"IT'S NOT FOOD, IT'S VIOLENCE!"
"IT'S NOT FOOD, IT'S VIOLENCE!"
Being vegan, I’m sure you have heard those words being yelled at some point in time. And the fact of the matter is that no truer words have been spoken. But, there’s a time and place for everything.
I’m a big believer in persuasive activism, regardless of how graphic the messages being displayed are, and when new vegans ask what they should be doing to enhance the cause, I’ll always, without fail, encourage them to engage in activism.
But, as I said above, there’s a time and place for everything.
So, when I was calmly lying on my couch reading an excellent book, in a state of utmost tranquillity, and my friend -- whom I’ve been trying to slowly expose to veganism -- calls me and smugly reveals that a bunch of 30 odd vegans barraged into a Melbourne steakhouse and obnoxiously protested with signs and loudspeakers, while otherwise normal (and uninformed) people were trying to enjoy each other’s company. I was infuriated. In fact, for the first time since going vegan, I was embarrassed.
As I said before, I’m all for protesting. Be it standing on the street with LCD screens and showing people what really goes down in slaughterhouses. Or going to educational institutions and enlightening the next generation of thinkers. Anything that works, and anything that persuades. Hell, bring on physically rescuing animals from their imprisonment. I’m all for that too!
However, storming into someone’s private property, yelling at, accusing, and intimidating everyday people who have paid a chunk of their hard-earned money to catch up with friends, and are not in the headspace for this kind of... bullying, does nothing but dissuade, distance, and anger.
Imagine being there yourself -- prior to your vegan epiphany. Pre your Earthlings moment, or before Cowspiracy was even a thing. How would you have perceived vegans? It could be your ten-year anniversary or a birthday party, or you could have just proposed to your loved one, and then, out of the blue, a group of loud, obnoxious people storm into the venue and start yelling at you.
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At the steakhouse, the venue manager apparently tried to reason with them, but they were not listening and kept yelling. How on earth do you think that reflects on us? The very least they could have done was engage in rational dialogue and blow people’s minds with common sense. That could have worked. But they chose to act like loud buffoons. I’m willing to guarantee that none of the customers went home thinking positively about veganism.
“But the overall exposure was great. It was all over the media”
No, the media did not share your words, your message, and your true intentions. What kind of bubble do you live in? You should know better by now. The media portrayed you all as unpleasant, loud and disruptive hooligans. Not one person will watch that news segment or radio piece thinking they want to be vegan or research animal factory farming. Not one person will think "I'd love to join this community". Being the most vegan person any of my friends know, I have received at least 10 phone calls or messages deriding veganism because of this incident. And then I have to unnecessarily defend veganism and explain that not all vegans are like this.
And just as veganism is picking up steam. I mean, over the last decade the world has gone from googling "why are all vegans angry" to "how do I become vegan." Ironically, I was going to write a blog about how veganism is favorably seeping into our everyday lives and is set to shatter records this year. Just as I was never more proud to be vegan -- and following impressive media appearances by eloquent individuals (such as Earthling Ed or James Aspey), and celebrities such as Will I Am or Nathalie Emanuel adopting the vegan life -- this happens. These people stupidly chose to alienate people from the vegan cause and set us back. They are literally destroying veganism.
And here’s the thing, they most certainly come from a good place. I can assure you that they are well-intentioned and caring. The difference between effective activists and them is that they are emotionally unstable and do not know how to behave. Or, they could just be plain stupid. I wouldn’t rule that out. It doesn’t take an Elon Musk to understand that intimidation and being obnoxious is not persuasive. Obstructing people’s serenity will dissuade them from going vegan faster than Usain Bolt on speed.
I’m writing this because I want vegans to come together, in solidarity and condemn those acts. I want us to lead by example. By using logic, reason and persuasive language to sway people our way. I want people to relate to us. I want us to send an inclusive message. Not one of anger. This is not about you and your egos. This is about the animals. Don't compromise their lives because you need an outlet.
I'll say it again, there's a time and place for everything.