Vegan support/FGV rant
If you follow me on social media, you might have noticed this post yesterday.
In case the post doesn’t carry across from Instagram for you, the basics involve me being fired up about all the vegan events taking place that are run by non-vegan companies.
There has been a lot of discussion about the way I said what I said, so I thought I would take a little bit of time to address some of the points here. I don’t have time to answer every post individually so I’m kinda condensing.
Q: Would you rather these people run events selling meat/dairy/armadillo shells?
Of course not.
I have championed for non-vegan business to sell vegan products and services for two decades. I would never make an argument for boycotting a non-vegan business that sold vegan products unless the company was problematic in other ways. This might include bad worker treatment, racism, sexism in advertising, or homophobia.
But offering a vegan meal in a non-vegan restaurant is VERY different to a non-vegan business running a high profile vegan festival or market. These events are using our strong community to make a lot of instant money from the goodwill of veganism. They are not simply welcoming vegans to their business, they are crafting and co-opting our culture and our meeting spaces in order to make profit with little or zero concern for what veganism means.
Q: Why does it matter if a non-vegan business is running an event?
When a vegan person or business runs a large market or event, the central focus is the vegan message. This is something that can be glossed over when a non-vegan develops an event.
Large vegan events run by non-vegans taking place in London generate a lot of income for their organisers. This income is then gone from the vegan community, to be spent by individuals and the businesses involved on non-vegan concerns. Some of this money is used to promote non-vegan food events run by the same organisers. Yes, money made at some large vegan events in London is being used to help sell dead animals.
However, vegan events around the country that are run by vegans keep the generated income within the community. Vegans spend money on vegan goods, products and services. We shop with local, independent vegan businesses. We support vegan charities with the money we earn.
Q: Why do you want me to boycott vegan events run by non-vegans?
The idea behind my temperamental rant grew out of frustration.
I had just seen an announcement about how a new weekly vegan market is to be launched by a company that also runs a market that showcases dead animals.
I am not suggesting anyone boycott this or any similar event but rather I’m expressing how frustrating it is to see these events being launched by non-vegans when they could be and should be vegan led.
Q: Why are you angry at me? I don’t have time/I have children/I am just one person.
I am not angry at any one single person and I don’t hate anyone.
I am frustrated with our community as a collective. Yes I understand how incredibly hard a lot of us work because I have been on the front line for a decade with thousands of others.
My statement was an angry-sounding plea to our community to organise. This plea is sympathetic of individuals who do not/cannot organise due to a multitude of reasons. This might include disability, illness, financial restrictions, family commitments, mental health considerations, and other situations.
What I am saying is that we HAVE to fight hard to organise big ticket vegan events on OUR vegan terms. We need to do this for the animals and for the financial security of our community.
I have been doing what I do for a long time and what upsets me is the attitude I see in a lot of people in our community when it comes to organising. A lot of us would like everything done for us, no matter where this takes our money.
I stand by this. A hell of a lot of us could be doing a hell of a lot more. If this doesn’t apply to you, good. You know what you do and I’m not speaking about you.
Q: Aren’t you a hypocrite because you tell us about new vegan products are at Tesco/Wagamama/Pizza Express?
Once again, I have been extremely open about how and why I share news from mainstream companies.
I think it helps many people with limited finances and/or mobility considerations to be able to have easy access to vegan options. They also help people make a transition or stay vegan.
I would have something very different to say if Tesco started a weekly vegan lifestyle show!
I often bookend posts about Tesco or other mainstream businesses by stating how I think we should shop with local, independent vegan business whenever possible.
Q: Didn’t you support Arancini Brothers when they weren’t totally vegan? What’s the difference?
Arancini Brothers were not running large scale events based around the vegan lifestyle. They were trying to find a way to transition their business to a completely vegan one and I was attempting to leverage my platform to push them the rest of the way.
Q: Isn’t this easy for you to say as a rich vegan making thousands from events?
I’m not in the habit of justifying my income to anyone outside of UK and Australian taxation entities, but I hardly make what you would call a lot of money. In fact, mine and my partner’s current combined income from running vegan events is less than what I used to earn on my own as a school teacher. Seriously… and we all know teachers aren’t paid enough, either.
I make less money than non-vegans running vegan events because I charge businesses smaller amounts of money to trade at my events because I believe in supporting independent vegan business. Because I want them to be able to make a living out of saving animals. This rarely happens when non-vegans run vegan events.
Q: If I am confused by all of this, can you explain just the basics again?
I would love to see more vegans being the driving force behind events and markets that are explicitly vegan events.
These events are generating a lot of revenue and I would like to see this money fed back into the vegan community instead of sucked out of our pockets and used by non-vegans.
I am also concerned that non-vegans running large, visible vegan events work to diminish our vegan activist voices and remove animals from the centre of our message,
No, I don’t think you should boycott vegan events run by non-vegans but I would like you to consider how you can support independent vegan business in order to strengthen our fight to improve outcomes for animals.
I would also like to see more people becoming active in staging large scale, visible vegan events and markets. I say this with informed compassion, knowing that not every member of our community can contribute to events.
Q: Why should I care what you say?
You don’t have to. This is my opinion. It is not the law. I am not the vegan police. I’m just a fat guy trying to do what I think is the right thing. Take it or leave it.
I agree with you on most things, not this. My general experience of an awful lot of vegan events I’ve been to are that they are badly organised which has led myself and my partner to joke that vegans couldn’t organise a tub of hummus in a chickpea factory. Maybe I’ve been going to the wrong events though….
I think any step towards veganism is ok, and yes there will always be people who profit from it who maybe shouldn’t, but that’s the nature of the capatalist society we live in. I think encouragement not critisism is needed as the more these events happen the more it will become mainstream.
No further explanation required here. I get what you are saying and understand your frustration.
A very good point that’s fully understandable. I personally think that yours is an higher level of consciousness about being a community first then vegan commited, surely a message not so easy to transfer to others.
On my businesswise view I personally experience daily this missing piece of the vegan london puzzle.
Thanks a lot for sharing so openly your thoughts, appreciable sign of love for something that could be considered a mission rather than a simple passion.
All the best
This is excellent. Thank you for your work and patience.
Good effort, fair point well made.
Q: How would you suggest active people could help those who (through committments) are less able to be engaged with other vegans to (i) know which vegan events are being run by non-vegans, and (ii) choose to support the ones run from within the community (even if they don’t have time to be/feel a part of it)?
The easiest way to find out if a vegan event is owned/run by vegans is to ask the organiser directly. This can be done on social media.