I don’t mean to belabor this tiresome semantical tirade on veganism but hopefully this wraps it up. It ended up more personal than I meant but I’m posting it anyways. I have hundreds of drafts in the queue and hope to get back to more interesting things.
In my last post I reposted an interview done at the height of my vegan apostasy. Frustrated by the identity politics of veganism and finding no answers I shut it all down. I changed the name of my “Vegan Represent” vegan message board and called it “Plant-Based People” thereby pretty much killing it. I mean, I was never vegan because I wanted to be a vegan. I was vegan because I thought it was unfair the way we were treating animals. It was with gusto I jumped right into this vegan thing, I found my people!
But at the start of my journey I looked to the mentors in this movement and was lead astray by charlatans. They had me eating a raw food diet and flushing my colon with chlorophyll laced concoctions (seriously :|), my low point. Thinking, “I was wrong about eating animals I must also be wrong about a whole lotta other stuff!” left me wide open to be exploited particularly for a non-critical thinker such I was. Opportunistic snake oil slingers picked my pocket to the tune of thousands of dollars. But even with all that, I was lucky. I got away with my physical health intact.
Then I accidentally discovered skepticism. I had to understand that science was a way to learn about reality. It wasn’t a set of dogmatic facts conjured up by maniacal puppy punching mad scientists hell-bent on greed and world domination. I realized how wrong I actually was and I felt betrayed, duped, victimized and ashamed. So I lashed out, burning down most of the work I’ve done in my vegan activist days save for one and before shuttering that I was a bit more astute in my reasoning and less reactive. I read and read and still read and read. I learned that the history of veganism had the spirit (more or less) of what I was after. But really who cares what a white English dude of the 40’s said? I make fun of homeopathy and other silly bunkum for how they started but is that not true for everything? Reading books like The Better Angels of Our Nature I learned that things are shit but get less so. Medicine get better, science, technology, justice. What somebody invented, said, discovered, 50 years ago (much less thousands) should never be relied upon as doctrine. Heck, all my own beliefs were created by a dumber person than who I am today so the heuristics I rely upon should always be suspect.
Long story longer, veganism sucks, I still believe that. It still makes exaggerated claims. It’s a clownish cartoon caricature of a movement. It has a toxic pathological culture of pseudoscience. It almost always misses the point and often cynically exploits its adherents. But what ideology doesn’t eventually find the messy condition of fancy monkeys mucking things up? A new word, label, stance, sect, movement or ideology will ultimately find itself in a similar broken position. So let vegans eat their identity politics and let’s move onwards. Knowing it as well as I do too, I can point out the flaws and try to refine it, as I do here on this blog. In the very least it serves as a great foil to help illuminate. Wielding it this way has recently served me well enough I think and I’d like to continue. Otherwise if there’s any other purpose I can serve it’s the lessons of my bumbling self stumbling around trying to do the best that I can. Witness the folly of my naiveté and chuckle at my awkwardness. If it’s helpful somehow to some other kindred spirit out there, I’m glad for it.
So a shout-out to my friends, family, loved ones and acquaintances old and new who’ve patiently been by my side tolerating my manic elations and brooding crankiness. I would like to express my most sincerest appreciation and love. Expect more of the same to come but together we will make things better, yes? I’m gonna try to take to heart the inspiring words of hero Dr. Norman Borlaug:
“If I have anything to contribute to this world… I’m going to play that card and play it hard.”