In Eurocentric history, in 1912, a plant-based diet was suggested as the proper vegetarian diet by the editor of the Journal of the Vegetarian Society in Manchester after a debate between readers – they deemed the reasons for milk and egg consumption unsatisfactory. The focus changed to Henry Salt’s emphasis on animal rights later. The ethics in other cultures predates it by centuries , the word ‘al-maarrist’ was coined by me in 2014 but anyway the word ‘vegan’ was coined by Dorothy (Morgan-)Watson in the 1940s. Her husband Donald Watson founded the first Vegan Society with Elsie Shrigley in London, in 1944. Veganism seeks to exclude anything that entails the exploitation and use of animals as far as possible, thus implies no use of meat, milk, fish, eggs, honey, leather, silk, wool, zoos, circuses, horse-riding, etc. Logically it should go beyond that, this short BBC radio essay gives an overview of what survived of Abul ‘Ala Al-Ma’arri’s poems. If there had been zoos, animal circuses, etc. back then, his ethics would no doubt extend to all of it.
I follow a strict vegan diet in spite of multiple food allergies, but one who cannot comply to the same because of health, or income, or who dumpster-dives (freegans), is vegan. There are freegans who are strict vegans and a Pole for instance who looks for freshly dumped egg and dairy products for his friends or relatives who were going to buy these products anyway. Bear in mind that the latter products are priced low with the aid of government subsidies everywhere and although they are perishables, energy-wasting methods are used to make their distribution easy (and their waste just as). With our diversity and differing circumstances in mind…
I define ‘veganism’ as the willingness to do the least harm possible on any group/page I’ve created because in a few words, it encompasses all the above as well as other forms of oppression.
Speciesism is the arbitrary discrimination against, abuse and murder of other species; while it is comparable to any other arbitrary discrimination, abuse and murder, it is important to prioritise respect for oppressed groups consistently and also not to engage in oppression olympics.
Compassion is not a requirement for morality. Since I have none, I favour respect, that and logic does not change with emotional states (towards the calf/towards the cat). If one wishes to be part of an ethical movement, one has accepted taking part of rational discussion. Those who oppress humans and persist to do so, denying or enjoying the harm they cause, or refusing to see it as harm, while calling themselves ‘vegan’ – harm the movement. I experience discrimination as a direct result of that in my communities, I call myself vegan and I may not get to explain that I do not mean white supremacist or privileged. I shouldn’t have to. There are other fine two-syllable words like ‘plant-based’ to denote herbivore; the term ‘anti-speciesist’ can be used in all languages.
It would be dishonest for an animal-rightist to pretend that it harms the movement for others to discuss ignored forms of oppression, or to explain how harmful inter-human oppression is. I’m oppressed and if I’m less so, it frees up my time and spoons to do something for them, it’s good for animals too. That’s simple maths. Erasing my reality and experience means wanting a white supremacist or privileged vegan movement (Remember that veganism didn’t come from white supremacy (nor did my own veganism) but factory farming and fur farming did, so obviously a lot more activism needs to happen in some regions, maybe white people need to shut up and do that)
If we advocate to give animals the same respect as we give humans, then encouraging the indifference to, absence of or dilution of equal rights, or of respect, among human does a dis-service to animal advocacy.
There are many individual vegans and activists who are outspoken against many forms of oppression, and this movement has some quotes from prominent historical figures you may recognise that promoted connectionism. Veganism, as it ought to be, is not limited to the above. Some of those whose voices should matter may not be in a position to be seen or heard. I’m not struggling financially and it took me long to start blogging and it’s not only time-consuming, I now have to organise internet access for it.