Thursday, March 04, 2010

Why I Will Not Advocate Vegetarianism

Honesty as "Bashing"

A vegetarian blogger recently lambasted me on Twitter for having called for consistency in animal advocacy by asking vegan activists not to mince words or water down their message to advocate anything other than veganism. I pointed out that to endorse anything less makes as much sense as endorsing part-time murder or part-time child abuse. If one takes the interests and rights of nonhuman animals seriously, how can one reconcile this with supporting someone else's continued exploitation of animals? The blogger took issue with this and used it as an opportunity to promote a post he wrote ("Veganism is a Part of Vegetarianism") accusing those calling for veganism of being "vegetarian bashers". In this piece, VegBlogger asserts that it is "counterproductive to vegetarianism as a whole (which includes veganism) to bash vegetarians or vegetarianism" and makes clear that "bashing", in this case, means:

  1. that "they are doing no good" (i.e. to point out that animal exploitation other than the actual consumption of animal flesh is immoral), and
  2. telling vegetarians that they are "the same as an omnivore" (i.e. to point out that there is no significant ethical difference when it comes to animal exploitation whether you consume the flesh or secretions of animals).
So here's the deal: In modern and common parlance, "vegetarianism" is understood to mean a plant-based diet that may or may not include the consumption of animal products such as dairy, eggs or honey. In terms of taking the interests and rights of nonhuman animals seriously, veganism is no more a "part" or "aspect" of vegetarianism than it is a part of omnivorism. It is not a subset of vegetarianism, which concerns itself with what one chooses to eat. Veganism isn't solely about diet, but is about making a commitment to nonhuman animals that involves refraining from exploiting them as far as is possible in all aspects of one's consumption (i.e. food, clothes, personal care products, entertainment, et al.). In his or her article, VegBlogger makes it clear that he or she views omnivorism (which involves the consumption of animal flesh) as a big bad by repeatedly portraying comparing vegetarianism to omnivorism as the "hurling" of "insults" at vegetarians. Basically, one would assume by this that VegBlogger views the consumption of animal flesh itself as immoral, but stops short of viewing the consumption of animal secretions (or any other exploitation of animals) as ethically problematic and thinks that it's rude that others should view the consumption of animal secretions as such and be forthright about it.

It Is What It Is

The truth is that there is as much--often more--suffering involved in dairy or egg consumption as there is in meat consumption. There is no less death involved. Calves are taken from their mothers and sent off to slaughter in the dairy industry, male chicks are killed--sometimes ground alive--in the egg industry. In both industries, the the milk-producing cows and egg-laying hens' daily lives are filled with misery and as soon as their production goes down, they're sent off to slaughter, as well, to in turn be used for food. When one consumes animal products, one continues to commodify nonhuman animals--to treat them as things that exist to satisfy our selfish urges. One continues to be complicit in all of this. This isn't just a matter of opinion leading to the unwarranted wagging of a finger. The facts are what they are and to try to convince oneself otherwise (i.e. that the consumption of animal products like dairy and eggs is less ethically problematic than the consumption of animal flesh) is self-delusional; to perpetuate that sort of confusion in others who choose to continue exploiting animals is both dishonest and misleading. If a vegetarian who consumes animal products finds the truth "insulting" or offensive, that's unfortunate, but it doesn't alter the facts.

On Stepping Stones and Shuffling

Some, like VegBlogger, insist that an exception should be made for vegetarianism (i.e. the consumption of animal products other than flesh) since vegetarianism is a "stepping stone" to veganism. The example often brought up is that most vegans were once vegetarians; most vegans were once omnivores, too, yet few would jump at positing a causal relationship there. The reality is that vegetarianism is no more a stepping stone to veganism than any other altered form of omnivorism is a stepping stone to veganism. If anything, humans sometimes get lulled into complacency by deluding themselves that they're doing enough by merely cutting out this or that animal product. I know this firsthand--I was a lacto-vegetarian for many years and I truly wish that, rather than pat me on the back and reassure me that I was doing enough, someone had actually talked to me about veganism.

Thinking that shuffling out this or that animal product is "enough" is like telling oneself that it's alright to beat the hell out of one's child on Tuesdays as long as one refrains from doing so the rest of the week. An accusation often thrown at vegans for being unequivocal about vegan advocacy is that we present an "all or nothing" dilemma that purportedly sends so-called potential vegans back to their omnivorous ways. If my neighbour told me that she only beats her child on Tuesdays and I told her that she needed to stop completely, would it make sense to accuse me of sending her back to beating her child everyday by taking an "all or nothing" approach to the situation? Would it make sense to accuse me of "insulting" her if I asked her to stop altogether? Would it make sense to say that I was "insulting" every other person who chooses to beat his or her child on one single day a week (i.e. rather than everyday) since I was ignoring that "every little bit counts"? Of course not. So why is it such an issue when we're discussing the interests of nonhuman animals? Is it because their interests are not as significant to some as those of humans? Is that not speciesist?

We owe nonhuman animals more than to let human feelings trump nonhumans' rights to not be used as things. I also think I owe my fellow humans more than to lie to them about what we owe those nonhuman animals. I'd like to give my fellow humans enough credit to think that they can handle the truth and act accordingly, rather than mislead them into continuing to exploit nonhumans, which is what I'd be doing by advocating vegetarianism or any other type of nonhuman animal consumption.

Further Information

For more information on why we should persevere in educating others about veganism and why stopping short by endorsing vegetarianism as an ethically significant "step" is problematic, please visit The Abolitionist Approach website to read these three essays:

"Vegetarianism as a "Gateway" to Veganism?"
"Some Comments on Vegetarianism as a "Gateway" to Veganism"
"Vegetarianism First"

Also visit Dan Cudahy's Unpopular Vegan Essays blog to read his essay "What Is Wrong with Vegetarianism".

Go vegan. It's the right thing to do and it's an easy and healthy thing to do.

34 comments:

Dr. McAwesome said...

Great job. Thank you.

M said...

I think your analogy is a bit flawed actually. Being vegetarian is not like "beating your child on Tuesdays" or whatever day you mentioned.

The atrocities that happen to animals in agribusiness are systematic and societal. Yes individual change and action can lead to societal change, but drinking milk is not like beating a child one day a week. Beating or killing a calf is like beating a child one day a week. It is a direct brutal action taken on by an individual.

Part of what makes veganism and even vegetarianism difficult for people is the ubiquity of animal products in our food supply and consumer products. I'm guessing as a vegan you inadvertantly consume animal products as they are used in production of all kinds (not just clothes, food, etc).

I simply don't see the point of your all or nothing mentality. Yes ideally we each do all we can to eliminate suffering off ALL kinds. By living in this society you are already contributing to all types of suffering worldwide and nationawide. That's how systemic/societal issues work.

If you are going to take this stance on veganism in this way, then by God you must be guilty for a hell of a lot of suffering for bieng part of our society at all. Almost every action and consumption today contributes negatively to the world and others in many ways.

I think your stance is in some ways counterproductive, and you seem to be splitting hairs in regard to semantics such as using "part" rather than subset, etc.

Yes it would be ideal for people to do all they personally can to eliminate suffering of all kinds. Unfortunately your black and white attitude isn't ideal IMO for a world that is hardly black and white.

Personal change is only one element of change; societal change is the other. They are connected but each individual can only do so much to change systemic problems. By taking this stance you are dooming all mankind (according to your logic here) to be one extreme or the other, and no one is either, including you. It is simply not possible as things stand today and probably never will be. Life isn't black and white, as much as some people's mindsets may be.

http://www.ofac.org/issues/animals_everyday.php

Adam Kochanowicz said...

VegBlogger's criticism in a nutshell: "Whether or not you're right, you're not being nice if you tell people they're wrong."

Paola said...

So, according to what this "M" person wrote, since we cannot fix everything in the world by going vegan, it's not worth it? What a defeatist and mediocre mindset.

We don't consume animal products, not because of what the rest of the world is or isn't doing, but because it UNNECESSARY and also morally wrong.

Why not remove our consumption of the products that support the enslavement and killing of sentient beings? Just because we are part of a speciesist society? How on earth will we make a difference thinking like this? We can do better.

Amanda Rock said...

People in our generation became vegan through vegetarianism. I think they must think of that as the next logical step, when in fact, being vegetarian is confusing as hell. You can't drink what's inside of a cow without hurting her. *mind boggles*

alternocrat said...

Well said!

Vegan abolitionist regards,


Pablo
www.AbolitionOfSpeciesism.tk

veganethos said...

M, the analogy is not flawed at all. Killing chicks is still killing. Killing layers before "productivity declines" (they are individually often still laying well, age of productivity decline is statistical). Killing calves is killing. Killing cows before productivity declines is killing. In between, both cows and laying hens usually live horrendous lives. It is really no better, and often worse, than range-fed beef, where cows are usually not killed until they are grown, "productive in a meat sense", and maybe not then if the market doesn't justify it. Hey, it is all killing.

In any case, the primary difference is that vegans see animal use as *wrong*. If it is wrong, like murder, theft, or child abuse, it is always wrong.

As to your point about societal change, that is why ethical veganism is not simply a dietary choice. It is a social change movement. Vegetarianism is not. Act to change society, if you think it is wrong.

Amanda, I have been "mostly vegetarian" before becoming vegan. When I found out more, I became vegan, for ethical reasons. Yes, vegetarians may kill fewer animals, though that is questionable. Milk and eggs are more "concentrated" forms of animal suffering and death. In any case, anorexia is a more certain reduction of harm to animals. No-one suggests that as any part of an answer.

Chastity Castro said...

Mylene, as usual, you said it so well. M, I'm going to repeat what everybody has said: I think you're taking the comparisons a little too literally. The context is very similar in nature but not the actual circumstances. Technically though, if we do consume animals we are supporting nonhuman child abuse (and death). So the comparisons aren't really that far off...

sherryvanstone, I don't see vegans applauding themselves for doing what they do. You know the world has gone too far when normal, sane actions and people are considered "superior." And remember, the movement isn't about the people, it's about the animals. It's not a cheap product that we can pitch to people in order to reach a quota of converts. If anything, nonhuman animals deserve clarity in order for their justice to come closer. Would MLK tell his fellow nonwhites to tolerate verbal harassment because it's "better" than physical harassment and that the world is always going to be racist? Absolutely not.

Mylène Ouellet said...

Dr. McAwesome: Thanks!!

M: I'm not surprised that you'd take issue with a post about advocating a lifestyle that eschews the consumption and exploitation of animal products, given the pro-animal-use link you included in your post.

Drinking milk (for example) and knowing where it comes from and that it involves treating animals as things who are allowed to exist solely for human enjoyment does indeed leave one complicit in what happens to that nonhuman animal. With knowledge comes accountability and responsibility; that was the point of my comparison.

Anyone who takes the rights and interests of animals seriously would be doing a serious disservice to those animals by condoning the continuation of their use and exploitation and would do a serious disservice to the person perpetuating this use and exploitation in doing anything less than telling that person that there is no significant ethical distinction between consuming animal flesh or milk or eggs or leather, and so on and so forth.

You seem to be saying "Well, we can't avoid all animal consumption since it's everywhere, so it's ridiculous to press people to avoid it wherever and whenever they can." I disagree with that. I also disagree with your assertion that individual choices don't affect things on a societal level. Society is made up of individuals and each single person who is told the truth and decides to change his or her life accordingly affects societal views. For someone who criticizes my post for being "all or nothing", you seem pretty adamant about suggesting we do nothing. I reject that.

Adam: Yep, that was pretty much it.

Paola: I agree completely. I wrote my own response to "M" before reading yours.

sherryvanstone said...

For the record, I am vegan. I'm very, very vegan. My point is really simple. This is making becoming vegan seem difficult for omnivores. We want people to identify with vegans. Alienating people does make a case for animals.

100%vegan said...

I am SO HAPPY to hear another Vegan say it like it is.Good on you!
I was excited to find a site a few years ago called quarrygirl as it was said to be for Vegans.I thought I would find other Vegans on there of like mind,spirit,honesty,morals and ethics-FAR FROM IT!I too posted about several issues that were in fact counterproductive if not dangerous to the animal lib movement which to me is VEGANISIM not vegetarian.I pointed out many of the same facts you have shared over and over.I was met with a bunch of defensive to volatile to idiotic borderline mentally challenged reactions.Veganisim has no grey areas.It is not eating or supporting or wearing or using animal products.It disgusts me that there is a group of people in Los Angeles and else where that call themselves Vegan and than support and even defend non vegan products,food, clothes, and forms of "entertainment".Someone who defends vegetarianism is like saying that molesting a child is better than raping a child-bullshit.
a violation is a violation.Dairy is liquid meat, it is from an animal.It is stolen from an animal.An animal is tortured and murdered even if slowly to get dairy.The same bullshit with people who defend and applaud minor changes to how animals are mistreated in factory farms or fur farms or animal testing..it would be as ludicrous as saying "The jews should be given a little more room in captivity before we gas them" or equally as stupid as saying "don't beat your slaves but still enslave them" during the Holocaust or slavery times.People who call themselves Vegan and than make excuses for participating in, or supporting non Vegan violations are just as selfish,delusional, immoral and unethical as full on meat eaters.Veganisim is pretty clear, you either do not eat wear or use animals or you do.Simple as that.
Fuck all the people who call themselves Vegan and have all these little rule bending fine print bullshit ways.

Mylène Ouellet said...

Sherry, the truth is that in advocating for veganism, the only question of "superiority" involves calling for humans to stop viewing themselves as superior to nonhuman animals. You think it's judgmental to ask humans to stop treating animals as things? You say that you want people to "identify with vegans"? How are they expected to identify with vegans if vegans feed them the lie that it's morally acceptable to consume some animal products over others or to exploit animals part-time? I mean, you can get them to "identify" with that, but that's not identifying with veganism; it's identifying with animal exploitation. You say that "alienating people" doesn't make a case for animals. Do you really think that condoning the part-time use of animals makes a more effective case for animals? If so, I really don't understand your logic. I mean, if you were an anti-rape advocate, would you shame someone for telling a rapist to not rape at all? From what you're saying, that rapist would end up alienated and should instead be reassured that raping occasionally is good enough. Think about it.

Chastity Castro said...

sherryvanstone, if you are very, very vegan, then why in the world are you resorting to ad hominem attacks when facts are being stated? From my experience, I've had flesh eating, secretion drinking, skin wearing nonvegans who were ready and open to hear my words about nonhuman animals. In fact, more open minded than the welfarists. So why are you making assumptions, undermining our efforts as well as your own efforts if you're so very, very vegan like you claim?

I'm not being mean, I'm pointing out a double standard that you just found yourself in. I was also a vegetarian for 8 years because nobody told me the truth and I was ready--I was either on the receiving end of unproductive attacks (name calling and no help) or vegans who tiptoed and didn't want to tell me the truth because they were afraid I was going to lash out at them.

So what does that say about "vegans" like you? What does that say about the effectiveness of your method of advocacy?

Mylène Ouellet said...

Just a quick note to say that I've had comments on moderation for the past month or so and am hitting the sack for the night. I hope to address more of the comments that were left tomorrow, but if anyone posts anything further between now and my morning green tea, it won't be posted until the morning.

I'm glad that this discussion is happening!

erin said...

first off, let me say i 100%, totally agree with mylene. BUT i do have a problem with knowing how to respond to friends and family who have decided to go vegetarian. i mean, when they make a point of telling me proudly that they are going, or have gone, vegetarian i just don't think i would be able to not act happy and excited for them. from some of these people it is totally unexpected and i do want them to feel good about giving a shit about the animals when most people i meet coldly think them only as grillable body parts. some of these these people live in situations that make vegetarainism a real challenge, such as my friend who comes from a soth american culture where animals are eaten in copious amounts at every meal and vegetarianism is basically unheard of.

JohnnyZu said...

Thanks for this well written post!

100%vegan said...

ps.
animals are being and have been since the dawn of time tortured,abused,violated,raped,
neglected & murdered.There is no good moral or ethical reason for any of it.
there is nothing pretty or kind or okay or justifiable about those monstrous facts.
Therefor I don't care if people get depressed,offended,or feel attacked honestly-so fucking what.
Any "negative" or alienated or displeasing emotion any human may have over being called on their irresponsible unjust and soul less actions is NOTHING compared to what the non human animals are forced to endure and still go through.
Would you be "polite" to a rapist you saw in action?would you be sweet and friendly to a person you saw viciously hacking another human up?would you be peaceful towards a parent beating a child?fuck no.
anyone that asks a Vegan to be anything but strong and solid in their convictions at all times with Veganisim is as bad as anyone who commits any cruelty against animals.I am not saying every instance of standing up for animals and the animal lib movement aka Veganisim should be volatile, every reaction depends on what one is opposing.Veganisim is not a fad or hip new way to be popular,Veganisim is not about being most adored Veganisim is about living your life in the ways that do the least amount of harm to non human animals.That means making it your business to make sure as much as you can that you are not wearing,eating,using or supporting anything that has to do with cruelty to animals or is from animals.Furthermore a speciesist is no different from a racist, sexist or homophobic person.They are all one in the same.If one's natural instincts have not kicked in, if one ignores the veins they see in that chicken wing or is able to forget the blood dripping from their "steak" & doesn't realize that they are not a baby cow therefore that "milk" is not for them than the reality of animal cruelty and the animal lib movement is spelled out in great detail and many languages for anyone these days across the web with footage and documents,or in any book stores.
Once a person learns the facts there is no excuse of why they should not be VEGAN.

VeganGirlInTheWorld said...

How I wish I had someone educating me about veganism, the nine years I was vegetarian. I had thought I was doing something good for animals, not realizing the tremendous suffering, exploitation and death I was supporting and participating in. I know people who have gone vegan literally over night, without going vegetarian first. I also know that these people were given the truth. Promoting vegetarianism is not being truthful. Let's give people the truth. Who are we to say that this individual is not ready to hear the truth? I find THAT to be "superior" and elitist thinking.

M said...

My point was the all or nothing mindset of the blogger was hypocritical and counterprodutive. I am not espousing that mindset, in fact far from it, just following it to its logical conclusion to make a point.

"I disagree with that. I also disagree with your assertion that individual choices don't affect things on a societal level." I never made that point. That's your interpretation of what I said, not what I said or believe.


As for the comment that I don't care about issues of animal cruelty etc based on a link of relevant facts I posted, wow, what a logical assumption. This is the type of critical thinking that led to the intial post IMO. Who cares where the link is from, the info in it is true.

Or does this mentality that vegetarianism = not caring about animals now also extend to those who post relevant links with true facts that are posted on a pro-agribusiness/animal industry sites in your eyes? Yes my not spending additional time searching for a vegan friendly source of accurate info when I already had the facts at my disposal from the first search I did depicts my lack of concern for animal welfare, you figured me out (sarcasm there in case you missed that and now want to make more assumptons about my attitude toward animal cruelty).

Man, looks like there are lots of requirements for being compasisonate about animals, including where one gets one's links. I'll keep in mind for future visits here (yeah rigt).

FYI: posting a link does not imply condoning of the positions of the link source. Just a tip for future use.

Believe me I know all the issues involved here. I just don't agree with your approach and views as described in this post and comments. You don't know me, my lifestyle, nor my views and practices regarding animals and animal products. But your absurd assumptions about me based on a link I posted and on the fact that I don't agree with your approach and mentality here tell a lot about you, not me.

This place seems less a place for genuine discussion (For those not of the party line) and more a place for narrow mindedness. Count me out.

M said...

p.s

Ummm, did any of y'all even READ my comment?

So this "Paola" person says:

"So, according to what this "M" person wrote, since we cannot fix everything in the world by going vegan, it's not worth it?"

Ha ha, isn't the attitude criticized in the quote above the very attitude espoused by the blogger of this post and which I criticized in my comment. One, I'm not talking about "everything in the world", I'm talking about animal welfare. Please try reading my comment before you reply.

Two, that there are no shades of grey etc. was the argument I disagreed with With the quote above, you're making my point by critizing the blogger's argument, thinking it's MY argument. You're making my point for me, my God, and you don't even seem aware of the irony of it or that you're doing it.

Did you somehow miss that the mindset quoted above was exactly part of what I criticized about the original post here, and not my own point of view? What part of my saying I dismiss the "all or nothing mentality" was unclear?

The same commenter says:

"Why not remove our consumption of the products that support the enslavement and killing of sentient beings? "

Did you miss my point about those products being in things you use everyday? Did you bother to read my comment? Seriously, it's like you're responding to someone else, as I said none of the things you seem to think I said.

Did you look at the link (yes, the dreaded link that shows I crule I am) that actually includes the facts I cited about this topic? How do you not "consume products that support animal enslavement" when just about everything in society includes such products? And if you think you can draw the line somewhere then the orignal post's argument does not follow, as it specifically discusses that drawing the line is not to be advocated.

Or is drawing the line where YOU or this blogger think it should be drawn the arbitrer of all things animal-welfare? Please.

I said earlier this is no place for discussion partly because it's clear (see quotes above as well as other comment responses) no one responded to what I actually said but to your own assumptions and projections of what you think I said, meant, or who you think I am (based on a link no less, or on the fact that I happen to disagree with your mentality or point out nuances and so on.)

Why waste time trying to have a discussion with people who aren't even listening to what you say but just make up things and put their own projections, assumptions, and baises in our mouth.

If I knew no one would bother actually reading what I wrote rather than what you think I wrote or must have meant, I'd have not wasted my time here to begin with. I was wrong for thinking this might be a place for intelligent and genuine exchange of ideas. I assumed the best, although obviously wrongly.

There are either some serious reading comprehension issues here, or issues of some other kind, or both. Based on what I'm reading here, my guess is it's that third option. Too bad.

Lorraine Haines said...

Doing unintentional harm that you have taken every precaution possible to avoid is, unavoidable.

To consume dairy and eggs is avoidable - therefore, to choose to consume these is to intentionally support the exploitation that is an inherent part of these 'products'.

Not nice to hear - I didn't like hearing it - that's why I went vegan. Do I still cause harm? Yes, of course I do. If I'm shown a way to cause less harm, will I follow that way? Yes.

There is nothing superior in doing EVERYTHING we can to avoid use/exploitation.

I notice that the word superior is brought up very often, and inappropriately, when a valid point is made. It is certainly predictable, and almost becoming a mantra.

This issue is not about the personalities involved - it is about enslaved beings, and the effectiveness of the processes intended to bring about their emancipation.

Burntsugar said...

You say that "There is no less death involved" in a vegetarian diet vs. an omnivorous one. I will have to respectfully disagree with you. When it comes to consuming animal flesh, (particularly frequently consumed smaller animals such as chicken and fish) people will often eat the entire animal or most of him/her, sometimes at a single meal. And they will often do so more than once a day. Someone might have fish for lunch and a small roasted chicken for dinner, for example.

Since animals enslaved for their eggs and milk are kept alive longer - and in the case of cows, only reproduce appx. once a year - the number of male babies and spent mothers killed would still be less than the number of animals killed expressly for their flesh - such as chicken.

Just look at the counter GF has on his website. Look at the number of chickens killed compared to all the other animals. It's astounding.

While I absolutely agree that there is even more cruelty involved in eggs and dairy, I simply cannot logically understand how going vegetarian does not reduce the overall number of animals killed. I appreciate arguments such as this, however, when I feel there is hyperbole involved, I believe our credibility is diminished. If people cannot demonstrate or argue convincingly that vegetarianism causes the same number of deaths as omnivorism, then I don't think it's fair to say they are equally
abhorrent.

I think it's perfectly valid to ask activists to promote veganism over vegetarianism, and to point out the problems inherent in vegetarianism, but to say that veg = omni....is simply untrue.

mmissinglink said...

Mylène,
This is a terrific post...thank you for sharing this and having the courage to do so.

"M" is wrong. The analogy (and ALL analogies fall short in some way to that situation or thing they are being compared to) presented by Mylene is not that drinking milk is like beating your child on Tuesday but rather that the "Thinking that shuffling out this or that animal product is "enough" is like telling oneself that it's alright to beat the hell out of one's child on Tuesdays" That's the analogy...and there's a significant difference between the actual analogy stated and the one mistakenly conceived by "M" because in both instances, the morally irresponsible activity is known (the vegetarian advocate understands why and how contributing to dairy and egg production is morally wrong and any of us understands why beating your (a) child one day a week is morally wrong. So, the stated analogy by Mylène is apropos for the reasons given. In other words, if someone whom is aware of a preventable injustice states that it is okay to do that same injustice but just less frequently or with less viciousness and another person whom is aware of another preventable injustice states the same thing in reference to that other injustice, they are both guilty of advocating the same thing...that's what the analogy is highlighting.

Thank you once again Mylene...you've made skillfully argued points and much needed criticisms.

Mylène Ouellet said...

Amanda: You're right that vegetarianism is confusing, particularly is someone purports to be a vegetarian out of concern for nonhuman animals.

Pablo: Thank you very much!

veganethos: You're right to emphasize that what is wrong is "use". It's not about balancing statistics (e.g. which animal industry takes more lives then the other). The point is that we have no legitimate excuse to use sentient beings as things. Period.

Chastity Castro: Excellent comments (and thank you)!

Adam Kochanowicz said...

The "flaw" of Ouellet's analogy is as much of an analogical flaw of likening hiring someone to beat your child to beating the child directly. I find Ouellet's analogy very effective, correct.

Adam Kochanowicz said...

Sherryvanstone, to claim a social group that aims to end the exploitation of sentient beings are bent on their own superiority is terribly ironic.

Adam Kochanowicz said...

Sherryvanstone:

Your point is short, but not simple. You are saying that by advocating the truth we are "making becoming vegan seem difficult for omnivores." and that the truth "alienates people."

What then do you propose? Continue to advocate exploitation v.2 (vegetarianism) because it doesn't alienate people?

Personally, I don't care if I attract more people to my position if I don't agree with my own position in the first place.

Adam Kochanowicz said...

As an edit to my previous comment, I agree with mmissinglink's comment that M misrepresented Mylene's analogy to begin with.

Adam Kochanowicz said...

M, we are reading your comments. And the link you posted does matter, are you kidding me?

You are presenting a position from an organization based on the protection of the exploitation of animals. Their position is formulated on and agrees with their position that animal use is morally justifiable.

I mean why on earth should we disregard the fact that you referred us to an organization for animal exploitation?

Adam Kochanowicz said...

Actually M, "this Paola person" did read your comment.

Paola: "So, according to what this "M" person wrote, since we cannot fix everything in the world by going vegan, it's not worth it?"

M: "Ha ha, isn't the attitude criticized in the quote above the very attitude espoused by the blogger of this post and which I criticized in my comment. One, I'm not talking about "everything in the world", I'm talking about animal welfare. Please try reading my comment before you reply."

Allow me to remind you of what Paola read. You said:

"I'm guessing as a vegan you inadvertantly consume animal products as they are used in production of all kinds (not just clothes, food, etc)."

You stated that she has an "all-or-nothing mentality" and that "By living in this society you are already contributing to all types of suffering worldwide and nationawide. [sic]"

So Paola is correct in that you said "we cannot fix everything in the world by going vegan." Clearly, this is the point you are making. You say Mylene, a vegan advocating veganism, is "splitting hairs" and that she is "guilty for a hell of a lot of suffering..."

The "it's not worth it" part of Paola's interpretation is also clear here: "I think your stance is in some ways counterproductive, and you seem to be splitting hairs in regard to semantics such as using "part" rather than subset, etc."

By claiming Mylene's stance is "counterproductive" is it really inappropriate for Paola to claim you are saying here position is "not worth it"?

Paola's interpretation is sound.

Venusgirl7 said...

I completely get the abolitionist theory and I see egg-laying chickens and dairy cows/veal calves as the worst treated animals in the world, so it's hard for me to watch people stop at vegetarianism. I want nothing less than the complete liberation of animals, so I guess that ideologically makes me an abolitionist. Strategy-wise however, I acknowledge that any major social issues movement in history has succeeded because of a whole range of approaches working in tandem. I simply don't think spending all one's time and energy going after others in the movement (like many hard-core abolitionists do)is an effective use of activism time... There're too few of us against a very big world of people who have never given thought to ANY animal issues.

I've seen many proclaimed "abolitionists" spend so much time chastising the already "converted" that they end up leaving all the "heavy-lifting" of the "unconverted" to the less fundamental of us. I just had a Francione devotee lecturing me on Twitter this past week about a statistic I posted about the world food supply that would be available if everybody was vegetarian. If there was a statistic for the vegan scenario, I would have used it, but I felt (knowing who my particular audience of social media forum "followers" are...mostly non-veg people)that it was an effective statement to counter the stupid false belief that the world food supply will be diminished by ending the production of meat. Anyway...understand that I am a hugely active animal rights advocate and am constantly promoting veganism through various media and campaigns ...I am NOT the person anybody should be spending their activism time on. I see this kind of "need to be vindicated" complex as ultimately creating a major disconnection from those we are trying to reach, thus hurting the animals in the big picture.

I do believe in the AR movement, we do need to keep ourselves honest by continually reassessing our motives and approach -- from vegetarians to abolitionists.

Jacqueline Bodnar said...

Just wanted to weigh in and say you completely exaggerated everything. Lambasted? Give me a break. I merely pointed out your hypocrisy and how your attitude harms, more than hurts. It pushes people away from even wanting to learn more about animal rights. I realize the exaggeration in your post was necessary in order to make the situation seem more interesting than the exchange really was, but your readers should know that it was an exaggeration all the same. But hey, thanks for sending so much traffic my way! :)

Mylène Ouellet said...

Jacqueline Bodnar wrote:

"merely pointed out your hypocrisy"

"your attitude harms more than hurts"


Yep, lambasting. Your completely ignoring the facts and rational arguments offered to you to instead repeatedly hiss accusations of my purportedly being a hypocrite and liar for not having been a vegan from birth, then using this to try to dismiss my condemnation of the exploitation of all (and not just some) nonhuman animals pretty much fits that description.

As I wrote to you previously, I would have been happy to discuss vegan advocacy with you. You were unwilling to actually read and process anything I wrote, however, and more intent on name-calling and public shaming.

You're absolutely right that our exchange wasn't that interesting. It was just a run-of-the mill example of the defensive hostility shown to vegans by vegetarians or omnivores who tout their consumption choices as being somehow more meaningful than others' as they choose to continue (and condone others') using nonhuman animals. You're right that you were actually pretty generic in that sense. I hope that you can eventually come around to taking the rights of animals more seriously. Cheers.

Mylène Ouellet said...

Venusgirl7, I'm not sure how my writing (for instance) about the need to be consistent and unequivocal about promoting veganism when advocating for animals can be portrayed as "going after others in the movement", if that's what you were suggesting. For there to be a "movement" at all, activists and advocates need to establish and then agree upon goals, and then assess and evaluate the merits (or lack thereof) of the methods used to attain those goals. Advocating for something like vegetarianism (i.e. the occasional exploitation of animals) doesn't even correspond with the goals of abolitionists, who strive to educate their fellow humans to stop using nonhuman animals altogether--to stop treating them as things or property that exist solely for the use of humans. To promote or condone the occasional deliberate use of animals just doesn't jive at all with promoting that they not be used at all.

You wrote:

I've seen many proclaimed "abolitionists" spend so much time chastising the already "converted"

I think that it becomes problematic to make assumptions about people's intentions and that's why clarity is essential when educating others (and by "others" I mean everyone and anyone, whether omnivores or vegetarians, or other animal advocates). From your anecdote: You felt "chastised" for having an abolitionist comment on your sharing statistics that could be construed (i.e. either the sharing or the stats) as promoting vegetarianism. Perhaps you were not clear when sharing them, perhaps the abolitionist was not clear in explaining why he or she was taking issue with your sharing them. A couple of questions asked in good faith and some clarification all 'round could have ensured that no confusing messages were exchanged and that no feelings were hurt.

that they end up leaving all the "heavy-lifting" of the "unconverted" to the less fundamental of us.

By "heavy-lifting", do you mean educating those who use animals about not using animals? If so, I think that you must be unaware of the advocacy work that my abolitionist colleagues actually do (i.e. I'm guessing this since I'd like to think that you wouldn't choose to deliberately misrepresent them). They educate anybody and everybody about animal rights and veganism in any number of ways (including, but not limited to handing out pamphlets, talking to friends/strangers one-on-one or speaking in front of groups, starting AR/veganism book clubs or study groups, organizing or hosting vegan potlucks, making YouTube videos, recording and broadcasting podcasts and radio shows, blogging, writing letters to newspapers or writing books). They also adopt/foster homeless animals from the streets and from shelters, and encourage others who are able to do so to adopt/foster, as well.

You wrote:

I do believe in the AR movement, we do need to keep ourselves honest by continually reassessing our motives and approach -- from vegetarians to abolitionists.

I do agree with you that as animal advocates we need to be honest with ourselves (and each other) and constantly reexamine our motives and approaches. That being said, I think that it's important not to conflate different motives and objectives and lump them together under the term "AR movement". To describe anyone who chooses to continue to use animals (i.e. whether they eat them, eat their secretions, wear their skins, pay to watch them sit in cages, et al.) as part of an animal rights movement makes about as much sense as describing someone who reduces the daily working hours at his or her child sweatshop as being part of a children's rights movement.

This is why it's important to get the abolitionist message out to everyone (i.e. consumers and animal advocates, both) and it's also why it's imperative that this message present veganism as a moral baseline.