Have you ever been busted by the vegan police? If you have had someone tell you that you “aren’t vegan enough” because you eat vitamin D3 fortified cereal or that you are “doing vegan wrong” because you support single issue or welfare animal rights causes, then you sure have. And it sucks!
For veteran vegans, these comments (we’ll give folks the benefit of the doubt and not call them attacks) are an annoying distraction. But for new or wanna-be vegans such single minded intensity is intimidating and off-putting. It actually keeps folks from spreading their joy of veganism. How sad is that?
Some of you may well be wondering, “Shelly, what brought on this rant?” I’m so glad you asked. Recently I’ve been asking on Twitter and other social media…
“What’s the most difficult thing about being vegan?”
Many of your responses are predictable. Ya’ll tell me that “Cheese”, “Refined Sugars” and “Family Gatherings” are challenges for you when you are trying to go or stay vegan. These are the sorts of things we expect you to have trouble with when transitioning to a vegan lifestyle. So far, so good.
What I was not prepared for was when a few of my peeps told me that OTHER VEGANS were one of the biggest challenges of being vegan. They were very upset because they felt that nothing they did was good enough to satisfy their fellow vegans.
Now I have to admit that, at first, I sorta dismissed this response. I chalked it up to someone who had an isolated negative experience or who was a tad over sensitive. However, after a second and then a third person hesitantly told me something similar I had to wonder just what was going on.
So I trotted myself over to Google and had a look-see. Turns out this sort of thing happens all the time! At least in forums, blog comments and on Youtube. Appallingly, people are constantly being told that they are…
Not Vegan Enough
Not Doing Vegan Right
Not Promoting Veganism Properly
Think I’m Making This Vegan Police Stuff Up? Here Are Some Examples…
Not Vegan Enough…
This woman I found had a blog where she talked about her vegan recipes and such. She also would share with others what she ate in a day. Her goal was to help others get meat, dairy, eggs and honey out of their diets.
But she was raked over the coals about not being “Vegan Enough” when she posted that she had a bowl of Cheerios for breakfast.
It was pointed out in great detail that Cheerios can’t be eaten by vegans because a tiny part of one of the VITAMINS the cereal is fortified with contains an animal product. (The vitamin D3 is made from lanolin, which comes from sheep wool, for those inquiring minds who really want to know)
My reaction was… Really? What is wrong with you people?
Here was a woman who has…
STOPPED EATING MEAT
STOPPED EATING DAIRY
STOPPED EATING EGGS
STOPPED EATING HONEY
She is sharing her joy in her new lifestyle and helping others to join her. And people are dogging her for sharing that she eats cereal fortified with the wrong kind of D3?! Get over yourselves!
Vegan Police, Get Over Yourselves!
And isn’t it a good thing to encourage others to do so too? To succeed our movement must go mainstream. To do that we need to be inclusive, helpful and understanding not judgmental and accusatory!
Not Doing Vegan The Right Way…
Then I found the folks who told me that you can’t be vegan unless you are doing it for the animals. If you eat a plant based diet for your own health or for the climate you aren’t really “vegan”.
Now, to be fair, I do get where these folks are coming from. If you eat a totally plant based diet but wear leather shoes, buy leather furniture etc. you are kinda missing the big picture of veganism.
Keeping the big picture of animal liberation (putting an end to animal suffering) in mind, isn’t it better to encourage these folks to continue with their plant based way of eating? To help them to tell other people how healthy and full of energy they are now that they eat this way instead taking them to task for not doing enough to be considered “vegan”? DOAH!
Not Promoting Veganism Properly…
Last but not least, there are the folks who visit other people’s blogs or Youtube channels and leave comments telling them that they are not spreading veganism properly. I’m seeing that this usually goes hand in hand with the other issues of “not being vegan enough” or doing veganism wrong. But it can also be because they don’t think vegans should waste their time supporting animal welfare or single issue animal rights causes. (This post is getting long so we’ll talk about these in depth later)
So that’s what’s going on. Now, what do we do about it?
First, all you enthusiastic vegans out there… remember there is NO “one true way” to be vegan. It drives me nuts when I hear folks claiming otherwise. In fact, there are many schools of thought on veganism. Examples include (but are not limited to) Abolition Vegans, Climate Vegans, Health Vegans and Practical Vegans.
Remember, not every pre-vegan can instantly wrap their heads around abolitionist veganism. But if you don’t alienate them they CAN get there. I am a perfect example of this (another long story I’ll tell you another day).
Before you comment on social media, someone’s blog or Youtube channel take a step back and remember what it was like before you were vegan or when you were a new vegan. Be the VOICE OF SUPPORT AND REASON our new vegans need to stick to their new lifestyle and help them spread it joyfully.
And now for all you new or newish vegans. No matter why you are or how you became vegan… THANK YOU!
If you have had a run in with the “Vegan Police” please take it with a grain of salt. Remember that, for the most part, these folks mean well but are either misguided in their efforts or are a tad socially inept. At worst they are a LOUD minority of overzealous folks who get lost in the details. As time goes on you’ll see that most vegans are a pretty reasonable and welcoming bunch.