Activist first, vegan second.

Fishing boats in Thailand near the shore.

Somedays I do wish I could see the world in black and white.

To be able to truly not see colour, to know there really is just a right and wrong, and that every story only has two sides would be a rather blissful thing. After all, if I couldn’t see my own ignorance, how could I not be happy?

Sadly, within a few sentences, I’m already finding myself attacking those who inspired me to write this, which puts me in the same boat as them and I’d rather not be pushing that vessel. Even if it is the RMS Vegan.

The Main Course

Don’t rock the boat. It’s an ironic message coming from those on a vessel that I feel is hellbent on doing just that with every other ship in the water. It’s all smooth sailing if everyone picks up a paddle and listens to the chant from the front:

“For the animals!”

“For the animals!”

“For the animals!”

Sure, the idea behind this direction is good, but somewhere along the way I think we’ve gone gravely off course.

Just see what happens the minute you suggest that we keep an eye out for others that might need help or that perhaps we’re really just going in circles: the cruelty-free creed is forgotten.

sexist

“Maybe you should spend your time on actual animal rights issues instead of judging women for their decisions and an animal rights organization [PETA] that has turned more people vegan than T.O.F.U. Magazine ever will.”

“bloodthirsty hater(s)”

Frankly, I don’t really want a part of a group that believes building walls and playing the victim while attacking those on the other side is a good strategy. Of course, as my newsfeed seems to suggest, if you slap a vegan-friendly label on it, you’ll be applauded easy enough.

From Ship to Shore

Although it’s obvious that I should at least stop with this metaphor, I also sometimes find myself wondering if the whole ship should sink as well.

Personally, I’m an activist before I’m a vegan, and I don’t see that changing. Over the past few years, I’ve had my world opened a lot more than it ever had been, and it came well after I adopted a vegan lifestyle. Sure, I fought it at first, but I’m incredibly glad that the people who showed me so much were willing to fight with me to do so.

And that’s the key: the willingness to fight for something.

Granted, we all have it in us on some basic level, but for those who have adopted a cause that goes beyond their own survival, I would expect a little more understanding and openness to continue doing just that.

With that in mind, T.O.F.U. is going to continue to focus on issues within the vegan community, as well as those outside of it. The response from the past few issues has suggested that there are others out there who want to change the course of the RMS Vegan, and I’m going to do whatever I can to help them in the hopes that more will join us.

Of course, if I’m wrong, and there is only room for one course of action on this ship, I’ll take my chances swimming to shore.

[Editor’s Note: Links were added to provide context for the quotes.]



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  1. Corey Wrenn wrote: Oct. 25, 2014

    Ugh, I read a few of the comments on that Facebook thread and was almost sick. Thanks for putting women first Ryan.

    • Ryan wrote: Oct. 25, 2014

      Aww, the key is to also keep in mind that other people understood where I was coming from! 🙂

      Plus, as much as I knew I wasn’t going to change certain minds with that thread, I kept telling myself that other folks reading it just might change their mind or look into the issues that were being brought up.

  2. Tyme wrote: Oct. 18, 2014

    I am glad that you cleared up your position, Ryan. I, too, was wondering exactly what it was. Animal Rights is an issue about liberation…as is feminism, LGBTQ equality, slavery, etc. Liberation from oppression. Seems strange that intersectionalism isn’t more obvious to all. Good to keep the dialogue open.

    • Ryan wrote: Oct. 18, 2014

      Hi Tyme,
      I’m glad we’re speaking the same language now. 🙂

      I trust my position was unclear in the piece, but not within the magazine, right? I hope that the past few issues have made it clear that I believe in fighting for liberation from oppression on a number of levels/fronts!

      If you need some further examples, I post a lot more of the non-vegan stuff on my tumblr: I May Be Vegan, But I’m Not PETA.

      Glad to have you onboard,
      Ryan

  3. Corey Wrenn wrote: Oct. 18, 2014

    I’m sorry, are you insinuating that feminists that call men out on their abusive sexist behavior in the animal rights movement (one of the most sexist, misogynist, and patriarchal social movements in existence) is problematic? Personally, I’m more concerned about improving the status of women than I am with coddling men’s feelings who aren’t used to be criticized or having their privilege challenged. Correct me if I am wrong, because i think TOFU is a pro-feminist publication…this post is just really vague.

    ???

    • Ryan wrote: Oct. 18, 2014

      Hi Corey,
      I debated linking to the post that the quote came from, but I didn’t want to seem like I was directly calling one person out for their comments towards me. Ironically enough, it was me questioning the abusive and sexist behaviour of PETA that led to that comment, as well as the “sexist” one being aimed at me.

      To clear things up, the post can be found here.

      If anything, this piece was trying to say that I’ll gladly stand behind a label like “feminist” before I stand behind one like “vegan” if folks are going to continue to be unwilling to step outside of their single-issue activism. Hopefully, that puts T.O.F.U. back in a good light for you?

      Finally, thanks for taking the time to ask instead of simply attacking. I’m sorry the post was vague. It made sense to me, but I also didn’t want to spend the whole day reading it over and over because I’ve started something similar to this one at least once before, and never bothered to make it public. So, this time I just wanted it out there in the hopes of creating a conversation. 🙂

      Ryan

      PS. The next issue will be tackling the issue of sexism within the movement even more!

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