Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Being 'Right'


For vegans, we have such cast iron arguments that we can’t believe they don’t have magical powers. Certainly, our arguments are powerful but maybe not yet imbued with magic. Our job is to bring them to life.

To animal-food-addicted omnivores, our arguments are unacceptable. They build cast iron barricades to guard themselves from vegan assault. In the end it comes down to perception - our arguments might as well have no weight at all if we, as ‘identifiable-with humans’, seem like poor ambassadors.

We know omnivore logic is faulty but the trap for us, with our better arguments, is that we sound so ‘right’. It’s our smugness that puts people off. “Look at me, how healthy, guiltless”, etc. It’s what they call here in Australia “big-noting oneself”.

We, as vegans, have to control our passions, and make sure we don’t signal that we’re ready to forfeit friendliness for the sake of making a point. What is so hard for omnivores, when they talk with a vegan, is that they don’t know if we’ll suddenly ‘turn’ on them. 

We must be always respectful, always affectionate but always stirring.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Outrage Isn't Enough


If outrage isn’t a cool image, what is? I’m not sure, personally, that I could even attempt to answer that question because when it comes to animals being attacked, I’m not really in control of my emotions. I won’t flinch at watching footage of animal cruelty. I hate to see it but I’ve seen so much of it, and I know it underlines the rotten core in many humans. And yet, this ‘outrage’ I feel is a trap, as it is for many vegan animal advocates.  

It interferes in our speaking about this subject. All important is how forgiving we are, and how much we respect other humans. It isn’t just about animals. When we speak, we can create great waves of trust and promise, as long as we don’t pounce.  

Communication has to be a long and patient process. We might think we are natural speakers, and do a lot of emailing, writing, telephoning, to connect this vegan message to people. But how do we protect people from fearing us as preachy and threatening and evangelical? So often, we don’t reach the point where we make it feel ‘safe’ for omnivores to listen to us. They can’t protect themselves from us except by running away.

Omnivores need to trust that we won’t ‘turn’ on them, crush them or make fools of them.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Turning Nasty

In public, some vegans protest in the streets (or in the media) for Animal Rights. In our fierce fight for ‘rights’, we mightn’t leave room for ideas, like ‘having all-round-respect for animals and humans alike’.
In our daily interactions with people, it’s this one small weakness that damages the reputation of the animal advocate. It’s one of the main contested issues within the Animal Rights and Vegan movements - how we appear to the general public, how our words are couched, and how we deal with contentious issues sensitively. Same say “go in soft”, others like to throw their metaphorical fists about. The whole process of communicating effectively is what we are surely all about?
Here are omnivores listening to us, hearing  about our interest in Animal Rights, asking themselves whether we are people they can identify with. It rests with a gut reaction – about vegans – whether they are violent or non-violent by nature.
If we use ‘emotional blackmail’, we’ll succeed in proving that others are WRONG but we’ll be remembered for the humiliation we cause when we show how others are wrong or make them feel foolish.
An omnivore listening to a vegan can feel like being vomited on by a drunk. Whenever listening, how can the omnivore be certain the vegan’s views are going to be expressed in a reasonable way. As vegans, if we come across as fierce, we may reinforce that old familiar evangelical image. Whatever the subject, when we get steamed up about it, it’s the outrage that sounds so ugly and ridiculous.
Vegan shouts: listener cringes. What the listener does NOT do, is say, “That is so true and from this moment on I will join you in your outrage”, especially if they have a ham sandwich in their lunch pack!

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Protests Can Look Ugly


As vegans, we may be convinced of our own non-violence. But then we ‘do’ an angry protest. To people who see us, we’re off-putting. Our high moral ground might give us confidence. We feel that we are so obviously right. And yet we don’t see how, drip by drip, our protest seems too harsh, too ugly, and even violent.

To be non-violent, I think, we ‘activists’ (so-called!) do need to consider developing a level of control, where words are strong but not frightening, where voices are loud but not screaming. Collectively we can seem too big for our boots, over confident or even brash. The vegan public-face is sometimes off-putting. Whereas when we are at home, it isn’t like that at all, because we’re not trying to impress anyone. Lifestyle-wise, vegans are pretty much fine examples of non-violence. It seems a shame to wear our darker side in public, just to appear deeply dedicated, even when it’s just a one on one.

In practice, vegans show an ‘at-peace’ spirit, because we have low levels of ‘spending-violence’, i.e. buying, say, animal-stuff or guns or something which supports crime. At home vegans are cool. It’s only when we’re trying to be effective outside the home that we hit trouble. Like when we want to be ‘hot’ (passionate) and our appearance lets us down. Vegans should, of course, always feel safe when we go up against the ‘big-bad-world’. When we have to face some opposition, face some curly questions, how we handle it makes the main impact.

I know an 18 year old who is into vegan food, but she’s stuck on shoes. She loves shoes. (What woman doesn’t?) But there isn’t much of an alternative to reasonably priced, leather fashion-shoes. So, why does my ‘vegan’ friend wear leather on her feet? Maybe it’s the fear of social failure - a beautiful dress, a magnificent everything else and it all falls to pieces if she wears canvas on her feet.

Of course, this usually isn’t so much of a problem for men, well not for me certainly but then I’m not 18 and not dating. And of course, it doesn’t matter eventually because as soon as there’s enough demand for a different line of shoe, then a whole range of magnificent plant-based footwear will suddenly appear, and at competitive prices.

The world is moving towards cutting unnecessary costs by ‘going-plant’. Fashion will shift towards both non-animal foods and fabrics. However, it all depends where we spend our money now. If you join the boycott and sponsor alternatives, fashions will change. And it’s the fashion market which determines whether we get plant-based shoes.

But back to my friend. It must be annoying to her that, because of the shoes she chooses to wear, she can’t actively promote vegan principle or Animal Rights.

Saturday, June 24, 2017



Experimenting with the use of force is experimenting with advantage-taking. Once we take out the ‘force factor’ in what we do, what are we left with? Perhaps different habits. We free ourselves from the grip of violence-based habits.

As humans, we’re capable of wonderful things, not the least of which is our ability to ‘act on principle’ rather than from ‘me-first’. One such principle is non-violence. The most attractive aspect of non-violence is a provocateur spirit. This element of rebellion or provoking or questioning needs to use no violence other than gently taking the piss out of omnivores for being, well, omnivores. Vegans are at their most effective, I think, when they are being simultaneously passive and pro-active, just as they are when they boycott.

The boycott is a withdrawal from a world-that-need-not-be. Our pressure, as vegans, brings this world into focus, making compassion the new fashion. Omnivores believe it’s probably too hard to live happily being a boycotter of violence. But then that’s been planted in the collective mind, and is part of the ‘conspiracy of misinformation’ put out by the Animal Industries. 

Friday, June 23, 2017



When we look into the ‘me-first’ world, obviously food features large. When it comes to food, It controlled Us. Our food habits haven’t substantially changed since childhood, because changing them has never occurred to us (you).

Vegans turn away. Sometimes not enough. You might become vegan, and sacrifice some of your ‘me-first’ world. For vegans, for all the premeditation gone through befor plunging in, it’s surprising that things do move on quickly. Once the food thing is secure, food feels right for you, once cooking and messing about with food is no longer a nightmare, then you’re feeling good about being vegan. And going on to see that veganism isn’t only about food but about activism too.

Once we’re there, actively advocating for animals’ case, and advocating in a ‘no-force’ way, we can achieve non-violence in our food, our clothing, and out thinking.

So, if we are NOT advocating non-violence, then how can vegans ever be of any use to our non-violent animal friends. It might sound bizarre, but are the animals not in a superior state of mind to us? Isn’t our job to aspire to their incredible levels of peace and harmlessness?

So, if our veganism doesn’t aspire to non-violence then the question is: Why not?

To routinely practise non-violence in this violent world, that’s quite a challenge. But if we don’t attempt non-violence, our self-esteem will surely suffer. We as vegans will suffer, out reputations as being ‘heavy’ will increase, and we won’t do much good for the animals who we’re supposed to be standing up for.

Thursday, June 22, 2017



Imagine the embarrassment in years to come, when we remember how we participated in animal enslavement. This is no casual, accidentally picked up habit, this is daily routine complicity to murder, made more obscene by eating the dead bodies of these creatures we’ve been abusing.  

Today, when plant-based foods are known to be so perfect for us, the whole thing of farming and killing animals seems crazy. Vegans live amongst 99% of all humans on the planet, who are locked into the ‘me-first’ attitude in so many significant ways. The most dangerous thing about human nature is the way we see things only from our own vantage point.