"Yay! I'm so glad this is a vegan party! Do you have any strategies for increasing the effectiveness of vegan activism, and speeding up the transition to a vegan world?
Of course! We do have some strategic adjustments to suggest.
Be prepared: Some of the items here might be a little... humbling... if you're someone who's been making these blunders. Reading this could trigger some emotions, and make you feel angry or offended. But think of the animals. You can help them MORE if you purge these mistakes from your repertoire. It might sting your ego at first, but stay and process, and come out the other side stronger. Do it for the animals.
Strategic Adjustment #1:
Address Carnism's Root Causes
Many activists fight for change, without questioning how things got to be so messed up in the first place. They're ignoring the root causes, and only fighting on the surface of things.
The most important thing you can do to stop carnism, is to examine its root causes.
And the root cause of carnism is emotional pain.
Meat eating behaves much like an addiction, and so do most other forms of animal exploitation. And addictions arise from pain and emptiness.
Dairy is literally an opiate. Meat, while not an opiate, nevertheless dulls the spirit. And if someone is spiritually empty, meat can dull their pain by suppressing their spirit, and this is what a lot of people eat it for.
In some cases, a person may be ready to stop eating meat as soon as they understand the logic of why they ought to.
But in other cases, there are deeper problems going on, and you need to address those issues if you want the person to be able to go vegan (and stay that way).
Some people go vegan, and then relapse back into meat-eating. In a great many of these cases, the person encountered a brand new world of spiritual aliveness that they weren't ready for, and it included a sharpened awareness of their own internal pain, which they were unprepared to process.
A vegan activist (such as yourself) who wants to be as effective as possible, should keep this in mind, and be willing to help the person process their deeper emotional issues.
"I want to learn more about the emotional pain that drives people to eat meat. I want to help people heal themselves. Any advice on how to do that?"
The first thing you can do is understand the main source of human emotional pain: the breakdown in the relationship between the sexes.
We have a "war between the sexes", and it's been raging for quite some time. It's a prime reason why so many of us are unable to find satisfaction in our personal lives. It's one of the main sources of the emptiness and alienation from which so many of us seek to escape by numbing ourselves with meat.
And Peace Between the Sexes is one of the main planks in the Earth Party's platform. By healing this relationship, on a collective, mass-consciousness scale, we can neutralize the greatest source of pain in the collective psyche (and thereby remove the emotional impetus for carnism).
"Wait, you want vegans to act as therapists? Not everyone knows how to do that."
That's fine. If you don't know how to heal people's pain, you can still increase the effectiveness of your activism by stopping giving them more pain.
That's right: Sometimes, in addition to not addressing the root factors, activists actually contribute to those factors. They fight carnism with anger and spite. Some vegan activists seem to think that giving carnists more pain will somehow make them more likely to go vegan. Some think that social isolation, rejection, and ostracism will make people want to change their habits. But actually, all it does is give them more reasons to dull their pain - which unfortunately tends to involve eating animal products. It's like trying to put out out a fire with more fire.
"Hey, I'm tired of people suggesting that vegans need to be "nicer." Even if we're causing "pain" by being confrontational, what is that pain compared to the pain that these carnists are putting the ANIMALS through? It's a false equivalence, devoid of proper perspective. Furthermore, being nice is not what ended slavery, or any other kind of oppression. These things ended because people got into the streets, and shouted, and disrupted, and CONFRONTED."
Injustice MUST be confronted, and we didn't suggest to stop confronting it. That wasn't the suggestion.
Our suggestion is to consider the fact that there are different types of anger - each with a different effect on the outcome of activism.
There is righteous anger, in which you're angry on behalf of someone else (e.g. animals), and people can clearly see the connection between your anger and the injustice it's in response to. It doesn't make you look bad - it makes the abuser look bad, because it's coming from a place of selfless concern for the victim.
But there is another form of anger that's selfish, because it's coming from the ego, rather than the heart. This type is ineffective and counterproductive, and a good activist will learn to tell the difference between the types.
Most of the time, it comes from our care for the animals. But sometimes, it may be coming from a deeper issue within us.
And we owe it to the animals to engage in self-reflection, to find out how our egos might be getting in the way of us helping them.
Strategic Adjustment #2:
A truly effective activist will examine themselves for the possibility that they're using veganism as a cover to vent their own anger, through moral superiority.
Some of our motivation for going vegan might be to have a reason to feel superior to others.
It's not every activist, and it's probably not any activist 100% of the time. But it's a psychological undercurrent in the collective consciousness of the vegan community, that can show up in any of us, under certain conditions.
Fact: Moral superiority is a perk.
Fact: It can feel good.
Fact: We like to do what feels good.
"Oh come on. Who CARES what motivates us to be activists, as long as we're DOING activism?"
Motivation matters a lot! Ego-driven activism has an extremely low success rate, because it's not altruistic - it's service to self, rather than service to others. And originating from the ego, it lacks the spiritual power to actually change people, to win hearts and minds.
Such power comes from the heart, from empathy, from care for others and service to others. Caring about the animals is what gives us moral authority, and the compelling presence to stimulate others' evolution and create justice. Caring about the animals is the only thing that should motivate our activism. It's the purest motivation. And to whatever extent we are motivated by egoistic desires (like the feeling of superiority), our motivation is impure. Whether it's 99% or 1%, it's an impurity, and it saps our effectiveness as activists.
And the way it most often shows up is as tribalism (also known as identitarianism).
Strategic Adjustment #3:
Transcendence of Tribalism
Vegans have a reputation for being highly identitarian, forming groups with stark in-group out-group contrast.
The overarching theme is Love. Sure, that might sound cliche, but being vegan is a spiritual evolution. It's an expansion of a person's circle of empathy, to "see oneself in another", and to apply the Golden Rule to a wider array of Life than before.
It's not just about stopping certain activities. That's the outward result, but it proceeds from an inner transformation, to a more awake, aware, empathic, and compassionate state of Being.
Some people are already compassionate, and all you have to do is show them what happens in the meat industry, and they'll choose, on their own, to stop supporting it. Good for them!
But the majority of the "masses" out there are numb inside. Their spirits are in hibernation. Their empathy is dormant. And if you want them to evolve, they must be awakened first. They need to open their hearts, and increase the vibrational frequency of their thoughts.
And you do that by, in the words of Gandhi, "being the change you wish to see in the world."
If you want another person to become more compassionate, then be it yourself. Stimulate the energy of compassion within them, by creating it within yourself, towards them.
Through the principle of Resonance, if your thoughts are vibrating at the frequency of love, then you will cause other people around you to vibrate at the same frequency. And when that frequency is informing their thinking, only then can they begin to truly "get it" - to start learning the lessons that love has to teach.
"How can we evoke compassion for non-vegans? And more importantly, WHY? Why should non-vegans DESERVE compassion? They're not the victims here, you know!"
Because they're in pain. That's the reason why they're doing what they're doing. One of the primary causes of carnism is emotional pain.
And the third way you can address the emotional issues is by not rejecting people who fail to go 100% vegan 100% immediately. Many people believe in veganism, but struggle to practice it, because of the aforementioned pain.
If a person:
1. Acknowledges that animals are sentient, and that they matter...
2. Recognizes their own ethical responsibility to avoid doing harm...
and 3. Wants to reduce that harm...
...then they are not the enemy. They're an ally. Even if they haven't gotten to 100% yet, they're still on the good team,a dn they can continue to make progress with encouragement.
And this brings us to:
Philosophical Adjustment #1:
Binary veganism is the idea that it's black and white: You either are or you aren't. 100% or 0%. A binary distinction.
Non-binary veganism means that veganism is a spectrum, and people can fall in various places along the spectrum.
Veganism is not a quantity, but an asymptote. It can be continually approached, and you can get closer and closer to it, but it's not fully reachable (because everyone still causes some harm to animals, even if you're not eating or wearing them).
"Wait, are you saying that people can still eat animals and call themselves vegan?"
The term "vegan" should apply to anyone who is consciously committed to minimizing the amount of harm they do, and puts in a good-faith effort to learn about the harm they've been doing and continually seeks new ways of decreasing that amount of harm.
"Um, that's not what vegan is. So you're not really a real vegan, are you."
Hey, not so fast. Hold your horseradish. You want veganism to be accessible to everyone, right?
You don't want it to be an exclusive club. You want it to be something that anyone can access (as long as they make the correct choices in how they treat animals), right?
So the non-binary form makes it universally accessible to the entire human population. Binary veganism excludes a lot of people.
Take the Inuit for example.
They live in the Arctic. There's almost no fruits or veggies up there. Crops can't be grown, unless you have very advanced technology, like climate controlled buildings, which, if you were to grow all of your food in, would be prohibitively expensive - beyond the means of most communities. Especially for indigenous cultures who don't have huge factories and all that kind of stuff.
So they have to hunt in order to live. They don't have a choice in that.
Thus, binary veganism says to them:
"You can never be vegan."
But non-binary says they can be, and invites them to join the movement.
"No, that's not true! They can be vegan! The world vegan community can all pitch in to buy food and send it up to them. We can make shipments, at regular intervals, up to the Arctic, to every single town, village, hamlet, etc. We can supply the entire Inuit people with food. And they won't have to hunt anymore!"
That's not a good idea. It would create dependence by indigenous peoples upon technocratic civilization (or, as some might prefer to say, "white people").
It's the classic routine: technocrats coming to indigenous peoples to "civilize" them, by re-engineering their cultures to become dependent on technocratic society.
Just like the Indian reservations.
And what happens if the shipments stop? What happens if the technocratic economy enters a recession or depression, and people can no longer afford to keep sending food to the Inuits?
What happens if the suppliers decide to start charging for the food, instead of giving it away for free?
Now the Inuits will have to start working for it. They'll have to enter the capitalist economy, and become cogs in the machine, in order to obtain the currency with which to buy it.
And of course, capitalists will be happy to build sweatshop factories up in the Arctic for them to slave away in, to earn their meager bread. Just like everywhere else.
And if the locals decide to ditch the whole thing, and go back to their traditional ways, they won't be able to. They'll have forgotten how to hunt. They'll be completely at the mercy of technocratic society.
"But I'm sure there's way for them to provide foo d for themselves. Some technology we could give them, that would be sustainable, and fully in their hands, to grow plant-based foods."
OK, so then lets' develop that. Get to work. Start. But until then, until it's ready to use, and fully in their hands, they're gonna have to eat.
"OK so what's your point?"
The point is, non-binary veganism makes veganism accessible to them. They can still be vegan.
Same with all the other aboriginal tribes and cultures out there, on every continent.
"What can they do? How an you be vegan if you still eat animals?"
By making whatever choice are available to decrease suffering and harm of animals.
For instance lets say your tribe has a religious ritual where they sacrifice an animal. They don't eat it - they just burn the body for superstition. Completely a waste. Definitely not based in necessity. The necessity argument can't be used in their defense. Well, you can become an activist in you tribe, to get the ritual discontinued.
That's just one of many ways that an individual can be vegan, by making choices and putting their time and energy into raising the consciousness of their tribe to be more respectful and compassionate toward all forms of Life. There are many ways to do that.
And a person who utilizes those ways, and makes the correct choices, deserves the right to call themselves vegan.
And if they put their own reputation and social standing in their tribe on the line in order to do that, then they really deserve the right to call themselves vegan.
"But wouldn't broadening the definition dilute the purity? Wouldn't it cause some vegans to lapse, because it won't matter as much? Having a strong standard for what it takes to adopt this label, then people are more motivated to uphold those standards. But if we dilute, it, then it could fall apart. Couldn't it?"
"Would I what?"
Would you start eating animals again due to a mere change in terminology?
Do you know anyone who would?
"I don't think so."
Right. No committed vegan is going to start eating animals again just because the definition of the word "vegan" changes. And if they do start eating animals because of this, then were they ever truly vegan in the first place?
"OK, I see your point."
So the drawback you mentioned is not very significant.
Meanwhile, there is a huge benefit to adopting a non-binary definition of veganism, and it has to do with the extremely powerful relationship between identity and behavior.
Identity. Drives. Behavior.
When XYZ becomes part of someone's identity, their behaviors become aligned with XYZ, and reflect XYZ. It happens without them even thinking about it.
It's subconscious. It's automatic.
Indian chief quote
Identity is a very powerful thing.
Even if, in the beginning, they're still eating some animal products, the new vegan identity will drive them to conform their behavior to vegan behavior, and it will expedite their transition to a plant-based diet.
They'll become more vegan, more quickly than ifthey had continued to identify as a carnist (because vegans wouldn't let them in). By letting them into the club, you allow them to drop the label of carnist and drop the label of speciesist, and stop identifying with those things, and become open to a new identity as a kind compassion vegan person who cares for animal. And the identity will expedite conformity of behavior, as identities always do.
By making the vegan identity more accessible, you facilitate a faster transition to vegan behavior.
"I see what you're saying. But it still seems like kind of a big shift, changing the definition of the word that's literally the TITLE of my movement. I'm not sure about it."
There's another reason why non-binary veganism is correct.
And that's the fact that even as a vegan who doesn't eat any animal parts or wear them, you're still not 100% vegan. Because you're still causing some harm.
You're still buying industrial products that result in pollution.
You're still buying products that include plastic (and we know what plastic does to animals, in the ocean for instance).
You're still burning fossil fuels, which lead to climate change and species extinctions, as well as war, which is just about the least vegan thing in the world.
You're still buying veggies grown on farmland that was plowed and tilled, which caused the deaths of many insects, and even rodents and birds.
By consuming any agricultural product, even a piece of broccoli, you're contributing to deforestation.
There are many tings you do which aren't vegan. Even hiking isn't vegan, because you can step on bugs!
"Oh come on! Meat-eaters say this stuff all the time! I've heard this argument a thousand times! And I'll refute it for the thousandth time: Yes, vegan choices aren't entirely harmless, and they do cause some harm to animals, but they still result in far less harm than directly consuming those animals!"
Yes. that's correct. That fact is not in dispute. Eating a plant-based diet causes less harm.
Do you only eat what you need?
Or do you eat beyond your nutritional needs? Do you eat anything for pleasure? Do you eat cake?
"Yes. Vegan cake. And?"
And cake has no nutritional value. It's definitely not nutritionally necessary. And it results in harm to animals, because of tilling and plowing. So, by choosing to eat cake, you're consuming something unnecessary, and all unnecessary consumption is non-vegan.
All unnecessary consumption is non-vegan.
The logic is simple:
1. All economic consumption causes harm.
2. All unnecessary economic consumption causes unnecessary harm.
See what we did there?
3. All unnecessary harm is non-vegan.
4. All unnecessary consumption is non-vegan.
So, if you do any unnecessary harm, you're doing things that are non-vegan.
And if you consume anything unnecessarily, you're doing things that are causing unnecessary harm, and therefore, are non-vegan.
So, if you do any unnecessary economic consumption, you are doing things that are non-vegan.
"But EVERYONE consumes more than they need! That's the human condition right now! What kind of impossible standard are you trying to set?"
We're not setting it. You are, if you believe in the binary definition of veganism.
Everyone consumes more than they need. Everyone. Unless they're literally a Buddha - an enlightened, ascended being with a Pure-Light Body.
If you're not that yet, then you're subject to desire, and no one is completely impervious to the temptations of desire. Not you, not anybody. Everybody consumes unnecessarily.
Which means that, under the binary definition of veganism, not only are you not a vegan, but nobody is a vegan. There's no such thing as a vegan, under the binary definition. It's impossible.
Not only is it not accessible to everyone, its not accessible to ANYONE.
You can't call yourself a vegan if you believe in the binary definition. The non-binary definition is the only one that allows you (or anyone) to (accurately) identify as vegan.