On why I avoid saying that I am a vegan

Posted by a “crunchy mom” on a Facebook vegan group

I am a vegan since 2012. 

I have made this decision, considered extreme by many, because I refuse to participate in one of th cruelest creations of Humankind : factory farming. 

We have reached such a high civilizational and technological degree that the exploitation of animals, which was the core of our evolution as human beings, is no longer justified. And even less justified is the insane level of cruelty with which we do it. 

I refuse to be an accomplice in the slaughter of 360 million pigs, sheep, goats and cattle as well as several billion poultry which are killed in EU slaughterhouses alone, e v e r y  y e a r. The European fur industry adds another 25 million animals to the figure. The carbon footprint and the environmental impact that derive from such habit is enormous, even higher than the one created by all all forms of motorised transport, private and public, put together. 

And why do we do it? 

Because we need that specific source of nutrients to live? 

Because there are no alternatives? 

Because that’s the cheapest way to assure our survival?  

No.

Simply because we are used to do it. We mistake habit for pleasure and we think it’s all very good and tasty but it’s actually just a matter of habit. A habit which is reinforced by traditions, assured by social pressure, and pertuated due to a dissonance that creates an imaginary but insurmountable barrier between animals to cuddle and respect and animals to kill and devour. 

We do not hold ourselves accountable because the meat bought at the supermarket, which is sliced, smoked, and stuffed into sausages, does not seem to belong to an individual that once had a life of its own and which, just like us, wished to go on living, away from pain, fear and alienation. It’s proven that we share with all mammals and some of other species sentience and conscience. We know that but still we do not consider ourselves responsible for our choices. Under the cosy blanket of the majority’s prescriptions, we just reproduce what culture taught us to believe it was our “nature”. 

Refusing a complicity with such a monstrous crime that goes against my ethics and my view of the world is maybe the only irrevocable choice I have ever made in my life. 

However, I avoid using the word vegan to define myself. I do not have any vegan friends and I do not integrate any vegan group or association. Not anymore. 

Among all the vegans I had the chance to meet personally, and they were far from being few, I was unfortunate enough not to have met more than a couple of individuals who didn’t place themselves on a superior moral stance regarding all the other people who weren’t vegans. Such moral stance, based on pure subjectivity and self-adoration,  implies the use of a certain type of proselytism which can be very easily associated to a religious one.

The wildly vast majority of vegans I met ( and I am not being unfair by eventually forgetting lots of mild-mannered and reasonable vegan individuals ) opts to use a moralising speech to tell off all those who don’t integrate the vegan “woke’ cast.

Those vegans enjoy surveilling each other and keep a perennial score which aims to praise the “most vegan of them all” and punish all those regarded as being “less vegan”. This orthodoxy also reaches topics that are not directly associated to animal welfare.

Many vegans adopt anti-scientific and politically extreme positions and it is not uncommon to find among them anti-vaxxers, homeopathy and other traditional “medicines’ enthusiasts, irresponsible and hate-spweing “crunchy moms”, yogi “gurus” who combine veganism with “detox” practices, life-coaches who mix Buddhism with Hinduism and conspiracy theories and who are basically clueless about the core and implications of all those ingredients. 

Therefore, I soon realised that all those vegans actually didn’t care about veganism itself, nor about the animals and the planet. They wear the concept of “vegan’ as a good behaviour medal that makes them feel special, pure and part of an esoteric masterplan, only known by the illuminated and initiated members.

Mysantropy is often their main motivation and veganism is just an identity cane like any other. It happens that, by chance, those people became vegans first but they could also have become pentecostal, neo-nazi, communist, jehova witness or hare-krishna. It was just a matter of timing and opportunity. 

Unfortunately, my experience tells me that most vegans actually match the general stereotype of the “vegan”: stuck up, annoying, condescendent, and a blind follower of new age trends and blog literature to which they, arrogantly, call “research”. That’s why I hesitate to define myself as “vegan’ when I meet someone new. I would truly dislike to be mentally associated to that stereotypical vegan that inspires so many jokes. 

My choice doesn’t make me better than anyone else and surely doesn’t give me the right to offend anyone’s intelligence with primitive forms of manipulation and fallacies.

So, if you ever think about crossing out animal exploitation from your menu and shopping list, I strongly advise you not to think about the vegans that you met. 

Non-human sentience and conscience and the environmental toll of exploitation of non-humans are reasons enough, backed up by science. Those are facts. Not opinions nor ideologies. Not even a gospel that should be preached. Those facts are what veganism should be exclusively about and not the vegans who give it a bad name. 

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It’s not “cool” to think like your grandmother

Anti-vaxxers, flat-earthers, piss-drinkers, frog-lickers, paleo-eaters, sun-gazers, chakra-aligners, scoby-growers, tin foil hat- carriers, breatharians and dettoxers. They are all around us and they all make part of the latest trend which consists of thinking and acting like our grandparents. Or more precisely, like the uneducated, provincial, and narrow-minded grandparents that some of us had.

In the 21st century, the neo-obscurantist package, inspired by the old “New Age,” includes trends that were fashionable centuries ago. I call it a package because their followers do not simply adopt one of the beliefs in that package but rather, the whole bunch. I call it “neo” because the old obscurantism has undergone an apparent facelift that allows the use of anglicisms and  new technologies. Its foundations are based on blog literature, random Youtube videos and ancestral precepts, and its credibility is measured by the number of people who repeat the same fallacies which are granted eternal life by the internet, regardless of how misleading, illogical, outdated, devious or demeaning they may be. The older the tales that inspire these followers, the more legitimate they consider those beliefs. Thus, the general inclination of this neo-obscurantism is an anti-scientific attitude based on the harmony between the gospels of hipster gurus, their mercantilistic purposes and the wish to be special and enlightened on the side of the devotees.

In this fraudulent dimension, the idolatry of all that is considered “natural” – its proponents forget that nothing in human culture is natural– plays a central role and, therefore, ignorant opinions are placed on the same level of evidence-based theoretical bodies scientifically sustained. Consequently, in 2019, someone can have an anti-vaccination stance, follow a diet inspired by myths, be an apostle of some religious syncretism, preach ill-conceived conspiracy theories, and consider oneself  as being a  “critical-thinker”, a member of the elite of the “wokes”. All this with a straight face, obviously.

Gilles Lipovetsky called this wish of going back into the past  and glorifying it – by transforming beliefs and traditions into axioms that oppose the most basic progress- “hypermodern”. However, there lies a fundamental paradox: traditions and customs are anchored in the past and refer to old ways of doing things, to visions of the world that no longer make sense in a planet with non-renewable resources on the verge of the sixth extinction.

There’s no longer place nor time to mechanically perpetuate irrational and suicidal habits and beliefs. 

Authenticity is not a synonym of crystallization in the past.

Old wives’ tales cannot teach us to manage entire ecosystems seriously threatened nor to share, respectfully, our space with others., human or non-human.

The mythification of the  days long foregone may provide a cosy resting place for personal and collective identities in times of shifting social roles and existential void but it does not provides us with the solutions for our environmental, cultural, and political problems. Quite the opposite. Instead, it may lead it to the same mistakes so often repeated throughout History and jeopardize all our possibilities to change for the better.

And survive.