It’s surprising to me how often vegans are described as “extremists.” I’m a vegan (obviously), and I’ve never considered myself to be an extremist. None of my choices are extreme. There’s certainly nothing extreme about choosing to eat plants over flesh. Nor is there is anything extreme about choosing to avoid products that cause suffering and death. Oh my God, your shoes aren’t made of leather. That’s so extreme. Hold on, are you eating tofu again? That’s madness!
You bloody vegans. You’re so extreme.
But perhaps I am an extremist. My vegan beliefs are quite literally harmless, but what about the way in which I advocate for animal rights? Maybe that’s extreme. I obviously write some very extreme content on this site. And I’ve attended actual protests, with actual signs. I’ve even signed petitions.
Vegans are labelled as extremists because our values differ to what society tells us is normal. Ipso facto we’re not normal, which in turn makes us extreme. Not only do we shun traditional norms, we also want to force these values on others, and lure them to the dark and devious world of vegans where seitan rules all. We’re definitely not to be trusted.
I suppose some of this is a matter of perspective.
A family on an outing to the circus might view the protesters outside as extreme, while the protesters outside see lions locked up in cages, and elephants performing tricks as equally outrageous. You think we’re weird for giving up a Friday night to try and highlight animal abuse. We think you’re weird for actively supporting this kind of cruelty. Activists who try and rescue endangered ducks gunned down in the wetlands are vilified for their actions, but apparently it’s perfectly normal to go around shooting animals for fun. Offering water to a desperately thirsty pig being transported to an abattoir is seen as deviant behaviour, but gassing pigs and slaughtering them is just what needs to be done.
Veganism is rapidly growing but sadly we’re still the minority group, and as the minority standing up against the beliefs of the majority we’re the ones marked as radical. We get categorised into a hodgepodge of hippies, tree-huggers, dole bludgers, lazy lefties, with nothing better to do than spoil the day of upstanding citizens who honestly can’t see anything wrong with eating meat when they’ve done it all their lives, who wish we’d all bugger off and stop spoiling their well deserved fun thank you very much.
An extremist is described as “a person who holds extreme political or religious views, especially one who advocates illegal, violent, or other extreme action.” Politics and religion aside, I think it’s pretty violent and extreme to slaughter an animal for the sake of a meal. I also think it’s violent and extreme to snatch away newborn calves from their mothers so that people can have milk on their cereal.
The balance is wildly disproportionate. A right to eat what you want versus a right to life. A right to wear what you want versus a right to life. A right to watch what you want versus a right to life. A right to choice versus a right to no choice.
There’s nothing extreme about wanting to protect animals from a life of suffering and pain. It’s extreme to send billions of animals to slaughter to satisfy human greed. It’s extreme to allow animal agriculture to slowly destroy the planet. It’s extreme to mutilate and torture animals for the sake of fashion. I am not an extremist. Vegans are not extremists. It’s just the rest of the world has gone mad, and not enough people have pulled their heads out of the sand yet.