We vegans are often accused of being “self-righteous” (among other things!) If I am totally honest, I do find that to be true about some of the vegans/ARAs that I know, self-righteous and intolerant, even towards others on the same side as them. Another blogger on this site, Whitney Metz, wrote about this phenomenon recently in her awesome article “The Importance of Support In Animal Rights”, focussing on how a lot of ARAs turn against one another, and are very unforgiving of one another’s failings, and give others a hard time for not being “principled” enough. I get sick of all the in-fighting too, and I wish it would stop: we need to have a positive and encouraging outlook, and focus on what people are doing right, not what they are doing wrong (and that applies equally to people who are already vegans/ARAs or those who are at present flirting with the idea).
Maybe it is because we are naturally conscientious and compassionate people, who try to live our lives causing the least harm possible to anyone. It is hard to get away from the “self-righteous” tag though, because, what it all comes down to, is that we know we are right about our ideological stance, fighting for animals to have rights, and we can’t in all conscience ignore what most of the world does to them, the immense suffering that is caused. We have to stand up for what we believe in, and try to stop the atrocities from happening: it is simply the right thing to do. There is, however, no point in acting as if you are morally superior just because you are a vegan: we all have our faults and problems after all! But veganism should be considered the moral baseline for any civilised person, the minimum standard of decency below which you should not stoop (if you can possibly help it).
We are also accused frequently of being “hypocrites”, because we can’t live up to some completely impossible, unattainable ideal. (Don't you all get sick of omnivores pointing out to you all the plants you are destroying, and that plants are living things too?! Or the fact that maybe worms, insects and mice, for example, are being accidentally killed in the process of harvesting food crops?? True enough, I am sure, a very weak argument though.) So we are “hypocrites” because we can't do everything perfectly, that however ethically and sustainably we try to live, we are still causing some damage? Yes, but we are limitting the damage we do as far as we reasonably can, trying to tread lightly upon the Earth. Doesn't that count for anything? Doesn't that make us “better” people than all those who don't care and live their lives in completely selfish, heedless, egotistical ways?
Some get angry about our making them aware of what happens in factory farms, slaughterhouses, etc: a prime example of that is social networks like Facebook, where people complain or unfriend you if they don't like the AR petitions, photos, etc, that you post on your wall. I suppose denial of unpleasant truths works for many, up to a point anyway. I am obliged to say to people, if they object to the images which do nothing but show the truth, that they ought to be part of the solution, rather than part of the problem, and stop supporting the industries which do these things to animals. What else can I really say???
( BTW, the accompanying photo was taken at a demo in London, England, a couple of years ago, Meat Abolition Day. That's me in the middle in the hat and brightly-coloured scarf!)
Image credit: Tobias Akerboom (at hutmeelz)