Veganism in America

Story By: Kevynn Gomez, Rampage Reporter

Vegans get a bad rap. While vegans may face stereotypes that they are pretentious, dogmatic, zealous or even unhealthy, they are a minority that truly care about their bodies, the planet, and the creatures we coexist with while living within a meat-loving culture.

For those aware of the atrocities occurring in factory farms, a strict diet is a simple, easy and ethical sacrifice that advocates a lifestyle beneficial for both humans and animals alike. It is also a frank way to protest an industry built on exploitation and pain, and for this reason, veganism can be a very emotional experience.

Many organizations exist to promote a healthy diet free of animal products as well as animal rights advocacy. Groups such as People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, Animal Liberation Front and Animal Liberation Brigade are well-known for their use of controversial tactics to gain public and political attention.

While certain vegan-animal rights groups have good intentions, they unfortunately risk silencing the educated and beneficial message that many meat-eaters should be aware of.

One may question whether their tactics go too far in their opposition of the food animal industries. Some find their edgy stunts counterintuitive to their goal of animal equality and humane treatment by ultimately alienating their largely meat-eating audience.

PETA has risen to infamy with ad campaigns displaying nude women and cheeky quotes such as “I’d rather go naked than wear fur” to emphasize their goals in an eye-catching yet sexual way. Their public protests in which they have stormed fashion catwalks or thrown paint on fur-wearers to draw attention to their cause have also drawn criticism for being too extreme.

The radical agenda of Animal Liberation Front has also fought to muddle the success of supposed inhumane organizations such as clothing shops and animal shelters. Wearing ski masks, carrying bolt cutters and black spray paint, ALF is considered a domestic terrorist group by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

The devotion these organizations display, while well-intentioned, is misplaced and only destroys the progress the vegan movement has gained in recent years. While these actions may be effective as unique marketing, the impression this extremism portrays is not of education and peace, but anger and violence.

As someone who loves animals, I can understand how painful it can be to acknowledge the tortures animals must go through. However, when animal rights organizations act with violence instead of compassion and tolerance, attention is ultimately drawn to their actions instead of the core beliefs central to their lifestyle and the benefits veganism and animal rights give to all.

Although many social movements have militant and moderate edges, it is ultimately the moderate end of the spectrum that truly affects social change. While extreme actions – to some degree – may be helpful in alerting the public to problems misunderstood or ignored on a large scale, these same actions can become polarizing and regressive when they become too extreme. Yet whenever these actions threaten others’ safety in any way, they abandon their original intent in exchange for violence.