Vegan Action #74

    So, for some reason animal activism appears to be on the downswing these days or rather these years.  I have really noticed the difference here in Richmond.  About five years ago animal activism was a priority and a strong entity in this town.  Many of the activists from that time that still remain in this city are doing nothing related to animal rights or welfare and in addition are not even vegetarian or vegan anymore.  Naturally, I cannot help but want to understand this.  I realize that folks that are aware of factory farming and have been active in promoting equality (including non-human animals), no longer put animals as a priority.  What makes me think other folks in this country will?  Many previous animal advocates are still involved in politics, mostly anti-globalization and anti-war efforts.  These issues should be considered among priorities as well.  The concept of "equality for all" has fallen by the wayside.  For some reason, the animals that cannot scream and cry for our advocacy are so easily left behind in the struggle we are all involved in.  I have a difficult time trusting the integrity and determination of an activist that moves onto another cause as they have completely turned their back on a previous one.  If activists choose to redirect their efforts and refocus on a more pressing issue, couldn't they continue to not eat animals while doing so?  Is there some myth out there circulating among the lefties that says they can't be a true vegan if your not liberating animals?  It seems like folks in other cities are more consistent in their views.  They can focus on bicycling, not eating animals, reducing their consumption, and promoting peace.  In this little town, it seems like many activists focus on one or two issues and reject others, even the very ones they used to care about.  Is it a fear of being misjudged?  Is there some secret admiration in being disenchanted and unforgiving of our own day to day actions?   How can someone care about the well being of non-human animals in the past and then decide it just isn't worth it? 
This may sound bitter and maybe defensive but I am frustrated and want to find answers.  I try talking to people about it.  I am genuinely kind and try to keep folks from being on the defensive.  I am not judging as much as I am striving to understand.  The thought scares me and I wonder if it could happen to me too.  Could I get so jaded, so fed up and overwhelmed that I would just abandon such an intense passion?  I know I could never forgive myself.   Being vegan for the rest of my life is one of the only things I am sure about in this world.  It's easy to be vegan; it is within my control and it is essential for my mental, emotional and physical well being.  I cannot end capitalism this week.  I cannot reduce the world's consumption this month.  I can save the lives of animals every year I live.  This is what keeps me motivated most days.  The idea of having control over my actions gives me the strength to move toward changing this fucked up world we live in.  That's the other thing I am totally sure of in my life; working towards a more just world.  
    I have been told that some folks are no longer involved in animal issues  because it is a classist movement.  They say it's a privilege to be vegan and to advocate for non-human animals.  I see some truth in these ideas.  The movement has been and still is run mostly by white, middleclass people.  However, this can be said for many of the other leftist movements most of us are involved in.  Coming from a privileged background, I have had the opportunity to make it through life fairly easy and I don't know a whole lot about what it feels like to be directly oppressed.  I know about sexist oppression.  I know about appearance oppression.  I am affected by the oppression of capitalism, over consumption, globalization, environmental destruction, lack of democracy and the violent, pro-war mentality of the people in this country.  We could argue that many of these are classist movements.  We are privileged to fight for the rain forests we will never see or ending sanctions on people we will never know  We can direct our advocacy beyond our immediate needs.  Our home lives are well enough that we can worry about other's lives.  Isn't that a privilege?  If you are in a position of privilege and you can be helpful, then shouldn't you?  We have the opportunity to work on issues beyond our basic needs. 
    Should we be ashamed of our privileges, whichever they are?  Is it worth all of the effort to strive to be considered working class if you've come from somewhere else?  I'm not sure how the facade would make a difference in the effectiveness or ability as an activist. Although, I commonly see people doing it.  They are working to hide their parents' white collars, while keeping the dirt under their nails.  Why focus on yourself so much and not just work for the things you care about? 
    Why are vegetarian, vegan, and health foods more expensive and thus a privilege?  Because they are not funded and subsidized by the U.S. government like meat and dairy are. The meat and dairy industries are some of the most classist industries in this country.  They overwork and underpay their employees.  They are among the most dangerous jobs in the world and they market their products right back to the same people that are oppressed to produce them.  Consuming meat and dairy products directly supports the industries that oppress the working class.  If meat and dairy were really expensive and hard to obtain would working class activists then be vegetarian or vegan again?  
    These Canadians say it better in one song than I could in pages and pages of my own writing:
Some of my otherwise brilliant and productive friends (like scoundrels and their flags) take final refuge in character assassinations; they ignore the issue and deny the relation between our consumption and brutality.  So you can go ahead and roll your eyes and marginalize me/socially penalize me; play on my insecurities.  And you can feign ignorance, but you're not stupid, you're just selfish.  And I kinda thought we all shared common threads in that we gravitated "here" to challenge the conventions we've been fed by a culture that treats (living, breathing, feeling) creatures like (biological) machines.  And if you buy that shit then how long til it's me who serves as your commodity?  Through (for example), institutionalized oppression of workers and women raped by sexism (and how about native americans?).  Do you still insist on feigning indignance (aka: indignation) to reason?  To collective self-interest?  Tell you what - I'll call you on your shit, PLEASE CALL ME ON MINE.  Then we can grow together and make this shit-hole planet better in time.  So why not consider someone else; STOP CONSUMING ANIMALS. 
Song #1: Apparently I'm a "PC Fascist" (because I care about both human and non-human animals).  — Propagandi  from Less Talk/More Rock.   Get that shit.

Review:
THE LITTLE BOOK OF VEGAN POEMS by Benjamin Zephaniah
Fun book of poetry that is really fun to read out loud to your friends and kids.  You can't read a poem in it's entirety without smiling and laughing.  These come from a poet, actor, activist and musician who lived in England, South America and Jamaica and playfully uses the classic Rasta slang to promote veganism and the seriousness of respecting non-human animals.  It would be a good gift for a wee child.  (AK Press) (-Krissi)