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An open letter to vegans

An open letter to vegans

By Said Hamed

November is World Vegan Month and as such, I’ve been inspired to contemplate my own thoughts on veganism and its portrayal in current affairs. While veganism has certainly established a strong following, it’s a lifestyle choice which can often be met with sarcastic derision, not just by the average ‘keyboard warrior’, but even the mainstream media.

07.11.2018

An open letter to vegans

The whole William Sitwell ‘scandal’ is a very topical and pertinent example of this. This led me to wonder, does anyone really disagree with the fundamental tenants of veganism, or do we really just dislike the idea of having to make the personal sacrifice?

The Vegan Society defines veganism as the following:

“Veganism is a way of living which seeks to exclude, as far as is possible and practicable, all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose.”

Who among us would disagree with that? I would wager few to none, however for the vast majority of us, we still don’t practice what we preach. For this very reason, veganism and its followers are often made to be the butt of a joke purely because of the fact that if we don’t ridicule the idea, we would have to accept that it is in fact us who are the weird one’s for eating meat.

As someone who doesn’t eat pork (more because it’s just something I’ve become accustomed to avoiding, rather than because I’m a good Muslim!), I could bet my life that a joke about religious reasons for abstaining from certain foods would be met with shock and outrage where ones about veganism would often pass unnoticed, even receiving a chuckle or two perhaps.

It’s something I find bizarre. In both instances a protected characteristic is being mocked, yet with very different results. Why is it then, that veganism is so open to ridicule while other identical instances are so stringently unacceptable? I believe it harks back to the idea of power dynamics. It’s often considered ok for a working class person to scoff at the rich, yet if a wealthy member of the upper-class did the same to a person living in poverty, it wouldn’t be ok.

If that’s the case, does this mean that veganism is open to derision purely because we see them as the more powerful or morally superior party in this particular conversation? It follows the usual path of cognitive dissonance, whereby a person with internal conflicting views channels their lack of unity into disdain and contempt. It’s may not be quite as clear cut as that, but it’s certainly a thought to consider.

Now please believe me when I say this is in no way a scathing indictment of non vegans. I myself have eaten meat my entire life and don’t particularly intend to stop. However I have to admit that I am therefore a bit of a hypocrite.

Although I’ve made the conscious decision to cut down on animal products as much as my willpower will allow, there’s always something that pulls me back to the pleasures of meat. It’s the same reason why we can’t resist that late night Deliveroo or the temptation to cancel those dinner plans after a long day at the office. It’s a very understandable weakness, but a weakness nonetheless.

Having said this, all is not lost. If, like me, you can’t seem to shake the taste for meat, fret not, for there may be ways that you can still enjoy all your fleshy favourites, without any of the guilt!

Slaughter-free meat is now a reality with a food company in San Francisco having cultured chicken meat from the cells of a chicken feather and all without killing or harming the animal. While we’re still a way off slaughter-free meat on a mass scale, the seed has well and truly been planted (how ironic).

A final thought:

For those of you who were drawn in by my admittedly deceptive title, you may be happy to find that this blog is in fact in very much in favour of the vegan movement, despite my own lack of follow through. Perhaps I am indeed the worst kind of person, one who preaches but does not practice!

Just know that it comes from a place of compassion and a firm belief that tomorrow will be better than today for the vegan movement and its followers.

Yours,

An optimistic hypocrite