A Quick Word on Timing
Lately, I’ve noticed a trend of well-intentioned, specifically white, vegans responding to George Floyd’s murder and the resulting protests with “This is awful, but… [insert your preferred flavor of animal rights spiel]. Where are the protests about that?”
It kills me to have to write this. But please, sit your yoga ass down and listen.
I’ve been vegan for over a decade, and I’ve spent too much of that time arguing against apathetic people who denounce vegans for being “too loud.” Veganism is misunderstood as a movement centered around food, when really it’s about exploitation. It doesn’t matter if it’s the exploitation of chickens, humans, or rainforests. It ain’t vegan. It’s crushing to have people tell you you’re being “too loud”, “too brazen”, or even “too different” in 2020. I feel that to the core of my multiracial, non-binary soul.
But now is not the time to be raising hell and high water. I’m sorry to say it, but slaughterhouses aren’t going to disappear over night. You know what might, though? Another black life trying to mourn the death of the already dead.
“What about the ‘[m/b/tr]illions’ of animals dying every year?” just sounds like an elitist, granola version of “All Lives Matter.” It’s not a good look.
It’s okay to be concerned about the exploitation of animals right now. It’s not okay to say it to the black community. It trivializes what they’re going through and silences the efforts they’re making to be heard.
One of the best analogies I heard was imagine you’re at a funeral for someone’s child. Everyone is up in there ugly grieving while the parents speak about how good their kid was, all the good things they did, how they died too young. Then, in the middle of the speech, someone stands up and says “yeah, he was a good kid, but there are a million kids who die every year! What about them?”
What an asshole.
As a community that has been repeatedly ridiculed and silenced by people who either do not get it or do not care, we should be among the first to understand the plight of every black person, whether they’re shouting in the face of their oppressors in an attempt to get the attention of the public, or simply holding strong for a better world.
Being vegan needs to be as much if not more about fighting injustice as it is about making the perfect non-exploitative cheddar. To be clear, I’m not saying to be silent. Right now, if you are a vegan, particularly a white vegan, the best thing you can do is to stand with black people. Speak with them, not over them. Listen, support, and follow black leaders. Donate money, time, and power to black communities.
We will have our moment. Now is a time to listen and support. That way, when our time comes, people remember.