Are some countries, cultures, or religions more resistant to veganism than others? Do people of particular political persuasions embrace being vegan more easily than others?
What country, culture, city, religion, or political leaning do you think is the most resistant to the vegan message? The most receptive? Is there a particular background or personal history that would make someone more readily able to embrace the tenants of veganism? Vegan activist Gary Yourofsky is uniquely suited to answer these questions as he has spent over a decade traveling the world to bring the vegan message to non-vegans of every background. Before hearing his answer, though, I’d like you to think of your own response to this. Are there certain cultures you assume would be far more closed to the vegan message than others? Are there certain parts of the United States or other countries that you would guess would be the most receptive? Now let’s go to Gary to see how your thoughts compare to his experience.
To hear Gary’s full perspective on this topic, be sure to check out the video for this post, but here is an excerpt of his answer:
“That’s a big myth out there that we think that certain groups of people or certain countries are going to be more receptive or less receptive [to veganism]. The one thing everyone has in common–from Palestinians and Jewish people, to blacks and whites, homosexuals and heterosexuals, it doesn’t matter–is that everybody has an equal hatred for animals. Everyone is a speciesist. Therefore though, this means that everyone is capable of receiving the message.
“I reach as many Republicans as I do Democrats. I’m reaching anybody with this message because all you’ve gotta do is pay attention. So anyone has the capability of paying attention [it] doesn’t matter what background you are. I will say this, I have noticed that groups of people who’ve been oppressed definitely receive the message a little better. So Jewish people, blacks, women, homosexuals. Anyone who has suffered through oppression, whose people have suffered through oppression, seem to understand oppression more than the white male.
“It doesn’t matter where I’m at–Texas, North Carolina, Michigan, Iowa, everyone responds the same–most people listen, some people don’t.”
How did his experience align with your beginning assumptions? I have to say that from my own comparatively limited experience, I agree with Gary. Of course, there are some people fortunate enough to be raised vegan, but even some of those individuals end up turning away from veganism, almost as a form of rebellion. Speciesism truly is an equal opportunity prejudice and one that the vast majority of us are indoctrinated with from birth.
Certainly our particular backgrounds and cultures will have some impact on us, but in the end, we all learn from society, if not from our family that animals are subservient to us, that they are here for us to use as we will.
The good news? Veganism is just as much an equal opportunity belief system and lifestyle. Veganism doesn’t discriminate. It’s the anti-prejudice. As I said in one of my earliest videos about why vegans are a-holes, there are enough animals to not kill and enough cruelty to not inflict for all of us. No matter your color, creed, race, religion, political leaning, whatever–you can be vegan. And easily so.
I’d love to hear from you. What were your initial thoughts when I first posed this topic at the opening of this video? How did they compare to Gary’s views and has your perspective shifted? Let me know in the comments!
— Emily Moran Barwick