As vegans we all agree that the meat, egg and dairy industries are cruel beyond words. We all agree that the environmental impact of animal agriculture is horrific. We all agree that a balanced vegan diet is healthy and adequate, and we all agree that the definition of Veganism is to abstain from the use of animal products to the best of our ability.
So why is it that some vegans believe they have a higher moral ground then other vegans? Shouldn’t we be commending our efforts and supporting each other? Shouldn’t we be sharing ideas instead of bombarding each other with how to do it better? Are we all competing for a Holier than Thou Award? I think not.
Who declared you the Vegan Police anyway?
Mixing up the issues
A scenario that I repeatedly encounter within the vegan community is when some of us extend our veganism to issues that actually are not vegan issues at all, but come from other categories (such as health, consumerism and other). Some examples of this are when the “Vegan Police” incriminates fellow vegans who buy vegan products produced by mainstream “multinational” brands, eat deep fried or processed foods, or don’t buy organic food.
As far as I am aware, veganism is the practice of abstaining from animal products and since many non-organic, processed and multinational branded foods are free from animal products, they are therefore vegan by definition. My verdict: Not Guilty. We are all different and entitled to be so.
What you might think a vegan role model should act or look like is not necessarily something everyone else are interested in complying to. Our lives are all very different and we cannot expect all vegans to do things exactly the same way. Perfection is an unreachable goal for many and most vegans are trying their best within their means. It is not fair to judge someone not knowing their financial, physical or psychological circumstances. Your personal preferences are your choice, but as long as someone is abstaining from animal products they have the right to call themselves a vegan, whether they do it your way, or not.
The repercussions of the “Vegan Police”
Being vegan, let alone an organic, fair-trade, health food nut DOES NOT automatically make you a nice person, especially if you put down others who practice veganism differently than you. While sharing information and offering new ideas is great, the way in which it is done is also important.
Putting others down and a holier than thou attitude not only makes other vegans feel bad about themselves but it also scares off potential future vegans (especially when these situations occur within a public forum). Who wants to be associated with a community that is nasty and competitive with each other? Lashing out as the “Vegan Police” and criticizing each other is utterly counter-productive.
Building a positive community
We want people to join a supportive and friendly community – not send them back to the butcher for fear of being judged and criticized! There is always going to be diversity within the vegan community so if we don’t agree with something we have a responsibility to learn to get our messages across in a respectful manner.
So if you have accidentally joined the “Vegan Police” just remember that having differences within the scope of veganism is not criminal! All human beings are different but we all deserve to be respected, not bullied.
Being happy, healthy, well balanced and NICE will do much more service to us and our cause then coming across as angry mobsters who can’t even get along with each other.