SANTA CRUZ, December 9, 2013 — Last week, one of entertainment’s power couples announced they would be experimenting with a vegan diet for a few weeks. The news made headlines everywhere, and has met with a curious amount of blowback from the very contingency the pair would ostensibly be joining. With the paparazzi following the couples every move, it was only a matter of time before they committed some vegan faux pas and, when they did (wearing a fur coat to a vegan restaurant), the vegan elite were there to roll their collective eyes.
Long time vegans appear to be torn on these latest events. On one hand, celebrities going public with their veganism, whatever the intent, has to be a positive. It draws precious attention to the lifestyle, and to the ethics behind it. Most vegans are converted meat-eaters, and many can point to the work of a famous vegan (athlete, actor, musician, etc), as their inspiration, their initial first step towards a lifestyle they now consider routine.
Those less than thrilled with the couple’s public pronouncement are the entrenched, hardcore vegans. They have perfected the drawing of lines in the proverbial sand to an art form. They are forever seeking new ways to separate themselves from the unenlightened masses who may soil the pristine vegan ghettos they have built up for themselves. They are the self-ordained vegan police, guardians of some subjective ethical code which all vegans, current and potential, must follow.
These vegans, while their ire at the passing or temporary vegan is understandable, have created an environment which is contrary to their stated end goals. Most vegans long for a day when more people follow the lifestyle. They know that such a shift will not only benefit human health and longevity, but also keep a tenuous promise with compassion many of us made in our youth when we met our first family pet. Vegans also know that a plant based diet is the best way to preserve the earth’s environment and reverse the specter of climate change.
These blue bloods have imagined themselves stewards of veganism and, in so doing, have unconsciously pushed away countless possible converts. The reality is that, no matter what inspires someone to experiment with a cruelty-free lifestyle, that person ought to be afforded the same understanding as these vegan snobs received when they were just starting out.
Those mired in this reverie of exclusivity ought to snap out of it and think about the big picture. There is a good chance that this famous couple, having discovered the benefits of a vegan lifestyle, may decide to stick with it. Even if they do not, the publicity surrounding their initial decision has undoubtedly planted the idea of a lifestyle change in the heads of thousands. Each time a celebrity goes vegan, it makes the whole notion more acceptable and moves it a few inches closer from the fringes of social acceptance. These celebrities, through no fault of their own, often serve as de facto tastemakers, and the trappings of their lives are frequently adopted by a curious public. If a cruelty-free lifestyle is seen as cool, it is surely a win for vegans everywhere, even the curmudgeonly elitists in their lonely, dogmatic foxholes.
Russ Rankin writes about hockey, music & politics. You can find him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter. He also sings for Good Riddance and Only Crime. Find out what he’s up to by checking out his website.
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