So, you have decided you want to be an Animal Rights Activist… then say it loud, say it proud, shout it from the mountain tops — I Am Vegan.
Assuming that you are Vegan, saying “I am Vegan” is a powerful statement.
I Am Vegan, it is more than what you do, its more than how you see yourself, it is you saying you want to stand with every other vegan out there with a shared desired for justice for animals in this world.
It is more than a label – it is a statement of who “I AM”.
Whether you meet any other vegans, it doesn’t matter, you are someone who identifies with what a vegan is. And when you say I Am Vegan, other vegans will know exactly what you mean:
|The word “veganism” denotes a philosophy and way of living which seeks to exclude — as far as is possible and practical — all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose; and by extension, promotes the development and use of animal-free alternatives for the benefit of humans, animals and the environment. In dietary terms it denotes the practice of dispensing with all products derived wholly or partly from animals.
- Elsie Shrigley and Donald Watson (1944)
For a more indepth unpacking of what this definition mean to me, see Vegan.
Deep within human mythology and history, naming something gives a person power over that which is named. In the Abrahamic religion, in fairy tales, in popular culture (the power of the name in The Usual Suspects, for example; or The Doctor in Doctor Who: “I named her. The power of a name. That’s old magic“).
In choosing to label – or name – yourself a Vegan, you are taking the power contained within that concept and bringing it into your own life.
This can be especially important at a time when Animal Rights Activists are being cowered with anti-terrorist laws, such as the draconian AETA in the United States.
AETA (Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act) makes virtually every form of protest against animal cruelty a terrorist act – Including the advocating of veganism (diet and lifestyle) and taking photos on a farm and taking animals across state lines for the purpose of avoid vivisection.
The criminalising of compassion, the use informants and collaborators, wire taps, email hacks, sock puppets, and the hyper-surveillance by vegans against other vegans creates a culture of fear. This can leave some people reluctant to say what they really think.
Vegans might begin talking about being “strict vegetarian”, “plant based diets”, “compassionate / green lifestyle” – or just avoid the word completely, after all, we don’t want to scare the meat eaters.
Are You Afraid of the Word “Vegan”? some are, and it’s time more people opened the door to the “vegan closet” they’ve been hiding in, and dare to step out into the light.
Maybe, then less people might hide in there, finding comfort in the dark, with all the others too reluctant to acknowledge the “way of being that dare not speak its name”.
Being Vegan is not scary, or weird, or dangerous or “extreme and not sustainable” but when vegans don’t use the word, it gives the impression that there is something wrong with people who are vegan.
And when we stop using the right words, what is left? Neutral, bland, average, non controversial, inaccurate, tergiversate (evasions or ambiguities) words, spoken by people unwilling to act for fear of making a mistake.
If vegans are too unwilling and reluctant to describe themselves as Vegan, then how will they ever find the courage to act on animals behalf.
It’s time to scream it from the roof tops, I Am Vegan, it doesn’t mean you are a terrorist, it means you are a compassionate human being.
By reclaiming the word “Vegan”, we can unite as vegans with a common goal – the elimination of the use of all animals – we can begin to undo some of erroneous assumptions created when people such as “Veggie Girl” start to divide vegans into militant=bad and non militant=good. By dividing vegans this way, she is in effect saying there are some that are not like her, when they stand up against milk and humane meat they are being “militant” and not all vegans are like that. That is “those” vegans over these, “those” militant ones, when that is exactly what Vegan is.
Splitting off vegans into groups according the vegans we like and those we don’t reduces the power of the word. Vegan is what it is, why are we trying to redefine it.
When certain celebrities continue to eat dairy and eggs and call themselves “vegan” and no one stands up, we are losing the power of the word vegan.
Think of how many times you have heard about fish-eating vegetarians, or bacon-eating vegetarians, or chicken-eating vegetarians. If vegetarians eat fish, bacon and chicken then the word has lost all its meaning.
Are we going to allow VEGAN to get devalued the same way, by people who says that a cheese eating vegan is about “being flexible that way makes more people comfortable“?
The word vegan cannot be taken-over and watered-down by cheese-eating, fur-wearing celebrities, or criminalised by governments trying to win elections by whipping up fear by deliberating confusing animal rights with terrorism.
We must protect the meaning of the word Vegan, so that when someone says “I am Vegan” there is no confusion. No longer hiding our belief in concepts of justice, animal rights, animal liberation or veganism opens it up to others to ask us questions.
Being vegan is a journey not a destination.
Living a vegan life is a step towards the reduction and suffering of animals.
Speaking for myself, I cannot separate vegan from animal rights, for me, being vegan means support AR (Animal Rights), and supporting AR means being vegan. I try, but I cannot see how someone can call themselves an “animal rights activist” unless they are a vegan.
If you fight for animal rights, you fight for the rights of all animals, there are no exceptions for those you think taste good or those who aren’t cute. A concept I explore in more depth here: If you start a debate with “I fight for animal rights, but I’m no vegan” don’t expect applause
(While I think someone can be vegan without fighting for animal rights, I don’t think it is possible to call yourself an animal rights activist if you consume the products of animals bodies, particular dairy, eggs, honey which require the deaths of those animals to produce the “by”-products.)
I cannot separate animal rights and veganism.
To me it is simple, the most basic right is to not be killed and eaten by someone more powerful, exploited for any purpose.
As the Abolitionist Vegan Lee Hall says:
Veganism is Direct Action (Lee Hall’s Vegan Means)
Vegan Baking as Direct Action … (Lee Hall’s Friends of Animals)
Veganism as Direct Action (Abolitionist Online, where Lee Hall writes “Above all, the key change is diet, for it is absurd to discuss the rights of animals as we eat them. The vegetarian movement employs the most direct action of all”.)
I would disagree with Lee Hall here, only in as much as, the vegetarian movement inflicts intolerable cruelty on animals, especially those that are eaten, the dairy, egg and honey industries necessitate unspeakable cruelty and slavery, and to me, that is not RIGHTS.
And second, I would suggest going beyond Diet, and living a vegan life.
Other than those two minor quibbles, I would agree wholeheartedly with Hall, we can’t speak of animal rights while we eat or use them or the products of their bodies.
Make the move, go vegan, be vegan, be a proud vegan, and you are already involved in Direct Action.
From the I Am Vegan archives
Next post in this series: Civilian’s Guide To Direct Action
*Sock puppets: an online identity used for purposes of deception within an online community, either multiple identities for the one person or a governments use of false online personalities to spread US government “information” and security
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Written by RedGlitter of VALA http://redglitterx.wordpress.com/
or at least a link to this page, that would be nice