Most vegans are surely on the left side of the political spectrum. We care about animals and the environment. We advocate for victims of an oppressive system. Having a concern for these things is a virtual requirement for calling oneself a liberal.
There is an uprising of a new generation of individuals referred to derogatorily as “social justice warriors” and “snowflakes.” They are the folks thought to be infesting college campuses, demanding safe spaces, and de-platforming speakers they don’t like. They are the generation that does not wish to hear things that they do not agree with. They are militant in their advocacy for society’s victims — so much so that they occasionally turn on each other. They appear to engage in a constant search for oppressed groups — minorities within minorities within a minority — who we allegedly have not paid enough attention to.
They purport to be progressive. Yet many of them seem to despise vegans. Why is this?
On one hand, it seems that their apparent desire to help the downtrodden would translate into a virtual requirement that they become vegan in order to be perceived as authentic. I think it’s fair to say that most people on the left would call themselves “animal lovers,” and what could be more emblematic of putting one’s money where one’s mouth is than refusing to contribute to an industry that exploits those you wish to help? It’s probably true that a disproportionate number of these people are vegan already.
Unfortunately, it also makes sense — in a strange way — that many of these folks would dislike vegans and disavow veganism. Being ever critical of everything as they are, they see that most vegans are white and deduce that there must be something racist about the cause. They point out the distasteful comparisons vegans make between animal agriculture and slavery or other horrific events; they see that vegans denounce all foods containing animal products — even those with particular cultural or ethnic importance; and they note that vegans don’t talk about the poor all that much. From these observations, they conclude that vegans are insensitive to other cultures and don’t care about poor people. We are seen as people who want the world to go vegan and think that everyone else can do it just as easily as we can.
I’ve written previously about how we should recognize that transitioning to veganism is a lifestyle change, and we should temper our expectations accordingly. I’ve written about how comparing animal agriculture to atrocities perpetrated by humans and against humans is not a great idea — even if it’s not incorrect. And I’ve pointed out that our priority should not be telling poor people what to eat.
Some vegans believe going vegan is really easy; that the death of a chicken is equally as horrific as the death of a human; and that veganism is actually cheaper than the typical American diet. These people do not represent the majority of vegans.
But that’s beside the point. As long as the number of vegans espousing the above beliefs is greater than zero, then veganism can be painted as a cause that requires those beliefs by people who wish to perpetuate that perception.
I suspect that a lot of the people who are a part of the radical left are more concerned with the appearance of caring (for the purpose of gaining clout among their peers) than they are with solving the problems they draw attention to. I think that they feel threatened by the authenticity of people who back up their words with actions. This feeling motivates them to denounce veganism as somehow oppressive of the victim groups whose lives they wish to improve.
It’s a heavy accusation, to be sure, but let me end by expressing something you will likely never hear someone on either the far left or far right say:
I could be wrong, and I’m open to evidence that contradicts my beliefs.