Friday, June 21, 2013

We Have Met The Enemy...

This post from across the pond -- The Slippery Slope of Nutritional Surveillance -- is incredibly important. Brief excerpt:

I have seen vegans become downright vicious as they slam others in defense of the specific dietary and health beliefs they hold to be true; I have seen vegans publicly attack each other in a cruelly personal, bullying manner, the likes of which I had not seen since middle school.

The repercussions here are pernicious: the conflation of veganism - which has its core foundation rooted in convictions about nonviolence, equality and justice - with random diet plans that happen to be promoted by various vegan doctors or weight loss gurus. Veganism has nothing to do with being gluten-free, fat-free or raw, and we need to be mindful about not intertwining it with whatever diet we consider to be optimal. Years ago, when raw foods was becoming The Big Thing, I heard a lot of confusion from the public due to this intertwining: Wait, so vegans don’t eat anything cooked? Is that right? I am starting to hear the same general confusion about vegans being gluten-free.

What does sautéing broccoli in a little olive oil have to do with the exploitation of animals? That’s right: absolutely nothing.

We should be doing everything we can to remove the barriers to compassionate living, not putting up more arbitrary and personal hurdles that have nothing to do with it. There are already huge cultural and personal leaps that many people find overwhelming and intimidating: why would we make it harder by making veganism even that much less attainable? If people want this to be a personal purity club that revolves around restriction, dietary absolutism and body shaming, then that is what it is, but it is not helping the animals. 

For veganism to thrive and grow, it needs to be expansive and accessible, not the opposite. As time goes on, I’m more and more certain that being mindful and smart with our messaging has got to be our priority as effective advocates. When we use the same kind of righteous indignation for potatoes or olive oil that we do for violence against animals and the planet, something has gone haywire with our priorities. When we abandon the ethical argument - the one that we basically own - because we'd rather publicly berate each other over perceived nutritional shortcomings, we have taken an axe to our own foundation.

Be sure to read the whole thing!