If you’re not abolitionist, you aren’t really vegan


Wow, for someone like me who is vegan, and yet doesn’t align myself with any faction – this was quite a shock to me to read.

Shocked, stunned and speechless.

The word “vegan” was invented in 1944, by Elsie Shrigley and Donald Watson, who founded the UK Vegan Society. The British Vegan Society defines veganism this way:

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.

The co-opting and corrupting of the word “VEGAN” by a minority of online vegans has been explored extensively in a previous blog post here Vegan.

If the word “vegan” inherently meant abolitionist, then there would be no need for these little groups to call themselves “abolitionist vegan”. They would be just simply “vegan”.

There is no need to hyphenate the word Vegan, it means what it means.

I feel strongly that there is something slightly odd with people who feel the need to redefine a perfectly acceptable word in order to exclude a large portion of the population of vegans in order to control what and who “vegan” is.

Many, many vegans across the world have never read Gary Francione and are lucky enough to have never been threatened and harassed by Francione’s followers – Roger Yates, Dave Warwak, Jamie Rivet, or Carolyn Bailey.

And yet this little band of abolitionists group-think warriors have decided that they and they alone are the only true vegans on this planet.

Carolyn Bailey herself has also gone so far recently as say that, a persons IQ decided whether they were an activist or not; and that a lack of reading certain peoples philosophies means that person is a fake activist!

Unfortunately (or rather fortunately) I have never read anything by Gary Francione, nor Steve Best, nor Camille Marino, nor Will Tuttle.

There is nothing, nothing whatsoever in the definition of “vegan” that says a person has to read these people, in fact, it doesn’t say you have to read anything at all.

So, let us all stop worrying about what other people are doing, who is or isn’t vegan, who is or isn’t being read and concentrate on our lives. Vegan has a definition, let’s use it, and if you don’t like it, invent your own word, and we can all stop these pointless debates about the “fake” vegans who choose to ignore Francione.

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6 Comments to “If you’re not abolitionist, you aren’t really vegan”

  1. initially, i agreed with your premise–one is either vegan or not, but how veganism manifests itself in one’s life does merit clarification, especially among those who care about the issues. but what i really want to say is: how can you have a blog with the words/phrases “vegan” and “animal liberation” in the title and trash talk/minimize the importance of steve best or camille marino, or even, at the other end of the spectrum, gary francione?

    • At what point did I trash talk Steve Best or Camille Marino? Whoa slow down there – all I said was I hadnt read them and to you that is “trash talk” (which I had to actually look up the definition of, since I am NOT USAian). But I am guessing you probably are USAian, so to you vegan becomes a USAian concept.

      Why do I need to read US American authors in order for these people to define my veganism for me?

      Why do you say I don’t care about issue?

      I find your comment perpetuates a neo-colonial point of view and it makes no sense, you are misrepresenting what I wrote, and I have to wonder why the insults.

      • i guess you can’t trash-talk them since you haven’t read them, but you are entirely dismissive of them when you say it is “fortunate” that you haven’t read them. why is that? i just think it’s very strange that you have a blog titled “vegan animal liberation” and you dismiss some of our key authors/activists entirely, and seem to congratulate yourself for doing so. yes, i am american. yes, these authors are american and sometimes in their writings they deal with american law, but much of what they have to say, s. best in particular (who seems to speak abroad more often than he does at home) addresses animal rights and veganism on a global scale. i suppose that if you don’t want to read widely that’s fine, but i’m gald that’s not the route i took. i’m not judging you with that statement, but i’d be a much more ignorant and unhealthy vegan without cracking a few books.

        neo-colonialism has nothing to do with this. you don’t have to read US authors. but what is the point of this post other to flaunt the fact that you don’t read them? true, one doesn’t need to read anything to be vegan, but one can certainly be a better vegan and activist if one does read.

      • you mean CM and SB actually write about AR issues and veganism? I thought all they did was worry about what ARZone, GLF and Roger Yates were up to

        maybe I should read them

  2. Hi there,

    Knowing Dave well – @VeganCyclist, the person you took a Twitter screen-shot from – I can say fairly confidently that Dave was actually trying to make the same point as you are making here. Awkwardly worded Twitter statements often lead to confusion!

    The folks at Friends of Animals (of which Dave is a part) have been putting the point across that veganism is implicitly ‘abolitionist’ – that is, by boycotting and refusing to participate in any form of animal use, a vegan is supporting the ‘abolition’ of the property status of animals. I’m pretty sure that Dave is against the hyphenating of veganism and the creation of little vegan cliques and sub-groups; I do know that Friends of Animals in general is opposed to it.

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