What does it mean to be vegan?
Being vegan means we do not harm animals to the best of our abilities and with the information we have about the products we consume.
That’s all. It’s really not any more than that. We do not harm animals and most importantly, we do not advocate for anyone else harming animals. We do not use animals for food, clothing, research, or entertainment. Nothing so extreme, right?
So why are we being called extreme and militant all the time, even by people who say they love animals? I just had a bagel with vegan cream cheese made out of cashew and coconut milk with my cold brew with oat milk. Nothing was particularly militant about my breakfast which did not scream. It was just an awesome breakfast like every other breakfast I have had for the past 8 years. I manage an organization where our pigs and chickens receive the same love and care as our dogs, cats, and hedgehogs. We can’t work out what makes scratching a pig’s butt and a dog’s butt in the same hour an act of militant extremism, or why kissing a chicken and then kissing her cat friend is crazy. When I am hungry, I go to the supermarket or a restaurant and I buy plant foods. Also not extreme. Not expensive and not inconvenient. They’re just plants. I spend less and eat better. Even most meat eaters eat plants. You don’t eat vegan food? Then you must not have taken a shit in a decade. Try fiber… Eating plants does not make anyone militant, though you’ll notice your digestive system definitely moves faster. Yet for some reason, this life is revolutionary and extreme, even by the standards of people who consistently call themselves animal lovers even though every single day they pay for the immense suffering and murder of animals- kind of a crappy version of love if you ask me.
This word “vegan” continues to be marketed as an extremist ideology by even the largest and “most successful” (i.e. multimillion dollar nonprofit) animal advocacy groups, especially rescue organizations. This is true in Vietnam and around the world. Look at literally any foreign- managed rescue group in Vietnam’s website and social media, then try your own country. Search for the word “vegan”. Go ahead. You won’t find that “dirty” word in any of their media. You simply will not find a single registered nonprofit or rescue organization that gives two shits about animals that are not dogs, cats, or a wild endangered species even though the deaths of those animals are such a tiny fraction of the other species suffering in confinement for human consumption. 2.8 trillion animals murdered in cold blood every single year and these organizations all baselessly claim that the dog and cat meat trade, the bear bile industry, and the pangolin trade (among other species in the wildlife trade) all have some kind of fucking monopoly on cruelty. Every single organization. The BBQ restaurants on the street, the pho stands, the seafood restaurants, the fried chicken places: NONE get a mention and yet are far more prevalent than the dog restaurants, the bile farms, and the wildlife markets- literally exponentially more prevalent.
How can this be?
Follow the logic if you can
Organizations like Humane Society International promote Meatless Mondays, yet have nothing to say about the 300 million cows tortured and murdered every single year in the dairy industry? You all shit a brick when a dog or bear is in a cage in Asia and can’t eek out a single fucking word about 300 million cows, or even the 6 BILLION male chicks (50 billion total chickens in all industries) in the egg laying industry killed the day they are born? How is this not a global outrage? The most abused animals on the planet receive the least amount of funding and attention because these organizations cannot be bothered to acknowledge that meat by far is not the only issue. Being vegan has nothing to do with one day of the week not putting the dead body of an animal on your plate. It is about ending the use of animals that go into these industries that are simply not isolated to the flesh production of a couple of species. Why can they not just give the public the truth? What exactly are they afraid of?
The reason we continue to pussy foot around the word “vegan” is because those who we consider to be professionals in animal advocacy continue to make it a dirty word. I know this rubbish so well because I bought it for so long. I gobbled up their shit platter of non-solutions marketed to people who they refuse to be honest to their loyal, animal-eating donors about the extent of the animal suffering that people cause every single day with their choice of food, cosmetics, and clothing in every single country on the planet. These organizations might use the term “plant-based” instead (which is NOT the same as being vegan and ending all our participation in all forms of animal use) once in a while, all the while touting the benefits of welfare laws for the murdered species no one seems to give a damn about like cows, chickens, and pigs. Isn’t it odd how they are not bothering to fight for higher welfare dog meat farms? Maybe they should try following their own logic that there is no right way to kill a dog for food because dogs feel pain. If they acknowledge that pigs should have better conditions through welfare laws for farmed animals, they have recognized that they also suffer. If pigs suffer AND dogs suffer, why do all these animal “welfare” organizations have two different solutions for two different species that have exactly the same ability to suffer by their own admission? Why do they work so hard to end the killing of whales and dolphins and yet still sell you lies about the idea that there is such a thing a sustainably fishing other species out of the sea who all experience the same pain and suffering as the whales and dolphins? How can those who acknowledge animal sentience continue to advocate for harming animals? If they are not working for the animals by trying to actually end their suffering, who are they actually working for?
We simply ask animal lovers to take a stand. Live what you preach. If you think you can point your fingers at dog meat eaters and cannot be inconvenienced with stepping one foot to the left in the supermarket to get a plant milk, then back up and grab that mirror. If you, Humane Society International, have 70.3 million USD in your yearly budget and all you can work out what to do with it is spread LIES to your meat eating donors that you can love dogs and then with no measure of hypocrisy eat anything else that screams when you kill it, step back and shut the fuck up. It is YOU are who we are fighting against. YOUR hypocrisy is what is responsible for the murder of trillions, not dog fighting rings in Alabama, fur farmers in Poland, dog meat restaurants in Korea, and battery egg farms in Brazil supplying your McDonald’s breakfasts. The morally inconsistent messaging of animal advocacy is the perpetrator in so many murders and you , donors, all will still throw your money at them so they can “free the dogs” from the “evil” Asians. Wake up and smell the flaming hypocrisy. This is simply insane.
The animals do not need silent vegans
I am often told anecdotes of vegans who work for these welfare organizations and rescues, both big and small, and I have known many myself. How can we have any respect for someone who is vegan and continues to work in organizations for the purpose of marketing to the public the belief that loving animals can be done with their corpse in your mouth and their skin on your shoes as long as they were stunned properly when they were unnecessarily murdered for the greed of companies you continue to support? A quiet vegan has no purpose and vegans working for organizations that lie to donors lack any measure of integrity anyway. They are useless to the animals. No animal headed toward the slaughter line gives a damn who got their panties in a bunch when you stood up for all animals. If you work for animals, you work for all of them, not just the donor-friendly ones. If you are a vegan, the cuddly ones are not the end all be all of activism, but just several species among the trillions of animals that are dying at the hands of nonvegans.
Animals want to stop being killed and your silence is what is killing them. Your silence makes you complicit. A vegan who says that we have to take baby steps and placate the animal industries rather than take them head on and change consumer and producer culture and laws is not a vegan. Someone who promotes Meatless Mondays- a nonsense holiday from eating corpses in which they ignore the billions of cows, goats, chickens, and ducks in the dairy and egg industries- is not vegan for the animals. They may eat a lentil burger for dinner and have a cork wallet to hold their money, but they are not helping the animals. The animals don’t need those vegans.
We work for animals just as NGOs working against human trafficking work for trafficked people, women’s rights organizations work for women, LGBTQ organizations work for LGBTQ people. While in the NGO sector it is donors who pay the bills, we must also never lose sight of our true constituency and above all, stand for them. We work for animals and with every program and every word we write, it is them who we stand up for. This is not negotiable and our messaging reflects that. We know we can be healthy and happy without harming animals and there is no chance we will ever waver on that. If it insults you that we don’t harm animals, that says more about you than it does about us.
I am not doing this work to make enemies or make money, but I fail to give a damn at this point if that is the price of exposing hypocrisy within the animal “movement” that is responsible for so much global suffering. I hope one day the word VEGAN is prominently displayed on all the sites of animal advocacy organizations so we can stop imagining that it is akin to ISIS in its extremist ideology. We don’t harm animals, full stop. Vilifying us makes you look like an ass. Arguing against veganism is literally arguing FOR animal cruelty. Wake the fuck up.