A purported objection to veganism I’ve heard about 12 million times:
“But veganism is elitist.”
What complete nonsense.
Elitism involves promoting a perceived superiority of some sort. It involves the idea of according less moral value to the “inferior.”
As 2 seconds of thinking make clear, veganism is not elitist in any way. On the contrary. Veganism is about rejecting the idea that it’s morally acceptable to exploit sentient nonhumans because they are “inferior.”
Nonvegans believe in the “inferiority” of animals. It is they who embrace elitism.
Should a vegan believe that s/he is “better than” or “superior” to a nonvegan? No, Of course not. It’s not about judging people; it’s about evaluating the morality of conduct.
Is the vegan ethic of egalitarianism better than or superior to the position that it is morally acceptable to exploit the vulnerable? Yes, of course it is. A moral position is always better than an immoral one. A position that protects fundamental rights is always better than one that violates fundamental rights.
To say that veganism is “elitist” is like saying that thinking that all humans are equal morally is “elitist.”
The next time someone tells you that veganism is “elitist,” take that opportunity to educate that person in a creative, nonviolent way that the opposite is true.
If you are not vegan, please go vegan. Veganism is about nonviolence. First and foremost, it’s about nonviolence to other sentient beings. But it’s also about nonviolence to the earth and nonviolence to yourself.
Gary L. Francione
Board of Governors Distinguished Professor, Rutgers University
©2015 Gary L. Francione