Vegans: don’t use language that doesn’t belong to you
This is an exclusive excerpt from my book Fat Gay Vegan: Eat, Drink and Live Like You Give a Sh!t. Published by Nourish.
An important exercise in flexing your compassion has to do with respecting language that doesn’t belong to you or to veganism.
One sure fire way to NOT be the kindest and most compassionate vegan you can is to appropriate the language and imagery of oppressive struggles as a way to draw attention to the animal rights movement.
Many activists find themselves comparing industrialised farming to slavery or the Holocaust. It is alluring to reach for something so undeniable in its horror, renown and infamy to conjure emotion and grab attention but what you are also doing is minimising the reality of what people went through and are still living through today.
Industrialised farming has enough of its own atrocities that can be explained in clear language attributable to that distinct situation. There is no need to use language that does not belong to the vegan movement.
Historical and current references related to slavery, genocide and sexual violence against humans are not ours to use as we please. It is harmful and disrespectful to do so.
If you would like to get hold of a copy of this book, you can order online via Amazon.
If you are in the UK, you can order online via The Hive. This is a great way to support your local independent retailers as your order will be fulfilled by a high street store.
You can also buy directly from independent vegan businesses such as What The Pitta in Brighton, Essential Vegan in Shoreditch, and Ms Cupcake in Brixton.
Thank you for this. I feel uncomfortable when these terms are used in pro-vegan contexts.
My suggestion is that when we use terms historically and currently attributed to human experience (death camps, slavery, rape, Holocaust, etc), we are trading on the horror of those experiences to illicit an emotional response for our cause. I don’t think this is a compassionate approach to vegan campaigning.
But the comparison between the human and animal Holocaust was first drawn by Holocaust-survivors..
If a Holocaust survivor wishes to use that comparison, it is their lived experience to use as they see fit. I don’t think it gives everyone the right.
I disagree, but you’re entitled to your opinion.