Veganism is extremism? I came across an article in the UK press that has used veganism as an analogy to Islamic extremism of the sort that lead to the attempted Christmas bombing in Detroit. Now, care must be taken to point out that this is slightly out of context, as the author of this article was trying to highlight the attitude of University students as they search to establish their identity separate from their peers and their parents are highly susceptible to attaching themselves to a ‘radical’ movement. Whether this is socialism, environmentalism or veganism. However, there are always some bad apple extra-curricular activities students can get involved with. Like the British National Party here in the UK – a political party whose policies are defined by racism, intolerance and bigotry. And as the press is latching onto and sensationalizing, Universities can also be seen as recruitment grounds for Islamic terrorists. Preying on a students need to belong to something outside of the fringes of what their parents world was built upon.
You can read the original article in it’s entirety here.
Not wanting to get into a debate on politics or religion, let’s look again at that opening sentence: is veganism extremism? The analogy interestingly frames both Islamic extremism and veganism as comparative equals, however, the word extremism is now so linked to terrorism and violence that it can’t be any further from the beliefs held by vegans. And although distinctly different in practice and ideology, by linking them through analogy all kinds of negative connotations come to mind. So, no, based on the current view on extremism, veganism is not extremism.
But not only is veganism portrayed as being ‘bad’ it’s also put forward as impermanent. So next question, is veganism a fad or a a form of rebellion? It’s difficult to quantify the truth of this statement as statistics are sketchy, depending on where you go the numbers are all slightly different. However, all sources seem to agree that the number of people adopting a vegan or vegetarian lifestyle is on the rise. (If you want to see for yourself Google ‘vegan statistics’) Current numbers from selected segments of the population in the UK and the USA both show numbers ranging from 2-5% of the respective population are vegan or vegetarian, so although a minority, vegan is not a drastic or immoderate lifestyle. The temptation is to look at fruitarians or freegans when looking for food extremes, but even here, these is no need to point fingers to label someone different. Tolerance and acceptance of personal choice and individual freedoms is necessary for all people, so long as their choices don’t harm others. You want to eat only fruit, eat only fruit. You don’t want to be vegan, don’t be vegan. Everyone needs to make the decisions that are best for them. Stereotypes and assumptions lead to comparisons between people who are defined by compassion and moral conviction with people who are defined by violence and death. And that is not right.