[NOTE: I plan to update this essay from time to time to include more feedback from individuals who have responded positively to South Florida Vegan Education Group’s (SFVEG) ongoing public education efforts. Stay tuned – it’ll be worth it! 🙂 ]
After ten years of engaging in single-issue animal welfare campaigns, I have zero evidence to suggest that any action I took in that time helped influence a single person to begin living vegan. One reason is that most, if not all, of those campaigns are organized by large donation-based animal welfare charities (you’ve heard of them even if you’re not vegan – their expensive marketing budgets have seen to that) whose primary agenda is not to influence people to live vegan but rather to ensure the continuation of a steady stream of donor dollars from their largely non-vegan donor base by being careful not to alienate them. This is achieved by actively avoiding using the word “vegan” (or downplaying it, or being vague about its meaning and importance) and certainly not presenting veganism as the moral baseline for our treatment of individuals of other species.
Thank you to all who support me and our group in these endeavors, and a special thanks to my friends Ramona Reichert for gently (ok, not so gently 😉 ) shaming me into opening my vegan mouth on Facebook and to Colin Wright for gently (ok, not so gently 😉 ) nudging me out of the black hole of welfarism and being the first to point me toward abolitionism. I am deeply indebted to you both.
Lastly, but mostly, thank you to my love, Elena Brodskaya, for walking this path hand-in-hand with me and for being my greatest influence and inspiration, my constant sounding board and for gently (yes, so very gently <3 ) letting me know when I need to come back from some tangent I’m on and get back on the path.
If you’re not vegan: please ask yourself why and then ask yourself whether your answer(s) would hold up and be justified if the helpless victims from whom you receive palate pleasure and other benefits were human. If you feel they would, let’s talk about that. If you feel they wouldn’t, let’s talk about that, too. Either way, I’m truly interested to hear your thoughts and have a discussion. Really. For realz. No kiddin’ around. Mean it.
If you are vegan, I’ll leave you with this: clear, consistent, unequivocal abolitionist vegan education works, and it’s far more effective than engaging in campaigns that profess to have the best interest of animals in mind, yet in reality exist to serve their own ends through endless self-promotion, donation solicitation and putting out small fires while ignoring the larger source of the blaze that’s been burning the world to the ground for centuries. Sadly, when we work to reduce – but not eliminate – animal suffering (as is the hallmark of the welfarist organizations), there’s an unintended consequence — non-vegans keep eating animals, only now with a clearer conscience and no reason nor desire to ever stop. If you’re afraid to be direct and honest about veganism, I challenge you to move through the fear and do what you know is right. After all, your “fear” is nothing compared to the real fears being felt right now by the animals we all want to save. To operate from fear in this light helps no one. In fact, as a form of enabling, it only serves to cause more unnecessary suffering to all involved.
From my heart to yours, thank you for listening.
Live vegan. Educate others. Start now, here’s how: