Be as Vegan as Possible

What if we didn’t have to choose between being true to our ethics and being effective? What if we simply advocated that others be as vegan as possible? Because if everyone in the world were as vegan as possible, the world would probably quickly become vegan!

Vegans are often confused about what to suggest when advocating veganism to non-vegans. Some believe that, to be true to their values, they have to advocate that others “go vegan” and stop consuming all animal products. Others believe that, to be strategic they should advocate that others reduce their consumption of animals.

Those who advocate going vegan argue that advocating reduction gives people an excuse to continue eating animals and reinforces the belief that it’s okay to eat animals as long as you don’t do it too much.

Those who advocate reduction argue that asking people to go vegan is asking for too much and often causes people to do nothing rather than something—and that it’s the reducers who drive the market for vegan products and are therefore making veganism more accessible and widespread.

But what if we didn’t have to choose between feeling like we’re being true to our values and being strategic? What if we just advocate that others be as vegan as possible?

Advocating that others be as vegan as possible honors the fact that they are the experts on their own experience. How could we know what’s possible for another person, especially since what’s physically possible isn’t always psychologically or practically possible? Also, people become defensive and less receptive to a request for change when they feel that others are dictating what is and is not true (or possible) for them.

Think about it this way: Some people believe that eating only fruit is the most ethical and healthful way to live. If they said to me, “go fruitarian,” I might answer that that’s just not possible for me. While I could, technically, never eat anything other than fruit for the rest of my life, doing so would take so much effort and feel so deprivational that it just doesn’t feel possible for me.

Asking others to be as vegan as possible is also beneficial because it asks for reduction, which people are more receptive to than they are to being asked for full-on veganism. But, it doesn’t frame reduction as an end in itself. It makes it clear that veganism is the goal.

Also, many people feel that if they can’t be all vegan, all the time, there’s no point in trying to be vegan at all. But if they feel they have the option to be as vegan as possible—on a day-to-day or even a meal-to-meal basis—they can feel inspired to choose to do less harm. On top of this, they’ll be reflecting regularly on their food choices.

If everyone in the world were as vegan as possible, the world would no doubt quickly become vegan.