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Some Comments on Vegetarianism as a “Gateway” to Veganism


Vegan Joe
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http://www.abolitionistapproach.com/some-comments-on-vegetarianism-as-a-gateway-to-veganism/

 

Dear Colleagues:

 

As a result of my comments (here, on Facebook, and on the Podcast Commentary), I have been inundated with private messages that all have the same themes: (1) “but many vegans started off as vegetarians”; and (2) “advocating veganism is elitist.”

 

As for whether many vegans started off as vegetarians, let me say this clearly: That is not the point.

 

First, the relevant question is whether vegetarianism is a meaningful moral position. That is, can we draw a meaningful moral distinction between flesh and other animal products? If, as I maintain, we cannot, then we should not promote vegetarianism any more than we should promote as morally meaningful eating red veal over white veal, cage-free eggs over battery eggs, etc. If all of these products are immoral, then we ought to be clear and honest and say so.

 

Animal products other than flesh often involve more suffering and death than does flesh. For example, animals used for dairy are kept alive longer, treated worse (including, but not limited to, having their babies taken and killed for veal), and all dairy animals end up in the same slaughterhouse as animals used for meat. The vegetarian who continues to consume dairy is still complicit in animal suffering and death. What is the moral justification for promoting continued complicity in suffering and death? Indeed, if the vegetarian increases her intake of dairy, as many do, she may be responsible for more suffering and death than before she became a vegetarian.

 

Second, the observation that many vegans started as vegetarians, even if true, begs the question as to why that is the case. Many people maintain that they did not go vegan sooner precisely because of the emphasis on the moral desirability of vegetarianism advocated by large animal organizations. Promoting vegetarianism actually impedes going vegan.

 

It is clear: if you explain that there is no distinction between flesh and other animal products and why we should go vegan, and the person with whom you are talking cares about the issue, she will either (1) go vegan immediately; or (2) go vegan in stages; or (3) not go vegan and adopt some version of vegetarianism (or “happy” meat/product consumption). But she will at least understand that veganism is the aspiration toward which to work. She will understand that the line between flesh and other products is entirely arbitrary. If you maintain that going vegetarian is morally meaningful and that there is a distinction between flesh and other animal products, then you increase the chances ...

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I agree with most of the article, but I still think vegetarianism can be a good sort of stepping stone to veganism. Going vegan all at once can be scary to some people; once they see how easy going vegetarian is, going vegan from there might be a lot less intimidating.

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The vegetarian to vegan maneuver was how I got here. I also think that you can advocate veganism in an elitist way, but there are approaches that meet people where they are at, which they can't really argue about such as vegan outreach and by being a muscle bound monster.

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I agree with the author in that vegetarianism is not a "meaningful moral position". In and of itself, it is essentially a useless proposition. If you're going to eat the cheese, you may as well eat the calf who will be dying on your behalf. That said, advocating for vegetarianism is also useless.

 

If you're going to be an activist, make it for veganism. That doesn't mean that people can't use vegetarianism as a stepping stone toward veganism. That is not only useful but desirable, if it helps someone to make the transition. As CollegeB stated "but there are approaches that meet people where they are at". That is the approach I took from day one when founding the Pittsburgh Vegan Meetup. We have had many many vegetarian members and even a few omnivores. It is always our policy to never discourage someone who is on the right path, but to encourage them along the way.

 

People, especially those who are already making positive changes, respond much better to encouragement than being criticized for their current position. One very effective and easy way to encourage such people, is to feed them the best vegan foods available. Over the years we have had pizza parties, including a "meat lovers" pizza, gourmet cupcakes, philly cheese steaks, waffle parties etc. The vegan meat lovers pizza helped the husband of one of our vegan members along, over a few months he went from omnivore at every meal to eating vegan 90% of the time.

 

So yeah, he's not a real vegan, but every vegan meal he eats saves a life. I'm in this for the animals, I'll take one near vegan over any vegetarian who gorges on eggs and dairy at every meal. And many vegetarians, I'd venture to say most, do just that. So never settle for vegetarian, keep pushing and pulling, even in very subtle ways to urge people toward veganism. Do be careful, it is just as easy to have them give up and go back to the very convenient omnivore. Same goes for the already converted, we'd be many millions stronger if everyone who has been a vegan stayed that way!!!

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I agree and that's why I became vegan, and why most others did. Besides, many 'vegetarians' are not eating vetetarian at each meals, sometimes they eat meat, and many will eat things containing gelatin, or will even eat fish, and even seafood and poultry... because its called flesh, fish or poultry instead of 'meat' its not an animal? lol... and they will eat ice cream, yogurt, cheese, eggs, milk, etc... probably more animal products than some omnivores do, those that eat meals consisting of less than 1/3 meat, 1/3 vegetables and 1/3 grains, plus a yogurt and a chewy bar or a piece of fruit. I've seen folks like this, its like they follow to the letter the advice of registered dieteticians. One time I saw a coworker that used to always eat junk food at fast food chains, but one time he bring his own lunch, what he probably considered the healthiest meal on Earth: lettuce with tuna, and a peach for dessert. Maybe he wanted to lose fat too. Of course he wasn't satisfied (who could be?) so after the meal he went to buy a large sandwich, cookies, etc...

The other day I was working with a teenager, for lunch he stopped by Mcdonalds to buy a BigMac, coke, etc... guess what he bought for dinner? the same mcDo. And of course he's obese and got acne.

 

Its simple: just eat what you like, but the vegan way! eat veggie burgers, veggie dogs, etc or just a ton of fruits... if only everybody could just hear about it or know how its easy. But at the sametime, all the meat industry and milk industry are like the oil industry, they want to keep people buying their products, trying to convince people that electric cars worth nothing or the technology for it dont exist yet, or that a vegan diet is deficient or they hide it: how many vegan options there is in restaurants, prisons, hospitals, schools, etc... How many Mcdo or Burger King for every vegan restaurants ?

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