One of my mutuals, Tess ( https://twitter.com/teletessie ) tweeted about how people are quick to tell vegans to stop guilt-tripping others into going vegan when guilt is quite literally what makes most people go vegan. Many people then argued that tapping into someone’s compassion is a more effective way of getting others to go vegan and I wanted to show how/why guilt actually does make most people go vegan.
Why compassion may not work best
Humans are self interested. Our convenience and taste nearly always come first and because of this, we fail to make compassionate decisions such as going vegan. In effect, though most of us believe that animal exploitation is wrong, few of us go vegan because we are not interested in changing unless we directly benefit from said change.
For example, while many people adopt a plant-based diet, they do so primarily for the health benefits (game changers anyone?). Even though many plant-based individuals eventually go vegan, their primary interest is often their health. In other words, their concern for other sentient beings, their compassion, kicks in later and that’s the tea. If humans weren’t self-interested, maybe compassion would be sufficient for someone to go vegan, however, that is not the case.
Why guilt makes you go vegan
Take the videos of factory farming as an example. Why is it that while most of us have seen these videos, only a few of us are vegan? It’s simple. Even though animal exploitation is wrong, most of us don’t feel guilty enough to do much about it. This is why people are quick to purchase “free-range” eggs instead of regular eggs, but reluctant to give up eggs entirely: they feel bad about animal exploitation, but not bad enough. ( “Free range” hens live in similarly atrocious conditions to regular hens and they meet the same violent death. To find out more, check out : https://healyeatsreal.com/free-range-eggs/ ). Anyway, when confronted with the fact that our habits harm others, a very common reaction is to make any minor change possible before addressing the root cause . This concept is also part of why racism and white supremacy are alive and thriving to this day, but most of y’all are not ready for that conversation.
How guilt makes you go vegan
A friend once told me: “I love your food pics, but when you talk about veganism, you make people feel bad about eating animals” and for a minute, I considered altering my approach. However, the gag is that like many vegans, I went vegan precisely BECAUSE I felt bad about eating animals. By telling me that my posts made people feel bad about eating animals, my friend was essentially telling me that I was doing something right. If my online presence makes you feel bad about eating animals, you’re potentially one step closer to doing something about that guilt. The reality is that if you don’t feel like you’re doing something wrong (if you don’t feel guilty) why would you go vegan?
A word for vegans
If someone tells you to “chill” when you talk about veganism, ask yourself whether or not you are being offensive and check yourself if you are. Otherwise, keep on doing you because chances are your message is getting across to people. All we can do as vegans is speak out and let people decide what to do with their guilt. Also, if you’re a vegan who prefers to call onto peoples’ compassion, do so, but don’t shame the rest of us who adopt a less apologetic tone in our activism. At the end of the day, as long as we are not offensive in the way that we advocate for animal liberation, all means are valid.