You Can’t Make This Stuff Up: Vegan Society “Ambassador” Claims That Promoting Veganism as a Moral Baseline “Damages” Animals

Fiona Oakes, Marathon runner and “Ambassador” of The Vegan Society, who stated on BBC Radio that veganism is not “for everyone” and “not probably for very many people” and who reinforced the notion that those who promote veganism as a matter of moral baseline and moral imperative are “aggressive, petty. . .fundamentalist nutters” stated that my position critical of her upset her “for the animals, the damage such comments and aggression do them.”

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So those who advocate for veganism as a matter of moral principle are causing “damage” to “the animals.”

Ms. Oakes made this statement in a thread on the Facebook page of Tim Barford Manager of VegFestUK, who supported Oakes, claiming:

Sadly it it is true that many people don’t get on well with a vegan diet and get very ill on it. Not an ethical justification obviously, but a plain statement of fact.

Yes, that’s right. Just in case that you cannot wrap your mind around this, here’s the post:

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Also, in response to a claim by someone that “people…like” me “prevented [him] going vegan for years. To think of all the animal cruelty [he] contributed to because the frightening enthusiasm of such people held [him] back,” Oakes expressed agreement and stated:

People are generally frightened of what they do not know or understand at the best of times but when it is presented to them in a ‘frightening’ way also, then they just back away and the aggression they are encountered with gives them the perfect ‘ excuse’ to do so.

Hard to believe, isn’t it? Well, see for yourself:

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So Oakes agrees that promoting veganism as a moral baseline is preventing people from going vegan and that explaining veganism as a moral baseline in a creative, nonviolent way is “aggression” and “frightening”?

You really cannot make this stuff up.

In my judgment, people like Fiona Oakes and Tim Barford are doing tremendous damage by reinforcing the idea that there are two options: (1) being a “fundamentalist nutter” who acts like a “radical extremist who just appears to be dictating to everyone what they should and should not do” or (2) stating that veganism is not “for everyone” and “not probably for very many people” because “many people…get very ill” on a vegan diet.

There is a third option: creative, nonviolent vegan advocacy.

But that does not fit with the new program of moral relativism and “flexible” veganism of The Vegan Society, for which Oakes and Barford are acting as cheerleaders.

Many people do care morally about animals. It is time that we stop treating them like idiots and engage in discussion with them about why their own moral concern should lead them to stop participating in the exploitation of animals and to go vegan.


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.

The World is Vegan! If you want it.

Gary L. Francione
Board of Governors Distinguished Professor, Rutgers University

©2014 Gary L. Francione

ADDENDUM, added August 6, 2014:

Bob Linden of Go Vegan Radio invited Fiona Oakes to his show to discuss these issues with me. She declined. Her spokesperson stated:

[W]e don’t want to continue the debate as it is essentially detrimental to the animals and the vegan cause.

So saying that veganism is not “for everyone” and “not probably for very many people,” and referring to those who promote veganism as a moral imperative as “fundamentalist nutters” is not detrimental to the animals and the vegan cause, but discussing it is.

You really can’t make this stuff up.