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VEILED MEANINGS: Defending the word ‘vegan’

The term 'plant-based' is now beginning to be used as a noun referring to a human identity to mean a type of 'quasi-vegan' person. Some of those who use it instead of 'vegan' may do it because they might have a problem with the philosophy of veganism. They may not want to eat animal products, but don’t have any problem with animals being exploited. They may even think people against all animal exploitation are undesirable radicals they would hate to be confused with.

JORDI CASAMITJANA: In a broad context, a defender is a person who defends a particular thing or being that has been criticised or questioned, and who does so by arguing or acting in support of that thing or being. So, especially with my writing, I defend any group from the Animal Kingdom that has been unfairly criticised, disrespected, devalued, discriminated against, or misunderstood. This means that I used arguments and narratives to help change prejudicial perceptions about them and show the world how unfairly they have been treated. Part of such defending I have done with data, facts, and evidence that I have accumulated during research and investigations; part of it I have done by using philosophical reasoning and logic.

However, to be effective in such defending, I have had to look beyond the animals themselves, into the circumstances of their lives that explain why they need defending. This means looking at those who disrespect them and abuse them and trying to understand why they do it, but also those who love them and help them and trying to understand why they protect them. That’s when I discovered the philosophy of veganism from which a transformative socio-political movement sprang. If successful, in a few generations it will create the Vegan World where there will no longer be any need to defend non-human animals.

But such a world will be difficult to build because those who are building it are in constant attack from different fronts. They are attacked by the preservers of the current carnist status quo who want to keep exploiting animals in a human-supremacist way, also by those who were supposed to be their allies but ended up betraying them for greed or convenience, or from those who were supposed to be vegans and ended up sabotaging their progress either by ignorance or naiveté.

I realised that, in order to continue protecting animals, I had to begin defending veganism because this is the philosophy that will provide the most protection, and for longer — if it is successful in transforming society in such a significant way that it is no longer dominated by the carnist ideology. Nothing other than veganism can come close to achieving this, and this is why the veganism movement has been attacked from so many fronts and is at risk of either being cannibalised by other less effective movements, being diluted to the point of no recognition, or being outright destroyed without leaving any trace.

For example, in a new study, researchers at the University of Southern California set out to learn how vegan labelling influenced consumers, and they found that the basket without animal products that they were offering to 7000 participants was chosen just 20% of the time when it was labelled “vegan” but when it bore labels like “healthy” and “sustainable” more than twice as many people in the study selected it. An article from WedMD discussing this research is titled, “Is ‘Vegan’ a Dirty Word? Study Finds It Turns Some People Off?”

I must defend the vegan world, and to do that I must defend the veganism movement, the veganism philosophy, and now, it seems, I must also defend the word “vegan” for what it truly represents (not the “dirty word” some people think it is). This article is my attempt to do this at some length…

In modern times, a new word has appeared that is competing with the word “vegan”, but which has now taken a different meaning too. I have no idea who invented the adjective “plant-based” to be synonymous with the word “vegan” as an adjective, but you would find it these days in many restaurants, menus, and food labels intended to mean the same thing — I say “intended” because vegans who read it may interpret it differently.

Some of those who use it instead of “vegan” may do it because they might have a problem with the philosophy of veganism, and they do not want the product they are describing to be associated with it. These may be people who may not want to eat animal products but they don’t have any problem with animals being exploited (and they may even think people against all animal exploitation are some kind of undesirable radical woke people they would hate to be confused with)…

The next problem is that the term “plant-based” is now beginning to be used as a noun referring to a human identity to mean a type of quasi-vegan person. Although some use it as a noun regarding identity with the inelegant word combo “plant-based people” (PBP) or “plant-based person”, others just use “plant-based” (as in “He is not vegan he is plant-based”). In essence, it is used to describe people who eat the diet that vegans eat but do not apply veganism in any other aspects of their lives (such as in clothes, cosmetics, entertainment, etc). Again, this is confusing, because people under this label may be eating the exact diet vegans eat (and if that is the only aspect of the philosophy they follow they can be better called “dietary vegans”), or may just be eating food that does not contain animal products but animals may have been used in their manufactory process, or in testing some of the ingredients…

The veganism movement is a transformative socio-political movement that aims at the vegan world, not the plant-based world. In fact, we already live in the plant-based world, a world full of crops that was mainly plant-based but which carnists took over and imposed a patriarchal human supremacist animal-based ideology on top of it to gain control…

The vegan world of the future, on the other side, will be different from the plant-based world, as it will be immune to carnism domination because animal exploitation will not be tolerated at any level. It will be a world where veganic agriculture (without animal manures or pesticides) and precision fermentation (from bacteria, algae, and fungi) will replace traditional plant-based and animal agriculture. It’s a different world that humanity has never lived in but is achievable because is in alignment with our physiology and the ecology of the planet. It’s a different concept based on veganism (the exclusion of all forms of animal exploitation and oppression), not on plant-basedism (basing our society on plants). SOURCE…


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