Welp, it happened again. Another (ex-)vegan gains prominence through a public admission of losing her veganism. A pseudo-vegan-nutrition-guru herself, Alex Jamieson declares “I’m not vegan anymore”. Who? You ask? She is the ex-girlfriend of Morgan Spurlock, the documentary filmaker who made Super Size Me. After that movie where he binged exclusively on McDonald’s food, Alex saves the day at the end putting him on a vegan detox diet. But after 13 years of being a vegan herself she declares herself no longer vegan.
So why did this Certified Holistic Health Counselor quit veganism? Cravings. Yeah, now there’s science for ya. While her typical blog post barely manages to scrape up a handful of comments, her ex-vegan post currently has greater than 1100 comments! Many are in support, many flame her but I did see the same tired fallacy employed to defend veganism.
NO TRUE SCOTSMAN
There’s a familiar defense from vegans when another denounces their lifestyle. It goes something like “oh they were never really vegan.” It’s actually a logical fallacy called the No True Scotsman. Requirements for membership of a group gets redefined to exclude the individual in question rather than owning up to failures for said group. Obviously Alex and apostates like her were never true vegans because veganism can’t be wrong. Or can it?
These ex-vegans can’t be shunned so easily. When people go vegan for health reasons or they espouse the virtues of health benefits for going vegan
they are never1 I have never seen them similarly challenged by vegans. Clear skin? Sure! Lost weight? Naturally! Anything that gets people vegan is a good thing so shut the hell up and hope they stay that way, for the animals. Once they have that foot-in-the-door bias in place, they’re in! Score one for vegans the animals! Vegans hate to talk about the messy and complicated ethical arguments, well until they have to.
When those magic health effects wear away though and lacking any foundation for support, often they leave. When they do, other vegans are quick to throw them under the bus instead of exhibiting the compassion they are otherwise so well-known for. With their backs up against the wall they fall back to the supposed ethical underpinnings and shame the apostate for those assumed arguments. Alex is no noob though. Vegan for 13 years she knows the score. She knows the compassion vitriol she faces by renouncing her veganism. Maybe that’s why she went out of her way to explicitly state some of her beliefs like:
I believe you can love and care about animal welfare and still consume them.
Is that so shocking though? Advocates like Vegan Outreach avoid the animal rights arguments and focus on suffering, welfare. Alex is still on board with this and specifically mentions it, also here:
I believe we should restructure the way animals are raised so that they live in more natural, comfortable, humane surroundings and stop force-feeding them 80% of all antibiotics used in the US.
And Bob’s yer uncle.
“Oh but veganism isn’t about health and welfare, it’s about the inherent interest of animals and let me quote the founder Donald Watson…” Stop. Well it took you long enough. By the way, where you when Derpy McDerpson here was gavage feeding Morgan Sperlock vegan detox green smoothies? Wasn’t convenient then was it? But here you are. Perhaps this is what they mean when they say that people are more likely to come to animal rights through veganism. Eventually they’ll have to confront cognitive dissonance like this and adopt a more abstract position, leave or reassert a custom interpretation. Yeah, about this “lifestyle, not a diet” interpretation of yours.
So this Watson guy made up the word in some zine long ago, big fucking whoop-di-doo. The Vegan Society comes by later and makes it even more vague lumping in the health and environment shit. Who next? Any of this ring a bell? When somebody has to enforce an interpretation of a word especially as it relates to identity or belief system they are being a fundamentalist. This is how wars get waged.
I may not be a linguist2 but I think I know a prescriptive appeal when I see one and they are common when vegans transgress. Insisting we look to the dictionary or coiner for meaning pulls you out of the organic function of communication for the sake of taking higher ground. But then you gotta defend that hill. The health, environmental and ethical vegans start fighting over their interpretation of vegan dogma appealing to the authority of some obscure English carpenter of the 1940s. And watch out, those health vegans, they’ll fuck your shit up lemme tell you what. OIL FREE FRO LYFE!
So vegans, you can’t have your cake and eat it too.
•You can’t claim the health arguments and balk when those eventually fail you.
•You can’t flirt with new age pseudoscience and run to science to save you.
•You can’t brandish ploys of welfare and balk when people actually listen to you and eat “happy meat” because you could never conceive of such a market.
•This is what the bubble bursting looks like.
To do so will find you goalpost moving. Perhaps “vegan” meant one thing and people now do it for another. Who are you to insist otherwise? Are you gonna stamp your feet and call people names over it? Or are you gonna relax your grip on an assumed identity and find a new path to meet your true goals? What are those goals by the way?
Facing Failing Health As A Vegan | Bonzai Aphrodite
To Quit or Not to Quit Veganism | Jack Norris, RD
Do Some People Need to Eat Meat? | Ginny Messina, The Vegan RD
My Vegan Diet Caused Health Problems. Would Primal, Paleo, Or “Real Food” Be Better? | Kristen’s Raw
Why I’m no longer Vegan: Hardcore Vegan to Primal Paleo | Primal Nutritionist