Okay, it was on Facebook, so it was more snide remarks and disregard, followed by me being blocked, rather than an actual logical debate.. but I digress.
There's a page on Facebook that calls themselves "The Abolitionist Approach to Animal Rights." And as it's Monday, they posted a picture about how nobody should ever endorse or advocate for Meatless Monday, because it gives the false impression that eating meat is worse than eating dairy or eggs.
Let me say up front.. I get it. I'm passionate about this issue as well. I desperately wish that everyone would just go vegan. I wish we could outlaw factory farming. I wish a lot of things about animal welfare; and my behaviors and lobbying all match up with that. But I'm also a realist.
The reality is that most vegans didn't suddenly become vegans. They started with Meatless Monday, Weekday Vegetarian, Pescatarian, Vegetarian, or some other name along the way. So to say, "If someone won't go vegan immediately, it's not worth even talking to them." is a notion I find preposterous.
I think Meatless Monday is a great thing. It's accessible. It's simple. It doesn't have the negative connotation that the term "vegan" can have; thanks to such groups. It's been proven that Mondays set your pattern for the week. Which means a Meatless Monday can eventually lead to a meatless Tuesday, or an entire week. That's what change is all about.
It would be different if vegans weren't only 2% of the population. But that's where we are. The struggle ahead is a long one. We can't expect the ideal endgame within a few years. The populace isn't ready.
To this, they responded that I was a speciest, and that I was hurting animals.
Really? I'm hurting them? By getting people that have no interest in going vegan yet, to consider eating around 20 fewer animals per year. I'm pretty sure those 20 animals are grateful that I didn't just move on to someone else.
The point is, we have to approach everyone. You have to meet people where they are, and set them on a journey. That is the only method for lasting change.
I was vegetarian for three years before I was ready to go vegan. Sure, I wish I had done it sooner. But if someone, or a group, had been railing on me for not being "good enough," I never would have switched. Luckily, I had an old friend from high school, who had gone vegan, that would gently nudge me. He'd bring things up in conversation. But he had a sense of humor about it; and most importantly, a compassionate demeanor. I would have been completely turned off by the movement had he been attacking me or belittling my efforts. And I'm sure I'm not alone.
This group honestly reminded me of a dogmatic cult. "Our way is the only way." Sound familiar? This wasn't based on logic. The truth is, there are a LOT of ways to the same end. And I will encourage anybody who starts walking in the same direction with us.
Don't get me wrong, I'll always bring up the horrors of dairy and the reality of chick culling in the egg industry to anyone who will listen. It breaks my heart that people don't know, understand, or want to face the realities of these industries. But I will not shun, mock, or turn away anyone who is trying to make a change in the right direction.
This group, and I'm sure many others, neglect to understand that many people don't go vegan for the animals. Many do it for health or the environment. So, why NOT embrace them as they transition, and then teach them about the animal welfare part?
When someone embraces Meatless Monday, at worst, they're consuming about 20 fewer animals per year, they're reducing their carbon footprint, and they're starting to really "think" about their food.
At best, they're starting a journey to vegetarianism and possible veganism.
I don't see a down side.