This will be my second and final follow-up on Evan’s great piece about how veganism isn’t just for liberals. It was a great starting point for looking into the political elements of veganism, which is very important.
In my first edition, I made the libertarian case for veganism. I think it’s important to put that out there to reinforce the point that veganism is a philosophy and lifestyle choice that appeals to both side of the political spectrum. In this post, I want to tie this analysis together by arguing that just because veganism can be bipartisan, we shouldn’t lose sight of the differences in the political implications from the left and the right. It’s important that we recognize these differences for two reasons: 1), it opens up different approaches (i.e. actions, tactics, and strategies) to promoting and representing veganism, and 2) it demonstrates that veganism isn’t the kind of ideological monolith it’s often seen as. Opening up those different approaches is helpful to the cause of advocating for veganism because it reflects the multidimensional environment that this issue is subject to; animal exploitation manifests in many ways in society, sometimes obvious and grotesque, and other times subtle or indirect. With an understanding of the depth, breadth, and nuance of animal exploitation, matched with an understanding of the multiple approaches to practice and promote a vegan life, we can maximize the impact of advocating for veganism and working towards a more vegan world.
This point is evident in my recent article about the libertarian case of veganism. A lot of the focus was on the marketplace and private industry, government action was written-off as unhelpful and undesirable. This emphasis on private actions instead of public (government) action leads to a different series of arguments and activities to promote veganism. The arguments were about government failure and economic growth being the mechanism to expanding and normalizing veganism as a competitive alternative. The activities that were prescribed were to consume more vegan products, to advocate for the government to discontinue its support of the animal agriculture industry, and to deregulate the sector more broadly. These all fall in line within a libertarian framework and they’re consistent with a vegan philosophy and lifestyle, but they’re very different than the arguments and approaches that would come from the political left.
This is a generalization, but the political left would argue that there is a need for government action to move society towards veganism, that this cannot be done by markets alone. The activities they might prescribe would be to advocate for government action to make it more difficult for animal exploitation to occur and/or make it easier for vegan alternatives to come about. The tactics and strategies associated with the political left would also be very different than those associated with libertarianism or the political right. Even though the philosophy, tactics, and strategy are different, the goals and end result are still the same: a more vegan world. It’s a complex issue, so we need a multitude of actions for advocates to take in order to make the more change.
In addition to having multiple approaches to take as a vegan advocate, acknowledging the different political perspectives of veganism reflects the diversity of thought that exists within this philosophy and lifestyle. There is a misconception that vegans are hippy-dippy liberals, but there are many reasons to adopt and practice a vegan life. As Evan argued in his post, there are other, better arguments that justify and support adopting a vegan life; he focused on his bulletproof case for veganism and common misconceptions people have about vegans, my arguments focus more on the political and partisan elements of a veganism. We need to acknowledge and embrace this diversity of thought in vegan philosophy, so people realize that there are many appeals to veganism.
If we begin to focus on those political and public policy implications of veganism, we will move the concept forward in the discourse to a more developed one. Veganism isn’t thought of as a political choice with political ramifications, but it always has been and now we need to make those implications all real. As I refer to in my article about a possible “Vegan President”, Sen. Corey Booker (D-NJ), there is a special opportunity to elevate this subject to a level beyond its current status.
The point really is that we should further this discourse on the political implications of veganism, it’s good for the cause and for the discourse about how to address and mitigate climate change. Embrace the politics!