If you ask most vegans, they will tell you they promote veganism, not vegetarianism. But these same vegans use literature from the large animal organizations which, upon review, does not promote veganism; it promotes vegetarianism. To promote veganism is to promote an ethical position against all animal use; to promote vegetarianism is to promote a vegetarian diet or the eschewing of meat.
To illustrate these points with real-life examples, I analyzed the main piece of literature currently available from Farm Sanctuary and from Mercy For Animals to determine whether they promote veganism or vegetarianism. Farm Sanctuary’s piece is called “SOMETHING BETTER: Why Millions of People are Changing What They Eat” and Mercy For Animals’ main piece is called “FRESH: EAT LIKE YOU MEAN IT”.
After analyzing these pieces of literature, serious concerns include:
- They do not promote veganism, an ethical position against all animal use including food, clothing, entertainment, and testing.
- They only address food.
- Within their addressing of food, they focus on meat. To focus on meat as the problem is to focus on vegetarianism as the solution.
- Here is a breakdown of the number of times each word appears (not including photo credits):
- Meat: 45 (SOMETHING BETTER) and 16 (FRESH)
- Veganism/vegan: 0 (SOMETHING BETTER) and 1 (FRESH)
- FRESH: “Usher, 33, has always had a flare for the vegetarian, but according to insiders, he’s taking it to a new level by going vegan — and loves what it’s doing to his rock-hard abs.” Even when Mercy For Animals does use the word vegan, it is still used in the context of food and presents veganism as an extreme option instead of the moral obligation that it is.
As vegans, it is critically important we take a careful look at the literature we use to ensure we are actually promoting what is best for animals (veganism).
And nowadays with animal industry using savvy marketing that focuses on “humane” animal products, it is more important than ever that vegans promote veganism, clearly and unequivocally. The last thing the animals need right now (or ever) is more anti-meat messaging that perpetuates the stubborn myth that meat is morally worse than any other animal product or animal use. It’s not. Once again, the root problem is using animals as resources, not particular animal products or animal uses. And the only ethical position that challenges that root problem is veganism.
I recommend The Abolitionist Vegan Society’s “Why veganism?” literature. Not only does it present veganism as the ethical position that it is, it denounces the idea that the way to respect animals is to adopt a vegetarian diet. It also denounces the ideas that one should purchase “humane” animal products like “cage-free eggs” and explains that both are misconceptions because they still cause unnecessary suffering and death. This is the clarity the animals need.
– Sarah K. Woodcock, Founder and Executive Director of The Abolitionist Vegan Society