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Veganism & Feminism

TL;DR: If you want more people to join your cause, instead of saying "I'm a vegan" or "I'm a feminist", I suggest saying "I don't eat meat" and "I support gender equality".

Hi, I'm Jonathan from France, and I have a message for feminists, vegans and vegetarians, and people fighting for a cause in general.

Let me start by saying that I support gender equality, animal rights, LGBT rights, and racial equality. Which means that I am against sexism, animal cruelty, homophobia, and racism.

How do these two sentences make you feel? Did it sound like I was attacking your beliefs or way of life? I don't think so. Does it sound like we could have an interesting and constructive discussion about these topics? I would hope so.

If you support any of these causes, chances are that you are somewhat passionate about them, and want to convince other people that they are important. I've been vegetarian myself for 10 years for ethical reasons, and I support gender equality; but I think some vegans and feminists don't use the right approach when communicating. I think people defending LGBT rights and racial equality are not seen as being as "annoying" as vegans and feminists. Why is that?

By calling yourself "a vegan" or "a feminist", you are basically telling non-vegans or non-feminists that you are in the enemy team. For a lot of people, when they hear these words, the first image that comes to their mind is extreme activitsts criticizing society and their way of life. While this type of activism is probably necessary, I don't think it is the most effective way to communicate about our values.

I think most people actually support gender equality and are against animal cruelty. By saying "I support X" and "I'm against Y" you are not being confrontational to the other person. You don't put yourself in the enemy team. You're just being a regular citizen with an opinion about something, just like them. That helps a lot.

With 10 years of experience of vegetarian discussions, let me assure you that saying "I don't eat meat" triggers curiosity more than confrontation. People want to know more. If you say you're a vegan, some people may straight up label you as an annoying person who criticizes and lectures people, even if you don't. As a side note, the term "vegetarian" seems to annoy people less than the word "vegan" for some reason. So even if you're a vegan, consider avoiding that word.

Example of a friendly group conversation:

– Alright, how about we get that beef stew to share? Vegan: Sorry guys, I don't eat meat, but go ahead! – Oh you're a vegetarian?
– Yeah. It's all good, there are some nice veggie options on the menu.
– Why are you vegetarian? Do you eat fish? Cheese?
– Hah, I don't eat fish or dairies, no. It's ethical. I'd be happy to talk about it with you later if you want to know more.

Way more effective than saying "Yeah no thanks, I'm not a fan of eating dead bodies of tortured animals, enjoy though". That won't convince anyone and you'll lose friends.

Saying you're a "feminist" is even more problematic than saying you're a vegan, because it is not a relatable word for men. It's like if a black person told a white person "Hey, I'm a blackist". It just creates even more separation between the two sides instead of uniting them. Very counter-productive.

I sincerely think that the word "feminism" is causing more hate and sexism than it's helping. You will get way more men to agree with you if you talk about "gender equality" and "sexism" rather than "feminism". And if you support gender equality, no matter your gender, you need men on your side as well.

While we're at it, I would also suggest avoiding veganism and feminism-related keywords, like "speciesism" and "patriarchy" that only vegans or feminists use. These also flag you as the enemy team.

Finally, remember not to hate on people who disagree with you or make fun of you. They have their own backstory that made them how they are today. A lot of which wasn't within their control. So stay friendly, understanding, and compassionate.

Cheers.