The New Enemy: The Militant Vegan (say what?)

from the Militant Vegan collection

What is this Militant Vegan that has suddenly emerged on the blogs and social networks? This is my response to an article that has gotten a lot of attention recently. From Veggie Girl: An open letter to militant vegans.

Personally, I’m a Vegan-vegan, and anything else, is divisive. Designed to separate us, put us in a little box and slap a label on it.

And I will happily walk the vegan path with anyone who wants to stand beside me, regardless of what label they choose to put on themselves.


However…. For vegans out there who regularly participate in online forums, debates and social network sites, you may have noticed there is a new enemy out there… the mysterious, illusive and dastardly “Militant Vegan“.

This phrase “militant vegan” seems to have cropped up a lot recently, it seems to be an insult to active vegans.

I say Illusive, because I’ve yet to see one.

I do not know where it originated, this concept that vegans who refuse to love-on meat producers is someone “too militant” and gives “vegans a bad name”.

In this blog piece – the concept of militant vegan is examined….

An open letter to militant vegans
by Veggie Girl

… it doesn’t really tell me much about what a militant vegan looks like but if this writer represents the opposite of militant, then an “UNmilitant vegan” (like her) is a lot like a new-welfarist, pseudo-vegan collaborator with the animal-death industries.

Apparently, according to Veggie Girl, vegans are the new Westboro Baptist Church (for more information on who and what Westboro Church is Luna Coyote87 Presents: “Reason You Suck Post”: Westboro Baptist Church). That hateful, anti gay church that pickets funerals with the slogan “god hates fags”.

As Veggie Girl says: if you’re a militant vegan

you’re just an animal-loving version of Fred Phelps. And nobody likes that guy except his fellow church members



Seriously, a homophobic, hatefill, angry cult is just like being vegan? Are you kidding me??

I know a lot of vegans, and I have never yet met one who I would consider “militant” – I don’t even know what that means…

Because if you are not doing all you can to fight for the lives of animals, then what are you doing? Wasting time!

No seriously, WTF does “militant” mean? Someone doing everything in their power to end the slaughter, slavery, cruelty and exploitation of animals.

And if that is what Militant is, why are you proud that you’re not. I don’t find it particularly admirable that you admit that you are a lazy, ungrateful, apathetic, passive Inactivist. I don’t understand why someone would brag about that.

Meanwhile, if there is a strident, screeching, hateful, harridan example of militant – it would be this Veggie Girl.

Who knew that “consciously raised and slaughtered meat and eggs” – as Veggie Girl points out – is now acceptable to vegans.

How is it helpful to attack someone like Rachel Kesley, the chef at WaterCourse Foods, who was a vegan for three years but decided to add consciously raised-and-slaughtered meat and eggs back into her diet


Never heard of Rachel -the meat eater – Kesley until now, certainly never heard anyone “attack” her.

But let’s get away from the hyperbolic violent rhetoric for a minute – by “attack” does Veggie Girl mean that someone found Rachel and physically hurt her? Or in Veggie Girl’s world does attack equal “they used mean words”.

Come on, Veggie Girl – turn down the violent language just a notch, and then your attack on Militant Vegans may, perhaps, possibly have a bit more credibility…. and a lot less irony and hypocrisy.

Militant is a meaningless word in the context of fighting for justice and rights, and is used to discredit that person or group which someone disagrees with. One step away from extremist, emotive but useless.

Because in the parallel bizarro world that Veggie Girl lives in, eating “humanely slaughtered meat and eggs” is peaceful veganism, but pointing out humane is a myth is somehow militant.

Your poor dear, how do you get through your day, it seems like just about every vegan out there that you meet is militant and out to get you.

Because as this blog piece seems to think, you can have non-cruelty milk, cruelty free eggs, compassionately slaughtered meat and if you are really really nice, to the animal abusing death industry, and say pretty please with a cherry on top, you may just…

inspire them to adopt humane practices


It seems that in the opinion of this Veggie Girl – humane slaughtered meat, and compassionate meat eaters who fight for welfare reform is what “vegan” is… and anything else is “militant”.

Hey, Veggie Girl, wanna see what “humanely slaughtered” meat looks like:
guess what – it looks exactly like inhumanely slaughtered meat.

Is this simply “dog whistling”*… “militant” is this the new phrase designed to attack “direct action” vegans? Because Francione has the market cornered on veganism as the new peace movement. … Is that what this is? Will anyone who has a different approach to the Minions of Gary Francione now be branded “Militant”?

Personally I have no problem with Gary Francione, at least when he talks about Veganism, he does prevaricate about what vegan means to him.

Is this some inference to ALF – balaclavas and camouflage?

In a similar way to the use of “new welfarism” and its design to silence Direct Action vegans, is militant meant to have anyone who speaks out on behalf of veganism quaking in their non-leather boots at a label?

My first impression, was this concept was the work of The Professor and His Minions, being all anti-violence, anti-ALF… but this “It’s all about Me-Me-Me Veganism” is more reminiscent of Tasha, the formerly Voracious Vegan.

As Rachelle, commented on Veggie Girls piece : You probably don’t mean militant. You probably just mean someone pointing it out to you and you don’t like it.

But let’s get real for a minute – why do we do this, why do we hyphenate vegan… ethical vegan, direct action vegan, mda vegan, abolitionist vegan, liberation vegan, and now militant vegan?

To quote Veggie Girl – Get off your high horse

Edited to addAn Open Letter From A “Militant” Vegan
Veganism is absolutely essential to the animal rights movement as veganism IS justice for animals. Yes, we are passionate, but not aggressive. Yes, we are relentless, but not lazy. Yes, we are unwavering…. Yes, we are vocal, as justice has never been won by silence.

*Dog Whistling= an Australian phrase, used in politics, involving coded words, that send one benign message to the general public, but another message to the target audience. Particularly around issues of race, for example “illegal refugees”.

Edited to add: thank you everyone who took the time to explain what “militant” means, I wanted to look at why there seems to be an increasing use of the phrase “militant vegan” by other vegans as a way to divide the AR movement.

When a vegan tells you to “shut up, youre too militant”, I’m asking, why they feel the need to do this, where as recently, the phrase used was “shut up, youre new welfarist”.

I am never going to shut up, rights are not given to the patient, the quiet, the meek – rights are fought for, its hard work, loud noisy agitation

Feedback welcome


9 Comments to “The New Enemy: The Militant Vegan (say what?)”

  1. Militant is an old term stemming from vegan/straight edge. It’s not new by any means. There’s nothing wrong with labels. If you don’t label yourself, someone else will.
    It should be obvious to any vegan if they go around cutting down other vegans, nothing good will come of it.

    • Perhaps the term “militant” itself is not new, but the context in which it is being used seems to be. The Veggie Girl article didnt appear to be talking about VSX, but what most people might consider a regular vegan. By redefining normal vegan activism as “militant” it is easy to dismiss the actions of animal activists as extremist and fringe, and that is not what fighting for animal rights is. imo

  2. “The militant vegan” was term used by activists at least as early as 1990, and there was a publication of the same name. Some details of the agenda of “The Militant Vegan” are included here:

    Unfortunately the term was confused with ‘militant straight-edge’, a term used by many including the Vegan Reich, a band whose agenda included being against more than just animal abuse.

    Still, the term ‘militant vegan’ took on positive tones, even when the 1997 U.S. sit-com Dharma and Greg referred to Dharma’s kindly mother as “militant vegan”.

    For about two decades many vegans have referred to themselves as “militant vegans”. Our enemies use the term disparagingly, but that is to be expected. Conservatives use the term “liberal” disparagingly, and vice versa.

    • Thanks for that history of the phrase militant vegan – however, the people, who say they are vegan and yet use the term as an insult, and are not using it in the positive way you describe.

      Until recently the preferred insult was “new welfarist” which I don’t see much of any more. It seems to be an obsession with violence, or perceived violence, rather than the vegan part of the phrase. It is a recurring theme, that is appearing more and more in the vegan / AR blogs I visit – saying someone is too militant and give vegans a bad name. It is the context people are using the word, rather than the word itself which is becoming bothersome.

      When you say “our enemies use the term disparagingly” – what I see is not carnivores using it, I see other vegans using it. Are they the enemy?

  3. Question: “When you say “our enemies use the term disparagingly” – what I see is not carnivores using it, I see other vegans using it. Are they the enemy?”

    Anwser: Is someone on your team with the same objectives but different tactics an enemy? It depends on how melodramatic you want to be.

    When those in the animal abuse industries use the term “militant vegan”, they are true enemies to all vegans.

    When vegans use the term “miltant vegan” disparagingly they are typically referring to someone with the same objectives but who is not using tactics that they think are efficacious. The term “enemy” would be used by those seeking an emotioal reaction. No vegan I know considers “militant vegans” to be the true enemy, and vice versa.

    Some militant vegans would consider the tactics of passive abolitionists to be anywhere from “less than optimal” to “detrimental” to the long term goals of animal liberation.

    The disparaging terms are often used in written papers and in blogs — I suspect for the same reason radio talk show hosts take inflamatory positions – they are trying to draw attention through conflict (not necessarily a bad thing). But when you interview them you often learn that their own position is more moderate.

    An example: Most of Francione’s minions and the folks at Friends of Animals use the term “militant vegan” disparagingly to refer to who take illegal direct action. Those who take direct action are not fond of the label, but they do not consider those who use the label to be true “enemies”.

    Almost all of the world sees all parts of the animal rights movement to be on the same small team. Either they are apathetic towards the AR team, or they view all members as extremists. Our in-fighting is so far off the radar of the general population as to be irrelevant to anyone who has personal contact with the apathetic masses. Those who think otherwise are living in a very small world.

  4. Read (Ammber Taufen) Veggie Girl’s “An Open letter to Militant Vegans” here along with my comment to her:

  5. My partner’s ex decided that a good opening gambit in a facebook thread on the ethics of eating meat would be ‘aren’t militant vegetarians the worst thing?’ I felt like saying, yes, if they’re that militant they should go vegan, but sadly had to play ‘nice’. 😉 Which was a mistake because it gave her a chance to ramble on about how much she ‘respects meat eaters’, not out of respecting differences of opinion (which would be fair enough) but specifically because she respects the act of eating meat. Nice. The trouble here is that any attempt to talk about veganism or argue for it – however politely – gets conflated with being horribly militant, because people don’t like hearing that one of their daily habits is morally wrong. Thus, I am a ‘militant’ (and becoming quite proud to deploy the title) despite doing pretty much everything the author of that piece suggests vegans should do apart from eating or condoning eating animals of course.

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