Sunday, 8 January 2012

Dispatches from my news feed

Quite by coincidence, my morning trawl of facebook turned up two interesting posts on approaches to vegan advocacy.

First, Mylene linked to a post by Vincent Guihan on the importance of humour. Sample: If you just glower and make fists in your pockets, you won't have a chance to explain your views. If you start shouting incoherently and flip the table (as I often do), people will wonder whether you are okay. If all you do is make cutting remarks that make people feel stupid, it just discourages someone from thinking critically about their choices.And really, it's the last that makes or breaks vegan education. I agree totally, as anyone who has read my blog for a while might gather. It is tempting to make fists and flip tables, but probably not the best strategy.

Then Cat, who as far as I know doesn't blog (which is incidentally a great pity), linked to this post at The Fivefold Path on the issue of vegan preachiness. Specifically, those vegans (and vegetarians) who make a point of declaring their non-preachiness to the point that they can sometimes appear to be preachy about that. This really reasonated with me, because while I have no idea if the rest of you perceive me as 'militant' or 'preachy' I often suspect myself of being on that side of whatever line is drawn - purely because the people who draw the lines seem to conflate talking about or arguing for veganism with being preachy, by definition. And somehow it feels worse when a vegetarian or vegan says it. I am all for respecting differences of opinion, incidentally. I'm with JS Mill on this one, a dead dogma is neither use nor ornament. I spend a lot of my working life convincing young people that just because someone disagrees with them on a moral issue it doesn't mean that person is the devil. That said, you don't need to respect your opponents *more* than those who are nominally on the wrong side, and all accusations of preachiness do is shut down debate.


EDB5Fold said...

I'm happy that the post is resonating with people! And I agree, the preaching about not preaching can definitely get preachier than the original preaching sometimes. Anyway, thanks for reading!

Adam Spencer said...

Interesting post. From my non-vegan perspective I wonder if vegans might claim not to be 'preachy' for one of two reasons. First, a desire to draw a clear line of separation between themselves and 'militant' vegans conflated with animal rights extremists who dig up grandmothers, free laboratory mice to be eaten by owls or whatever. Second, as a way of trying to convey the essential normalness of veganism for them, and to show that they respect diversity in dietry choices. In a country where only some 0.3% of adults are vegan the 'not preachy' claim can serve as some useful social glue.

Fortunately, we have moved on from the days when fish was served as the vegetarian option in restaurants. However, the non-vegan world still has some way to go to do what we can to accommodate vegans with simple things like labelling and understanding the diversity of veganism itself (the status of honey for example). The sharing of vegan attitudes ultimately serves to benefit all.