Social media can be attributed for the massive uptake in veganism, as seen by the prevalence of veganism among millennials who actively engage in social media. Vegan communities on Instagram and other social media construct their online identity as vegans and advocate lifestyle changes using different techniques, yet ethical vegans tend to be viewed as extreme or forceful. This paper discusses the different techniques vegan influencers on social media use to express their own identity based on their motivations for becoming vegan, as well as advocate their lifestyle. It also explores public reception of such techniques.
Veganism is the elimination of any food, clothing, or product that contains anything derived from an animal, from one’s diet and lifestyle and can be done at varying degrees (Phua et al., 2020). People become vegan for different reasons, most of which can be categorized as ethical, environmental or health factors. Their motivations for going vegan influence how they present their identity on platforms like Instagram, with their techniques for advocacy resulting in differing levels of societal acceptance.
Veganism and its different subcultures
Ethical veganism is a moral lifestyle that involves all products. As a result, this depiction of veganism suggests that you must partake in an all-encompassing lifestyle that is at the forefront of all aspects of one’s daily purchases, consumption, and political decisions. They intend to alter audience’s opinions of the meat, dairy, poultry and fishing industries through the use of images and text that expose the cruelty made against animals due to these industries. They often form analogies between animal and human suffering to make the public feel empathy towards the creatures and feel guilty for consuming them or being a part of the exploitation (Wilson, 2019).
Environmental vegans focus more on the environmental impact the animal agriculture industry has and are vegan to minimize their ecological footprint. “Animal agriculture is the second largest contributor to human-made greenhouse gas emissions” having a critical role in climate change (Climate Nexus, 2021). Environmental vegans will share posts that are focused on scientific data and statistics in hopes that a meat eater will convert due to their values of a clean and beautiful world to live in for themselves and their children.
Health vegans identify with the health benefits that the plant-based diet has. veganism is depicted as a personal choice focusing solely on the food ingested and the nutritional value with the aim of self-improvement. This form of veganism is more accepted in society as it is more relatable than criticising an industry that sustains jobs and questioning consumer morals. Vegan influencers that are health focused will share healthy recipes and are often fit and active. Many of these influencers have also formed a skewed picture of veganism as an expensive diet for white, slim, wealthy people, which deters those that do not belong to this demographic (Wilson, 2019).
“Soft Veganism” and a Passive Approach
Many vegans are well aware of the negative stigma attached to veganism due to the stereotypical extremist vegan that screams “Meat is murder” and condemns omnivores for consuming animal flesh (Greenebaum, 2018). They realise that omnivores feel attacked for their choices simply through the presence of a vegan and will often become aggressive and defensive. Because of this, vegans anticipate a negative response and will wait for the meat eater to ask them about their abstinence from animal products instead of bringing the topic up themselves (Buttny & Kinefuchi, 2020). This is a strategy used by soft vegans to mitigate confrontation and not be painted as judgmental or forcing their beliefs onto others (Buttny & Kinefuchi, 2020). When asked about their dietary choices, soft vegans often focus on environmental and health benefits of the diet rather than the ethical implications to avoid eliciting a negative response from meat eaters (Buttny & Kinefuchi, 2020). This, however, diminishes one of the core principles of veganism; the humane treatment of animals and rejection of products that arise from animal suffering (Buttny & Kinefuchi, 2020). Hence, there is a dilemma for all vegans in sharing their beliefs, in that a passive approach to the sensitive topic will dismiss a huge foundation of their belief, yet a more assertive approach will be negatively received as a criticism of the omnivore’s morals (Wilson, 2019). Soft vegans are more health and environmentally focused in their posts and use scientifically based infographics, share recipes and commodify veganism into a diet for aesthetics (Wilson, 2019).
Destigmatizing Veganism Through Celebrity Endorsement
Public perception on the Vegan diet has been altered greatly in the past decade, with a large credit to celebrity adoption and advocation of veganism. Celebrities are transforming how people see vegans by rebranding veganism into a diet for optimum health and strength. Meat, especially red meat, conjures a strong sense of manhood linked with domination and sexual libido (Fegitz & Pirani, 2018). This is largely because of meat being a high protein source and men believe you can’t gain muscle mass without animal protein (Fegitz & Pirani, 2018). Contrastingly, vegetables are symbols of femininity (Fegitz & Pirani, 2018). Because of this societal perception on food as being gendered, veganism is seen as challenging one’s masculinity and stigmatizes the sexuality of men who abstain from meat. Vegetarianism is viewed as challenging the patriarchy as refusing meat opposes the oppression of animals and that of women for being seen as weak and lacking sexual desire like vegetables (Fegitz & Pirani, 2018). “Consuming products such as meat, eggs, milk, and honey, all of which come from female animals, involves supporting the reproduction of patriarchal power over women through violence and abuse.” (Fegitz & Pirani, 2018, p. 297). Because of celebrities like Beyonce, vegetarian and vegan diets are now related to strong, sexual images of women. While veganism previously carried connotations of rebelling power suppressing bodies like the patriarchy or capitalism in the food industry, it has been reconstructed as a commodified diet rather than an ethical decision. “Food morality, what is good and bad to eat, loses its political ground and does not go further than the ingredients’ nutritional profile, leading to a wider ecological indifference” (Fegitz & Pirani, 2018, p. 303). The activism of a vegan diet is tied less with political and ethical action and seen more as a diet to lose weight healthily and sustainably like Beyonce did post pregnancy using her 22 day vegan diet. In a study by Phua et al., 2020, consumers exposed to celebrity pro-veganism posts on Instagram did not indicate a substantial difference in how they valued the information, contrasted with audiences who saw pro-veganism messages posted by ordinary, noncelebrity, influencers. This does not necessarily mean that celebrity endorsement is not an effective strategy, but that prominent vegan influencers on Instagram have just as much influence on consumers as celebrities.
Spreading positive information highlighting benefits of a plant-based diet for health and the environment through infographics
As questioning one’s ethics can be ill-received, a focus on health benefits from veganism can be more accepted. Instagram posts explaining nutritional information for veganism, including vegan iron and protein sources, resulted in significantly higher consumer engagement than those explaining the impacts of meat consumption and farm animal abuse (Phua et al., 2020). A large amount of discussion on vegan influencer social media pages is how to address the stigma of vegans as weak and having nutrient deficiencies (Laakso et al., 2021). If they themselves do not have the ideal fit aesthetic, the influencers will highlight other influencers or athletes that are vegan and would be an aspiration to others wanting to be and look healthy including non-vegans (Laakso et al., 2021).
Sharing recipes that challenge the stereotypes.
The stereotypical vegan is a wealthy, slim female in the western world, but influencers on Instagram are challenging this stereotype (Greenebaum, 2018). Vegans are using Instagram to share their everyday foods along with videos and pictures of their bodies as evidence of health to challenge the widely accepted belief that a vegan diet is not nutritionally adequate and that you need meat to be healthy (Wilson, 2019). While it may not be directly stated, these posts imply that eating animal products is unnatural due to its strong correlation with heart disease, cancer and diabetes (What the Health, 2017). Vegan food is regarded as difficult to make and boring (Greenebaum, 2018). However, social media influencers post recipes for appetizing food that demonstrates how cheap and delicious vegan food can be and making the process easy by discussing where to buy, how to prepare and how to cook vegan food (Laakso et al., 2021). Desipite being a diet with origins in Rastafarianism, Hinduism and Buddhism and is eaten by those in poverty worldwide, these ethnic minority groups of vegans aren’t represented widely on social media platforms (Wilson, 2019). People of colour tend to be deterred from veganism due to the stereotype that it is a diet for wealthy white women as well as the negative stigma that would further marginalise an already marginalised group (Laakso et al., 2021). As people of colour have been shunned by the white society throughout history, they are hesitant to adopt a lifestyle that further ostracizes them. Vegans of colour are using social media to normalise veganism as a diet for all people, which is gradually increasing the prevalence of ethnic minority vegans on social media (Laakso et al., 2021).
Hashtags and Hashtags Hijacking
Abidin (2021) defines hashtag hijacking as “occupying, hijacking, or creating trending hashtags to redirect attention to another cause” (p.6). By the end of 2019, over 95 million Instagram posts were tagged with #vegan or #veganism, based on Instagram statistics (Instagram, 2019 as cited in Phua et al., 2020). #Vegan is a trending Instagram tag that subsequently appears frequently in an accounts ‘explore’ pages and hence is likely to reach a large audience regardless of searching for it or not. Unlike a documentary like Cowspiracy or Forks Over Knives that relies on shock and scare tactics to make a memorable impression on viewers, vegan influencers are able to normalize and gradually deliver less extreme content to the wider community on a daily basis, making viewers much more receptive (Wilson, 2019). A hashtag can be used by influencers to take control of, spam, or ruin a company’s marketing by overloading the insta-feed (Abidin, 2021). The hashtag #Februdairy was created in a campaign, originating on Twitter February 2018, by Dr Jude Capper to promote the dairy industry in Britain and offset the damaging media hype generated by the vegan movement. However, animal protection activists hijacked the hashtag, using it to post large amounts of content that criticized the dairy industry (Rodak, 2020).
“Hard Vegans” and Manipulating Emotions.
Using footage and drawing parallels between humans and farm animals to shock and guilt viewers.
Hard Vegans focus on the moral and ethical reasons for being vegan and emphasize this in their Instagram posts. They are very passionate as they regard the animals on an equal level as humans and like a religion there is no flexibility for discussion or compromise (Wilson, 2019). The dominant media represents these vegan activists as ‘militant, violet, extremists’. Hard vegans use emotive language alongside cute pictures of baby animals that aim to guilt viewers, give the animals a sense of identity and sentience, and make them relatable and therefore worthy of humane treatment. However, only using this technique can be problematic as the violence of the industry is hidden (Fernández, 2021). Subsequently, hard vegans also share undercover video footage depicting the inhumane treatment of animals in the food industry that evokes a sense of disgust and outrage in viewers. This is seen as an uncovering of truth and raising awareness on the realities of the animal agricultural system and its exploitive mainstream practices (Fernández, 2021). However, some activists believe this can deter viewers as the “overpowering emotional impact can result in avoidance rather than engagement” or, on the flip side, result in a normalization and indifference to the violence against animals (Fernández, 2021, p. 147). The potential for traumatization or emotional numbing is the reason why less violent pictures are used for posts targeted at children when discussing animal exploitation (Fernández, 2021).
Mass media has stereotyped veganism as a cult for extremist animal activists. Subsequently, people associate vegans with negative connotations. However, veganism can come in many different forms with a multitude of motivations behind their online Instagram identity. While I have discussed vegans as either “soft” (being environmentally or health motivated) or “hard” (ethically motivated), with distinct techniques for advocacy, it is important to acknowledge that these techniques are not exclusive to these groupings. Statistical infographics, ethnic and easy recipes, celebrity endorsement and hashtag hijacking can be used by hard vegans and drawing parallels between animals and humans can be done by “soft” vegans. But ultimately, it’s the questioning of people’s morality that is the greatest barrier to veganism advocacy and acceptance of identity. However, this is the foundation of veganism and perhaps there is a reason why non-vegans find questioning their choices and analysing weather they do or do not align with their supposed values difficult. Perhaps social media can allow someone else’s identity to question our own.
Abidin, C. (2021). From “Networked Publics” to “Refracted Publics”: A Companion Framework for Researching “Below the Radar” Studies. Social Media + Society. https://doi.org/10.1177/2056305120984458
Buttny, R., & Kinefuchi, E. (2020). Vegans’ problem stories: Negotiating vegan identity in dealing with omnivores. Discourse & Society, 31(6), 565-583. https://doi-org.dbgw.lis.curtin.edu.au/10.1177%2F0957926520939689
Climate Nexus. (2021). Animal Agriculture’s Impact on Climate Change. Climate Nexus. https://climatenexus.org/climate-issues/food/animal-agricultures-impact-on-climate-change/
Fegitz, E., & Pirani, D. (2018). The Sexual Politics of Veggies: Beyoncé’s “commodity veg*ism”. Feminist Media Studies, 18(2), 294-308. https://doi-org.dbgw.lis.curtin.edu.au/10.1080/14680777.2017.1358200
Fernández, L. (2019). Using Images of Farmed Animals in Environmental Advocacy: An Antispeciesist, Strategic Visual Communication Proposal. American Behavioral Scientist, 63(8), 1137–1155. https://doi.org/10.1177/0002764219830454
Fernández, L. (2021). Images That Liberate: Moral Shock and Strategic Visual Communication in Animal Liberation Activism. Journal of Communication Inquiry, 45(2), 138–158. https://doi.org/10.1177/0196859920932881
Greenebaum, J (2018) Vegans of color: managing visible and invisible stigmas, Food, Culture & Society, 21(5), 680-697, DOI: 10.1080/15528014.2018.1512285
Jones, T. (2014). Lisa Veggies [Image]. https://tjonesjour320.wordpress.com/2014/11/10/social-identity/
Laakso, S. Niva, M. Eranti V. & Aapio F., (2021) Reconfiguring everyday eating: Vegan Challenge discussions in social media, Food, Culture & Society, DOI: 10.1080/15528014.2021.1882796
Lundahl, O. (2020). Dynamics of positive deviance in destigmatisation: celebrities and the media in the rise of veganism. Consumption, markets and culture, 23(3), 241-271. https://doi-org.dbgw.lis.curtin.edu.au/10.1080/10253866.2018.1512492
Phua, J., Jin, S. V., & Kim, J. (2020). Pro-veganism on Instagram: Effects of user-generated content (UGC) types and content generator types in Instagram-based health marketing communication about veganism. Emerald Publishing Limited, 44(3), 685-704. https://doi-org.dbgw.lis.curtin.edu.au/10.1108/OIR-06-2019-0213
Rodak, O. (2020). Hashtag hijacking and crowdsourcing transparency: social media affordances and the governance of farm animal protection. Agriculture and Human Values, 37(2) 281–294. https://doi-org.dbgw.lis.curtin.edu.au/10.1007/s10460-019-09984-5
Wilson, A. (2019). #VEGAN: A critical analysis of the discourses around food, identity
and responsibility from vegan Instagram influencers. Wageningen University, 1-84. https://library.wur.nl/WebQuery/theses/2252327
72 thoughts on “How can you always Identify the Vegan in the room? They’ll tell you.”
This is Wen. Your topic catched my attention as I’m not a vegan and am interested to know more about it!
In my opinion, I don’t think that vegans who are dedicated in encouraging animal protection and are against animal cruelty are still being aggresive on their social media posts and engagment. Justice for the Animals is a non-profit organization about animal rights, it organized a campaign “to create a positive and easy-going image around vegan eating by depicting the encouraging stories of well-known Finns who have taken up the challenge, providing practical and accessible information in an optimistic tone and without making people feel guilty about their (non-vegan) choices, and being open to everyone interested in plant-based eating” (Laakso et al., 2021).
Do you think that social media users could organize more campaigns that are positive and healthy despite they are not belong to any organization through social media platforms that allows them to organize events easily such as Facebook? Do you think that the use of hashtags on Instagram is much stronger and influencial than on Twitter?
Laakso, S., Niva, M., Eranti, V., & Aapio, F., (2021). Reconfiguring everyday eating: Vegan Challenge discussions in social media, Food, Culture & Society, DOI: 10.1080/15528014.2021.1882796
I really enjoyed reading your paper about Veganism – as an ‘Ethical Vegan’ myself I do find it quite challenging and disappointing when interacting with non-vegans day to day. When I first transitioned I was quite extreme and would expose others to the awfulness and heartbreak that is hidden behind the meat and dairy industry. After a while I had to change my tactic as a majority of people are aware but due to traditions and convenience people don’t care and still choose to eat animal products.
I have learnt the best way for myself to participate in ‘non-extreme’ activism is to inform others about the health benefits of making vegan switches in everyday consumption. For example, I have managed to successfully convert a few people I work with to swap out dairy milk for oat milk and dairy yoghurt for coconut yoghurt. I personally feel this approach is less aggressive than what I use to do and helps to create a better and more positive representation of vegans and veganism.
I would recommend for everyone to check out Earthling Ed’s Instagram and YouTube, I feel his gentle and informative approach has made a huge and dramatic impact on society alone.
Ed has a series of videos where visits universities and colleges and sets up a sign that has a statement such as, ‘You can’t love animals and eat them’. He then encourages people to sit down and explain why they don’t agree with the statement and gently educates and informs them on how unethical their opinion is.
What way do you believe vegans should promote veganism and participate in activism? Do you think there is a more effective and persuasive way?
I would say there isn’t a more effective way to promote veganism because different aspects of it appeal to different people. While a video exposing the truth of cruelty behind the animal agricultural industry will spark a fire in some, it will deter others. A discussion on the health benefits may appeal to more health conscious people than those that aren’t that interested in health. It all depends on people’s values, which is why it is important to use a variety of tactics and talk about a the diverse range of motivations behind veganism.
In regards to finding exchanges with non-vegans disheartening, I can relate. It’s like you’ve found out the secret to help cure the environment, many of people’s health issues and how to put an end to the unnecessary exploitation of animals. You’re so excited and you just want to share it with the world, but it feels like nobody wants to listen. Worse, they mock you and make you feel like a bad person for ‘imposing your beliefs on them’ rather than wanting to share with them such a simple solution to serious issues. But it’s a gradual change and, thanks to social media, it is making things easier.
Sorry, in advance, for the late comment.
What do you think could be done in order to get more meat lovers to eat less meat or even no meat at all, in order to protect methane from entering the atmosphere and speeding up climate change?
Are there any laws that would be usefully implemented or do you think it would be best if there was just more public awareness around the effects?
Overall, I tremendously enjoyed reading your article and I think the way that you bring your points across is really touching.
Ultimately, there is little others can do as it is a world of free choice. The best vegan influencers can do is to explain the environmental implications of consuming meat to those who consume it and are passionate about the environment. You can rattle of a bunch of statistics or take them to see places where habitat has been destructed to replace it with agricultural live-stock land to see a more visual representation of the damage, but at the end of the day, it is their choice.
I really enjoyed reading your conference paper and I was hooked from just reading the title!
I was vegetarian for 3 years so I have a big passion around this discussion. I liked how you mentioned that a lot of people go vegan or vegetarian for many reasons because that is so true. I know a lot of people who are vegetarian and vegan and they always have a rather different response and so did I.
I went vegetarian for a few reasons. 1. I wasn’t a huge lover of eating meat. 2. I wanted to stop eating meat due to the environment. 3 I wanted to stop eating meat for health reasons and 4. I wanted to stop eating meat as I did a lot of research on the relationship between meat and cancer.
I will often always still go for a veggie option when I can, however, I did add chicken and fish back into my diet a few months ago due to be anemic.
I agree that many vegans share their love for being vegan in many ways. i have one friend who is really calm and will make vegan treats to show people how good food still tastes without animal products and then I have another vegan friend who takes a competently opposite approach and is more aggressive about the situation and topic.
Thank you for this article I really enjoyed it.
Georgia Wiley 🙂
Thank you for your comment and I appreciate you taking the time to read my paper. I’m sorry for your current circumstance of being anemic.
If you would like to add some more high iron plant foods into your diet, have a look at these two sites that give you quantities of different iron rich foods to meet your RDI.
As stated in the second site, you can boost your iron absorption by eating vitamin c rich foods alongside iron rich foods. Just by squeezing some lemon juice on your dishes you can help your body absorb the iron it struggles to gain.
I hope that helps 🙂
Thank you so much for these links that is really beneficial to me and I really appreciate it.
I will have a read of these and write a shopping list of some stuff to get from the shops to help me so I don’t have to rely on meat all the time.
I found your paper informative as veganism is a topic that I am admittedly uninformed on being a meat eater myself. As you outline the ‘Hard Vegans’ were what came to mind when I read your title and that typical almost eye roll occured at the thought which is an admittedly close minded of me.
The question that came to mind when reading your paper is what is the perception of so called ‘Hard Vegans’ within the broarder vegan community?, are they seen in a bad light for the reputation they bring?, are they seen in a good light for fighting for the cause? or is it closer to somewhere in the middle?
Thanks for commenting. This is a very good question actually. I would say from personal experience that the question is quite complex and ultimately, it depends. Some vegans who have no ethical motivation behind veganism and are vegan for health more so, may view these ‘hard vegans’ as extremists like a meat eater. Those that are environmentally focused are almost always also ethically motivated in varying degrees too because you can’t care about the environment and not the biodiversity that is a key pillar for it. Nearly all vegans are vegan because of a combination of these three motivating factors, but with one being more of a dominant driving force. One can also have a contrasting perspective of these hard vegan’s as their ‘extreme’ demonstrations that are quite confronting makes situations uncomfortable and they are the cause of that imbalance to the confirmative status quo. However, there is also a sense of envy or more accurately respect for having the courage to speak up, despite the high probability of receiving backlash. There are also varying degrees of ‘hard vegans’ as one can be completely passive in their communication, like @EarthlingEd, but be perceived as extreme because of their views challenging morality and status quo. Most active animal activists are peaceful in their demonstration and simply exercise their freedom of speech for the voiceless. Those that trespass into farms and release the animals to sanctuaries are portrayed as militant trespassing thieves by the dominant media, but if you look at it from their perspective, they are merely saving animals from death without damaging anything or hurting anyone else. Like with non-meat eaters, vegans’ perspectives on ethical vegan’s that liberate these animals can be altered and manipulated by the media and how these ‘hard vegans’ are portrayed. So to answer your question, a bit of both.
Thanks for taking the time to explain, your insight here is quite interesting as it outlines many perspectives within the vegan community that I would have not otherwise known of. I enjoyed learning of the varied oppinions that are often drowned out in media representation and now think I will do some further reading to obtain a better understanding of the vegan perspective.
An interesting analysis (also, I thought your title was great!). I am a vegetarian, not a full vegan (though, I don’t really eat eggs either, so I suppose I’m a lacto vegetarian). I’m shuffled around the edges of the online vegan community for many years now, and it has been interesting to observe.
Three of the biggest discourses I’ve seen come up again and again are wealth , environmental cost, and bad nutritional advice. You addressed some of the dialogue about veganism being presented as the ‘rich white woman’ diet, and it was interesting to note the points you made about the association of femininity and masculinity with certain foods. I think it is an important thing to note the role of the BIPOC community in the vegan community today, so I am really glad you mentioned that particular discourse.
Addressing the other two points, starting with environmental cost, something I’ve seen pointed out both by non-vegans and vegan influencers is that some vegan alternatives to products are actually quite damaging to the environment. Honey alternatives are a significant example. Do you think that vegan discourse is sometimes hijacked by marketing in this regard?
We’re swamped with claims that foods are ‘healthier’ and ‘better for us’ and ‘sustainable’ without much regulation on terms from the government. The words Vegan or Vegetarian-friendly are now proudly displayed on packaging, and so we, the consumer, might be led to assume they’re healthier for displaying it, or better for the environment, when potentially this isn’t true. Have you seen any online discourse on this topic?
The other discourse I’ve seen a lot online is about wealth, and the cost of veganism. I will admit that, especially until recently when it became more mainstream, being a vegetarian has been significantly more expensive for me. Being vegan would raise that price even higher. I know you mentioned in the article that the stereotype of only white wealthy woman being able to afford veganism is a false. However, do you think wealth is still a significant barrier to vegan communities?
Thanks for commenting.
Firstly, I do think the ‘vegan’ label is being highjacked by marketers in order to drive up prices. I recently saw a post in my instagram feed that compared two products in the same brand that were displayed side by side in supermarket stores, one with a vegan label and one without, with type vegan one more expensive. However, looking at the ingredient list, the original was already vegan and both were actually the same product. This is a marketing strategy called ‘greenwashing’, which is where companies mislead consumers to convey a false impression that their products are more environmentally sound. Simply by making the packaging green people are more likely to think its more environmentally sustainable because of connotations connected with the symbolic colour. The worst one I think is ‘natural’. Petrol is natural. Arsenic is natural. Doesn’t mean I should ingest them. I actually work at Woolies and saw a new stock powder that had been greenwashed with the vegan and plant based certification, which was right next to the original one half the price and was already vegan. Which leads to your next point, expense.
The substitutes of meats and that are heavily processed and quite expensive in the vegan/vegetarian section of stores like Woolies would definitely drive one’s receipt total up if purchased. I ONLY EVER buy those on the odd occasion when they are half price. As mentioned above, there are plenty of cheaper options that are already vegan, it just requires you to do some research. It takes two seconds to check the ingredients list. Ultimately, people should be eating less packaged goods and more fruits and vegetables, which are cheap. Beans and legumes are the cheapest protein sources for as cheap as 80 cents a can or even less if you buy dry beans in bulk and cook them and freeze them in zip lock bags so that all you have to do is defrost them in hot water and they’re ready to use. Like with any diet, you can have an expensive one or cheap one if you learn to budget and what foods will give you the most bang for your buck. I currently spend about $20 a week on groceries. I suggest comparing the price per 100g when shopping instead of looking at the items price because you might have one that is cheaper in the short term but be a lesser quantity than the more expensive counterpart that will be cheaper in the long run because it will last longer.
As a vegan, I have certainly seen the examples you have discussed in your paper as I have followed many vegan accounts over the years and seen the discussion surrounding many of the negative aspects of the online community. Unfortunately, many people that are digitally connected and use social media tend to rely too much on the opinions of others (influencers) while not conducting proper research (I saw a comment here highlighting a negative example of this, but many vegans I know get regular blood tests and consult doctors when needed) and this same logic could be applied to many diet cultures online and those who blindly follow.
I was interested in your research surrounding the “hard vegan”. Another example I thought of was the peaceful (world-wide) animal activist group, Anonymous for the Voiceless, who use Kershaw’s (2003) notion of the spectacle by creating content that is “shareable” (p. 591). The spectacle I’m referring to is the “Cube of Truth”, where they hold signs saying “truth” and T.V. screens that depict footage of the graphic realities of animal exploitation. It is certainly the attention economy (Goldhaber, 1997) that has driven this method of sharing with many of its members this harsh message via social media. It is effective in shocking audiences and, as you have noted, some people are against such harsh methods. I would argue, also, that people choose to not to be this direct in fear of offending and losing their followers on social media. I particularly find Ed Winters (Earthling Ed on Instagram and YouTube) to be incredibly insightful and patient when sharing content, although in recent years has learnt to utilise the spectacle (with videos/images) and click-bait titles on his videos, but a lot of his speeches given to students and organisations are with his voice, logical/moral reasoning, and facts which in turn makes audiences more understanding to the message.
Kershaw, B. (2003). Curiosity or Contempt: On Spectacle, the Human, and Activism. Theatre Journal, 55(4), 591–611. JSTOR. http://www.jstor.org/stable/25069332
Goldhaber, M. H. (1997). The attention economy and the Net. First Monday. https://doi.org/10.5210/fm.v2i4.519
Winters, E. [Earthling Ed]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCVRrGAcUc7cblUzOhI1KfFg
Thanks for leaving your comment. I definitely agree with all of your points here. Anyone that has a firm belief in anything should do their own research not only through studies, but conduct their own tests to ensure that they are meeting all their own nutritional requirements. I too get blood tests to reassure myself that I am eating a balanced diet, which shouldn’t just be done by vegans but non-vegans too.
The Anonymous, “Cube of Truth” is an interesting example. I myself have seen the cube in Perth a few times. Yes, it uses shock tactics, but also allows a vegan that is somewhat anxious towards confrontation to “speak” about ethics. As they all wear the Anonymous mask, their identity is hidden meaning they are less likely to receive backlash from those that they may upset. By being in a cube with others, they have support in numbers, making the feel safer.
I was also going to mention Earthing Ed in my paper as I explained answering Zoe’s comment and think his ability to stay calm and logical, throughout discussions on ethical veganism, is aspirational. I find a lot of his posts appeal to people’s humanity, by posting cute baby animals and paralleling them to a baby human. By keeping his composure and coming off as non-threatening, he manages to get people to listen without completely shutting off. They still may not agree by the end of the conversation, but getting others to listen to your truth is the hardest part and it may just plant a seed.
Thanks for your reply Eva,
I joined a Cube of Truth in Buenos Aires a few years ago, and can confirm what you said about being anonymous in the cube. I chose to part of the cube rather than one of the ones to talk to strangers on the street. Your identity is certainly protected and, in a sense, pedestrians stop seeing you as a person, but also I was not confident I could channel Earthling Ed’s personality (he certainly is aspirational isn’t he) to publicly speak. It was extremely hard, emotionally and physically, to be in the cube; I had to watch many people mock what we were doing and say awful things while standing very still sweating under a mask while carrying the weight of a TV on a harness, or holding a laptop. It was the only one I went to, I assume after a while it gets easier emotionally, maybe I wasn’t strong enough at that time.
That is so cool that you were part of an active demonstration. I can definitely understand that it would be both physically and emotionally demanding. Like with stage fright, you would build up a resilience to such comments and remarks and gain confidence to go further and one day be a speaker. People grow and learn to become more sure of themselves and their identity as they mature. I would agree that it would get easier with practice and that you would learn to care less about what strangers think of you and more about the importance of getting your message across to save innocent lives. I commend your actions 🙂
Thank you Eva ☺️ I think I was so hesitant to try again because of the few strangers that laughed at the videos we were showing, it really got to me. But, it was certainly rewarding to see some people become more aware of these industries and the exploitation of animals. I am a lot more confident in how to share the message and now when people are curious about the vegan lifestyle, depending on what stage they are at, I say there is no perfect vegan and even making some swaps can help increase the supply and demand of vegan products and reduce animal suffering.
What a time to be vegan though, there’s so many choices at the supermarkets, and so many alternative products for makeup to clothes etc.
Responding to your previous comment at 5:35pm
It would definitely be aggravating to see people disrespect something you are so passionate about. I find it easier to stay calm when I remind myself that it’s sometimes not the right time for people to listen. I’ve heard stories where the ones who were the loudest in arguing against veganism becoming vegan themselves after several years because they grew over time to be critical of their beliefs. You can’t get everyone to change, but one person can mean a lot.
Really awesome read, and very educational. I learned some things about varying vegan lifestyles, and got to understand some terms I’ve heard passed around on social media before. As a meat eater myself, I can definitely say there are some extremists out there who really get under my skin with the way they try to force their beliefs on others. However, there is definitely some bias out there that leads us to believe that once someone confesses to being a Vegan, our first reaction is not necessarily pleasant. I feel this may be a partial result of their presence on social media. With platforms like Instagram, where images, recipes and advocates are often made public (meaning at some point in time we come across a couple) there’s a good chance that the ones we are exposed to are the extremists views , which settles that prejudice that vegans are extremely judgemental of our life choices. I will admit I have been led to believe this, but after a couple reads, I’m more inclined to form my own opinions. I can definitely see why this is such a controversial topic. Well done.
Thankyou for sharing your experience and perspective. Yes, of course not all non-vegans will have an unpleasant reaction, but one person being vegan and the other non-vegan does change the dynamics of a relationship and puts them on a theoretical opposing sides. So you may not get an onslaught of “But bacon though” remarks or more uhh ‘passionate’ responses about the livelihoods of farmers, but you will still likely get that “Oh” and a bit of awkward silence as they re-contextualise your identity alongside the media portrayal of a vegan.
But I have also gotten a few “oh that’s so cool. I wish I had the strength to do that, but I just love [XYZ] too much”. It shows that society is becoming more receptive. I think people should be open minded and assume that each has something to learn from the other that may strengthen or alter their views.
I completely agree that ethical veganism is a moral lifestyle and love how you discussed in this way as I feel many people today are treating it the ‘right way to live life’, conveying a very ‘in-you-face’ approach to when addressing veganism. I, personally, have a very strong view on this as I feel sometimes they can be unnecessarily forceful. I constantly find that this is especially evident in social media (such as Facebook) and in-person demonstrations, creating a very unpleasant experience for those who are not vegan (as you suggested by stating that omnivores feel “attacked” by their activism).
Furthermore, I feel like there are other ways to persuade others to become vegan; through consistent science whilst respecting each other’s’ decisions. I feel like if vegans were more laid-back, it would convince me more to convert to veganism but I think a strong barrier for many is the controversial connotations that are associated with this lifestyle (e.g. “aggressive”, “attacking” and even accusations such as “you kill animals”).
I also, agree with the fact that celebrities are a huge influence for veganism, once again some being ‘soft vegans’ and some more hard-core. But it is very interesting that you suggested that vegetables are more associated with ‘femininity’ and would love to dive into this further as to why this is. Further, I think that toxic masculinity has something to do with it, referring back to stone-age times where the men would be the primary hunters and meat-eaters. I’d like to know your thoughts on this and whether or not you reckon new trends will eliminate this toxic masculinity (e.g. veganism).
In addition, I support suggestions that this is just a social trend – that people just become vegan to fit in. I do think there are some that do it for the environmental and health benefits but definitely millennials following social media trends to be considered as more ‘woke’ too.
I enjoyed reading about the motivations behind veganism and really indulge in your perspective through the depth of these insights. I think that your argument is very clear, consistent and well-written.
I also talked a bit about the gendering of vegetables in response to Zoe’s comment, about 6 comments down (excluding my responses). I also think it’s quite interesting how we gender foods. In fact, in the French language, every noun has a gender. There is no rule for why, you just have to learn the gender of every thing when you learn the word because the [blah] is either “le [blah]” if male or “la [blah]” if female.
Gutierrez, S. (2019). People think beef is manly, and that’s a big problem. Popular Science. https://www.popsci.com/meat-masculinity-stereotype/.
These articles discuss possible reasons why meat is perceived as masculine.
1. The traditional role of men as hunters and women as gatherers, with successful hunters being large and strong.
2. The concept of eating meat demonstrating superiority, power and ultimately, white privilege, “red meat was a luxury reserved for aristocrats, who, at the turn of the 19th century, were largely male and white” (Gutierrez, 2019)
3. The use of men in marketing and advertisement campaigns to sell meat in fast food chains like McDonalds and KFC.
4. The “false claims about soy causing men to grow breasts and produce more oestrogen”.
Thank you for sharing your paper, I have been thinking about veganism lately since my brother has changed to a vegan diet the past few months.
I think there has been a shift in the stigmas behind veganism from a few years ago to in the current day. I remember always seeing controversial posts on the internet, and multiple veganism activists who would shove it down your throat and make people that eat meat try and feel terrible for it. As I am not a vegan myself I can resonate with the quote you had in your paper regarding ethical vegans, “overpowering emotional impact can result in avoidance rather than engagement”. Over the past few years, I have seen way more posts on social media through celebrities and also health influencers, that are encouraging of this life style in a much nicer way which is definitely more encouraging.
I agree with you regarding social media platforms are definitely helping to spread the word of the health benefits of veganism, as I who had never even begun to think of veganism, after watching hundreds of TikToks and Instagram posts surrounding the health benefits, I am definitely now more reluctant to look into it.
Do you follow many Instagram accounts or TikTok accounts that share great vegan recipes?
Yes, but I’ve only just downloaded Tik Tok so pretty much all Insta. A few that post recipes in captions as well include:
@unconventionalbaker (for desserts and sweet treats)
Some accounts that post recipes collated from other peoples accounts:
I had a lot of interest in your paper, and I was looking forward to reading this. You have explained a few issues that I have had concerns with, within the vegan community.
I have worked in a vegan hairdressing salon for 5 years and personally it was not the best experience. In regard to working with less toxic products with my clients, This was really awesome and seeing how our industry has evolved has been incredibly rewarding. In saying that, it was more the people I was working with and the way they expressed themselves towards people who did eat meat and use animal products. Their views then extended to the clients and they felt bad by not being vegan and they were just finding a new way to start a healthier alternative to hair products. Eventually there marketing started to be more expressive with their thoughts and how being vegan is better and started to slander out salons for not doing the same. In you paragraph of ‘soft veganism’, I could relate because there is a negative stigma to it and from personal experience, I can see why there is this stigma. Through your discussions, I particularly liked that you addressed the spreading of positive information and I firmly agree that more of this needs to happen. The media representation of hard vegans has been the centre of attention for a while, and this hasn’t helped the vegan community. I personally have stopped eating meat products and enjoyed trying alternatives. The flip side to this article is I am from New Zealand who grew up on a farm. Our farming culture is a huge industry within the country and vital for New Zealand’s agriculture community. I can argue that not all farmers are unfair to animals and farming is not just about the producing meat, but farmers also help the structure and maintain the land. The farming community within New Zealand are excessively big on sustainability and using what we can from the land. Animals are a huge part of the eco system. Farmers continue to harvest the land and promote good farming ethics in New Zealand. We have situations in New Zealand that stouts have endangered the native bird life in New Zealand and farmers have helped to sort some of this problem and provide necessary action as this has affected New Zeeland’s forestry as well with the overrun of stouts. Just as vegans are not all extremists, farmers are not all out to slaughter masses of animals, these are communities who are passionate about the environment and both have valued ideas and beliefs
In my paper I write about freedom of expression and how our ideas ore freely expressed and changing online communities that have political views.
There might be ideas in there, that would strengthen some of your ideas
Thank you for a great paper
Thanks Nakia for your comment.
I can definitely agree that just because someone is vegan doesn’t mean they have a great knowledge about the environment. I too have met farmers that love their animals dearly and treat them with the utmost care. If one were to eat meat, they should source from these local farmers and find out the conditions of what they put into their body. The issue is the global population and excessive consumption of meat makes it impossible for these small, caring farmers to meet demands of everyone while giving the animals enough space and time to live their life, even cut short. That is why people that are adamant on eating meat need to reduce their consumption too. Like with any ‘group’ of people, not everyone is the stereotype. but like there are extremist angry vegans out there, there are corrupt, and brutal farmers. The biggest issue in our current agricultural industry is that we are not in touch with the needs of the environment to allow symbiotic relationships that would make the food system sustainable. Instead we deplete resources until soils are infertile, natural habitats are destroyed and biodiversity is depleted. We pollute the environment instead of utilising Indigenous people’s knowledge on how to live in a balanced ecosystem where food and lives are not wasted. There is more than enough food in the world to end world hunger but the first world nations that can afford the luxury of meat and the like are eating it in excess and being wasteful with their food. There are many elements in the complex issue surrounding food and I agree that people should be able to express their ideas freely and gain knowledge from each other in a non-argumentative discussion.
I will definitely have a read of your paper and leave my comments there too 🙂
Fabulous paper and insight into the world of Veganism.
I wonder what proportion of the younger generation of vegans are influenced by the communities they are a member of on social media, to become vegan in the sense of “everyone else is doing it and so will I”. It would be interesting to also know if their decision to become vegan results in a lifetime commitment or only until another popular lifestyle gains traction on the socials.
My paper fell under the Communities and Social Media stream so I read a lot about how social media affords a sense of belonging through sharing. Also that people tend to be ” homophilous, forming strong social connections with people who share similar belief/ethics/values (Granovetter, 1979). I guess in part this is also driven by content posted by vegan influencers and celebrities too who have a significant impact on the younger generation’s choices.
Thanks for sharing…Louise
Thank you for reading my paper. I definitely think there is an aspect of trend following, particularly in younger teens when they are exploring there own identity. It is a lot easier to be part of a ‘trendy’ community when you do not get challenged for your beliefs. Parents and others expect it to be a phase, but when you get older, others begin to question why you do something that does not conform to the majority. If they had no understanding of the ethical, health or environmental reasons to become vegan in the first place and did not have their own “why”, then I’d expect such children to discontinue their veganism. If they then start their own research into the reasoning behind veganism as a lifestyle choice, then they may decide to continue. It is all about knowledge and education. One who is ignorant will never have cause to change.
I think you raise some very interesting points about online activism and the power of community in eradicating misinformation and stigma associated with veganism.
Celebrity and influencer endorsement for diets is interesting. I wrote about influencer culture for my paper and focused on influencer brand endorsements and revenue led communities. In your experience, have you identified on social media, vegans who use their vegan status to promote or sell products, and if so, does this make you question the authenticity of their veganism and their followers?
Again, awesome paper.
Please check out my paper if you are interested :
Yes there are plenty of vegans that sell products that either they developed or that they use all the time and are passionate about promoting, like any other influencer. But there are cases of vegan influencers that have been dishonest and corruptive.
The account that used to be Rawvana, but is now Yovana is a prime example of not being true and honest to followers about her veganism for self profit, as it would hurt her career selling raw vegan recipe e-books, diet plans and her vegan recipe YouTube channel.
Yovana Mendoza adopted a completely raw vegan diet and decided to do a 25 day water fast, depriving her body of everything but water for nearly a month. She lost her period because of it but didn’t realise this was a bad thing.
After two years of no period she went to the doctors where test results deemed her re-menopausal. She increased fats, reintroduced salts and cooked foods inter her diet and her period came back in two but was irregular and disappeared again after a year. The doctors recommended gaining weight, taking thyroid medicine, testosterone and other supplements as well as reintroducing eggs into her diet. She ignored this advice and listened to others that advised her to increase her protein and fat consumption and take iron supplements.
Her period came back strong and things were good except she was getting chronically fatigued and developed Candida Vaginitis, treated that then developed SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth). She tried to treat that with juice cleanses, which obviously didn’t work. So she started eating fish and eggs.
The moral issue was, she never told an of her followers any of this until 2months after she’d been eating fish and eggs and got caught in one of her friend’s YouTube videos eating fish the whole time selling diet plans that she no longer followed because they made her sick. There was a huge uproar on social media and the kicker is she still sells those plans.
So to some up, this influencer:
1. was eating a completely Raw, low fat, no sodium diet
2. only drank water for 25days
3. lost her period and gradually reintroduced foods
4. developed two diseases
5. did juice cleanses instead of looking into the root cause
6. then started eating fish and eggs while lying to her fans
7. got caught and lost thousands of her 1.3million followers for promoting a 1200cal raw vegan no fat diet plan
“a 21-year-old sedentary male needs 2,400 calories to maintain weight. A sedentary 21-year-old female needs 2,000 calories per day to keep her weight the same.” (Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2020, as cited in Gardner 2019)
Balčiauskas, M. (2019). Vegan Influencer Gets Caught Eating Fish, Starts Making Excuses, But Her 1.3M Followers Aren’t Buying It. Bored Panda. Retrieved 13 May 2021, from https://www.boredpanda.com/vegan-influencer-caught-eating-fish-video-reactions-yovana-mendoza-ayres/.
Gardner, K. (2019). Minimum Amount of Calories Needed Per Day to Survive. LIVESTRONG.COM. https://www.livestrong.com/article/310517-minimum-amount-of-calories-needed-per-day-to-survive/.
I really enjoyed your paper as the topic is quite unique in contrast to the other papers, as a non-vegan I learned a lot of things throughout this paper. I agree that promoting veganism can be difficult sometimes on social media as the the majority of users can be categorized as non-vegan. Most of the time, it can be observed that there are a lot of memes (dark humor) against the ideology of veganism on various social media platforms. However, there are many celebrities that are implementing the veganism movement among their fans. The fact that veganism is being imposed on people makes it unacceptable. They often make use of gore or fake images to force veganism upon people.
Veganism should be a freedom of choice. Do you think that veganism is possible in countries where people are suffering from a lack of food?
I appreciate your comment and have come across a lot of anti-vegan jokes and memes that I can’t really find offensive because I understand that jokes made against other people to trivialise them always arises from ignorance.
I would disagree that celebrities are imposing veganism on fans, rather they would be expressing their lifestyle and offering an alternate way of life that many have never even come across before or do not have a proper understanding of what it even means. Ultimately people are free to make their own choice on what they pay for and consume. Nobody can ever force you. If you think about have every advertisement for food has put meat and dairy in peoples faces, telling them they NEED it every day, a minuscule population of the Earth voicing their freedom of speech and trying to share with the world something they are passionate about to prevent unnecessary harm, environmental damage and diseases is not what I would call an imposition on your freedom of choice.
As I mentioned in my paper, a mostly vegan diet is eaten by those in poverty worldwide. This is simply because such peoples can not afford meat as it is very expensive. As a country develops further, citizens wish to consume a more westernised diet heavy with animal products as seen in China but this is a luxury (Bai et al., 2020). I do not think there is a need to be 100% vegan when you are limited to available food, but the reality is a mostly plant-based diet is already common practice in developing countries and is definitely achievable by everyone in wealthy countries, but it’s a choice. People tend to see veganism as an all or nothing diet, but if everyone aimed to eat mostly plant foods with occasional animal protein, then the world would be much healthier, environmentally sustainable and ethical. It’s a spectrum and I would rather people try reduce and replace than be completely opposed to change because a mentality that sees only extremity.
Bai, J., Seale, J., & Wahl, T. (2020). Meat demand in China: to include or not to include meat away from home?. Web.a.ebscohost.com.dbgw.lis.curtin.edu.au. Retrieved 11 May 2021, from http://web.a.ebscohost.com.dbgw.lis.curtin.edu.au/ehost/detail/detail?vid=0&sid=1d0a9e19-becf-49a9-8c77-fed1cfb36318%40sessionmgr4007&bdata=JnNpdGU9ZWhvc3QtbGl2ZQ%3d%3d#AN=141206084&db=bsu.
This paper was a really interesting read! Thank you for sharing it!
The media does have an influence over people’s identities, and it was nice to see it from this perspective but I felt a bit lost reading this paper as I feel like a stronger thesis statement with a more defined structure would have aided me in following the argument better. You did take into account to the larger issues of veganism. It was not bias, and your information was well referenced. Therefore,It was nice to read the balance of different issues around veganism.
I would say that veganism is not a ‘trendy’ outlier on social media anymore but a popular lifestyle choice (Influencer Marketing, 2021). This is evident with big companies cashing in on supplying of meat alternatives, such as ‘beyond meat’ and ‘imposable meat’. This also includes the wide variety of milk alternatives.
I would have loved to see this paper showcase more online advocacy as there is a lack of evidence of online identities. Examples of hard and soft vegans within social media would have given this paper a deeper meaning.
– ‘The Vegan Teacher’ would have been a really good case study on hard vegans. Otherwise known as Kadie Karen Diekmeyer, she is a TikToker that is “teaching” and advocating what is classed as a good or bad the vegan lifestyle. Kadie’s goal is to spread the message of the benefits of veganism and horrors of the animal agriculture industry (Krosofsky, 2021). She does this in a form of cheery/infectious songs. Her content spreads guilt and discomfort in those who aren’t vegan.
– I think that Gaz Oakley, better known as ‘the Avant-Garde Vegan’, is a great example of a ‘soft’ vegan. He is an Instagram influencer and chef that is a vegan activist through his skill of cooking (Influencer Marketing, 2021).
Your paper does have me question how does gender and veganism connect to media? I feel like you don’t address how the stigma is broken by the media other than disusing Beyoncé.
“Vegetarianism is viewed as challenging the patriarchy as refusing meat opposes the oppression of animals and that of women for being seen as weak and lacking sexual desire like vegetables (Fegitz & Pirani, 2018)”
This quote has me perplexed. Are you saying vegetables have sexual desires? And woman don’t? I agree that to an extent veganism can be classed as challenging the patriarchy as since the 19th century there is a stereotype that “salads were for women, while steak was for men” (Gorvett, 2020). However, I don’t see the correlation to sexual desires and its full relevance to your overall argument.
I would love to hear your thoughts!
Fegitz, E., & Pirani, D. (2018). The Sexual Politics of Veggies: Beyoncé’s “commodity veg*ism”. Feminist Media Studies, 18(2), 294-308. https://doi-org.dbgw.lis.curtin.edu.au/10.1080/14680777.2017.1358200
Gorvett, Z. (2020) When women hold two incompatible beliefs, they’re more likely to change their behaviour to reconcile them. Men, by comparison, tend to dig themselves in.
Influencer Marketing. (2021). Top 17 Vegan Influencers Making a Big Impact on Social Media. Influencer Marketing Hub. https://influencermarketinghub.com/vegan-influencers/#toc-11
Krosofsky, A. (2021). Who Is That Vegan Teacher and Is She Good or Bad News for the Lifestyle? Green Matters. https://www.greenmatters.com/p/that-vegan-teacher-explained
Thanks for your comments. Yes, I did struggle to structure my paper to express my thesis in a clear way, something I will improve upon as I continue my degree and hopefully have mastered by second year.
I agree that veganism is solidifying itself into mainstream society lifestyle choices and less so a trend. But it is still a foreign concept to many that are more isolated from cities where vegan options are present in most establishments or social media bubbles that portray veganism due to echo chambers.
In terms of case studies of vegan advocacy in practice, my initial paper did include such examples, but I was advised by Mike to discuss more broadly rather than look at specific singular examples. I have heard of @AvanteVegan and follow him on my Insta food account. The influencers I was going to use for each advocacy technique include @PlantProof (Simon Hill, an Australian physiotherapist and nutritionist) for ‘spreading positive information highlighting benefits of a plant-based diet for health and the environment through infographics’, @ThrivingonPlants (Cheri Tu, a person of Chinese orient that is a plant-based recipe blogger) for ‘sharing recipes that challenge the stereotypes’, and @EarthlingEd (A vegan activist, public speaker and educator) for ‘using footage and drawing parallels between humans and farm animals to shock and guilt viewers’.
No I wasn’t saying vegetables have sexual desires haha. The point was that they don’t. Unlike animals where mating is a primal and necessary aspect for survival of their species, vegetables have no emotions or sexual drive as they are, well, vegetables. The relevance of this point was to describe how the vegan identity is stereotyped as being weak and an antonym if you will of the strong, dominating, masculine meat eater stereotype. The argument being that strong, feminine celebrities like Beyonce are breaking down this stereotype using social media.
I hope that somewhat clears things up and clarifies my intent.
Thank you so much for replying!
I apologise if my comment came across too critical. Essay writing is a difficult task.
It has been establish that you are a vegan, do you believe that there is no ethical way to consume animal products? Farms and isolated people normally consume and use their own animal products (cheese, wool, milk, eggs). Would you ever consider wearing wool? Or using farm eggs?
Thank you for sharing your potential case studies. I think it would have been a grate reed to see how you placed them with in your essay.
Do you believe the stereotype of vegan identity being weak? to what extent? I have not herd this stereotype before reading this paper. Is this just in relation to the gender sterotype?
No I didn’t find your comment to critical;)
In terms of eggs I actually answered this question asked by Connor Davidson, 3 comments down (excluding my responses). I am vegan for a combination of factors and health is a contributing factor. So even if I were to have the animals as pets myself, I would not consume their milk or eggs.
Milk is actually quite unethical to consume as I explain in response to Sonia’s comment way back down on the 10/05/21. Pretty much because for a cow to produce milk, she must be pregnant and have her calf taken away from her within the first day otherwise they form an attachment and can develop separation depression where they will scream out for their calf and buck against enclosures. Cows will be milked 10months of the year with 2-3months rest period before being inseminated or mated again. Many calves taken away will be slaughtered for veal. If the calf is female, they too will be impregnated for the first time around 25months old (~2yrs). The dairy industry feeds the meat industry. All dairy cows are considered ‘spent’ at 5years old and killed for low-grade beef.
In terms of wool, yes I would consider wearing it because sheep have been bred to have wool all year round and therefore require it to be taken off during the summer, otherwise they can die of heat exhaustion. I would prefer to purchase it from a second hand store as I’m not directly funding the industry and am saving a usable piece of clothing from going to waste. The textile industry is one of the biggest polluters to the environment due to fast fashion.
What are your thoughts on this?
This has been an interesting topic to read about. I often would like to go Vegan for ethical and health-related reasons but always find myself making up excuses not to so this topic certainly interests me.
Interestingly one of the things that holds me back is the way the media frames veganism to be this extreme way of life which is truly unfair to the cause.
You have talked a lot about what vegans really are and how influencers behave online, but it would be interesting to understand how the vegan communities leverage social platforms to share their ideas and support one another as well as demanding social justice. After reading Leah Skinner’s (2021) paper earlier on Change.org it made me wonder about social causes like animal activism which is separate but related to veganism and how their online communities enact social change. Have you found any of your research to explain the link between the two?
Skinner, L. (2021, April 24). Change.org: Empowering Everyday Citizens to Enact Social Change. [Paper Presentation]. 12th Annual Debating Communities and Networks, Online. https://networkconference.netstudies.org/2021/2021/04/25/change-org-empowering-everyday-citizens-to-enact-social-change/
Thanks for directing me to Leah’s paper. I did not find examples of vegan communities or influencers using online petitions to enact social change as I wasn’t really looking for it, but in my own experience in the digital realm of social media I have. I remember there was a particular petition calling for the end of the Yulin Dog Meat Festival in China was shared by most if not all the vegan influencers I follow. As a result of the petition which gained over 1.5million signatures, the Chinese Government changed the laws declaring dogs to be pets and companions not food. However, the festival continues each year, but with substantially less dogs due to the government crackdown on trans-provincial animal transport. This is not a debate of tradition versus animal welfare as the festival only began in 2010 and has no traditional basis. But to get back to your question, yes sites like Chang.Org or Care2 are used by vegans for animal activism and shared throughout other social media platforms.
I really enjoyed reading your paper. I have a couple of friends that are now vegan or vegetarian if a vegan option isn’t available. One is a hard vegan and will let everyone know about it and the other is a soft vegan who is only doing it for the health aspects…. although he borders being a hard vegan as he does like to tell everyone how healthy he is.
I totally agree with you that veganism has become more prominent in the social world and it has opened my eyes to the different aspects of it.
Well done on your paper. It made for great reading.
I’m glad you enjoyed it and learnt a bit too.
I loved the point about gendered stereotypes when eating food and feel it is an excellent point when talking about the ridicule vegans face in the media. As an “omnivore” myself my experience with vegans has been limited to what I see in the media, however, I am naturally suspicious of what the media allows to be perpetuated so I take everything with a grain of salt (read my paper! https://networkconference.netstudies.org/2021/2021/04/26/how-aj-clementine-is-making-that-light-bulb-moment-for-transgender-youth-a-whole-lot-easier/)
My problem with your paper lies with how you are talking about how the media and society labels people “vegans” and not what type of vegan they are. You have essentially done the same thing with “omnivores,” what about pescatarians? What about people who in their eyes ethically source eggs, meat, and milk from their own back yard? I find this particularly hypocritical. And contributes to the essentialist view of omnivores that is perpetuated in this paper.
The whole idea that omnivores feel morally attacked by vegans is an essentialist view, as I always say you do you and you don’t know anything about my views. Making an assumption about someone who belongs to a particular group solely on the basis of one facet of their life is a dangerous hole to go down.
My question to you is; would you have eggs from chickens if you had them in your back yard? I ask this because it’s always my first question for vegans. From this blog post (https://theminimalistvegan.com/backyard-eggs/) my suspicions were confirmed that the commercial egg industry is terrible. Where chickens are killed after 12-18 months of laying eggs whereas a free hen can live for 10-20 years (Ofei, 2021). My sister has chickens, ducks, and geese so naturally, that’s where we get our eggs from. However, the blog post had a rebuttal to thinking keeping hens is a good thing, that is the calcium required to make eggshells slowly reduces in the chickens and consequently can have eggs rot inside of them. As chicken keepers, we know about this and we bake all leftover eggshells and give them back to the chickens in powdered form so as to ensure they are getting the calcium back.
I think this is a contentious topic, however, as an exclusively white meat eater, I believe some animals like chicken and fish exist to ensure we can exist. I think as well we need to take a leaf out of Aboriginal Peoples’ books who have for thousands of years managed this land and ensured the continuation of many species by proper understanding for the ecosystem. The perfect example of this is how they would hunt emu eggs, they would never take all of them. Ensuring people are well fed and the species would continue to thrive at a level that the ecosystem would allow (Flick, 2014).
Flick, B. (2014) Through Our Eyes – Dhinawan ‘Emu in the Sky’ with Ben Flick. Retrieved from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LzFYFutiwoA
Ofei, M. (2021). Is It Okay For Vegans To Eat Eggs From Backyard Chickens?. Minimalist Vegan. Retrieved from https://theminimalistvegan.com/backyard-eggs/
To preface my computer crashed when I’d nearly finished my response and I had attack thinking I’d lost what I’d just spent the past half an hour on. But alas this site is beautifully designed and saved my unpublished response for me. *sighs in relief.
Thanks for your debating comment 🙂 I realise I have grouped omnivores as a whole without acknowledging the variant diet groups like pescatarian, pollotarian (white meat only), vegetarian (no meat at all, eggs and dairy consumed), ovarian (eggs only), lacto-vegetarian (dairy only) and flexitarian (plant-based with occasional meat). I could have easily delved further into those categorisations but wanted to focus on vegans and their identity and activism. I concede categorising all other diets using the term “omnivore” was a bit reductive, but I’m glad you’ve given me the chance to elaborate and discuss how the carnist to vegan diet is on a spectrum. I can further discuss how the vegan diet is diverse in categories too. There are vegans (that eat anything as long as it doesn’t contain animal products), whole-food vegan (unprocessed), Raw vegans (no cooked foods), fruitarians (only fruits), junk food vegans (self explanatory) and many more variants just like non-vegans. Perhaps non-vegan would have been a more appropriate term to group all others, but a thought made in hindsight.
From an Ethical perspective, I see no issue in having backyard chickens that are cared for and allowed to walk around. I personally wouldn’t eat them due to health reasons. They are high in saturated fat and cholesterol resulting in build up of plaque in the artery walls (atherosclerosis) which increases ones chance of heart disease, stroke, peripheral artery disease and type 2 diabetes. While your body needs cholesterol to build cell membranes, your liver makes all the cholesterol you need (“What is Cholesterol?”, 2020). A plant based protein sources are completely free of cholesterol and has been proven to reverse type 2 diabetes. For people that aren’t as health conscious as me, backyard eggs are great. I also don’t like the taste of eggs so much so don’t feel like I’ve suffered a great loss, haha.
A Plant Based Diet for the Prevention and Treatment of Type 2 Diabetes. (2017). https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5466941/
A low-fat vegan diet and a conventional diabetes diet in the treatment of type 2 diabetes: a randomized, controlled, 74-wk clinical trial. (2009). https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2677007/
What is Cholesterol?. http://www.heart.org. (2020). https://www.heart.org/en/health-topics/cholesterol/about-cholesterol#.WpY2LWZL3EZ.
What a great topic to write about. Our food choices are such a huge part of our offline and online lives. I am an omnivore but was a vegetarian for the total of six weeks, a few years back. It was hard work and I really struggled with finding suitable food alternatives.
Your paper really highlighted for me the different forms of veganism that I had not really considered before. I also follow a number of plant-based recipe and beginner vegan groups and pages on Facebook and Instagram. The ‘Beginner Vegan’ group on Facebook was quite an eye opener for me. The groups intention was to support those people making the change to veganism or those that are interested in the lifestyle but not yet made the switch. However, the group membership was clearly made of many ‘hard’ vegans as, if anyone was to mention that they had slipped up and consumed a food not considered vegan, the wrath was intense. Because of these numerous incidents, I began to feel that the vegan movement was very much more than just food and lifestyle. I found the experience on some of these pages very negative and not supportive at all!
I don’t follow any vegan influencers on Instagram. To be honest, I’m a little scared too! However, I really enjoy the recipes and the success stories of those who have made the switch for health reasons.
Do you have any ideas about how ‘soft’ vegans can make their voices heard on Social Media and media generally, above the yelling and extremism of ‘hard’ vegans? Your paper talks about vegan recipes and infographics having a much larger influence on non-vegans, and I can attest to that! Yet still, generally vegans are still viewed negatively or with jest. There is a lot of celebrity vegans nowadays. You could be right in saying that they are making headway with promoting veganism however, I think it will depend on the celebrity and their tendency/affinity to strange behaviour that may further ostracize the vegan lifestyle.
Great read. Thank you.
I’m sorry that happened to you. I have heard of similar stories where people have joined vegan Facebook communities and the like where they we demonized for not being perfect. Unfortunately, there will always be an extremist that will make the most noise and tends to scare fence sitters away. But perfection is not the point, reduction of exploitation, environmental damage and disease is. I think veganism is more based upon sustainability. If you were to relate their passion for veganism and animal activism to a child, with the vegan being the parent, most parents have no idea how to raise a child properly and will likely make some mistakes along the way. Some parents can be a bit harsh because they feel so out of control to protect the child from the dangers of the world. Likewise passionate vegans can get angry because they feel overwhelmed and helpless at times at how little they can control. Being a vegan is easy. Becoming one is hard. vegans will have to withstand abuse from non-vegans that disagree, the hardest critics being friends and family, and extremist vegans that pressure you to be perfect. You gain a resilience, at least 😉 . Ultimately you have to think about your Why. Why are you wanting to be vegan? If you have a clear understanding of your principles and motivations, then it makes it a lot easier to brush off other people’s judgement. If they don’t know you, then their opinion of you is irrelevant.
I really enjoyed learning about veganism in terms of health through @Plantproof on Instagram and listening to his Podcasts with leading experts in science and health in regards to veganism. Simon makes information a lot more palatable to the wider community by supporting claims with evidence and studies.
In terms of ethical activism as a vegan, it will always be difficult. You may be passive, calm and collected, but the issue is your questioning people’s morals. Even if you do not get emotionally overwhelmed and become aggravated in your tone, it feels like you are implying that they are a bad person instead of a person making a choice that causes harm, but has the ability to prevent it. Even writing that sounds like I blame non-vegans for the exploitation, which I must admit I do otherwise I wouldn’t be vegan. Yet that is the difficult circumstance I am in where I feel unable to even have a mature conversation about animal rights and humane treatment without feeling like I will spark a defensive anger. I must admit, some will be willing to participate in such an amicable discussion, but from experience, most won’t.
Hence, that is why I separated ”Hard” vegans as ethical and ”Soft” as environmental and health. Health and environmental vegans can be extreme in their views and effort to persuade and ethical ones can be passive, but these terms hard and soft are more reflective of how they are perceived.
Not sure if that really answers your question haha.
A very interesting paper! I myself am not a vegan but its interesting to read about the ‘soft vegan’ vs the ‘hard vegan’. I myself do not have a problem with vegans as I understand what they are doing and why they are doing it. Like all different cultures and lifestyles there is however that 1% of member’s who are extreme and their actions are considered as extreme. Unfortunately with Veganism there is a stigma around that and people who identify as a ‘soft vegan’ or a ‘hard vegan’ all come under that stigma.
Do you think some of the extreme content/actions such as protests or video footage inside an abattoir for example changes many peoples opinions on becoming a vegan or at least being more conscious about what meat they eat and where they eat it from? or do you think this sort of content makes the stigma of being vegan worse?
I personally think it’s important as it was a big part of the reason why I went vegan. I saw an hour long YouTube video that left me bawling on the floor of my room thinking how unfair the world was, but also comforted by the idea that there may be a way to prevent such exploitation. That’s when I started looking into this unknown word “veganism” and how I could meet all my nutrient requirements without feeling guilty every time I ate.
So yes it can make the stigma worse when dominant media portray such accounts that show this footage in a militant way. It is very easy to manipulate an audience to think negatively towards someone they do not know using linguistic techniques of persuasion.
For example Finding Nemo’s plot could be described as: “A serial killer brutally murders a mother and almost all of her children while her husband watches, leaving only one child alive. The father raises his only remaining son, who as a result of the killer’s attack is born with a physical impairment. One day, the son is taken from his father and kept as a prisoner in a foreign land. The father must travel far from home to find him and can only rely on the aid of a mentally-handicapped woman for help.”
Even your favourite Disney movie can be portrayed as a horror film.
As a vegan, I found your paper very interesting! I think I definitely identify as a ‘soft vegan’, in that I avoid bringing up my ethical beliefs and diet unless someone else brings it up.
As someone whose omnivorous friends outnumber my vegan friends, I have to disagree with the popular joke of “how to tell if someone is vegan”. In my experience, the fastest way a stranger has found out I’m a vegan is by my omnivorous friends introducing me as their “vegan friend”. I personally haven’t met anyone who opens discussions with their dietary requirements! Yet, it is these same individuals who seem to push the joke, and create the often negative connotations around veganism. I personally don’t feel my diet makes up any of my identity, however, it is possibly a stand out feature when someone else is differentiating me from others.
In relation to your argument about hashtag hijacking, I definitely agree that disturbing content often features on these pages, and, even as a vegan, feel adversely towards those who feel the need to share graphic content to push an agenda. I follow tags such as #vegan on social media to find my next favourite recipe and stay up to date with the latest vegan products. When hard vegans share graphic content to those tags, I think they risk not only pushing the “extremist vegan” stereotype, but they also risk harming vegan small businesses and products, because other vegans may unfollow those tags to avoid such content. If possible, do you think tags should be filtered? Alternatively, with the rise of accessibility features such as image/video descriptions on Instagram, do you think the vegan reputation could be aided by rejecting content with graphic descriptions from certain tags?
Lastly, I’d like to hear your thoughts on the best way to promote vegan activism without pushing the target audience away! My best method (among friends and family) is to make good vegan substitutes without stating they’re vegan. For example, I made a batch of chocolate brownies to take to a picnic with a large group of friends, but didn’t say until after everyone had eaten (and enjoyed) them that they were vegan. Most people were pleasantly surprised (those who weren’t had already assumed I’d veganised the recipe because I ate them too), and many even asked for the recipe. Do you have any other ideas for the soft vegans out there hoping to spread good food and ethics?
Yes the title was more of a click-bait to pull in the prejudiced omnivores into debate and an ironic joke because I too have never met a vegan who outwardly states they are vegan. It is much more likely that someone else will make a condescending joke or try to make me feel bad by saying “awww such a shame you can’t have this”. When it’s not that I can’t, rather I actively choose not to and eat something else. I’m sure you’ve experienced the same.
I too find it difficult to face and will often get emotionally overwhelmed when I see graphic content, but I do take the stance that it serves as a reminder of why I make the choices I make. Not that it is difficult to be vegan in the sense of options or cooking, rather the ridicule and exclusion I face for making a personal choice that doesn’t impact anybody else. It is also important to stay educated for when you have a friend that is inquisitive of what actually happens in the industry and aren’t trying to mock but learn. Hence, I dont think tags should be filtered because it silences an already silenced and marginalised group. Such moral shock content is already competing with a mass of funny cat videos and Insta booty models to reach an audience. That is why most graphic videos of exploitation are censored with that graphic content warning, allowing people the choice to watch rather than unexpectedly be confronted with.
As a soft vegan myself with somewhat of a social anxiety towards confrontation or exposing things I am passionate about to be criticised on the internet, I find cooking food for other people that is healthy, vibrant and delicious the best way to reconstruct their perspective of what it means to be vegan as not an exclusion of food and a sacrifice of yummy food, rather an opportunity to try new things without any guilt. For the friends that already know I’m vegan, when they ask how I’m so happy and energetic all the time, I suggest that it could be attributed to what I eat and jokingly saying “#GoVegan” and laughing. I feel like it makes them think about it though 😉
Thanks for the comment,
I definitely have experienced that! When I first went vegan, a friend (who, funnily enough, is now vegetarian!), laughed and threw small pieces of bacon at me. I think it’s definitely a perspective thing, and I like to think that, in modelling what veganism was like and that I felt healthier, more energetic, and was still eating tasty food, I helped her start the transition to veganism.
I hadn’t thought of the graphic videos as a reinforcement technique! I too often feel emotionally overwhelmed (sometimes even physically sick) by such content, and have made the connection of “that’s awful, this shouldn’t still be happening in 2021”, but had never gone that step further to say “this reinforces what I think”. I can appreciate your point about graphic content warnings too, but I’ve noticed some users have taken a ‘sneaky’ approach to it, and post the videos in reverse (such as showing someone eating a burger, then reversing through all the stages of how that burger is made). I think it’s videos like these that have potential to be the most powerful when encouraging someone to take that first step towards veganism, but they also have the potential to repulse viewers (furthering the cognitive dissonance most omnivores experience).
It’s interesting you also mention feeling healthier since going vegan. I wonder if there’s a way to subtly spread this message without it seeming pushy? I’m definitely guilty of eye-rolling when I see diet culture surface on social media, but perhaps hosting a casual discussion between friends is a way around this. Do you think social media is the best platform to spread veganism and its associated benefits? Or perhaps it’s best shared through cinema, such as ‘Game Changers’? A couple of my self-declared ‘gym-junkie’ friends have turned to vegetarianism since watching the film, and intend to move further into veganism. However, when they saw the movie, they only knew it as a documentary about health and fitness; the plant-based research was a surprise for them! Could similar movies be the way to go?
Looking forward to hearing from you!
I definitely think documentaries like What the Health, Vegucated, Seaspiracy, Game Changers, Cowspiracy, Earthlings, etc. have a major role in presenting research in a receptive format to the wider population.
One of the studies I read expressed how “For most of the interviewees (75%), visuals, and especially audiovisuals, were an important or key factor that contributed to their decision to become vegan and to get involved in activism.”
Fernández, L. (2021). https://doi.org/10.1177/0196859920932881
Interesting that visuals and audiovisuals are a key contributor to the transition to veganism, when many anecdotal examples such as when Perth activists played slaughterhouse recordings at Woolworths (see reference below) demonstrate the opposite. Do you think this comes down to the extremity of the content being shared? Documentaries such as Cowspiracy are often praised as a cause for someone to become vegan, but feature similarly confronting footage. Does such footage need to be portrayed “professionally” in order to be acceptable, or is it when/where the content is displayed that dictates its efficacy? Personally, I feel it’s more likely to have an impact when viewed privately, such as watching a documentary at home.
Keen to hear your thoughts!
I’d also like to highlight that most, if not all, workers in the animal agriculture industry are exposed to the content shown in documentaries everyday, but it’s a rarity to see such workers turn to a vegan diet. Do you think it’s possible some individuals become desensitised to the treatment of animals in this way? If so, what do you think would be the best way to highlight the benefits of a vegan diet to these individuals?
I’ve also attached the reference I mentioned in my last comment, that I failed to attach previously.
Stevens, K. (2020, January 14). Militant vegans storm supermarket and stand in front of the meat section playing sounds of animals being slaughtered… but shoppers completely ignore them. Daily Mail. https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-7883735/Vegans-play-sounds-slaughterhouse-animal-activist-protest-Woolworths-Perth.html
I can’t respond to your comment because we’ve exhausted the further reply on this site, so ill do it here instead.\
I think documentaries that also show confronting footage like Cowspiracy or Seaspiracy are more palatable because they break things up with interviews with experts in their fields, diagrams and infographics. It allows viewers to have emotional breaks that prevents them from getting too overwhelmed. In addition, audio-visuals do not have to be depicting such violence. It could be on the health or environmental benefits of adopting a vegan diet.
I agree that it is a lot easier to be vulnerable and question your beliefs without the added fear of judgement from others that are around you.
In regards to slaughterers in abbatoirs, they may not become vegan but it definitely has an emotional toll. They can develop PTSD, depression, other mental health illnesses and have nightmares of death. They can become more prone to violence. If you read the testimony at the bottom of this article, you will understand the destructive nature this job has on people’s humanity. Warning it is disgusting, repulsive and absolutely heart wrenching.
Slaughterhouse employment is linked with an increased crime rate. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/1086026609338164
Desensitisation is definitely a coping mechanism used. In a BBC news story, Confessions of a slaughterhouse worker, a worker explains the emotional toll.
“One skill that you master while working at an abattoir is disassociation. You learn to become numb to death and to suffering. Instead of thinking about cows as entire beings, you separate them into their saleable, edible body parts. It doesn’t just make the job easier – it’s necessary for survival.”
“I’ll never forget the day, after I’d been at the abattoir for a few months, when one of the lads cut into a freshly killed cow to gut her – and out fell the foetus of a calf. She was pregnant. He immediately started shouting and throwing his arms about.
I took him into a meeting room to calm him down – and all he could say was, “It’s just not right, it’s not right,” over and over again. These were hard men, and they rarely showed any emotion. But I could see tears prickling his eyes.”
Suicidal thoughts is prevalent among abattoir workers.
I’m also replying to an earlier comment seeing as we’ve exhausted replies; for your reference, this comment is intended as a reply to your comment on 15/05/2021.
It’s awful to see the impact such work has on an individual. It’s harrowing to hear how animals are treated in those facilities, and alarming to get a better understanding of how slaughterhouses impact one’s mental health. With the rise in mental health awareness, do you think this is potentially a new angle online vegan advocacy could take? Perhaps relating issues in slaughterhouses back to the impacts on humans, rather than animals, may be a way to get the attention of those who don’t put the same value on animal lives as human ones.
The article you shared about increased crime rates among slaughterhouse workers was particularly interesting. Many members of the non-vegan community take issue with the extremist vegans who break into such facilities with the intention of rescuing the animals. Could the high crime rate of slaughterhouse workers be an argument against this? While it does not act to justify any illegal actions – such as trespassing – that vegans make, it does serve to show that neither side is innocent of crime, and that both sides would benefit from eliminating slaughterhouses.
Hope to hear what you think!
Responding to your comment from 16/05/21, 11:58am.
The increased crime rate in areas with abattoirs is already a ‘tactic’ used by vegan activists as I remember first hearing about the correlation in a documentary I watched (I cant recall which one) and also in one of EarthlingEd’s videos. The issue with a controversial topic where media companies are financed by wealthy organisations and people that are themselves sponsored by animal agricultural food companies is that the media will always find a way to shift the blame. Because the job is disgusting, dangerous, and emotionally crippling, positions are usually filled b migrant workers that have no other options. “The influx of immigrants into slaughterhouse communities has also been blamed for the
increase in crime.”
The extract of a study below found that increased crime rates in areas with slaughterhouses could not be explained by the demographic of workers.
“The control variables with the most explanatory power
in predicting the crime variables in this study include the unemployment variable and some
of the social disorganization variables (specifically migration and immigration). The effects
of the demographic variables were largely contradictory and close to zero. The arguments
that have been used to explain the slaughterhouse effect overall find limited substantiation
here, again supporting the claim that there is something unique about slaughterhouse work”
So interesting, I had not categorised vegans in my mind in this way before!
I took my kids and one of their vegan friends away for a week. It was the first time I had experienced Vegan World. The food was good but I had to spend quite a lot of time and energy thinking about it – where we would eat, what my vegan guest could eat, etc.
My own teenaged daughter (friend of vegan) has had…. seven episodes of vegetarianism. Seven! So far no vegan episodes which is a relief to me as the cook LOL. Her change in eating habits has been influenced by social media.
Thanks for your essay!
It’s quite interesting how veganism is quite popular among our younger generation. Yes I agree social media has a huge part in that. My Dad thought it was social media manipulating me and me hopping onto a trend, but I was really using my own brain and educating myself on all aspects of food, being quite health focused with a love for cooking.
I personally see the animal agricultural industry as manipulative. For example, how did drinking milk from a different mammal, taking away the milk from it’s calf (cows like all mammals need to be with child to produce milk), become more socially acceptable than to drink milk from our own species after a certain age (that seen from Grown Ups where the 7yr old is ridiculed for still drinking his mum’s milk rather than cow milk come to mind).
It is in fact much more difficult to cope with the social pressure to conform to the status quo than to make the choice to become a stigmatised minority with others seeing it as a burden or inconvenience. This may be a reason for your daughter’s fluctuating diet. My parents became much more accepting of my choice of diet when I begun cooking delicious meals for them and making things easier for them.
… also social media has a role in sharing ways of life that you would not have ever encountered, such as yourself not having come across veganism before. We are brought up to live the same as our parents, from religion to diet. If we are not exposed to the other, how can we make a choice when we do not know that there is another option?
I really enjoyed reading your paper!
As I was reading I did wonder what you expect the effect of echo chambers has had on the acceptance of veganism. As a non-vegan, I am often only shown the extreme versions of veganism as you have mentioned. I believe that this is because my echo chambers on various platforms do not associate with vegans as it is not something I am primarily interested in. Therefore my vegan content is sporadic and will usually paint vegans in a negative light. I understand in the real world most vegans are not like this, but I was wondering if you believed echo chambers have caused this warped view on vegans and if so, what you believe can be done by this?
Again thank you for this paper! I really enjoyed it!
I definitely agree that echo chambers have a major role in feeding the stigma and stereotype. Unfortunately there is nothing that can really be done about this except on an individual level. I encourage you to look into groups, movements and other beliefs that you completely disagree with or view negatively and try to see the other side. This will allow you to make a much more educated decision and gain control over your beliefs without feeling like everything you believe in is based on content that has bee targeted to manipulate you. When I first decided to go vegan, my parents weren’t exactly supportive and raised points to counter my beliefs. I then went away and researched the omnivorous arguments opposing veganism and was able to find a counter argument and reason out why such arguments were invalid. This made me feel more educated and sure of my decision.
I completely understand this and have gone out of my way to educate myself on opposing views. You mentioned that mainstream media will stereotype veganism as a cult for extremist animal activists. So what I want to know is how you propose this can be fixed on more than an individual level? As although you did mention peoples morality is a barrier to veganism, isn’t that then adding to the negativity as from what I can understand you are saying that non-vegans are all not supportive of vegans?
That is the dilemma of the vegan stereotype. We a portrayed as being loud and forcing our opinions down every-bodies throat but if we try to change that opinion by not talking, then the omnivores will not know that we are vegan and the stereotype remains unchanged because we are not associated with that group. If companies, celebrities, influencers, tv shows and all media normalised veganism, then it would be okay to look into veganism as an omnivore. But even if an omnivore is open to veganism, the heavily propagated stereotype makes them fear getting ridiculed too.
Thank you for your reply. I again understand what you are saying, however still would like to offer a differing opinion. Going back to my original opinion on echo chambers, I am sure many vegans, if not most, are not forcing their opinions down someone’s throat. But unfortunately, from my experience with echo chambers, the loudest voices tend to win. I think the normalisation of veganism is great and personally, I believe is already happening, I will often opt for a vegan meal because it looks delicious and can be healthier! Unfortunately, I completely disagree with you when it comes to omnivores not going vegan for fear of being ridiculed, if this comment is fact base, please point me to the research as I would love to educate myself. However, if it is opinion based, I feel as though you are making assumptions and grouping people the same way you are suggesting vegans are grouped, with different emotions and connotations attached. But I think it is important to understand that there is never a definitive or black and white answer with this.
I couldn’t reply to your last comment as I believe we’ve had a bit too much back and forth conversation and have exceeded the sites capacity for replying, so I’ll reply here.
I like how you are questioning my statements and asking for scholarly evidence for such claims. I personally have had discussions with friends where they have stated that the stigmatisation of veganism and ridiculing that they themselves have at times partaken in is a contributing factor to not want to explore veganism further. That is not to say the only or even main, but relevant.
In terms of scholarly articles that back this claim further than my first-hand experience, here are two:
Thank you for the fantastic read and insight in to veganism, I really enjoyed it.
The title of your Paper is the reason it stood out to me……. because it is mostly correct 😀
I have been aware of the hard and soft vegan ‘movements’, the former due to the News reporting on ‘Miliant’ Vegans trespassing on farms, freeing stock and/or chaining themselves to machinary – putting the farm workers and themselves in danger.
I have a co-worker who is a soft vegan due to having health issues and have had some great discussions with her during lunch breaks as to the pros and cons of both our lifestyles – yet we both have respect for the others choices.
While I am an omnivore, I have reduced the amount of meat I do consume, more out of ethical concerns for the animals with their enclosure sizes and the massive slaughterhouses here in Europe. I try to only by direct from the farm – one where I have seen how the animals are treated and kept.
While meat (animal) protein has been touted as a necessity for building muscle, I think that having an awareness of where and how the animal comes from and is treated, wouldn’t make everyone turn to a vegan lifestyle, however would make the consider what they are buying.
I agree that it is not possible for everyone to become 100% vegan but I think it is quite feasible for everyone to drastically reduce their animal consumption and increase their consumption of plants. I find it interesting to see how many people are shocked to find out you can be entirely fit and healthy on a plant-based diet and that you won’t end up looking like a lanky skeleton. That is why I find vegan activism on social media quit interesting because there is always a debate and people’s assumptions being challenged. I find the more one looks into veganism and the three broad reasons to become vegan, as mentioned, the harder it is to dispute and contribute to an system that is completely unnecessary. I applaud you for making an active effort to reduce your contribution:)
Oh wow such an interesting topic to read. I do agree that vegan people are more health conscious, are indeed healthy they know what to eat and consume more vegetables. As you mentioned about how the vegan people do their utmost best to avoid the meat eaters negative comments, it is true because they might pass on a comment which could affect them. Vegan people they also share their recipes to make people avail of things that are appropriate to eat. However, those vegan people are known to be against the killing of animals which I also believe is not appropriate because those animals also have a life and deserves to live. Thank you very much for writing on this topic.
I would be grateful if you could read my paper and leave a comment about your point of view. Here is the link;
Thank you for reading my paper. I’m glad you got something out of it and found points you agreed on. I enjoyed your paper too and left several comments 😉
Hello Eva, I trust that you are fit and fine.
Thank you very much and I am definitely checking and replying you asap.
This is quite a comprehensive explanation of the different forms of veganism. I found the title of your paper particularly intriguing although I would argue that it is “users of social media” rather than “social media” that influences the uptake of veganism. So, with reference to your title, which “online rooms” are vegans most likely to frequent? Do you see veganism movements and its celebrity advocates preferring certain platforms over others? Is it largely about coining hashtags and promoting these or are there other strategies in use too that are seen, perhaps, in the self-presentation of vegan celebrities?
In the Web 2.0 the consumers have also become producers of content. Without users social media would cease to exist. Hence, I argue that social media and it’s users could be used interchangeably as I see them as one and the same – but I understand your point 😉 -.
I would say that vegans, like all demographics exist on all platforms. Some may be active producers of content or influencers, while others like myself engage in content and are more of a silent consumer. I personally see other vegans most on Instagram, but that is because it is my most used social media platform. I’d say it also depends on what sort of content they produce eg. recipe content may feature an image of the final meal on Instagram or a reel of cooking without the recipe and a link to a YouTube video with step by step instructions of the recipe. In terms of vegan celebrities, like most other vegans they don’t exactly flaunt it. It’s just one part of their identity. They may be a musician or an athlete or actor and hence they will more likely post about their passions in their occupations. It is more common to find out a celebrity is vegan through a vegan community group or account. It is more like celebrity endorsement by featuring them as supportive of the lifestyle by stating that such a celebrity is vegan.