I wrote this open letter last year after a young friend of mine made the decision to go vegan. She faced a tough audience when she made it public. The vehement response had her understandably upset. So I hoped to give her a little encouragement. I want to share it here as a letter for new vegans everywhere…
Dear bacon people,
I love your comments. I truly do. But let me tell you a little secret. I see you. When a baby vegan wakes up and realises she doesn’t want to participate in the exploitation of animal lives and she starts talking about it online and you smugly comment with “bacon”, you think it’s cute. You think it’s a joke. But I see you.
I see that you’re a bully. If she posted on social media about a decision she feels good about and you didn’t like it, you could have moved on. But you didn’t. You stopped and commented. You commented because you felt threatened. You felt threatened by somebody who stepped outside the status quo. So you needed to check her, to put her back in her place. You needed her to fall back so you could feel comfortable again.
See, that’s what bullies do. Bullies pick on girls. They disguise their contempt and cowardice as humour. So when your victims object to your “humour”, you can point at them and complain because they’re just being too sensitive. They need to lighten up. THEY are wrong, not you.
But guess what you didn’t count on? You didn’t count on me. People like me know what it’s like to be bullied. I was bullied for speaking too uppity when I was a kid. I was bullied for not conforming to the definition of being a ‘real man’. I was bullied for the colour of my skin.
I know a thing or two about bullies. Maybe that’s why I get hyped about animals. Because they can’t talk about the fact that they get bullied. They can’t tell you to stop hurting them. They can’t tell you what it’s like to have their children stolen. They can’t tell you that their freedom is as important to them as yours is to you. They can’t tell you that they don’t want their lives to end before they’re even old enough to know what life is. They can’t tell you that your ‘personal choice’ diminishes their existence as persons. At least not in words that you would understand.
So when my new friend stands up and says she doesn’t want to do that anymore, I stand in solidarity with her. I’ve got her back. And you didn’t count on me when you were trying to be cute. If you knew I was standing behind her, you wouldn’t say what you say.
Because I will call you what you are. A coward. As are all bullies. And just like all bullies, when we name you, we take away your power. Plus, we gain a little power of our own. And believe me, we’re going to use it.
Christopher-Sebastian McJetters organises events & discussions relative to exploring the intersectionality of veganism & other movements for social justice. A longtime vegan and copyeditor by profession, Sebastian is a staff writer at Vegan Publishers, part-time lecturer on speciesism at Columbia University and board member of the Peace Advocacy Network. He focuses on examining the complex relationships between animal violence, environmental racism, classism, and capitalism. Sebastian has also contributed to the anthology Circles of Compassion: Connecting Issues of Justice edited by Dr. Will Tuttle, and the blog Striving With Systems in collaboration with Charlotte Eure, Aph Ko of Aphro-Ism, and Triangle Chance for All microsanctuary co-founder Justin Van Kleeck. He is also on the advisory board of Black Vegans Rock.
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