My short answer is yes.
There’s been a lot of back and forth on the vegan (or is it Vegan) position in many venues. In a recent article on elephant journal called “Vegans are Better Than Everybody” the author, as well as several commenters based positions on a number of erroneous assumptions and claims.
The author defends to some extent the preachyness of some vegans with:
“They want everyone to feel what they feel. They want all to be free!”
This is exactly the point. It is my choice to feel that or not. Evangelicals want everyone to feel what they feel too.
There is no guarantee that I would indeed feel exactly the same thing in exactly the same way. We each have our own individual ways of dealing with emotions and life situations.
A comment followed:
“There’s only a problem with vegans being judgmental if they’re right. If a vegan makes you feel insecure, that’s about your own insecurities, not an evil vegan conspiracy. ”
One can be secure and annoyed at the same time. If one half of a conversation consists of berating the other person it’s fairly unpleasant to be that other person. I simply avoid most vegans just as I avoid many PETA supporters. Doesn’t mean I hate or demean animals. Usually the animals have less to do with the situation than the self-glorification of the preacher. Am just not into feeding that kind of exploitation, Yes I do mean animals being exploited existentially by animal rights activists in an individual or collective ego trip. That’s when it gets annoying.
Here is an example of that annoying tone which I was referring to:
I agree that we tend to get a bad rap about being ‘self-righteous’, though I think the root of that lies within the the critics, who know why we live like we do, and really just don’t have enough compassion to decide upon that lifestyle.
Judgmental and condescending. Did I mention annoying?
The author herself states:
A lot of times, vegans or vegetarians are interpreted as being “Self Righteous” or “holier than thou”. This is very untrue in most cases. If a person is a vegan for ethical reasons, then being vegan is actually a very SELF LESS action! It isn’t about you at all. Deciding to change your life to a vegan lifestyle is a big decision. Once one makes the choice to save the lives of animals, everything is turned upside down!
Being vegan means that you are looking for the truth. Trying to make the connections that relate to life, compassion, all beings, etc. Sometimes, uncovering the truth of the matter can be difficult and unsettling. It can also be very freeing once you realize you have the power to change the world!
So it does often come down to sensations of personal power and living with the contradictions of “It isn’t about you at all.” and “you have the power to change the world!” Is that a contradiction or hypocrisy?
In the last post I mentioned the prosthelytizer who wishes to convert others in order to bolster the validation of their own belief system. That is exactly what is occurring in the above two comments.
The author then carries on to describe The Martyrdom of the Vegans:
Giving up eating meat can be difficult for some and giving up cheese can be even more difficult for others! I mean, seriously, who wants to pass on a hot, cheesy slice of pizza? It’s hard.
A vegan lifestyle can be tough sometimes too…You have to read labels on EVERYTHING in order to make a conscious decision on what to buy and to ensure that there has been no cruelty involved in what you use or eat!
Well that must be a real torment.
This sort of lifestyle identity politics can be seen in all kinds of groups such as environmental, cultural, social and other instances. It’s not about the causes, it’s about the appearance of doing GOOD. And therefore being a GOOD person.
And GOOD people are usually right and much more pure than the rest of us ignorant, unwashed or is that unbaptized, un-sacrosanct, un-holy members of the masses. These notions of purity have huge input from a dominant cultures religious values.
Food is a holy thing in many cultures. It is prayed over, mixed according to religious dictates (halal, kosher), denied for various reasons (fasting), used as offerings (Hinduism) and symbols (communion) of the divine and so forth. The consecration of food is a millennia old practice all over the world.
Food is also a dirty thing. Mainly because it is so intimately tied to shit. Food becomes shit. We all know that but don’t like to think about it.
Every culture has some kind of taboo regarding food. Some don’t take pork, shellfish or beef. Other’s don’t take certain foods during certain seasons. The reasons for these taboos are diverse. In many cases they are ideological justifications for actual health hazards bourne by certain food types. Example-improperly cooked pork can harbor trichinosis. In other cases it has to do with the vibrations, powers, attributes of the food. Example-snake blood is thought to increase male generative powers. The latter cases relate to beliefs about food rather than the verifiable effects of food itself.
Meat is dirty thing, not only because of the means to obtain it, even hunting is messy, but also because of the potential for disease that is bourne by meat. (example- e-coli) And increasingly, with factory meat production, the conditions in which animals are kept could at the very least be deemed dirty.
The factory farming of meat, and animal rights prosthelytizing, whether by vegans or PETA, all within the same culture, have similar roots.
These roots relate to the concept of dominion over the natural world, including animals.
Dominion comes from the same root word as dominance. Dominance over nature is explicitly outlined in the Christian bible. I am referring to Genesis chapter 1:26 Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.”
The meat industry is openly exercising it’s sense of cultural “entitlement” in the activity of meat production.
Prosthelytizing vegans as well as other animal rights advocates, including organizations like PETA are similarly exercising this sense of “entitlement” although it is on a rather covert level. Those who presume to “speak for” animals also presume to have a sense of ownership and dominion over those animals.
On that point I don’t disagree. Animals cannot raise funds for television commercials or design web pages to outline their plight. And concern for the natural world is necessarily a concern for the survival of the human species as well. And vice versa. Interdependence and all that.
The point of disagreement comes when this notion of dominion, entitlement and ownership spills over to other’s spaces of consciousness in an aggressive and judgmental way.
It is one thing to inform people about situations of which they may not have knowledge. Health benefits, cruel methods of animal production, the ecological inadvisability of factory farming and so forth are all well documented. To advise people of this is educational.
On the other hand to berate people as lacking in compassion, avoiding the truth, lacking in accountability, ignorant of the issues, being in denial, selfish, not serious, unBuddhist, hypocrites, full of shit, cowardly for not engaging the particular issue in a particular way, propagating evil karma, unethical while simultaneously puffing up one’s ego by attempting to demonstrate one’s food choices are somehow the opposite of all this emotional moralizing does a disservice.
Animals and the planet are in peril because of human activity. That is scientific fact.
Using animal and planetary issues to attempt to gain moral dominion over other human beings to satisfy some egoic projection of self is more exploitative and immoral than those who shoot the nails into the cow’s heads. At least the workers on the slaughter line are aware of what they are doing and why they are doing what they are doing. It comes down to the paycheck and supporting their families.
Conflating environmental issues with moral issues is a categorical error. It is not a mindful approach but a mindless spewing of self-congratulations at the expense of others including the animals that it purports to care so much about.