At some point the Veganism sizzled out and died in the Western metropolis. We now have aisles dedicated to our cause, brands emerging from NYC to Silicon Valley custom-tailoring their products to suit our needs: Daiya, Soylent, Oatly, Beyond Meat. There are too many to count.
Internet commerce helps to deliver our exact preferences to our doorstep, we can set and forget and have a custom Vegan diet delivered week after week. Convenience stores are no different with 7-11’s now stocking all of the essentials for Vegans on the go.
Veganism isn’t a reactionary choice now so much as an identity. All of the footwork is done. Veganism is now a feature to add onto your existing lifestyle. Instead of choosing one item, you choose another. Protest is an option, but is in no way required.
This is what we worked for though. A world where it would be easy to abstain from animal products. Granted, some wanted to eliminate all animal suffering, but many of us knew the Vegan utopia would be impossible.
All utopias are based on contradictions.
Veganism was the beginning of modern identity politics. The movement was reactionary by nature, letting us branch into radically different lifestyles to see how we could change the world and how to militarize our tribes for good. PETA, Mercy For Animals and the like are now Institutionalized Group Identity, small corporations growing larger each day, and it’s only a matter of time before they forget their roots.
As we near the end of the era of identity politics, we will also end the era of old-Veganism, Veganism-as-lifestyle-identity, Veganism held against our enemies as a bludgeon and a badge. Critics have good reason to frown upon us now, as the movement becomes in many regards a caricature of itself. Take a look at the YouTube vegan community and it resembles in many ways Jersey Shore. This is not a bad thing, it is what it is and invites criticism.
We have nothing left to react to, we’ve won the game and the Western metropolis has made Veganism incredibly accessible.
So what comes next? Let’s look at the history of the movement.
What did Veganism originally stand for? It was a movement that cut through the bullshit. That denied everything we had been told, critiquing all movements and seeking to find only truth. It meant setting aside political divides, viciously critiquing capitalist institutions, and moving en-mass toward a shared goal. And due to all of this, we achieved it.
We made Veganism accessible to all and a force that couldn’t be ignored. This may be the first and last success of the era of identity politics.
So what can we learn from the successes/failures of the Vegan movement, to create a Vegan Movement 2.0?