Vegan Advocacy at its Worst

November 23, 2009

You always want to see an article by a vegan about veganism appearing in the New York Times. Unless it’s this one, published this past weekend. This godawful piece by Gary Steiner is a disaster:

The easy part of [coming to terms with animal suffering] consists in seeing clearly what ethics requires and then just plain doing it. The difficult part: You just haven’t lived until you’ve tried to function as a strict vegan in a meat-crazed society.

What were once the most straightforward activities become a constant ordeal. You might think that it’s as simple as just removing meat, eggs and dairy products from your diet, but it goes a lot deeper than that.

To be a really strict vegan is to strive to avoid all animal products, and this includes materials like leather, silk and wool, as well as a panoply of cosmetics and medications. The more you dig, the more you learn about products you would never stop to think might contain or involve animal products in their production — like wine and beer (isinglass, a kind of gelatin derived from fish bladders, is often used to “fine,” or purify, these beverages), refined sugar (bone char is sometimes used to bleach it) or Band-Aids (animal products in the adhesive). Just last week I was told that those little comfort strips on most razor blades contain animal fat.

To go down this road is to stare headlong into an abyss that, to paraphrase Nietzsche, will ultimately stare back at you.

The challenges faced by a vegan don’t end with the nuts and bolts of material existence. You face quite a few social difficulties as well, perhaps the chief one being how one should feel about spending time with people who are not vegans.

It’s hard to imagine somebody doing a better job of discouraging people from becoming vegan. And just in case the last sentence quoted above doesn’t make clear Steiner’s feelings towards omnivores, he continues:

Let me be candid: By and large, meat-eaters are a self-righteous bunch.

Way to attack your audience, Gary, that really wins points. I can’t begin to imagine how many potential vegans this article has turned off or frightened away.

The Times has really been cherry-picking its veggie coverage lately. Who says bad press is better than no press? It’s certainly not the case here. I’m going to be pissed off all week over this turd. (Thanks Larry & Nava.) Link.

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