E01 – Who Speaks for Us | Vegan perceptions in the media and whose voice matters
The internet age has allowed for an easy amplification of voices, creating pseudo-celebrities and careerist personas by those claiming to be vegan, and yet acting from irrational foundations that undermines progression for animal lives. The influence of blogs, video diaries, and podcasts has expanded the opportunities for individuals such as Durian Rider, Freelee, the Direct Action Everywhere movement, Gary Yorofsky, and countless others, to make careers out of being controversial and amassing followers and attention, while at the same time representing veganism through irrational thought, emotionally exaggerated expressions, and cherry picking vegan ethics.
Because these individuals have established themselves as spokespeople for veganism, attracting countless followers, we address the dynamics that allowed them to attain those positions, why their perspectives are regressive for veganism, and consider the ways to take away from their voice in order to amplify rational and strategically effective perspectives. We discuss the idea of interpreting and promoting veganism in ways that dilute it’s effect, by focusing on individual aspects of the lifestyle instead of the ethic as a whole. We talk about whether veganism is owned or should be owned by any specific group and should the expressions of veganism follow a loose framework or be left to a diversity of tactics, where anyone should be able to represent it how they think best. Then finally, we call out a handful of individuals and movements we feel are prominent voices in the vegan activist scene, and yet are fundamentally irrational and, therefore, deeply problematic in convincing the non-vegan public that veganism is a rational, logical ethic to adopt.
Our solutions based approach is three-fold. First, we call on the community at large to push back against these self-created representatives, to critique their expressions and call them out for not representing veganism as rational, ethically holistic, emotionally grounded, and intellectual.
Second, we encourage individuals to “become the media”, that is to say, not only be reactionary to irrational voices for veganism, but to take the initiative to put our own perspectives into the representations, to level the playing field and take away from these Trump-like expressions of what veganism should be.
Finally, we offer the strategy of “opting out”, of ignoring these intentionally controversial voices, and stripping them of the power of acknowledgment. We ask the larger vegan activist scene to not give a platform to these individuals, to not host them at conferences, on podcasts, on blogs, and elsewhere in the hopes their voices quiet and their followers decrease.