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Vegans be Vocal?
Is it necessary for vegans to be activists?
Activism as defined by Webster's is
"a doctrine or practice that emphasizes direct vigorous
action, especially in support of or opposition to one
side of a controversial issue." Within the parameters
of this definition, there are many different kinds of
activism that could be suitable for vegans: environmental
protection, environmental justice, deep ecology, animal
rights, civil rights, human rights, social justice,
economic justice, nonviolent conflict resolution, hunger
relief, gender equity, rights for sexual minorities,
religious freedom, labor equity, abolition of vivisection,
abolition of capital punishment, boycotting exploitative
industries, and numerous others. Even though many vegans
may be drawn to activism that is specifically related
to animal suffering, such as "food animal" agriculture,
fur, vivisection, hunting, animal exhibitions, animal
racing, puppy mills, and similar concerns, there are
countless opportunities for non-animal-related direct
action in which vegans could become involved.
The definition of veganism does not
compel adherents to be activists in the strictest sense
of the term. This is because veganism is a philosophy
and way of living that is expressed chiefly through
the compassionate day-to-day choices that each practitioner
makes. Veganism is not a political movement, even though
both insiders and outsiders may see it as a political
statement or a loosely organized social movement. A
shared philosophy and the dynamic application of vegan
principles is what unites vegans everywhere. "Direct
action" by vegans is most commonly asserted merely through
the daily application of basic vegan values. These tenets
do not encourage or discourage zealous activism. One
can comply with all the requirements of veganism and
be highly outspoken, participate in nonviolent conflict
or civil disobedience, engage in protests or boycotts,
or remain subdued and unobtrusive.
Generally speaking, the vegan lifestyle
itself is a form of activism, regardless of how public
or private vegans may be about their convictions. On
the one hand, the vegan ethic does not oblige vegans
to participate in any type of explicit activism. On
the other hand, activism could be construed as an intrinsic
and consequential aspect of simply being vegan.
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