Somebody (a friend from Australia, maybe?) shared this article some while back. I saved it to read later, as it is quite lengthy. I finally had a chance to read it today. The article is written by a self-professed member of the gray tribe, versus the blue tribe or the red tribe.
Love the article! Lots of laugh-out-loud moments for me.
So much to discuss here! If you get a chance to read the article, please comment below, with your thoughts. Here are some of mine.
I agree very much that it’s fun to criticize other people, who are in our (personally defined) outgroups. When it comes to the red tribe and the blue tribe, as defined in the article for people in the USA, I’m not a member of either one, so that’s probably why I can criticize both of them so easily.
I am more similar to the blue tribe, in practice, that’s true, but my belief system sometimes varies from what the blue tribe believes. The author of this article talks about a spinoff, called the grey tribe, for nerdie tech savvy libertarian male gamers and such. I don’t fit that description, so perhaps I would belong to another blue tribe spin off … the aqua tribe, maybe?
This idea of being in between, is also true for the concept of a vegan/vegetarian tribe versus a meat eater/non-vegan tribe. There again, my “ish” status puts me somewhere in between. I’m not a member of either one, so I can easily criticize both groups without being offended myself.
That being said, I choose NOT to criticize people who consume animal products. Of course, not bring a full-fledged member of that tribe, it’s not because I would be offended by the idea of such criticism. It’s because people who regularly consume animal products are the ones that I want to inspire to see how they can reduce their consumption of animal products AND/OR to continue consuming animal products at whatever is the reduced amount that they are comfortable with.
It’s very important to me, to broadcast far and wide, that there is no need (for the sake of animals) for any one person to be 100% vegan.
The reason why I think that is so important is because it seems most people (perhaps 98% of the population?) don’t want to live with the level of restriction that comes with a commitment or sacred vow for everything to be 100% vegan.
Once people realize that they don’t need to be 100% vegan to help animals, that opens them up to other animal-friendly lifestyles, such as being a vegetarian, reducetarian, no-chickenatarian, pescatarian, part-time vegan, flexitarian, or many other possibilities that may fit with their lifestyle when 100% veganism doesn’t.
If people are being criticized for whatever animal products that they do consume, that could make them feel bad, and then they wouldn’t be affirmed for pursuing whatever more animal-friendly path that currently works for them.
Conversely, if people (example: vegans) who consume ZERO animal products feel bad or are pissed off when I tell them that they don’t get any virtue points for wasting food and/or making life difficult, just to make sure that they get a 100% vegan meal, that doesn’t matter to me one bit. Such people are already not using any animal products so they don’t need any inspiration for me. Plus, they already get plenty of affirmation from the vegan websites, vegan magazines, etc., telling them that they are the savior of animals, how virtuous they are, and yadda yadda yadda.
Even meat eaters will often wistfully say that they admire vegans, but they could never do that (could never be vegan themselves).
I don’t agree with all of this veneration; I honestly think vegans sometimes do a poor job of advocating for animals, especially when they make people’s lives difficult, or stoically skip the festive food (like a shared birthday cake). I believe such situations underscore other people’s beliefs regarding veganism being perhaps commendable but not something that they personally would want to pursue.
Now, if vegans get pissed off and ignore me, that’s fine. Why? Because I don’t need vegans to read anything that I write. Vegans are already off to the races, doing their thing; they don’t need any extra inspiration or affirmation from me.
Some people mistakenly believe that I have a goal to inspire vegans to be less vegan, or to try to “show them the error of their ways.” That’s not true. I don’t give a darn what vegans do or don’t do. They are such a small percentage of the population; they make very little difference for animals anyway.
What I care about is the other 98% of the population hearing and absorbing the opinion (yes, it’s just an opinion) that’s it’s actually not even ideal advocacy for the animals to be strictly vegan (meaning: no exceptions, no matter what). If you agree with this opinion, then you might be able to understand when I say this: if you’re not vegan, there’s nothing to be ashamed off.
For the sake of animals, I think that’s a very important concept for 98% of people (the non-vegans) to see.
Finally, because vegetarian food, veganism, “arugula” (mentioned in the article), and all of that, are associated more with the blue tribe than the red tribe, there is a tendency within the vegan movement to disavow anyone who belongs to the red tribe. For the sake of animals, I think that’s a big mistake.
Often times in the vegan movement, people talk about Intersectionality. What they’re really talking about is affirming blue tribe values and ostracizing people with red tribe values. They say that it’s because veganism should be an extension of animal rights and human rights, but the type of human rights they want to promote are blue tribe values.
On these human rights issues, personally, I tend to follow the blue tribe. However, when it comes to helping animals, if you want to say that everyone who is against abortions being legal, and who is against gay marriage being legal, and so on, should not be allowed in spaces where people are discussing how to eat more animal-friendly meals, then how are the animals ever going to be helped?
Some people like to say that the animals can never be helped as long as human beings are still being oppressed. That’s not true, though, obviously.
If everyone in the world were to decide to decide to eat lentils, tofu and other meatless protein options instead of chicken meat, for example, then, billions of chickens would no longer be killed every year. Sure, trillions of fish and millions of pigs, turkeys, ducks, goats, cows and other animals would still be harmed (same as they are now), but we’d save billions of CHICKENS every year from being hatched and killed.
And yes, millions of people who are being oppressed right now would still be harmed. But you know what? The benefits for chickens (it’s the benefit of never existing) can happen, even if abortion were illegal all around the world and even if gay marriage were illegal all around the world.
Of course, there’s no reason why anybody needs to make a choice between supporting one “blue tribe” cause or the other. My point here is that many of the various causes are not in the least bit connected.
When tasty vegetarian meals, like falafel gyro or lentil curry can be popular with such a large percentage of the population (and it doesn’t matter whether the person is pro-choice or pro-life, they can still enjoy the animal-friendly meal just the same), it seems to me, a very big mistake to exclude people who don’t belong to your tribe, and who therefore don’t live up to whatever standards you have set for being so-called intersectional.
Conversely, many people who are advocates for human rights, like Bernie Sanders, Nelson Mandela, and Martin Luther King Jr., are not or were not vegan or vegetarian. Does it seem helpful to exclude such people from their crusades for human rights simply because they may not advocate for animals with the daily food that they eat? (Note that Nelson Mandela and Bernie Sanders are or were in the habit of eating some daily vegetarian meals, such as breakfast; good for them.)
In my mind, what needs to happen to make some breakthroughs on specific issues is for people to understand that they need to form alliances with people who disagree with them on other issues. That means cooperating with people who are in other tribes. If you need their participation, it’s not going to help your cause to exclude a large part of the population who are on board with you about this but who disagree with you on something else.
Those are just some ideas that come to me from reading the article. What are your thoughts?