The Vegan Community – why it is a myth

What is the vegan community?

And who is part of it?

And, who gets to decide who else can be part of it?

A recent discussion on social network sites revolved around an activist (I don’t know anything about the case, so I will be vague) who was in prison.

I commented on a forum, that I had tried for a couple of years to make a connection with this person, and over the space of those years got absolutely nothing back, not even one single “hello”. This was someone who did not want my support, someone who had rejected my support, but now was in trouble, suddenly I was useful?

I pointed this out, and the fact I thought it was strange that there were people trying to make me feel guilty that I felt nothing about his arrest.

That set off a storm on the vegan blogs. I was selfish, a failed human being, stupid – you name it, the insults came fast and furious.

I should support my community without asking for something in return, and if this prisoner has not even said hello in two years of supporting his causes, then I should just keep giving to him, more and more and more.

(and by the way:  it is laughable how often these comments come from people who are vegans of less than a year… give someone a copy of an Alicia Silverstone book and slab of Daiya and they think they are the Gods Of Veganism, lecturing to all and sundry about who qualifies for being vegan and what you have to do to Earn Your Place In Your Community.)

It was not surprising to me, just disappointing, at how many people said “I am unfollowing you” for not supporting “YOUR community”.

That doesn’t seem very supportive to me.

I jokingly said “I resign from the vegan community, as I don’t recall signing up”.

Talk about hate-mail avalanche!

It just demonstrates once again, how petty, nasty, spiteful, predictable, insular, cliquey, highschoolish, disgusting the behaviour is of some vegans towards other vegans who don’t faithfully fall in line behind the “gurus” or toe the line on doctrine.

This is the community that I am supposed to support?

These are the loving, caring, compassionate people, who lecture others on how a community treats its members.

It is hard to find the time to be a good community member when I’m too busy deleting the hate mail pouring in from the “real” community members.

By their reasoning, I am not a proper member for failing to support a vegan in trouble, because goodness knows, the vegan community is so talented with supporting its members (so clearly, I was  never one of them, which makes it “ok” for them to send me hatemail).

yes, http://houseofhippies.tumblr.com/ I am looking at you

By defining an “us” and “them”, the Insiders and Outsiders, the real community members and the fakes, it is easy to hate others. Do exactly as we say, all of the times, and we will accept you. Have a different opinion, and you stop being a real member of the community, and you will become fair game. We will ignore you, hate you, belittle you, betray you, hack your accounts, because You Are Not One Of Us.

The same people attacking me were the same ones demanding I show more respect to others… because obviously the word “hypocrite” is not in their dictionaires.

The double standard of attacking someone who has supported you, for them not supporting someone who has completely ignored them for years – the double standard at work is laughable.

I try and try to be a good member, and get treated like, I don’t know… a melange of servant, moron, groupie, brain donor, ATM card, shitpile, football, doormat, yet when an animal activist is in trouble, I am supposed to reach out and do all I can to the very same people that have treated me like garbage.

My support has been rejected in the past, and I am a failed human being for going “you don’t want me around, I accept that, I will go away, like you want me to” and giving up… and here is the thing, you can only get kicked in the head so often before you say “I am not going to try anymore with that person”… until they are in trouble and suddenly they have a use for you.

People only pull the “be a good community member” card on you when they want something from you, and if you don’t do Exactly What They Want, When They Want It, then you are a failed human being!!!!

Being in a community is not, or at least should not, be a one way street. I find it hard to extend compassion to people who send me hatemail, or unfollow for a sarcastic comment, or take it upon themselves to be the final arbiter of who is a member of the vegan community or not.

I have seen little support and sense of community directed at me. And yet, I am asked to give more and more.

This is peer pressure at is more disgusting. Conform or you will be all alone.

Do what we tell you, and maybe you can be part of Our Community, because don’t think for one minute that just because you are vegan and animal liberation activist that you are part of Our Community. Oh No you are not.

In my experience, as someone who has been a vegan since I was 15, I have never experienced this sense of community with other vegans which people are always telling me I NEED to show to others, yet never extend to me.

Never, there has not be one single day, in the real world or online, when I have had that “I feel like I’m home” feeling.

In fact, every day that passes I feel more and more alienated from a cause which I work for practically every minute of my life.

Sometimes it feels like there is a rulebook, which all the vegans got, except me: the right forums to join, the right gurus to worshhip, the insiders, the outsiders, the right blogs to follow, you get that wrong and you just won’t ever fit in.

I often feel like I’m out here on my own, my own little vegan world of one or two, standing outside in the cold and the snow, rubbing the frost off the window glass, peering in, while all the other vegans are in a warm cozy room, huddled around a flickering fire, comfortable and secure.

Maybe I will never fit in, maybe I should sacrifice some of my beliefs (such as stop trying to convince people that leather wearing and cheese eating celebrities are not vegan; or vegans don’t necessarily need to have a USAmerican guru, and join the liberationists Or the abolitionists- must chose!), maybe it is time to compromise who I am in order to fit in better with a community that seems to constantly reject me.

It seems to be, that when ever I express an opinion, I am ostracised, and sent hate mail, I am called names, but do I really need to lie and say, “oh yes, celebrity in prison has my full support”, because he does not, and more to the point…. if I was ever in prison, I doubt he would take the five and half seconds required to give me a second thought.

So it seems my role in “my community” is to shut up, smile, reblog, promote other peoples causes, sacrifice my beliefs, never have an original – controversial – opinion, never disagree with anyone Ever, never ask questions, and suck up to the celebrities activists, and only then will I be accepted.

Only by changing everything about myself, is there ever any hope of fitting in with “my” community.

Because being part of a community is giving in to everyone unquestionly, and giving uncritical support every minute of the day, by pretending to be someone you’re not, so you can be completely ignored by everyone involved, except those sending you hate mail.

Yep, riiiight…. and people criticise me for saying, I don’t feel like part of THAT community?

Really? that sounds like something which people willingly want to be part of? And they wonder why so many distance themselves from “the vegan community”.

These side-shows, this online popularity contest, is best left to people who are still in highschool. The whole “I am unfollowing you” drama, really? this is how adults act? it’s time some people grew up (lunaselenaunicorn, I am looking at you, don’t just unfollow me, block me, because I don’t want to be reading about your mylittlepony obsession any longer).

If the spite, pettiness and nastiness is what it means to be part of “the vegan community”  the one, true, very beige, homogenous, group-think community – then I am pleased I resigned my membership from YOUR community.

Oh, I am still a vegan, and will always be, I have just given up trying to feel some sense of belonging, a feeling of kinship, searching for a community – Your Community, which does not seem to exist for me, from people who send me hate mail about how I am a bad member of the community.

Eternally an Outsider:

RedglitterX

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12 Comments to “The Vegan Community – why it is a myth”

  1. I have been insulted more by vegans than meateaters. I have supported a prisoner and even visited him at the prison. He has always written back and responds to all letters of support. However I feel I could go every minute of the day doing something in support of prisoners and in the end be worn completely out. I am only a pen pal as he says not one of the important circle of activists who get things done. And I accept that. He doesn’t know me. But just exactly how long can I go on sending checks for his commissary letters to his lawyer and everyday letters and books and so on before I say to hell with this? If I didn’t communicate no one would communicate with me. So it is give give give on the one-way street to nowhere. I was told by one of the “gurus” that my reluctance to show support to prisoners of war was tantamount to treason and wait until I was in prison and no one would pay me any attention to me. I don’t intend to do anything that merits a prison sentence. But I digress…I agree with your post. I feel very alien to this vegan community-can never do enough and this pen pal business is less than satisfying-kind of like a one-sided relationship where only one side gets the goods and the other side is drained to nothing. I was a happy little vegan before I got mixed up in this. But I think I should just go my own vegan way.

    • I dont know what to say, I have never experienced anything as extreme as that. I dont live in the USA which is where most of this group-think conformity seems to be coming from. This is something I have heard more about since I did my post.

      I would love to put this in a blog post, but I wouldnt do that without your permission.

      “treason” – I dont even want to guess which guru it was, but my imagined list has a few names on it

      thank you so much for this comment

      • Yes you may put this in your blog post and thank you for you response. I think we both know who the guru is.

  2. By the way… the checks I have sent are never acknowledged. They disappear into a black hole.

  3. Excuse me again…now my comments have disappeared. I will try again. Yes you may use my blog post. And probably you may know who the guru is. And the checks were accepted by a New York liason who said they would inform the prisoner. But I heard nothing more about them nor anything from him that he was aware funds had been paid into his commissary. No thanks either about the letter to his lawyer that we were asked to write for sentencing leniency though copies were sent to him. It is not that I want a personal relationship with people but I get this feeling about this organization that there is an elite hierarchy and the peasants pay homage and do what they are told.

  4. My replys have not appeared. But yes you may use my experience in your blog post. The checks went to a liason who said the prisoner would be informed. But no word from him that he was aware of them.

    • I have used your comments in a blog post, I have tried to make sure I have separated your opinions from mine, I have tried to not interpret your words, or imply you are suggesting something that your not. If you are not happy with what I said, I can try to change it.

      Thank you again for telling me of your story. I hope I have done your story justice.

  5. I re-read this blog entry today and I thank you for posting my comments as the Myth part 2. I felt like adding a little more. Your saying that you never felt at home in this “community” is the tip-off that speaks on the intuitive level…We know when things aren’t right. But still we try to convince ourselves that we have friends-although the signs augur otherwise. Recently the Guru that accused me of treason was arrested. This Guru is also a very important person to the prisoner I have been supporting. This event has given me pause to reflect on just what I may have gotten myself into. Like on a Watch List of the FBI. One midnight will I be hauled out of bed and whisked away to a FEMA camp? I better buy some new pajamas-don’t want the cops to see me in tatty duds.
    But I am nothing. Very ordinary. Not even an activist. A vegan feeding alley cats. That’s about the gist of my resume. But I have put myself at risk. I am naive and easy pickings for the vegan power brokers. Visiting a celebrity prisoner and playing into the glamour. Like we are all one big warm family. Illusion. We are on are own. Better to play the law straight and be gentle. Disregard the vitriol. The hate and belligerence.
    So I have decided to distance myself. I am not going to write letters to the terrorist prison where the authorities read everything and take down all particulars. So they can find you and arrest you. Unfortunately my particulars are already out there. But I am not going to add to it. I’m through with this. And as for the Guru in jail and her sycophants calling her Hero…I grow weary.
    And to think that once upon a time I was simply looking for a recipe for vegan soymilk pudding and What the hell? I find myself in the middle of the ALF!

    • I didnt respond to this straight away, because it took me a little while to think about what you said. It is obvious in your comment who The Guru is, and I assume you wont be donating to the “Free XXXX cause”? (name not mentioned to keep it out google searches)

      I have a few issues with that person myself, and theres things I know but keep to myself, because I dont think gossip does the cause of animal liberation much good. If the person you talk about is who I think it is, She left a racist homophobic comment on my blog, I blocked her as spam, that is as far as my involvement with her goes these days.

      You seem to have a strong sense of self awareness, and know when youre being played to promote the personal profile of others, rather than liberation for animals, trust those instincts and take care.

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