The slogan in the title of this blog post has been prominently
displayed on this site for about five months now. I read criticism of
it when it was initially posted, and yesterday, brand new criticism of
it was written on a “veg*n” forum, so I thought I would finally reply
to the criticism today by explaining my interpretation of the slogan.
An average of the criticism is approximately set forth in the following
paragraph, complete with the typical air of hostility I have
encountered.THE WORLD IS VEGAN! If you want it. What the hell is that supposed to mean? Do you mean that all I need to do is want
something, and magically, it will be the state of affairs in the world?
What kind of naïve idiot are you? Were you born yesterday? Not only is
the world not vegan; the world will never be vegan. The world is nasty; it always has been, and it always will be. Get used to it instead of sounding like some kind of delusional religious kook.”
criticism, by taking the slogan as literally as possible, obviously
misses the point. In fact, it misses the whole side of the barn. I
cannot speak for Professor Gary Francione and other abolitionists who
have the slogan prominently displayed, but for me, the slogan is meant
to capture a vision and to provoke thought and discussion of a kind
much different from any vision or paradigm the so-called animal
“rights” movement has put forth to date.
In fact, the vision and
paradigm the slogan sets forth is so different from the new welfarists’
 lack of vision that the criticism we hear of it should not surprise
us at all. The basic (yet drastic) difference is this: Abolitionists
see the path of vegan education and the congruent destination of
widespread veganism as the only practically plausible activity and
morally acceptable goal, respectively, of the animal advocacy movement.
New welfarists, by contrast, take animal product consumption and the
related exploitation it entails as a practically permanent “given” that
cannot be seriously challenged today or possibly even during our
lifetime. In this failure to recognize that animal product consumption
and exploitation can be seriously challenged today and during our
lifetime, they join with traditional welfarists in reinforcing the
paradigm of the status quo. It is from this lack of vision and lack of
paradigm shifting that all of the folly and details of the
industry-welfarist partnership flow.
The slogan is saying that
if all new welfarists (who currently outnumber abolitionists
several-to-one), instead of joining traditional welfarists, would go
vegan and join abolitionists in a serious vision of the end of socially sanctioned
animal exploitation, including the effective action of vegan education
born of such vision, we could eventually, over several years or
decades, make progress in mainstream society toward such a vision. But
without such a vision in the first place, we are certain to remain
stuck in the welfarist status quo indefinitely, until such time when
the vision of a “vegan world” (i.e. a world where animal exploitation
is not socially sanctioned
) is actually taken seriously.
We can work together toward a vegan world via vegan education, but only if you want to
. As Gandhi said, “Be the change you want to see in the world.” Make your
world vegan by being a vegan and encouraging others to go vegan.
don’t we use a more practical and literal slogan like “The world will
be vegan if we work together to achieve it.”? Because that slogan,
while true enough, does not provoke thought and discussion, nor does it
stick in the mind and beg for non-literal
interpretation of vision.
WORLD IS VEGAN! If you want it.” This slogan, on the other hand, while
offering itself up to be slaughtered and ridiculed for its lack of current and literal
truth, provokes thought and discussion, sticks in the mind, and begs for non-literal
interpretation of vision.
I’ve provided my non-literal interpretation of the slogan's meaning and vision. What is your non-literal
New welfarists are distinguished from traditional welfarists in that
new welfarists would like to end socially sanctioned animal
exploitation some day, but see welfare reforms and single-issue
campaigns as part of the path to eventually end socially sanctioned
animal exploitation. Traditional welfarists, on the other hand, have no
interest in ending socially sanctioned animal exploitation, but merely
want to reduce the cruelty inherent in it. Abolitionists, in contrast
to welfarists (new or traditional), reject all welfare reforms,
believing them to be an inherent and essential part of the institution
of animal exploitation itself; reject single-issue campaigns as merely
fund raising devices for large corporate welfarist organizations that
reinforce speciesism; and engage in only vegan education (including
criticism of welfarism generally) as a means to end socially sanctioned