Animal Rights Zone

Fighting for animal liberation and an end to speciesism

This blog entry is about vegan pioneers and I was originally going to call it “We are all Donald Watson.” Of course that is not true – Watson and his little band of early vegans“not easily scared by criticism, and filled with the spirit of pion... became vegan when most people thought they would be dead within weeks.

1944 sounds so long ago, right? 
However, I think we can still say that these are early days as far as veganism is concerned and, therefore, we are also vegan pioneers. I have meet several people who have effectively said that they would be vegan if it was easier to be a vegan than consumers of dairy and flesh. A lot of people have difficulty seeing food choices as something to do with ethics and, for many, the whole issue is one of convenience.
Essentially these people are reliant on others leading the way – and this is where being a vegan pioneer comes into play. A vegan pioneer actively “puts themselves out” for the cause, even if it is only a willingness to “read the labels.”[1] 
But, of course, we do more than that – for example, being content and accepting that there are huge sections of supermarkets and stores where we need not bother going to, using health and whole food stores, making that extra journey to the specialist Asian or Polish stores, walking further to find the vegan restaurant (or the vegan-friendly ones if one is unlucky enough to live where there are no fully-vegan cafes and restaurants), and so on.
Of course, this feeds into the discussion going on in the animal advocacy movement about how easy or how hard it is to live vegan. Personally, I am torn on the issue because veganism, to quote someone on ARZone recently, is “a cinch” compared to 1979 when I first decided to live in accordance with the philosophy of veganism. However, the sociologist in me also knows that the cinchness of being vegan depends on many factors, like geographical location, social class and circumstances, relationships with significant others, access to amenities, etc.
So…. I want to propose a toast to all the vegan pioneers “out there.” May you continue to live vegan in what can be a very vegan-unfriendly world, and continue to pave the way for others who will therefore find it easier and easier to be vegan.
[1] I attended an anti-GMO event in Dublin recently, along with other members of Vegan Ireland.  During a session led by Dr. Brian John, it was noted that getting consumers to read labels was a major problem. People seem to believe that reading labels is some sort of terrible imposition on their busy day! Reminds me of a radio interview I heard when a Dubliner was complaining in all seriousness that the economic recession had meant that he now had to read the price tag on clothes before buying them.

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