Happy New Year.
I certainly disagree with the idea of a “Meatless Monday.” But I wanted to offer a brief thought about this matter.
As you all know, I advocate veganism and I think that animal activism should consist primarily of nonviolent, creative vegan education. We ought to emphasize that veganism is easy and that anyone can go vegan today, right now, if they want to do so.
Having said that, if someone says to me, “I want to go vegan but I really cannot do it immediately,” I make clear that I think that the consumption of any animal products is not morally justifiable but I often suggest that such people go vegan for breakfast for some time period, then for lunch for some time period, then for dinner. I never advise that that they eat “cage-free” eggs or eat “happy” meat.
Similarly, I have suggested that people who are intransigent about going vegan immediately but who want to go vegan try going vegan for a day, and then try doing that a few days later, etc., until all 7 days are vegan.
In this sense, I would have no objection to “Vegan Mondays” (or whatever day) if it were made clear that this was: (1) in recognition of the ethical imperative that we cannot justify animal use; and (2) just one step toward complete veganism.
“Meatless Mondays” reinforces the idea that animal flesh is morally distinguishable from other animal foods. It is also promoted by many as an end in itself to reduce the environmental consequences of flesh consumption or as a health measure similar to reducing alcohol consumption. For these reasons, I do not support “Meatless Mondays.”
But I would support a “Vegan [Day]” if it were clear that this was a matter of our moral obligations to nonhuman animals and if it were explicitly portrayed as intended to be an incremental step toward complete veganism. I certainly am not opposed to making it clear that animal products are injurious to health and have deleterious environmental consequences. But I think that the central focus of such a day should be a moral reflection about animal use and a message that we ought to be moving to full-time veganism.
We should, however, never stop emphasizing that veganism is easy and is something that anyone can do right now to take a positive and significant step in the direction of nonviolence.
“Vegan [Day]” would at least have the virtue of not reinforcing the mistaken notion that there is a morally significant distinction between flesh and other animal products.
And remember: THE WORLD IS VEGAN! If you want it.
Gary L. Francione
© 2010 Gary L. Francione