Saturday, May 25, 2013

Dealing With Vegans (or: Vegan Club vs Vegan World, 2013 edition)

We recently received this (lightly edited):

I met [Matt] some years ago at a talk. I remember really liking  your advocacy articles.

I'm not 100% percent vegan myself. I remember talking to you about this issue before, and you told me that it was better for a person to do the best he/she could rather than try to obtain some sort of personal purity. I really liked your approach.

[I joined] a Facebook group of [certain] vegans. I used to be more active, but have largely stayed away from it lately, as there are too many humongous egos there that are complete turn-offs. They are militant vegans, who even go as far as to add the word 'vegan' to their names. I won't dare to even mention that I have honey sometimes, as I know I will be bashed.... never mind the fact that I've helped several people become vegetarian, I will still be hated for being 99% vegan rather than 100%. They were recently bashing Alicia Silverstone for making a "mockery out of veganism". It's some kind of angry elitist purity club going on, which is a complete turn off.

If you have any words of advice there from all of your years of experience in vegan, maybe it could help them. There are currently over 1,700 people on this Facebook group, yet they just need some insight and guidance, as they are wasting efforts on massive EGO battles.

Thanks so much for all that you do!

We replied:

This will seem to be a cop-out, but it is based on hard-won insights from over two decades of being vegan: Don't worry about the egotistical blowhards on the internet. There are many, many, many fanatical vegans who will shout-down anyone who might disagree on anything. The chances of them changing are very small, and the frustration caused by interacting with them is very high.

More importantly, we have limited time and resources (both emotional and monetary). The animals are much better served when we spend our limited time and resources reaching out to new people who don't know about factory farms and the compassionate alternatives, rather than beating our head against the wall of arrogant vegans who are only concerned with personal purity and validation.

PS -- I love the description of the group, which is basically: "Let's make the world vegan! Non-vegans aren't welcome." Is there a better example of preferring a vegan club to a vegan world?

Further reading: Vegan Club vs Vegan World, 2011