The excellent Go Vegan World campaign run by Eden Farmed Animal Sanctuary recently launched in Bristol, and the Bristol Post wrote an article about the event with a great commentary from the campaign founder Sandra Higgins. The article itself could have been enhanced in a couple of ways, by acknowledging that everyone needs to make sure they meet nutritional requirements, and where they distinguished between a vegan diet and ‘strict’ veganism. It is worth pointing out there isn’t ‘strict’ veganism, if we are referring to food products then it is more accurately a plant based diet, if people are also considering different areas of animal exploitation in their lifestyle, then it would be more descriptive of veganism [i].
As part of the Bristol Post article they asked the question as to whether the adverts were offensive to meat eaters, and this included a poll. Respondents to the poll overwhelmingly said the adverts weren’t offensive (92% on the 14th January) and it follows that people who eat animals wouldn’t find the posters offensive, because to find them offensive would be to admit there is an issue with animal exploitation, particularly animal farming. Yet the posters themselves point directly to these issues, and they are difficult to ignore, whilst asking the question of whether meat eaters are offended (this would likely include vegetarians in relation to eggs and dairy) overlooks whether the normal day to day promotion of animal consumption would be offensive to vegans. This idea is usually marginalised or not considered at all, and it is unusual for people from the majority position of animal consumption to consider vegans in a meaningful way. However, this situation does seem to be changing, as more people become vegan it is increasingly difficult to avoid and sweep under the carpet, whilst non-vegans are becoming more aware of needing to include vegans in certain events, especially celebrations.
In this regard, an increasing number of businesses are beginning to understand how this would work, and the days of mocking veganism as a minority interest are steadily coming to an end. Instead people are having to seriously consider the needs of vegans, and what veganism means. This appears in different ways, including how supermarkets and restaurants have started to compete for customers on the basis of veganism. Families who have a vegan family member are more likely to shop in places that offer the most variety for vegans, and when going out for dinner the restaurants that consider vegans are likely to get frequented more often than the ones that don’t.
Overall, one of the main benefits of the Go Vegan World campaign is how the adverts have given a clear message about animal exploitation, one which is not easily dismissed in a country which is shifting toward the ideas and lifestyle that inform veganism.
[i] Veganism is a “philosophy and way of living which seeks to exclude—as far as is possible and practicable—all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose; and by extension, promotes the development and use of animal-free alternatives for the benefit of humans, animals and the environment. In dietary terms it denotes the practice of dispensing with all products derived wholly or partly from animals.”