Language Matters Vol. 1 – Vegan / Non-Vegan

Courtesy: Colin Wright https://legacyofpythagoras.wordpress.com/

“There are two kinds of people in the world: those who divide the world into two kinds of people, and…” ūüėČ

Language Matters

Although there seem to be countless, ever-increasing variations on the theme of what to call those who intentionally support, promote and personally benefit from animal use and exploitation to satisfy their personal pleasure, comfort and convenience, please consider the following:

When it comes to humans, there are those who live vegan and those who do not, hence there are only vegans and non-vegans.

Veganism is NOT a Diet

While there is certainly a dietary component to living vegan, this nonviolent, justice-focused way of living goes far beyond the end of one’s fork.

Image courtesy of Vegan Musings @ https://www.facebook.com/ThoughtsPicturesPoems/

Since veganism¬†is not defined by simple abstinence from eating animals and their secretions but rather follows the ethical principle of eschewing¬†any use/exploitation of non-human individuals wherever possible and practicable, terms like “omni”, “omnivore”, “carnivore”, “necrovore”, “flesh-eater”, “carnist”, “corpse-muncher”, etc. are problematic in multiple ways, some of which are discussed below.

First, these terms are inherently speciesist in that they put the focus on “meat” (animal flesh) and fail to take into account the consumption of animal secretions such as milk, eggs and honey. ¬†Further, they overlook the myriad uses of non-human animals for other than dietary reasons which unfortunately causes confusion as to what veganism truly means. ¬†The animal agriculture industry and their¬†supporters are doing a fine job of purposefully muddying those waters already – I implore vegans not to unwittingly aid animal ag in their subversion of our efforts to dismantle speciesism and bring an end to animal exploitation by engaging in speciesism themselves.

Antagonism –> Alienation

Next, many of the aforementioned terms and others like them are frequently used pejoratively, hence they have a high potential to trigger defensive reactions from those we might otherwise engage and educate about veganism, thereby limiting our advocacy opportunities by turning conversations into confrontations.

Antagonism is a form of violence and, since veganism represents a commitment to living nonviolently, it is counterproductive to engage in a behavior we are trying to end. ¬†If our goal is to continue making progress in shifting the current¬†speciesist paradigm that not only allows but¬†demands the enslavement, exploitation and execution of billions of non-human individuals each year to satisfy human gluttony, it’s important to remember that it’s always better to educate than to alienate.

Image courtesy of https://veganismisnonviolence.com/

While some may grow tired of the same old phrasing and wish to spice things up with new and clever variations Рespecially ones that sell lots of books but are ultimately misleading and based on false premises Рit is preferable to avoid unnecessary confusion by keeping things simple and remaining consistent in the language we use.  It is also important to not engage in the same forms of oppression one is working to end.

Remember Рthere are vegans and there are non-vegans.  This wheel does not need reinventing.

[I encourage all readers to click the blue links embedded in this essay and explore the information on those sites.  Also, please read our Disclaimer regarding external sites, organizations, individuals, etc.]

Dismantle speciesism.  Live vegan.  Educate others.
 
Start now, here’s how:
 

BeFairBeVegan.com

Please enjoy this related essay:

On Defining Veganism

On Two Sides of Selfishness

It’s All About Me

It can be argued that those who “go vegan” for their own health and personal betterment – which really translates to adopting a plant-based diet, the definition of which is anybody’s guess these days – are essentially acting from the same place of selfishness that had them eating animals and their secretions to satisfy their own pleasure in the first place. ¬†When that’s the case, there’s little to stop them from reverting back to their original selfish position of consuming products of animal exploitation (one supported and encouraged by mainstream speciesist society) and resuming their complicity in the violent oppression of non-human individuals, and this happens far too often. ¬†Other than an alteration in diet, nothing’s changed for them in any meaningful and fundamental way. ¬†There’s been no move from selfishness to selflessness, no firm and unwavering commitment to eschew participation in¬†all forms of animal use and no realization that all of these constitute injustice. ¬†Everything is still all about them, and the animal victims of human selfishness remain sadly overlooked.

I’m never surprised when this recidivism happens, and it’s no longer a disappointment. ¬†At this point, it’s expected. ¬†What I do find disappointing is that more vegans don’t see it coming like a slow-moving freight train and continue to celebrate each time some public figure decides to temporarily (and not always exclusively) eat plants: “Ohhh, look! Blahblahblah-celebrity ‘went’ vegan!!! ¬†Isn’t that AMAZING???”

No.

What would be amazing is if that person began truly living a life of moral consistency and started living¬†vegan rather than “going” vegan, ‘cos when you “go” someplace (to the store, the movies, work, vacation), more often than not you come back to the very same place you came from, and that’s usually the place where you live. ¬†Conversely, when you live a particular way, you embody your ethics and take them with you wherever you happen to find yourself (just as you would in opposing racism, sexism, heterosexism, classism, ableism and any other form of oppression, all of which are analogous to speciesism). ¬†When I found myself, I began living vegan. ¬†It’s not only how I live, it’s where I live.

Wait – It’s Not All About Me??

It’s crucial to remember that veganism isn’t primarily about us and how we can benefit from ceasing to participate in the non-consensual use of animals. ¬†Personal health and environmental¬†improvements are side benefits of living vegan, and vegan advocates and educators ought to be careful not¬†to erroneously frame them as the goals or primary motivations. ¬†Veganism is an ethical position that represents a return to living according to our almost universally shared belief that harming – and killing – others for no good reason is always wrong. ¬†“But their bodies taste good!” is as morally unjustifiable a reason for taking a life as “But their bodies feel good!” is for sexually violating another individual. ¬†Each represents a terrible injustice that serves only to satisfy the pleasure of the perpetrator to the extreme detriment of the victim.

Used To Be = Never Was

Each time I hear that someone “used to be vegan”, I can be sure they never internalized the ethical¬†position and have to wonder where they got the fallacious information that simply eating an exclusively plant-based diet equates to living vegan. ¬†I implore vegan advocates and educators to always be clear, consistent and unequivocal about the meaning, importance and ethics of veganism.

Lives depend on it.

[I encourage all readers to click the blue links embedded in this essay and explore the information on those sites.  Also, please read our Disclaimer regarding external sites, organizations, individuals, etc.]

Keith Berger and Elena Brodskaya ‚Äď co-founders, SFVEG

***A note from Keith and Elena ‚Äď before you go, please consider making a safe, secure tax-deductible donation via¬†our YouCaring page¬†(<‚ÄĒsimply click this link to be directed to our fundraising page)¬†to support South Florida Vegan Education Group‚Äôs advocacy efforts. ¬†Contributions of any amount are received with equal gratitude and go directly to fund our¬†vegan public education work. ¬†And whether or not you can contribute, please share our fundraising campaign with friends and associates!¬†¬†Thank you!

Dismantle speciesism.  Live vegan.  Educate others.
 
Start now, here’s how:
 

BeFairBeVegan.com

The legal stuff:

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