It seems vegan/animal rights activists have attracted plenty of attention lately what with highly visible public protests, farm intrusions, an active social media presence and various spokespeople appearing on television discussions the world over. While this has also brought plenty of criticism, you must admit that veganism has become much better known to the average person.
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However, is the activism working? Well, it depends a bit on who you talk to. Apparently, veganism is on the rise and no one can deny that being vegan in 2019 is much easier than it was not all that long ago. Yet, it remains the case that most of us aren’t interested, don’t care, or even are pretty ticked off about the protest actions and growing presence of vegan ideas.
But hold on. Activism, protest and even illegal actions have long been essential tools in the armoury of civil protest. In fact, it can hardly be protest without causing disruption to the status quo as those who campaigned in the past for women’s rights, fair treatment for workers and the rights of slaves to be free would attest. Even Emmeline Pankhurst and the suffragettes undertook a violent campaign of bombing and arson.
Does this mean that today’s animal advocates are right to engage in civil unrest and illegal acts in their efforts to draw attention to the plight of animals in the modern industrial system? To be honest, I am not sure. Raising awareness is good, I think, so that at least I agree with. But while awareness might lead someone to be open to learning more about veganism and animal rights, is the more extreme activism helping to do this? Maybe. But probably not, it seems to me.
I endorse and respect those who are out there drawing attention to what we are doing to other animals. Also, I am loving seeing more active debate and the growing range of vegan options.
Do I think invading workplaces or ‘liberating’ farmed animals one by one is a good strategy? No I don’t. I think it closes minds to the essential message of veganism.
Really, in the end, veganism and vegan ethics are about being kind. There is no doubt that so much of what we do to other animals is unkind. But from that understanding, it is up to each of us to decide if we care enough to want to do things differently. Vegan activism should introduce this concern to consumers and show people that it is possible to enjoy a healthy and tasty diet without meat and dairy and that we can make buying decisions that don’t support unnecessary cruelty to other animals. I think we owe it to our fellow animals to do that.
Going beyond that to civil disruption and possibly violence just might compromise this message.