On veganism

Discussion in 'Up the People' started by Diagrapher, Jan 10, 2019.

  1. Diagrapher

    Diagrapher New Member

    (not sure what the right board for this is but this is my best guess)

    So, it seems to me the general attitude to vegans here is that they all suck and as someone who thinks veganism is right in some situations I want to argue against that. I'll respond to some of the arguments I've seen, and to followups that seem obvious to me.

    • "~But what about the poor plants, don't you care about them?~"
      • If you mean "I don't care about animals at all and I think caring about animals is stupid", my only counterargument is that I think I actually just have different values from you. If you don't mean that, you should know that's how this argument makes you sound, at least to me. The fact that some people do, in fact, think that and have said as much contributes to this.
    • "Some people can't be vegan for health reasons/economic reasons/mental health reasons."
      • Sure. I'm not actually saying everyone should be vegan.
    • "Sure factory farms are bad, but I buy animal products from local farmers who I know treat their animals well."
      • Good for you. Some of us live in big cities.
    • "If there are good vegans, why don't they call out the bad vegans?"
      • Maybe because they're conflict-averse. Maybe because there's a gap between "not wanting to be a dick" and "being able to articulate why you shouldn't be a dick". Maybe because the "bad vegans" they know are coming from sufficiently different places that they couldn't argue productively. For example, there's conflict between "Rightist" vegans who think keeping animals captive is inherently wrong and "Welfarist" vegans who just think the way animals are currently kept are unacceptable.
    • "Okay, but why don't you argue with them?"
      • Partly because I'm not vegan; I live in a country where, according to animal welfare groups, none of our dairy and little of our beef is factory farmed so I'm relatively happy eating those things.
    • "Vegans want to kill your pets."
      • I know vegans who have pets. I do know some vegans (a minority of the vegans I know) who think that in an ideal society no-one would have pets, but even they want to get there through spaying and neutering rather than through killing.
    • "The fruit and vegetable industries are deeply dependent on the honey industry."
      • Most of the vegans I know eat honey. The ones who don't stopped eating honey years after they started calling themselves vegans.
    • "Fruit and vegetable farms exploit their workers, while abatoirs provide jobs to desperately poor people with no other options."
      • On the other hand, abatoirs exploit their workers while fruit and vegetable farms provide jobs to desperately poor people with no other options. I would be interested in arguments as to whether one or the other is better, but note that that would be either a case for veganism or a case for trying to have as animal-based a diet as possible.
    • "Actually, some fruit and vegetable farms are worked by slaves."
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2019
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  2. TheSeer

    TheSeer 37 Bright Visionary Crushes The Doubtful

    I think this is a vagueblog and a strawman. I didn't realize that was possible. It is, in any case, not the kind of thing you can just throw in unsupported to start a conversation. How about you cite sources and apologize so that maybe someone will be willing and able to respond.
    • Agree x 8
  3. Kathy

    Kathy Well-Known Member

    I just want to say that every time I've seen this it's been "some vegans want to feed obligate carnivores vegan food, which will fucking kill them slowly and painfully" rather than "vegans want to go door to door and remove your animals"
    • Agree x 10
  4. Kathy

    Kathy Well-Known Member

    Like I've considered going vegan myself and agree with several aspects of the philosophy because I don't like animal suffering but the way you're presented your OP is, not really conducive to discussion because of the lack of cited sources, the fake faq style, and the misrepresentation of several key problems some folks have with militant vegans.

    Also the way the slave labor point was presented made me really fuckin uncomfortable for reasons I can't fully nail down, and it's not discomfort with being confronted over the existence of slave labor. Trying to present it as like. I don't know. Equivalent or "not that bad" because it exists elsewhere too without any citations of numbers for the point you're arguing against seems really tasteless. It's hard to nail down but I'm just, kinda upset about that.
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  5. rigel

    rigel known birdhouse

    yeah trying to downplay and minimize slavery bc "the other guys do it too!!!" aint it chief

    the issue people take with that is that some vegans say that going vegan is 100% harmless, despite there being literal slave labour
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  6. rigel

    rigel known birdhouse

    there is also a lot to be said about how a lot of "exotic" vegan foods are directly harmful to the ecosystems theyre cultivated in due to how massively theyre farmed & end up ulitmately being harmful to the cultures and peoples who started using these plants in the first place before the vegan industry capitalized on it and popularized it, many of which are indigenous and have used these foods as a staple for hundreds of years, like quinoa.
    • Agree x 8
  7. Verily

    Verily a very ineffective hitman

    I'm not particularly invested in either side of this. I'm just not interested in other people's diets unless I'm serving them food and need to make sure everyone has enough to eat.

    That said, I think it might help to know what you'd like to accomplish. I'm guessing you probably aren't thinking "a safe place to vent about challenges vegans face", given your interest in debate. But if that actually is what you want, gripe threads are a thing. You can make a thread specifically for vegans to air complaints, and ask that people not debate with vegans in that thread.

    If you want to collect and dissect bad takes about veganism from around the internet, that's another type of thread for which there's precedent, mostly in Fine Imported Drama, I think.

    If you just wanna argue, some people will probably take you up on that, though I'm honestly a little unclear on whom exactly you're looking to argue with? The population of the forum as a whole does have trends in discourse, but I don't think we all have the same opinion on veganism. I'd be a little surprised if we had no other vegan users at all, though it's possible I suppose, especially with so many disabled users who struggle with food.

    My impression is that there are many people who are against being told that they should be vegan, a fair few who are against diets of any label that are inadequately researched and would lead to malnutrition, and an overwhelming number of people who have voiced an opinion on the matter are against people feeding pets vegan diets if the species is not naturally vegan. I haven't noticed many people who are just against vegans and veganism entirely.

    Like I said, I don't pay much attention to that sort of thing, so maybe I've missed something. But right now this sort of reads as a rebuttal to a position I was not aware anyone held. It's a little confusing.
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2019
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  8. Diagrapher

    Diagrapher New Member

    See the above-linked post by cleverThylacine, who implies she thinks the "animal liberation/rights movement" want to "euthenise" pets.

    Neither of the people I linked to above specified "militant". cleverThylacine seemed to assume unknownanonymous's brother must be one of the people she's complaining about since he's vegan and Vastderp and Seebs are explicitly talking about all vegans.

    As for sources, for most of the stuff about what attitudes vegans have my evidence is what vegans have said to me in person or via IM. I probably should find sources w.r.t. abattoirs being exploitative and vegetable farms employing people who need the jobs. Is there anything else you think needs sources here that doesn't have them?

    Sorry I treated the topic of slavery too thoughtlessly.
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  9. spockandawe

    spockandawe "My body is a #starscream temple"

    I mean, I'm sympathetic to people on all sides of this debate getting frustrated, but it seems a little strange to be generalizing from four people on the forum to all people on the forum, especially when three of them were expressing those opinions off-site. Plus how some of that off-site content is years old, and how cT isn't an active user here these days. As it is, this isn't a thread that directly engages any people who have expressed the opinions you want to argue with, and I mean, some of them might drop by eventually, but specifically accusing the forum as a whole of holding these opinions is kinda strange.
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  10. seebs

    seebs Benevolent Dictator

    I'm really confused. I have at least one friend who's a vegan and pretty cool about it. I certainly don't think "all" vegans are bad. I think that people who announce themselves as vegans preemptively are very often jerks, same as any other group's loudest people. Where in that post did I "explicitly" state that I was talking about "all" vegans? The point of Luka's post wasn't "this is true of all vegans", it's "these complaints are about specific behaviors, saying not all vegans are like that is derailing commentary on specific behavior."
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  11. LadyNighteyes

    LadyNighteyes Wicked Witch of the Radiant Historia Fandom

    I have seen the latter, but it's usually a misrepresentation of the fact that there's recorded incidents of people working for PETA literally doing that. (As one of the articles quoted in that link discusses, PETA also euthanizes the vast majority of animals that come into their possession.)
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  12. seebs

    seebs Benevolent Dictator

    Yeah, I have absolutely seen animal-liberation people kill animals. The psych department where I went to college had pigeons, which lived in a lab and got food and learned to peck buttons and were, so far as anyone could tell, not particularly distressed or unhappy about the ambiguity about which buttons dispensed delicious tasty food. Then one day, some people liberated them, by grabbing them and setting them free outside the building. We're in Minnesota. It was winter. There was a sort of semicircle of frozen dead pigeons maybe 50 feet out from the door, as that's about as far as they got before the temperature change shock killed them. Yay animal rights.

    There's totally actual real concerns to be had, but I think the key point Luka was making, which I think is valid, is that if all we ever hear is crap like PETA, we're gonna have negative default opinions. I know that there's actual alternative positions and arguments to be had, and that the loudest people are not always representative, but I still think it's reasonably fair for people to assume that everything they've ever seen from a group of people is somehow representative.

    Like, I try not to be too hostile if people assume all Christians are anti-gay. If they live in the US, and they think that, well. I can see why.
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  13. Beldaran

    Beldaran 70% abuse and 30% ramen

    A person who's no longer here and a Tumblr post from 2013 that you're completely misrepresenting are your sources for why this entire website needs taught about veganism.


    You should probably find a flesh and blood person to actually have a conversation with instead of nailing your 95 theses to the wall. This isn't making any sense. Are you okay?
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2019
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  14. Kathy

    Kathy Well-Known Member

    Yeah this smells, funny. I don't know who you are but cT left a long time ago, and attributing the views of three people to the whole site is weird, especially when your sources are five years old.

    For 'what else needs sources' like. All of it? If you're doing an faq style thread you should maybe present evidence of the things being faq's, but

    I'm not touching this now, I don't know if you actually want a discussion or just want to rail against people assigned as Bad, but I don't want any part of it.

    Eta: Also like, did you come here and just search Vegan to find things said on the forum about this? I'm genuinely confused. Like if you're trying to have a proper discussion vega's post is good and you should keep that stuff in mind. But this looks. Weird.
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2019
    • Agree x 7
  15. vegacoyote

    vegacoyote dog metaphores and pedanticism

    Hey, I think I kinda get what you’re trying to do, maybe. I used to do this thing where I’d, like, get in these long arguments with the echoes of other people’s opinions in my head, and it’d kinda just roil around forever and never go anywhere, because the people who actually held those opinions weren’t really there, and I knew it, but I also couldn’t seem to drop it, because it was upsetting.

    And the thing I eventually found that broke that feedback loop was to actually talk to people who held those opinions. But I didn’t for a long time, because that shit’s scary.

    I think a lot of people who get like this only end up talking to people they know already agree with them, and that runs a high risk of producing nothing but an echo chamber.

    IMO, it’s the people who seek out dissenting opinions that end up getting closer to the truth. But again, that’s scary.

    What I’m trying to say here is that this is brave. You’re brave. I’m proud of you.

    I do think you’re making the common rookie mistake of arguing with the opinions of someone who isn’t actually here, but I know how it goes when stuff gets bottled up until it blows. Assuming that’s what’s actually going on with you, it’s something I can sympathize with.

    So, all that said, and keeping in mind I can only speak for myself, the following is a bullet-point list outlining the opinions of one (1) non-vegan on the topic of veganism.

    • There is nothing wrong with being a vegan.
      • No, seriously. It’s fine. We’re cool.
      • If you find veganism to be the most acceptable choice for you, whether for nutritional reasons, ethical reasons, or both, absolutely, go for it.
      • Do make sure you’re getting everything you need. Do your homework, keep your diet varied, get your calories in. Please do not try to live on french fries. Shit ain’t good for you.
      • (Not saying you aren’t, or that you would, but I’ve known it to happen.)
    • I don’t like being told what to eat.
      • This is true of most people, I think.
      • Also, people don’t like feeling judged.
      • If you’re not doing that, you are one of the proverbial Good Ones.
      • I suspect the well has been so thoroughly poisoned by the very evidently non-proverbial Not Good Ones that it’s difficult to find people willing to engage with the topic in a non-aggro way, which sucks.
    • People who spread misinformation for the sake of promoting an ideology tick me right the fuck off.
      • Again, if you’re not doing that, we cool.
      • However, many, many people are doing that. Some of those people are promoting veganism.
      • I am no more ticked off about vegans doing this than I am when anyone else does the same thing.
      • That is to say, I am very, very ticked off. But it’s not because of the specific ideology those people are pushing, it’s that they’re pushing at all, and using lies to do it.
      • If someone says something that is not true, or that is actively cruel, it is good and just that they get called on it.
      • That includes people pushing the same party line as me.
    • I am biased in favor of the opinions I hold.
      • I have the sort of monkey brain that’s less likely to notice people pulling some bullshit if I think they’re on my side.
      • This is true of the vast majority of humans.
      • There are people whose brains genuinely aren’t wired to favor their in-group in this way; however, they are vastly outnumbered by people who think they aren’t wired that way, but actually are, because that’s how blind spots work.
      • It is therefore advantageous to seek out people who disagree with your opinions, but who are also not batshit assholes about it.
      • (This can be difficult for some, because many have never been taught to distinguish differences of opinion from batshit assholery.)
      • (It’s very sad.)
    • I see we hold certain differences of opinion!
      • This is a good and useful thing!
      • Would you like to assist us in calibrating our bullshit meters? It would be very helpful!
    Thank you for your time and effort. :)
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2019
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  16. TheSeer

    TheSeer 37 Bright Visionary Crushes The Doubtful

    Okay, progress! You've identified some actual positions you want to argue against and people who hold them, one of whom is even in the thread and willing to talk. Conversation is now possible.

    I do notice that, aside from cleverThylacine who I've never heard of, all the people you mention are from the Northfield crowd, that is, the site founder's personal irl friends. That's a very different thing from a "general attitude here." I don't think you actually know what the prevailing opinion on veganism is here. I'm not even sure I know that, or if there even is one.

    But I predict you are about to get a crash course in what it's like trying to access food while disabled in the US. Judging from how lightly you ran over it in the OP, you don't seem to consider that a core part of the issue, but for a big chunk of the people on this site that will be the first aspect they think of, because it has to be.
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  17. LadyNighteyes

    LadyNighteyes Wicked Witch of the Radiant Historia Fandom

    In their dubious defense, I can definitely find a few other times this has come up and people have been extremely down on militant vegans and militant animal rights activists without appending "I don't think being vegan makes you a bad person" to the statements. I know Jesse in particular has gotten into arguments with vegans on Tumblr quite a few times, but as they mention, Tumblr's disabling of the search function has made it much harder to find.

    Searching "vegan" on Kintsugi mostly nets you a lot of discussion of vegan cooking, but I did find:
    • Tumblr.txt, Sep. 25, 2018 - Discussion of a now-unavailable Tumblr thread about animal testing where people were talking about torturing prisoners to death, Sidneyia posts, "Why are 9/10 of hardcore animal rights people full-blown sociopaths? If I had a dollar for every time I'd seen a vegan propose testing on prisoners, I'd be able to afford a really really good steak.", and the thread discusses the same complaints about Pete Singer that cT was talking about in the post they linked. The conversation is mostly about Peter Singer and PETA.
    • The thread they linked to one of cT's posts in, May 13-16, 2018 - unknownanonymous starts a thread because they're afraid their vegan family members are judging them for not being (and not being able to be) vegan. The general consensus is reassurances that they're not being vegan at UA, they probably do not think UA is a bad person, and that UA's best course of action is to calm down. UA brings up that part of their baggage on this subject is from having read a book by Peter Singer and it sending them into a guilt spiral, which is why cT made the linked posts talking negatively about him and his philosophy.
    • Bad Content Breakdown Jamboree, Jan. 20, 2018 - I link a post with screenshots of a vegan claiming making tofurkey while not vegan is "appropriating" from vegans. People laugh at it.
    • Bad Content Breakdown Jamboree, July 10, 2017 - Post is linked that jokes about how animal testing should be replaced by human testing on bad people. I say "The thing I'm always tempted to respond to that sort of BS with is explaining, in detail, how even if you completely ignore every single ethical issue, humans are godawful test subjects." Thread briefly discusses strict veganism and consensual cannibalism, but no other particular dunking on vegans or animal rights activists.
    • Tumblr.txt, Aug. 11, 2017 - Carnivorous Moogle (no longer active) posts a link to a post by a vegan arguing with reasons given on a multiple-choice survey of reasons people choose not to be vegan. There is general disagreement, largely centering around that the vegan does not recognize any reasons it might really, truly, not be feasible for every person.
    I could probably find some more by searching for "vegans" and "PETA," but I've spent long enough on this already, and to my admittedly-biased eyes, this pretty clearly looks like when people here have problems with vegans, it's usually with a) Peter Singer and PETA, b) people in the animal rights movement advocating replacing animal testing with human testing, and c) militant, proselytizing vegans who have no allowances for there being any circumstances under which a vegan diet might be a bad idea.

    I actually have links to one of the times they might be thinking of that Jacktrash got in a fight with a bunch of vegans on Tumblr. I don't have exact dates on this because Tumblr's timestamps are terrible, but it was about late September 2018:
    1. Crochet blogger makes a post about "vegan silk," by which they mean rayon. Jesse reblogs to say that the phrase "vegan silk" is usually used to mean Ahimsa silk (which is spun from leftover cocoons after letting the silk moths hatch, rather than boiling the cocoons), and suggests not using it for rayon because rayon (a plastic) behaves differently when processed than silk (a protein fiber).
    2. The blogger replies saying Ahimsa silk isn't vegan because the moths are bred for the silk industry, and have deformed wings that stop them from flying. Jesse says both that their claims about moth welfare aren't true and reiterates that calling rayon "silk" can mislead people doing fibercrafts into expecting it to behave like silk and ruining their stuff. Jesse also quotes the wikipedia article on silk moths saying the moths used for Ahimsa silk are wild.
    3. Jesse screenshots a line from an unrelated post which describes people as wearing "gloves made from 100,000 insects' life's work," and uses it as an example of people not understanding the actual process of getting animal fibers, since the number is off by somewhere on the order of ten thousand times the actual number of cocoons needed. He says he thinks a lot of vegan talking points are a product of this sort of massive overestimation of the scale of harm done to animals. A bunch of people reblog to, among other things, say veganism isn't about not hurting animals, it's about not exploiting them.
    4. Jesse makes a new text post that reads "becoming vegan because factory farming is unethical is like deciding that since walmart and amazon mistreat their employees you are now going to get everything you need out of dumpsters." At a request to explain what he means, he makes a long post discussing that he thinks that, metaphorically speaking, you can walk away from Omelas all you want, but it isn't going to do anything to help the kid.
    (There might have been more relevant responses at some point, but those are the ones I had in my Discord log because a friend wanted links to rubberneck the argument.)

    (Man I spent way too long on this.)
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2019
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  18. Diagrapher

    Diagrapher New Member

    Thanks. I think I was doing exactly that.

    I'm glad to know you don't think all vegans are bad, although that post definitely still reads to me as claiming they are.

    ("I would love to meet [a non-arsehole vegan], but every time I think I have, it turns out they follow the philosophy." "I think it's because [argument that veganism is incoherent]. Being vegan is hard. And people willing to put that much work into something without bothering to learn enough about the biology and physics to evaluate the claims coherently are probably gonna be jerks.")

    I did do that; I was following Vastderp and Seebs on Tumblr five years ago, was vegan at the time, and got upset about their posts but didn't know what to say about them. Later I stopped following those blogs. More recently I decided I did know what to say, and it looked to me like that community had mostly moved to Kintsugi. I searched for "Vegan" here in case attitudes had changed and got the impression they hadn't.
    • Like x 2
  19. Kathy

    Kathy Well-Known Member


    For the record you might be better served addressing your criticisms to the specific people you've got something to talk about with rather than an entire community. Please don't ping me again here though, I'm tapping out.
    • Agree x 5
  20. seebs

    seebs Benevolent Dictator

    Well, yeah. Five years ago I hadn't yet met one who had a coherent position and wasn't an asshole about it, or at least, not that I was aware of. That's partially because most vegans don't advertise themselves as vegans, so if they're not aggressive, I wouldn't be likely to hear about them. And even then, the argument there isn't an assertion that they're all jerks. It's certainly not explicitly about all vegans; it has the "probably" qualifier right in there, not to mention the observation that it's about a specific form of argumentation I've seen presented. There might well be others!

    I think it's possible that part of the issue here is that I tend to say things and not be thinking about the implications people might conclude I probably intended, or the inferences they might draw. So it's easy to see me commenting on some issues with some group in terms of "members of this group I've interacted with", and assume that I intend a stronger generalization than I actually stated. I'm pretty sure that, even five years ago, if you'd asked me whether it was the case that "all vegans" were like that, I'd have said "of course not", because groups of humans just aren't generally that uniform.
    • Informative x 2
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