There are two schools of thought to the “is just being vegan a form of activism” discussion.
One school of thought is that it’s not activism, because to be vegan is to meet a moral baseline, to be doing something that’s morally sound. People who don’t participate in the exploitation of children, or a minority group, aren’t activists.
The other school of thought is that by choosing not to participate in the indoctrination we’ve been a part of since we were born, we are activists.
I fall in the latter category on this debate.
There are many ways to use your voice for animals. I’ve spent a few years writing about vegan topics, but I’ve also talked with co-workers about the life-changing experience of visiting farm sanctuaries, or shared vegan cupcakes, or recommended the vegan stuffed french toast at the local pancake house. I’ve worn vegan messagewear and walked for farm animals. I’ve marched in the NYC Veggie Pride Parade and I’ve ranted at the television when a news story has proven that the majority still doesn’t get that animals are not things.
But I’ve also quietly eaten my vegan mac and cheese, purchased my synthetic sneakers, and rescued by beagle, Millie, from an organization that saves dogs from high-kill areas in the south. By doing these things, which align with my vegan values, I have been an activist.
Stay with me here. You might be thinking, “but you just did those things because they were the right thing to do.” You’d be right to think that. But in the first two cases, I was voting with my dollar. I chose to spend that dollar on products that don’t require the exploitation or death of animals. With the third case, I also, technically, voted with my dollar in that I did not spend one red cent supporting the breeding of animals.
To be vegan, you have to stop participating in the exploitation of nonhuman animals. This is not inaction; every choice you make is an action that has an effect on nonvegan companies. Being vegan requires action, even if you’re not shouting through a megaphone or throwing paint on an old lady in a fur coat. And if you’re telling me that cupcakes count as activism but the choice to be vegan in a nonvegan world is not, well, then, I guess we don’t see things the same way.
Which reminds me – I do not see veganism as a plant-based diet or a cleanse or something I do on certain days of the week. And perhaps that’s where we don’t see eye-to-eye. Activists live and breathe the cause they are fighting for. That is the difference.