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Is "unethical veganism" growing and global trend?

I just want to compare my observations in Ireland (and partly Germany and Poland) with activists in other countries.  From some time I can see that the number of vegans is growing. It's not a radical and fast growth but it's quite constant. Usually people who become vegan are left-wing or vegetarian. This part is not surprising.

 

However I noticed that (unfortunately) most of the people become vegan for healthy or environmental reasons. They don't make their choices because of Animal Rights as it's not their priority. It's all about nutrition, global warming and socializing. This way we get people who in theory are vegans but in practice they won't refuse food with dairy for example while meeting friends or they simply don't mind to eat dairy/eggs from time to time. They also see veganism mostly as a healthy diet. In consequences their choices refer only to food habits but they don't care about animal-tested products or leather, blood sports, etc. As long as it doesn't  affect their health and environment. Obviously veganism is also about health and environment but from my point of view it is wrong if we 'skip' Animal Rights.  I call it unethical veganism.

 

I'm not sure is it only my experience or it is a global trend. I have met lots of these vegans while organizing events and actions up here. Some of so-called ethical businesses seem to support these views too. Do you see this phenomenom in your countries as well?  What would be the best way to approach them?

 

 

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Hi Sky,

Thanks for your reply. That's true, it might a leap and that's why I'm asking. However my experiences are not based on Ireland only. I used to run AR events in Poland and Germany too and I could see similar attitudes. I'm also in touch with activists from other countries like Greece and they say they can see same symptoms. I'd say in Ireland it's just more visible as it's a small country. There were even some articles touching this issue - http://uleak.it/?80x . So these experiences led me to that question as I'd like to find out is it more local issue or it can be observed everywhere? Is it something rare or common?


What kind of numbers are you talking about Kruk? There are a lot of new health and environmental vegans in Ireland, is there, and how did you find out?
It's hard to say what are the exact numbers as I don't keep any statistics so I wouldn't like to share incorrect information. I just run cyclical vegan events so let's say if I meet 10 new vegans, roughly 6 of them went vegan mainly because of nutritional benefits. Not only because of it but it was their priority. That's something new as I can remember the times when vegans were vegan because of Animal Rights and the whole idea of veganism was associated strictly with animals.
My first reaction is:  Does it matter?   Really?   I mean....I think it is great that people become vegan.....what the reason is, to me, doesn't matter....the important thing is that they become vegan.  I find that once someone becomes vegan, for what ever reason, in time they begin to learn, they search out information. They become aware of all the realities of what they were, how they were responsible for the murder of God's creatures. Then in their own time, they come to realize the more important reason for being vegan. I believe it is a process. Everyone that gets there, does so in their own time and in their own way. At least they get there. I'm always grateful when I hear another person became vegan.

I think that anyone's reasoning in the direction of veganism is good, and the fact that they are thinking rationally about veganism is evidence that their TYPE of argumentation is persuasive (in the background) to many people today because human beings teend to make arguments that their peers will respect.  

Concern for one's own well-being is a type of 'prudential' thinking and expressing arguments for veganism as a good, wise, prudential choice is not 'unethical' (despite the claim that it is, since it doesn't appeal to one's duties (positive and negative) duties towards others.
 

'Prudentialism' is a long-standing and well-regarded tradition in ethics.  One claim sometimes made by prudentialists is that their success in doing the right things and avoiding wrongful behaviors makes less harm to others, and creates less liabilities to others, and to oneself (which turns their self-reliance into liabilities for others).

Current public values discussions in nations around the world touch upon these themes, but public sophistication may lag behind the need for deeper understanding of what prudentialism implies.

To be wise and to make a rational, responsible choice to be consistently vegan for prudential reasons is NOT an unethical choice; indeed, it is supremely ethical because it authentically takes responsibility for oneself (and doesn't turn it into a game or a joke or a commercial). 

STAYING VEGAN:

 

1) Research (on vegetarianism) shows that those with more than one reason for being vegetarian are FAR more likely to remain vegetarian through thick and thin. 

2) Anecdotally, when I first became vegetarian (then vegan within a year afterwards), I begin to notice ex-vegetarians at work and elsewhere and began to explore how 'backsliding' was happening (chalk that up to a divinity school background).  I felt at the time that community involvement - vegetarian community involvement - had a 'staying power' in keeping people vegetarian, so I set about to build first one local vegetarian society, then to 'grow' branches which could become independent, then to get behind the vegetarian society development movement (not a very popular movement because so many want to give all vegan energy to advocacy and argument building - which tempts me because I have a philosophy and debate background).  

But from what social base will engagement with the public emerge (if not from some social source identifiable to vegetarians). 

Thanks for your thoughts Jeannie! Just a quick reply.


My first reaction is: Does it matter? Really? I mean....I think it is great that people become vegan.....what the reason is, to me, doesn't matter....the important thing is that they become vegan.

Personally I think it does matter. As I mentioned in my first post, during discussion panels it turned out that these vegans don't exclude dairy products completely. For example they don't mind to eat a cake with eggs or cheese when they are out (or simply from time to time) as they know it will not have a significant impact on their health. They're not particularly interested in fact that dairy = cruelty so they don't mind to use dairy products occasionally. It's just a diet with no ideological background and when you're on a diet sometimes you eat things that you shouldn't eat.

Of course at the end of day they're free to make decisions! I don't want to condemn anyone. I'm just wondering if this happens everywhere and if yes where this may lead?

I find that once someone becomes vegan, for what ever reason, in time they begin to learn, they search out information. They become aware of all the realities of what they were, how they were responsible for the murder of God's creatures.

I don't want to generalize too much but as far as I noticed they actually don't. I mean they do look for health information but they don't look into other industries that exploit animals. Actually I even met a vegan who didn't know what vivisection means. Their choice refers to food only. And as we all know veganism is much more than not eating meat, eggs and dairy. That's a bit bothering.
Health vegans are in danger of stopping being vegan if they are persuaded that veganism is not as healthy as they thought.

And this is what I am afraid of. I witnessed two cases where one of folks started to eat meat just to see will he have more energy. The other one went for a trip where he was convinced that the raw milk is essential to get calcium, etc. At this stage he doesn't consume pasteurized milk but he does consume raw milk.

I  was talking about those that I have known (myself included) or that I have heard of seeking out education after becoming vegan.

 

I do understand your point of view, Kruk...However,

 

If the person doesn't do it for the "right reason" would you prefer they not become vegan?

 

This is what I mean when I say it doesn't matter. Of course it matters in the end, however, it doesn't matter in the short term because we hope that people want to seek out the education that comes with the decision to adopt a new lifestyle. Veganism is a lifestyle.  If they don't adopt it  now, we hope at some point in their life's journey we hope they will. Everyday there is more and more education out there on the subject. More places to get the great vegan foods and more acceptance in the mainstream. 

It is about keeping the dialog going, being a positive role model. At my job, I have been instrumental in 2 co-workers becoming vegan. It was a steady journey that lasted about 1year. I believe it was because they saw me living a vegan lifestyle and that I enjoyed sharing my food. I answered questions about why I am a vegan and the educational information I shared with them allowed them to slowly open their eyes to the reality of what eating meat does. They also stopped using many products because they learned about what is involved in the process of making those products. Just as they became vegan, they too will spread what they have learned to others and in time it will keep spreading.  Once they understand that the meat they ate was a tortured, defenseless animal that was murdered, they get it. They don't go back.  Those that do go back, haven't gotten it yet.  

If those that you've noticed don't stay vegan or don't seek out education or knowledge, then perhaps you can help provide it and help to enlighten them. 

We are all educators and we can all play a part in opening eyes and softening hearts of those that only see one side of eating meat.

Thanks for your thoughts lads! It's always good to see other points of view!
Barbara.... I get you!   Thanks for your post!   :-)

I've noticed in the USA (SF Bay Area geographically as well as online) that there are vegans that seem to equate veganism mostly with hipster subculture and cuisine. I've had that same feeling that theory, outreach/education, philosophy/morality, etc. is never discussed by these type of folks, at least not that I have ever seen. They seem concerned mainly with pop culture aesthetics and ironic humor.

I avoid them like I do welfare groups. I just feel like there is not much that we have in common other than diet. Another aspect that bothers me about these certain types of vegans is the privileged assumptions. It takes money, time, specific aesthetic choices, as well as an unwillingness to engage with ordinary people (outgroup), to be able to fit in with this particular subculture.

There are so many thoughtful folks that do take theory and outreach seriously, so I'd rather spend time exchanging ideas with them. My goal for the near future is developing my blog to include vegan recipes made by shopping at Walmart (mainly inspired by http://melomeals.blogspot.com/ - vegan meals for $3.33 a day). I have many many problems with that corporation, but it's also where the majority of everyday people shop, since there is one in virtually every US city.

Now THAT I could call 'unethical veganism' or non-ethical veganism.

 

Ages ago (about 35, to be precise), when I first became vegetarian, then vegan, I found myself called upon to defend the 'choice' - which I did by first defining motivations:

  • Economic Conditions (scarcity - we don't have much and we need to 'make do' with what we have, or abundance - we 'have vegan food' - meaning processed foods we want)
  • Economic Prudence (Earth cannot sustain 7 billion humans, and growing, on the MAD diets of the West)
  • Environmental
  • Ethical (towards both nonhumans - wrong to kill them for food; AND humans - the meat industry is not how humans ought to be making a living, for a very long list of reasons: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, etc.)
  • Personal Health
  • Public Health
  • Religious or Spiritual (both aspiring spirituality and as a result of social teachings)
  • Cultural Habit (both long-term multigenerational culture and short-term fads)

I worry about the short-term fads for a variety of reasons, one of which is its capacity to misrepresent vegan values (and thus veganism) to the public AND to those who practice short-term fad veganism (STFV).  Now, I'm happy for any reduction, short-term OR long-term, in the market 'demand' for inflicting suffering on others.  I do believe, however, that sanctions against harming others (beyond self-protection) ought to be very firm and not matters of 'malice or moment'.

Nonetheless, I think that the REASONS for going vegan (or even vegetarian) can be differentiated and discussed in rational and distinct manners among civil and informed persons.  Given that, the proportion of the 7 billion strong human population that qualifies with sufficient advantage and level-headedness for that discussion is relatively small; I think that we need to allow others to encourage shifts towards plant-based diets for all kinds of reasons; in some cases, this is NOT a total win, as with those who opt for irrational lifestyles bonded with vegan diets.  The vegan diet is a win; the irrational lifestyles are NOT a win for them, for others, for society, for animals, nor for the future.

There's another side to veganism I've also noticed, which I don't wish to associate with either, and that's "purity policing" - judging people's actions/motivation as not living up to an ideal. I hope my snobbery hasn't crossed that line! :)

If someone is vegan because they like to have a good workout and be fit, then so be it. I'd prefer some rescue/foster/adoption, outreach, and antispeciesist discourse to go along with it, but it's only that; my preference.

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