be AS BAD as those who eat meat and utilize all animal by-products. Well there is a faction of Vegans who believe this is the case.
What the fuck?
I don’t think that’s right, and certainly it isn’t fair.
Personally, I don’t eat meat or dairy, and I don’t purchase new leather or other animal by-products BUT I still have some leather items in my wardrobe – things that I am not able to replace immediately – Am I a bad Vegan?
And wait – there’s more! As mentioned in a previous post, plant-based farming can result in the deaths of many wild animals through the use of traps, or machinery, destruction of habitats, etc. So knowing this, and choosing to eat plant-based foods, logic dictates that would make MOST Vegans bad too.
Where do we draw the judgmental line, peeps?
I’m doing my best, ffs! And so are a ton of other Vegans AND Vegetarians. We are bound by the constrictures of our society as to how effective we are, regardless of how committed we are to our beliefs.
I have nothing to be ashamed of in using my pre-purchased leather goods or eating foods in which unintentionally, an animal died. Field hands and farmers have been hurt and killed on the job – we still eat the corn or beans.
Shit happens, peeps!
So ethically, as a Vegan in the world, in this life, my behaviour is considered acceptable, but Vegetarians are not….hogwash and hooey, I say!
The comments on the IG post made it abundantly clear Vegetarians were not given the same sanction as Vegans who still use pre-purchased animal-based items – and I wanted to know why?
One word, peeps! INTENTION.
If the intention to do harm to another being is not there, then it’s all good. However, a Vegetarian still uses or consumes some animal products, possibly knowing the cruelty involved, thereby giving the idea that some animal oppression is acceptable. While I agree it is NOT acceptable to knowingly kill or hurt an animal for our personal use, I also agree Vegetarianism is a step in the right direction, and should not be vilified or maligned.
Statistics show a Vegetarian can reasonably be said to prevent approximately 100 animal deaths per year. A Vegan, according to Peta, is said to prevent the death of 198 animals per year. Although it appears a Vegan “saves” more animals, the 100 animal deaths prevented by being Vegetarian is not too shabby either. It’s 100 more PER PERSON than would otherwise be saved.
Could a Vegetarian take it a step further? Of course! And they just might – unless judgers out there turn them off of belonging to this niche. Who wants to connect with and be part of a group of nasty, judgmental, downright intolerant people? Whether the group is doing good in the world or not?
Humans are pack animals. We want to belong – we want our tribe to accept us, love us and protect us. We want encouragement to progress, not condemnation for not moving fast enough. So I made this point on the IG meme:
You see, my compassion extends beyond non-human animals – it encompasses all sentient beings. This is what I believe Veganism is truly all about.
There is enough cruelty in this world, enough conflict, enough abuse, without inserting it into our attitude towards and treatment of people who are AT LEAST making an effort to help. We all come to our truths at different stages in our lives and in different ways. We all have individual paths to walk, perhaps governed by an omnipotent power or perhaps predicated by a past life – WE DON’T FUCKING KNOW!
So we have to stop fucking acting like we have all the answers and try to teach each other better with kindness, compassion and by example. Humans are impressionable and perceptive. If we see certain behaviours are working – and some are not – we will figure it out, in our own way and in our own time. Successful movements don’t happen overnight. Someone has to make a start.
Someone has to refuse to move to the back of the bus.
Those 100 animals the Vegetarian saved are happy someone did.
We all gotta start somewhere to get to our destination. It doesn’t matter where we start as much as it matters that we do.