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Fighting for animal liberation and an end to speciesism

what did you think of vegans at the time!

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I was a vegetarian long before I was vegan; possibly I was the slowest of the slow blooming vegans. When I first learned what a vegan was, it did seem strange, impossible really. Then as I evolved a bit and became used to the idea that these people existed, I just thought I wasn't "good enough" to be a vegan, that I didn't have the discipline to manage it. It was more of a fashion thing. I'm ashamed to say I was addicted to expensive leather goods. I test-drove the idea so long that when I finally decided to join the vegans, I was so close to being one that it was very easy for me but not so much for family, and that is still an issue.

It was absolutely one of those cases. I also find that long-time vegetarians are often among the most difficult to reach and prod toward vegansim. I first became vegetarian in 1971, when I was 12, after reading Diet for a Small Planet, and I never met another vegetarian until I was an adult. The vegetarian thing was very ingrained by the time I learned about veganism.

relations of mine fit into the die hard long term vegetarian category ,an i agree they are a very strange breed ! my parents reaction to our discussions about vegan values was to agree with me completly but pityingly , before pointing out that im never going to change human nature so am only setting myself up for a lifetime of frustration and anger . as though you can choose to put your metaphorical rose-tinted glasses back on and continue happily seeing the world as a beautiful place for the sake of your own comfort ,knowing all the while what youve chosen to turn your back on , and the suffering which is the consequense of that choice .

this leap of logic is impossible to understand - im not going to change the whole world overnight ,so i may as well be part of the problem an pay for the breast milk of a mother whose child was stolen from her so i could drink it ? vegetarians are a curious phenomenon indeed

Hi Roger ,thanx for your reply !!

No i certainly dont advocate a soft approach to dealing with the diehard ,dairy addicted vegetarian brigade - i find these among the hardest people to deal with when doing vegan outreach , their hypocrisy disgusts me so completly .i find it frustrating that so many campaigners suggest we should advocate for or at least encourage vegetarianism ,sinse in their view we will save at least some animals in this way.i see vegetarianism as an obstacle to the acceptanse and understanding of the animal rights message , rather than a stepping stone towards it . ther is absolutly no ethical diference between vegetarianism and meat eating . both positions finance animal use , and neither is a rebellion against the fundamental problem which allows animals to be exploited in the first place - the status of nonhumans as property within mainstream,speciesist society . why therfore should vegetarians get special treatment from us ? they choose to remain in ignoranse , giving their money to support unspeakable atrocitys , in a world where money talks much louder than words or good intentions . they are part of the problem , on the side of those who use animals as objects for their personal gain .

vegetarianism is adopted for many reasons other than ethics ,so ther is no reason to suggest that progress towards veganism is inevitable .on the contrary , many long term vegetarians are extremely self satisfied with their faulty moral position , and feel above being "lectured" ( as they see it ) by vegans sinse they are " doing their bit " alredy . in this case , openess to the vegan message has actualy been hindered .

in answer to your question , Roger - vegetarians get nothing . vegetarianism is an ilogical and morally absurd position , and advocating for it ( or failing to critisize it as it deserves ) is a welfarist compromise which does nothing but legitimise animal use and slow the progress towards non human liberation . alienating vegetarians by pointing out the inconsistansy of their position is a risk worth taking - its either that or confuse the whole animal rights message  and betray the animals whose rights vegetarianism violates - and who we fight for . 

I was vegetarian for 33 years, then became vegan, and have been vegan for just over a year. I never heard of vegetarianism until I was an adult, and then never met any until my mid-twenties, when I met a few. When I got together with my husband, who was vegetarian, I became vegetarian for ethical reasons, after discussing it with him. I had never thought of it before, and it had never occurred to me to go vegetarian. Then, after becoming a vegetarian, I thought we were living a compassionate lifestyle.

For many, many years I met only a few vegetarians, and never even heard the word "vegan", let alone knowing what it meant. I finally met one vegan in the early '90s. I didn't question her about it - also she didn't want to discuss it, and so I didn't learn the evils of dairy and free range eggs. It honestly never occurred to me to wonder what happened to the male chicks from egg laying farms. I think I just assumed that they would become "broiler" chickens (I didn't know that term back then, though). Of course I now know that they are two completely different breeds. I thought the free range chickens were happy in the green fields and lived long, (egg) productive lives. I knew nothing of the veal industry, and the continual, grueling, forced motherhood that the cows endure until their health breaks and they collapse, and the horrendously cruel, short lives of the veal calves. Through Facebook links, mainstream films and Youtube videos, I finally learned of all these things, and became vegan just over a year ago.

I came across several vegans on Care2 about four years ago, and I found them scary. I'm sure they were well intentioned, and were doing their best as they saw it, to convert people, but they were inclined to want to enter into long, ranting arguments with people in discussion threads (both sides ranted). I just watched and said nothing. They had a very superior, stern and rigid attitude, and I did not see them convert anyone to their point of view. Well, they didn't convince me anyway, as my attention was taken up with how nasty and hyperbolic both sides were being to each other. When I saw the actual graphic videos, graphic photos, and true stories on Facebook, plus a few films, that's when I went vegan.

As for the comments "they are a very strange breed", and "vegetarians are a curious phenomenon indeed" - people can only do what they know, and if they aren't aware of these things I mentioned above, then it would seem fine to abstain from eating flesh and think that was enough. The animal abusing industries do their BEST to keep people unaware of these things, and you have to dig and search out the knowledge to find out. However, it seems that Tina's relatives knew these things full well, because she had told them. I can only say that sometimes it takes more than one telling for the facts to "sink in", as it were.

I was a vegetarian for a year before I became a vegan.  That was 27 years ago.  I was just becoming acquainted with animal issues and wondered if being a vegan would be too restricting, that it would cause problems with my family (who already thought I was odd), have a negative effect on my social life, etc.  In the meantime I was becoming more and more involved in the AR movement and finally decided none of these things mattered and became a vegan.  I sat at family gatherings like famine at a feast until I just decided not to go if there was a dead animal on the table.  My family was very small and after the 2nd year they just said OK, then YOU cook for all the holiday gatherings.  And I did. 

My mother, who I miss almost every day, always tried to understand what I was "up to."  After being exposed to literature that I left behind, and several long conversations, she finally became a vegetarian, and an AR activist at age 72, and died at 84.  One of my favorite stories was when she was sitting together with some other women in their 80's and one was complaining about how she was afraid to wear her fur coat because of how people would treat her on the street.  Her comment about the dead mink that comprised her coat was:  "After all, what good are they (the mink) anyway????".  My mother looked at her for a heartbeat and replied: "Well, what good are YOU, anyway????".

Roger Yates said:

Yes, I see two issues here. I think you are right about knowledge - people know what they know, and there are industries out there trying to make sure they do not know the full truth about what they consume. In that sense, vegans should be careful not to offend vegetarians while they critique vegetarianism.

That does not solve the "problem" of long-term "happy vegetarians" - or trying to talk to family members. On the latter, I'd suggest that speaking to family members about veganism (or vegetarianism even) can be tricky. The last persons we may succeed in educating may be family members because such discourse is not simply among individuals in ordinary social interaction but among people who may bring a degree of "family business" to the discussion. In those circumstances, the parties are not merely receiving information from each other - there is rather more going on due to their familial relationships.



Kath Worsfold said:

I was vegetarian for 33 years, then became vegan, and have been vegan for just over a year. I never heard of vegetarianism until I was an adult, and then never met any until my mid-twenties, when I met a few. When I got together with my husband, who was vegetarian, I became vegetarian for ethical reasons, after discussing it with him. I had never thought of it before, and it had never occurred to me to go vegetarian. Then, after becoming a vegetarian, I thought we were living a compassionate lifestyle.

For many, many years I met only a few vegetarians, and never even heard the word "vegan", let alone knowing what it meant. I finally met one vegan in the early '90s. I didn't question her about it - also she didn't want to discuss it, and so I didn't learn the evils of dairy and free range eggs. It honestly never occurred to me to wonder what happened to the male chicks from egg laying farms. I think I just assumed that they would become "broiler" chickens (I didn't know that term back then, though). Of course I now know that they are two completely different breeds. I thought the free range chickens were happy in the green fields and lived long, (egg) productive lives. I knew nothing of the veal industry, and the continual, grueling, forced motherhood that the cows endure until their health breaks and they collapse, and the horrendously cruel, short lives of the veal calves. Through Facebook links, mainstream films and Youtube videos, I finally learned of all these things, and became vegan just over a year ago.

I came across several vegans on Care2 about four years ago, and I found them scary. I'm sure they were well intentioned, and were doing their best as they saw it, to convert people, but they were inclined to want to enter into long, ranting arguments with people in discussion threads (both sides ranted). I just watched and said nothing. They had a very superior, stern and rigid attitude, and I did not see them convert anyone to their point of view. Well, they didn't convince me anyway, as my attention was taken up with how nasty and hyperbolic both sides were being to each other. When I saw the actual graphic videos, graphic photos, and true stories on Facebook, plus a few films, that's when I went vegan.

As for the comments "they are a very strange breed", and "vegetarians are a curious phenomenon indeed". People can only do what they know, and if they aren't aware of these things I mentioned above, then it would seem fine to abstain from eating flesh and thinking that was enough. The animal abusing industries do their BEST to keep people unaware of these things, and you have dig and search out the knowledge to find out. However, it seems that Tina's relatives knew these things full well, because she had told them. I can only say that sometimes it takes more than one telling for the facts to "sink in", as it were.

I was a vegetarian for 17 years before I went vegan a month ago, for compassionate reasons. In the years that I was vegetarian, I simply thought that veganism was too hard to manage. In practice I don't find it hard at all, as long as I eat at home. I don't think it helps to judge people, not meat eaters and certainly not vegetarians, who are trying very hard to do something instead of nothing. I worked as an agricultural journalist years ago, and it made me give up meat, but not dairy, so I have personal experience of how one can be aware of what the dairy industry is, and yet keep consuming dairy. By the time I went vegan, my dairy consumption had dwindled to almost nothing, for health reasons. My husband remained a meat eater all these years, but has now also given up red meat and dairy. I am very grateful for these changes, and I certainly don't judge him for still eating chicken and smoked salmon. He's on his own journey, just like I was, and when he's ready, he'll take the next step. Or not. Isn't it always better to do something than nothing? I find that my friends think of veganism as so "out there", that they are constantly asking me why. When I explain about the dairy industry, they're always shocked and sometimes incredulous. It's amazing really, how well agri-business hides the truth from people. I am dismayed at Iowa's new ag-gag bill, and hope that it is not a sign of more to come.  

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