The way this year has begun suggests that this will be the greatest year for veganism yet, with record numbers of people signing up for Veganuary, veganism being discussed on mainstream daytime television, fantastic new vegan food products being introduced like the ‘Wicked’ Tesco range, vegan ads appearing in new places including major televised sports performances such as the Six Nations Rugby tournament - and with seemingly more people than ever becoming involved with vegan activism.
It seems that veganism is finally beginning to become normalised in our society, however with this growth in popularity there has and will continue for now to be a backlash in opposition to this growth. There has been fear-mongering and apparent fabrications of stories in mainstream media about vegan activism that have attempted to portray all vegan activists as militant and extreme. These claims are unfounded but are not unexpected - for with all positive and peaceful movements that have begun to create major societal change, there have always been those who have tried to discredit them. What we must remember is that we have the truth on our side and that veganism will continue to grow as society becomes more knowledgeable about how we use animals.
However this does not mean it will be easy. It means we have to have the difficult conversations with strangers and also the people we care about most, so that we can help them make better food choices, for the animals, the planet and for their health too. It means we have to trust each other to work alongside one another so that we can create major change. It means we have to decide how much we truly do care about the injustices happening to animals right now. It means we have to decide how to best use our time to help them.
We have to ask ourselves - what can we do today to be most effective? This means we have to look at ourselves and what we do and how we interact with others around us who want the same thing, and how we interact with those who don’t currently want the same thing. We can scale this from us as individuals, to us as groups, friendship groups, work groups, organisations and how we all interact and work together.
For we must work together if we are to create a vegan world. Veganism is something anyone can be a part of and there is such a variety of people, all unique and all with inspiring stories to tell, perhaps about how they went vegan or how they had a profound interaction with another animal, or how they really want to start doing more for the animals. With this diversity there are many differences and a variety of approaches that are taken to spreading the vegan message. However, despite these differences, our hearts beat and our minds speak, as one, with the universal message that veganism offers: that no animal – no matter whether they have hooves, horns, tails, wings, fur, feathers, hands or fins; no matter whether they bleat or cry or moo or growl or neigh or oink or cluck; no matter whether they think or hear or sound or look entirely different; no matter whether they were wrongly bred to be eaten or lucky to be born free - not a single one of them deserves to be unnecessarily exploited, harmed or killed, ever.
You see we all believe this, and now is a time that requires us to have this firmly in the forefront of our minds when we make decisions that will impact the way in which veganism will continue to grow in the future.
We all make a difference, no matter what we do or do not do, but it is up to us to decide what kind of difference we make. This is a process that is constantly developing, and that’s okay. There will be many issues for us all to face in the times ahead but I think we should take time to remember that ultimately we are fighting for a brighter, more just and compassionate world and we are doing this together - and that is a difficult but beautiful thing, so let us build upon that together now.
We are an unstoppable force if we work together despite our differences.
Come together, collaborate, reach out to others, find others who want to work together, look beyond small differences and keep in mind the future we all want. Live vegan and come together as activists – for the animals.
Peter Keighley for Surge