Marathan runner Fiona Oakes is an “Ambassador” of The Vegan Society.
Here’s what Ms. Oakes had to say in a June 2014 BBC Radio interview (at 3:00 minutes in):
I run in a positive proactive kind of way to promote a vegan diet…I’m not saying that it’s for everyone, I’m saying that it’s not probably for very many people…
Ms. Oakes fits perfectly with The Vegan Society’s position that veganism isn’t a moral baseline; it’s just a matter of consuming vegan trainers, lipstick, etc.
Veganism, which involves not eating, wearing, or using/consuming animals, is for everyone who believes that animals have moral value and are not just things. Indeed, veganism is the the only rational choice for those who believe that animals are not mere things.
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
©2014 Gary L. Francione
ADDENDUM, added July 20, 2014:
Ms. Oakes takes the approach that is taken by all of the bloated new welfarist “flexible-vegan” animal charities, including The Vegan Society: we cannot promote veganism as a moral baseline because that would be to tell people what to do, force people, dictate to people, be perceived as fundamentalist, radical, etc.
Promoting veganism as a moral baseline does not involve “forcing” anyone to do anything. It is a matter of explaining to people that for the very reason that they think that it’s wrong to harm dogs or stuff cats into rubbish bins, most people already accept the moral principles that make veganism anything but “radical.”
That’s the whole point. I am sorry that Ms. Oakes missed it.
And, as is typical of the welfarist/flexitarian crowd, Ms. Oakes does not engage the substantive criticisms. Rather, she reprimands those who criticize as being “aggressive and hostile.”
No, Ms. Oakes, I am just critical of your making a statement on BBC Radio that trashes veganism as a moral principle and states that veganism is not “for everyone” and “not probably for very many people.”
And I am critical of your now attempting to cover by negatively depicting those who regard veganism as a moral imperative and saying that the alternative to selling out is forcing people and “dictating to everyone what they should and should not do,” etc.
Ms. Oakes is reinforcing the very stereotypes she claims to want to distance herself from. Rather than making it clear that veganism makes a great deal of sense given other beliefs we unquestionably have as a cultural matter, she reasserts and reinforces the notion that those who believe, through reasoned analysis, that veganism is a moral imperative are “fundamentalist nutters.”
Ms. Oakes’ statement refers to the “masses” who won’t be able to understand veganism as a moral principle. What elitist rubbish. And what a convenient excuse for someone who wants to be as uncontroversial as possible because she thinks that is the way to get more radio spots.
It’s a good thing that the slavery abolitionist movement was not dependent on people like Fiona Oakes. The slaves would still be picking cotton. But Ms. Oakes would be doing more radio shows.
Creative, nonviolent vegan advocacy is the opposite of “forcing” and “dictating.” It is using reason, and commonly shared moral principles, to get people to see a moral issue in a different light.
Fiona Oakes ought to try it sometime. It works.
ADDENDUM, added July 29, 2014:
Fiona Oakes was invited to appear on Go Vegan Radio with Bob Linden on August 3, 2014, to discuss this with me. Through her spokesperson, she declined. The response stated that the debate would be “essentially detrimental to the animals and the vegan cause” and that my comments on this matter were “abusive.”