Veganism adrift – Why we shouldn’t be so quick to praise “vegan” celebrities

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Painting by Ludolf Bakhuizen

As a vegan, I am angry. I am angry because the word “vegan” has been diluted to near meaninglessness by weight-obsessed pseudo-vegan celebrities, and the cult-like adulation they receive from a large part of the vegan(or rather “plant-based”) community. It seems every time a celebrity goes on a mostly plant-based diet purely for vanity reasons, the usual suspects promote them as the ultimate vegan role model. As a way to promote veganism, this approach pretty much always backfires for the vegan community, at least for those who do it for the animals(as if there are other types of vegans; more on that latter). The foolishness of this spectacle is nauseating for vegans who know better.

It turns out that Beyoncé, the “vegan” role model du jour doesn’t just wear fur, she still still eats meat. A “vegan” who eats meat? Personally, I always thought the fur thing and the fact that she said she was doing it simply for weight-loss disqualified her from having anything to do with veganism. Still, this didn’t stop the vegan non-thinkers brigade from proclaiming Beyoncé as the new vegan idol.

Many vegan activists claim when celebrities go vegan or near-vegan, even though it is almost always temporary, insincere, and not for ethical reasons, this helps spread the word about veganism. I see things very differently. It’s already a lost cause if the veganism the celebrity is promoting is a temporary crash diet motivated purely by vanity or health reasons, since that isn’t what veganism is about in the first place. It’s not just a fad diet, it’s a lifestyle concerned with reducing animal suffering and is a life-long commitment. Or at least, that’s what it used to be about, before the plant-based health-nutters appropriated the term “vegan”. While I realize there’s a lot of overlap between health-conscious people and ethical eaters, this doesn’t change the meaning of “vegan”. Of course, if a celebrity does go vegan for ethical reasons, that’s great, and they could be useful for promoting the vegan lifestyle.

The only things these celebrity worshiping antics accomplish are confusion and further diluting the message of veganism. Ultimately, vegan celebrities make unreliable role models because all-too-often, they revert to their old meat-eating ways, giving the impression that veganism is difficult to stick to. And this isn’t just a hazard of health veganism, since some ethical vegans may also give up on veganism for whatever reason.

In the very least, I think the semantic issues could easily be resolved if people who go “vegan” exclusively for health reasons called themselves “plant-based” or “strict-vegetarian”; leave “vegan” for ethical eaters. It is, in essence, a word that describes an ethical lifestyle, not just a diet.

Related:
Does Beyoncé really understand what veganism is about? by SCOTT LAJOIE

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4 responses to “Veganism adrift – Why we shouldn’t be so quick to praise “vegan” celebrities

  1. I get you. It’s strange to cook a meal for someone who’s “vegetarian” and have them be surprised there’s no meat involved. I was vegetarian for nearly 30 years (I’ve gone back to the dark side), and it was always jarring to have someone ask if I ate meat or fish. I could understand asking if I ate eggs or cheese, but…yeah, it’s gotten a little strange. Just go your merry way, eating what you want, and explaining when you have to…

  2. Thank you for dropping by, Arlingwoman. I get sick of people asking if I eat chicken or fish too when I say I’m a vegan or vegetarian. So many people don’t get it, and in part this may be due to all the celebrity “vegans” who misuse the term and eat meat or chicken. I hope the day will come when I no longer have to explain in detail(often to the same person for the 10th time) what veganism entails. Take care!

  3. Love the painting you added to the blog 😉
    I even more regret how people who make this point (like you have in this blog) are classified as being purist, dogmatic, or extremist, …

    • Thanks for your comments, Trudi. It seems there are a lot of people who want to redefine what veganism means. Nothing “extremist” about reminding everyone what it’s really all about.

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