Sunday, February 16, 2014

vegans unite!

on friday night i discovered that one of the girls who trains with me is a vegan. only, she's a "real" vegan, an "angry vegan martyr" vegan. she told me that i'm not the first person to whom she's called "bullshit" when he's called himself a vegan, and that real vegans would never compromise.

she became progressively more agitated, eventually storming out in a rage yelling furiously that i'm personally responsible for non-vegans getting the terminology wrong and that i should be calling myself "strictly vegetarian" instead, whatever that means. i was trying to explain to her that you can't "own" language and that if most of us think that "vegan" is a dietary choice then that's what the word means. she compared my abuse of the word to my calling myself a buddhist when i'm not 100% buddhist or claiming that i have a belt in jiu-jitsu that i don't, both of which are fallacious comparisons. she then attacked me for disrespecting her by continuing to claim to be a vegan.
i'm disrespecting you? by calling myself a vegan? FUCK YOU. and that's my response before pointing out that there was absolutely nothing respectful about her statements from the get-go nor the way in which she threw them at me.

there were two other people in the room with us, and what they bore witness to was a vegan behaving really badly towards - get this - a fellow vegan. we're on the same damned side, asshole. you're not helping your cause by antagonizing people who believe in it, and you're certainly not helping it by putting off people who otherwise have no interest in the discussion.

earlier i watched gary yourofsky actually being civil and collected, and remembered that even though my decision to go vegan was predominantly a health choice (thanks, nutritionfacts.org!) his famous talk (here) was a positive influence. in spite of the bullshit a lot of vegans talk, the basic premise is absolutely correct and we really should be good to animals. but there are ways to achieve this end, and getting people on your side with rational discussion, mindfulness and a little bit of compromise is a lot more effective. yes, it would be amazing if everyone stopped consuming animal products immediately, but it's far more productive and practical to get people thinking about the issues on their own terms and accepting that the change we're asking for is a big one.

---
the foundation of the argument was watson's definition of the word "vegan", that she claimed means "refusing the use of any animal products". how very interesting for me to now find the following excerpt from the summary of the vegan society's wiki page:
watson coined the word "vegan" to stand for "non-dairy vegetarians" who also ate no eggs.
[...]
the society now defines veganism as "...a way of living that seeks to exclude, as far as possible and practicable, all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing and any other purpose."

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