I can’t speak for everyone, naturally, but I have a feeling from some of what I’ve seen that a lot of vegans have quite a strong abolitionist core. Why wouldn’t we? However many of us keep that buried so as to maintain our sanity both on and offline. I say this not because the abolitionist movement is wrong in any way, but because it is the voices found here that people associate with the ‘militant’ vegans, the ‘vegan police’, etcetera, all terms I strongly dislike and disagree with. I want the world to be vegan, but telling people that off the bat might make me sound a like a bit of a dreamer or a nutcase, depending on their stance. Total animal liberation is the goal, but how we get there is a very difficult and much debated issue.
Here I want to throw out a scenario and nuggets of advice for situations where you just have to talk about why you’re vegan or what it means. Of course you could say, why say anything? But sometimes there is no staying quiet, you have to stand up for yourself and more importantly the animals, even if you’re dealing with a lost cause.
Not so long ago I found myself in a very alien situation, someone noticed that I was vegan via the note on my lunch – provided by the catering staff at the venue – and they had to speak up for omnivorous peoples everywhere. Prior to this moment I hadn’t had anyone seriously take on veganism and hit out against it, but for this young man his defences went on high alert as soon as I put my fork into my falafel. After the expected cheese comments from a girl sat close by who was listening in, the boy tucked into a piece of some poor little fish, and declared its tastiness to the world.
So, in this situation I suppose there are a few ways to handle it, but I don’t think I’d have changed my response. My response: “I’m sure they were much nicer swimming around the sea, alive.” Now I probably didn’t change his outlook at all on this issue, nor do I think my response was particularly great, but ‘forcing’ people to face up to who and where there food used to be is incredibly important in allowing them to find their roots in veganism. Disassociation is one of the biggest issues we face, and it is something that everyday I see and hear more and more people coming to terms with, which can trigger them to see that veganism is the right choice.
Prior to his fishy comments, upon discovering that I was a vegan he told me something that obviously I hadn’t considered, and asked me something no vegan has been asked before. This is the focus of this here little post. It went a little something like this, and whilst you picture this being said, imagine an incredibly tense, defensive, and patronising voice from the boy:
“You do realise that everyone else is still going to eat meat? Just because you aren’t eating it doesn’t mean the whole world has stopped…”
There was more, but let’s deal with this first. I like to think that I look like a pretty smart person, that perhaps I look like the sort of person who doesn’t have the egotistical understanding of a one year old, and does in fact know and understand that there is a world beyond that which I can see. However my friend seemed to be under the impression that as a vegan I was living within some sort of illusion in which because I didn’t eat animals they had all stopped being killed, and no one else was eating them either. Don’t get me wrong, I’d love to live in that world, I’d be far happier and life would most likely be so much easier, but I do have all of my senses, and I do know where I am, unfortunately.
My response was that of course I understood this, which takes us to the second part of his question/insult.
“…You’re not making a difference though, you’re only one person. Everyone else is still doing it.”
I know. I was there. It was a difficult moment in my life, one of the few where I’ve been incredibly tempted to punch a boy I’d only just met. I didn’t. Of course I didn’t. I wanted to, but I’m vegan so that’s a no no where harming others is involved – generally speaking.
Anyway, moving on. How do you respond to this? He’s right, I am one person. I am Beth, I am only Beth, I will only ever be Beth in one way or another. But, and here is the crucial thing he failed to pick up on, I am not the only Beth. By Beth I of course mean vegan, and we all know that I am not the only one, although I think our friend must have thought I was – which in itself makes no sense.
Again, how do we respond? I simply told him that he was wrong, that there are hundreds of other vegans out there, and we do make a difference. As the demand for animal products falls, the need to exploit animals becomes less and less. I don’t believe that my words changed him greatly if at all, I doubt he listened in all honesty, but I will never stop speaking the truth in scenarios such as these. In a scenario where this ignorant statement is flung at you, never forget that once slaves, women, disabled persons, children, the poor, and so many others didn’t have a voice in this world. Now they do. So why is it a far fetched thought that perhaps with all of our help the animals will also have a voice, a chance for liberation and freedom like the rest of us?
I have so much more to say on this matter, but I don’t want to keep you all night. I will certainly be writing more on this and lots more. Thanks for stopping by, and let me know if you’ve dealt with any difficult people in your vegan daily lives, and if you were successful in making them think twice!
All my love, your BFF Vegan.