So, you join vegan groups. Hurrah. A place where you won’t be judged! Not so: inevitably if you express yourself, someone will find a reason why you’re not really a vegan and will tell you that you shouldn’t even use the word vegan anymore because it muddies the almighty Definition and misrepresents true© vegans.
You try to discuss and find a gang of robots all repeating the same lines. These robots will tell you that Veganism can only be black and white and that it’s a good thing. Interestingly, the interpretation of the almighty Definition isn’t always the same depending on which gang you’re talking to. Something they will ardently deny as The Definition Is Set In Stone And It Is Not A Matter Of Interpretation. OK, sure.
Unless you enjoy talking to brick walls and getting abused, judged, assessed or belittled, you will just give up and leave, or you’ll just stay quiet and no longer engage in anything slightly controversial. You’re just there for the recipes and maybe the petitions.
Say you leave the group… Good luck finding a welcoming one. I recommend Friendly and Pragmatic Vegans and Vegetarians or Let’s Go Vegan-ish.
Some decide to question veganism (See my article “Vegan No More”)– without necessarily modifying their approach. You might even ditch it. You would be excused to think that you’re out of reach of the Vegan Gestapo. Nope. They’ll find you and they’ll tell you that you’re not worthy, that veganism’s the Only Way, that you’re just not as advanced, not as dedicated, that Only Vegans Care For Animals. Plant based? You’re a hypocrite or a selfish person. Vegetarian? You’re all sorts of things that I won’t even repeat here. Some say you’re “worse than a meat eater”… Are you rolling your eyes yet? I am.
I decided to call myself an animalist. It’s simple. I think it’s healthier. Oh my… I am “divisive, counter-productive and driven by ego and personal ambition” to DARE SUGGEST AN ALTERNATIVE TO VEGANISM! Boo hoo.
For what it’s worth — no personal ambition here: I don’t even have my name on the blog and I am not claiming credit for anything. I didn’t come up with the term “animalist”, it’s commonly used in other languages such as French and other authors have used it before me. I don’t care who claims to be an animalist and who doesn’t and it’s perfectly reasonable to be both a vegan and an animalist. It is everything but exclusive.
As such, it isn’t divisive: quite the contrary as it is a more encompassing and welcoming approach that unites people who care for animals. I get along super well with friendly vegans and I take part in vegan groups. I might be critical of Veganism as such but I encourage and applaud all animal friendly lifestyles. I am rapt that veganism is becoming more mainstream and I hope it continues to grow.
Animalism is productive, as many people are turned off by vegans because of the rigidity and the lack of room for personal choice and grey areas in veganism, and are very happy to find a friendly and pragmatic approach to animal rights. Animalism is to animal advocacy what humanism is to human rights. Everybody’s welcome, you won’t be screened by the Vegan Police and your lifestyle is not going to be micro-managed by militants.