|Enewsletter • May 13, 2002|
"The owner of a huge egg farm battered over fly infestations, foul odors, and polluted creeks gave up control of its day-to-day operations a month after the state began revoking its permits. Buckeye Egg Farm owner Anton Pohlmann was trying to find a buyer for the company, which produces 4 percent of the nation's eggs: 2.6 billion last year, state records show."
"The participants tending toward omnivorism differed from those leaning toward veganism and vegetarianism in 2 principal ways: The omnivores (a) were more likely to endorse hierarchical domination and (b) placed less importance on emotional states."
This article was written in 2002. As of this date (Feb. 2005), the BK Veggie patty itself has been reformulated so as to be no longer vegan.
We've received some critical feedback in response to our articles regarding the BK Veggie Burger (BKV).
It is worth noting that Vegan Outreach has not argued that vegans must, or even should, buy the burger. However, in addition to believing that the BKV is a great step forward for the animals, we think the animals could be helped by moving away from defining "vegan" as someone who cannot eat anything from a certain list of ingredients. Rather, as we write in Why Vegan, we should focus on veganism as "striving to live without contributing to animal suffering." Specific to the BKV, vegans should be allowed to buy the burger without other vegans condemning them.
Of course, the ultimate trick is to get meat eaters to choose the BKV. Gaverick Matheny has already experienced some success:
[BK's] regular customers are exactly the people I hope to persuade to eat the BK Veggie Burger. If vegans believe they can persuade more of such people to eat the BK burger by trying it themselves, I think they should. I took friends and family to Burger King, and at least three of them are now hooked.
We also sympathize with the viewpoint of some vegans who want other vegans to buy the burger in an effort to ensure the success of a veggie burger for the fast-food-eating crowd.
Below are some of the comments weve received, followed by our responses.
You have become a corrupt marketing arm of the meat and dairy industries.
The last thing these industries would want is for the BKV to succeed.
Veganism is a religion – purity and consistency are of the highest importance.
Because "religion" is a sort of trump card in areas of law, under certain circumstances, it could prove beneficial to have the courts and government respect veganism as a religion. However, in the interest of promoting veganism to the public, we believe the animals are best served by avoiding the label of religion. Anti-racism generally isn't considered a religion; anti-speciesism neednt be either.
We respect the position that vegans should do everything to avoid all products of animal origin, but we don't agree that, at the present time, this is necessarily the way to reduce the most animal suffering.
You are harming the definition of vegan. Vegans should do all they can to avoid things like bone-filtered white sugar.
There is a way – though it may be convoluted and confusing to the public – that veganism can be defined so as to disallow bone-filtered white sugar while allowing plant foods with insect remnants (due to harvesting), plant foods fertilized with cow manure, products transported in boxes held together with glue, etc. However, the avoidance of sugar takes veganism into what must seem to outsiders as the realm of the absurd. Additionally, we do not see how avoiding sugar can, at this time, help the animals whose bones are used (or will be used in the future).
Killing insects is necessary; eating the BKV isn't.
How does one establish necessity?
The question should be: "What is necessary to minimize animal suffering," given the inevitable trade-offs of time, money, and energy spent avoiding nonvegan ingredients, versus our example to others and different means of reducing suffering. We have to keep these trade-offs in mind instead of thinking that avoiding certain ingredients is the end of our moral obligations.For us, veganism is a tool for reducing animal suffering. Doing our best to end the animals' suffering is more important than anything else.
The term "vegan police" is derogatory towards well-meaning people trying to do their best to help the animals.
We don't want to needlessly offend people by using the term vegan police. However, using the term gets some people (such as those who seek to inform other vegans certain foods aren't "vegan" by their definition) to reflect on their motivations. In most cases, acting as the vegan police and being concerned with seeking out ingredients is not helping animals. If someone asks someone else if something is vegan, then the person who answers cannot be accused of "policing." But if they offer the information without being asked well, what else can you call it?
Vegans are not acting dogmatically by viewing nonvegan items as taboo.
If someone is mindful of the end they are trying to accomplish and whether and exactly how their action will help achieve that end, then that person's actions are not being dictated by dogma. However, when someone avoids something only because it's "not vegan," then they are acting from dogma.
It's not always easy to find out if the bread in a restaurant contains whey, eggs, dairy, sugar, or honey. As polite and charismatic as one might be when questioning the waiter, observers get the impression that to be vegan you must do bold and uncomfortable things. This gives them a welcome excuse for thinking they could never be vegan.
An example of not acting from dogma, so as to reduce animal suffering: Say youre out with nonvegetarian friends who want to go to BK, and there will be no other options for you for a few hours. In this case, eating the BKV would show your friends that vegans have food choices and do not have to fast. This could reduce more animal suffering especially if you can convince one of them to get the BKV, too. Saying, You should eat the veggie burger, but its not ethically up to my standards sends a mixed message.
Some of my omnivorous friends think they cannot possibly be "pure" vegans, but they respect my rationale and some of them admire my idealism.
Do we want respect, or do we seek results?
Perhaps the best course is to emphasize to our friends that it's not necessary to be "pure"; they can reduce their support of animal cruelty by avoiding obvious animal products. This makes the avoidance of cruelty more obvious and more convenient. Why present veganism as an impossible (to them), idealistic philosophy?
In our experience, for every person who has been turned on to veganism by seeing a shining example of consistency and purity questioning waiters and hosts, a greater number have been turned off by thinking, "I could never do that." A practical vegan example is more welcoming to people who want to help the animals, but fear the slippery slope to fanaticism (or religion) and/or having nothing to eat at times when the only foods available are judged to be taboo.
Purity is great for self-satisfaction. But for persuading others, purity is trumped by convenience, and has less force than a straightforward connection to unnecessary suffering.
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