Vegan Police. Keeping The Faith, or Turning People Away

Vegan Police. Keeping The Faith, or Turning People Away -
Vegan Police. Keeping The Faith, or Turning People Away
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Recently an article published on about the Vegan Police has been doing the rounds of various facebook groups.

Before I go any further on my thoughts on the article, this needs to be said.

As far as I am concerned, and based on my experience, there are usually only two types of people who use the term vegan police. Those who are bullies and those who knowing consume animal products. Both types use the term to shift the focus from them to the person who made the comment or asked the question.

I should also add that calling someone the vegan police is used to bully, ostracise, otherise or offend that person into silence or others into submission in the same way that those who follow Gary Francione label everyone else as a new welfarist.

There is no other reason for someone who claims to be vegan to use it to describe someone else who also claims to be vegan.

To be clear, when I say someone who knowingly consumes animal products I am talking about those people who tell everyone else they are vegan except for the eggs from the chickens they have in their back yard, buy leather shoes, handbag, etc whilst following a plant based, and so on. The people who knowingly and consciously make the decision to purchase a product that comes from or contains something that came from an animal. That being said, I am not talking about those people who purchase someone in good faith believing that it is suitable for vegans only to find that it contained some hidden ingredient.

As for the bullies, well they are easy to find…

Now getting back to the article.

The author seems to claim that because no one can truly be 100% vegan that the vegan police should ease up, and I would guess allow people to be almost vegan and focus on the ‘bigger picture’.

This might be a good time to refresh everyone’s mind on what a vegan is, as defined by Donald Watson.

The word “veganism”denotes a philosophy and way of living which seeks to exclude — as far as is possible and practical — all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose; and by extension, promotes the development and use of animal-free alternatives for the benefit of humans, animals and the environment. In dietary terms it denotes the practice of dispensing with all products derived wholly or partly from animals.

Sure there are everyday items such as computers, tyres, and fire fighting foam that contains a by product of other animals though would avoiding these items be possible or practical for someone who wants to live in the 21st century?

As for the bigger picture, well I will leave it up to you to decide if trying to maintain the term vegan as per the original definition isn’t part of that, I will leave it up to you to explain to all the animals how your flexitarianism is going to stop them being used/killed/comodified.

What are your thoughts on the term vegan police?

Feel free to leave them below

4 thoughts on “Vegan Police. Keeping The Faith, or Turning People Away”

  1. You know i don’t agree with some of what you say, Cameron, but i broadly agree with what you say about the vegan police. I don’t know whether calling one set of people who use the term “bullies” is the best choice of words, but i do accept they want to use the term to mock those who want to discuss what veganism means and what vegan actions are.

    Your statement about Gary Francione and the term “new welfarists,” is simply wrong. Not “everyone else” is a new welfarist. The term has a defined meaning, just like veganism. It doesn’t refer to those who promote traditional welfare, abolitionists and so on – people that you include as “everyone else.”

    It does refer to those people who claim to be vegans, but also promote ‘welfare’ measures along with veganism. The idea of welfare and veganism – as you’ve suggested in other posts – is inconsistent. Animal welfare concerns animal use – the very thing veganism is meant to oppose.

    As Leslie Cross said when he was Vice President of The Vegan Society in 1951, “it is not so much welfare that we seek, as freedom. Our aim is not to make the present relationship between man and animal (which if honestly viewed is mostly one of master and slave) more tolerable, but to abolish it and replace it by something more worthy of man’s high estate.”

    • Hi Rico,
      Could you please tell me who, outside of those who subscribe to Francione’s theory who haven’t been labelled as a New Welfarist? As for the defined meaning, I think it is only the Francionists who will agree on it’s meaning. I haven’t seen anyone seriously refer to themselves as a new welfarist.

      • Sure. As i say in my initial comment those people who advocate traditional welfare aren’t new welfarists – they’re ‘old’ welfarists. People who don’t care about welfare aren’t new welfarists. People who advocate minimum standards of welfare – ie who aren’t that concerned with it – aren’t new welfarists. Other views outside promoting either a two-track or AL-type model aren’t new welfarist either. For instance, while i don’t know enough about it to be certain, on the face of it, the transhumanist abolition of David Pearce is outside the scope of new welfare.

        Maybe you’re right that outside of abolitionists (as set out by Francione), there’s disagreement about what new welfare means – but then there’s disagreement about what rights are, what animal rights are, what veganism is etc.

        There might be a few reasons for this, such as finding the term disagreeable (possibly without understanding it), not looking into what it means etc. But just because people don’t understand it, or they’re not happy with it and so on, doesn’t make the explanation of it invalid.

        Francione has said the term is neutral, and just serves as a description of a particular form of advocacy. The term itself is descriptive: it distinguishes newer types of advocacy that involve welfare from traditional welfare. Many of those who fall into the term new welfarist, don’t like it, however, because Gary criticises the form of advocacy it describes.

        That’s a separate issue to the term itself, and those who object don’t seem to understand or want to accept the simple fact that they do promote welfare reform.

  2. I should add that the term “new welfarist” also applies to people who don’t necessarily promote veganism, but much less animal use and a dramatic improvement in welfare standards. That is, they don’t promote traditional welfare, but a ‘new’ form of it.

    In this scheme, a cut down form of ‘veganism’ is optional – more a flexible guide. As such, this version of ‘veganism’ isn’t the real thing. An example of this approach is the work of Peter Singer in Animal Liberation.


What are your thoughts?