Monday, June 11, 2012

The Confused Vegan

During the first couple of years of being vegan, I was a very confused person.

I believed in promoting veganism and was passionate about animal rights. I was a member of Peta2 (PETA for youth), and I supported them, as well as a few other big "Animal Rights" organisations. However, many of their actions puzzled me.

When SAFE in New Zealand got undercover footage of factory farms on tv, I didn't think it was a good thing. Because there was no mention of veganism. Only promotion of free-range animal products.

When PETA campaigned for KFC to use "Controlled Atmosphere Killing" on their chickens instead of slitting their throats, I didn't think that was right. The chickens still lose their lives, either way.

Once on the Peta2 forums, a farmer was complaining that we were trying to put him out of business. I was the first person to comment, and I said that I simply don't support violence, and that the lives of those animals are as valuable to them as ours are to us. Everyone else on the forum, however, reassured him that they loved little family farms where the animals were treated well, and it was only the big mean factory farms that they were trying to get rid of. I actually felt embarrassed, and wondered if I'd said the wrong thing.

Was I being a bad advocate for animal rights because I didn't support campaigns by PETA or SAFE? Should I be advocating for welfare reforms like them? I didn't believe it would help animals, because they would still be murdered in the end, but it seemed like that was what all the vegans and animal rights people were campaigning for. I was very confused indeed.

Then one day, I stumbled across Professor Gary Francione on Twitter. After reading some of his "Tweets" I thought, Finally, here's someone who actually makes sense! Someone campaigning for the end of animal use - not better treatment! I then learnt about the Abolitionist Approach to Animal Rights. I met other vegan abolitionists on Twitter. And suddenly I didn't feel alone, or that what I believed in was wrong.

Now I wonder; how many others out there are feeling the same way I did? How many confused vegans are there who support PETA and the like because they are supposedly "Animal Rights", but don't agree with the things they campaign for? How many vegetarians are there who haven't learnt about veganism because nobody's talked to them about it? How many omnivores are there who pay extra money to buy free-range because they believe they're helping animals?

This is why I urge people to promote veganism, and encourage others to promote it too. You don't need to be a part of a big animal welfare organisation to help other animals. Talk to others about veganism, and promote veganism only. People can make up their own minds about whether to go free-range, vegetarian, or vegan after you talk to them, but I never compromise my message and say that anything less than veganism is okay - that would just be speciesist.

Since going vegan at the age of 13, I have always believed in promoting veganism. I always looked at it from the animal's perspective. If that were me in the slaughterhouse, if I were a slave to another species, I wouldn't care if I got a bigger cage or if I were gassed to death instead of having my throat slit. The thing I would want the most, and would hope for for my children's future, would be to no longer be considered as someone else's property. An individual in control of her own life.



  1. Excellent post Emmy! In fact, I added a portion of it to my Quotes on Slavery website. You can find it here:

  2. I took the liberty to translate your great article in french here :

  3. Hi Emmy,

    SAFE in New Zealand is not ever promoting free-range products or other practices that are not compatible with animal rights or veganism. That's what I like about SAFE and why I've been supporting SAFE wholeheartedly for the past ten years: they are firmly an animal rights organisation, not an animal welfare organisation. SAFE is managing to mainstream animal rights without ever compromising the baseline, which is SAFE's vegan and animal rights philosophy.

    Best wishes and keep up the good work,

    1. Hi Tanja,

      Thank you for your comment :)

      SAFE may not be directly saying to everyone "Buy Free Range", but that's the message their "Stop Factory Farming" campaigns are sending to the public. After their battery eggs protest, I went onto both One News' and 3 News' facebook posts about the protest - and the majority of people who responded were saying "I'm only going to buy free range eggs now!" or "I'm so glad I only buy free range eggs!". There were none, as far as I could see, who said "This is horrible, I'm going to go vegan now!"
      I've also met people in person who feel proud of themselves for buying free range animal products, because they think they're doing their part to help animals - and that's because of SAFE's campaigns.

      So they are sending a confused message to the public about how they can help animals. They often get the chance to be on tv and I wish they would use that opportunity to promote veganism. But again, usually they only promote "free range" by telling people not to buy factory farmed animal products. And the one time I did see them mention veganism, they made it sound like buying free range and being vegan are basically the same thing; no matter whether you choose free range animal products or no animal products, you're still helping animals. I guess they don't want to upset their non-vegan donors?

      I believe being vegan is the *least* we can do for nonhuman animals, and that is why I promote veganism and nothing less. It's what we owe to the animals. I hope that one day SAFE will have a great big "Go Vegan" campaign. One that clearly advocates for *Veganism*, no "veg" or "vegetarian". That would be a campaign I could get behind!

      Kind Regards,