This is a submission to the February 2015 Carnival of Aces: Cross Community Connections, and a continuation of Part 1.
As I said in the previous part, a critical difference between the asexual movement and the vegan movement (though not all veg*n movements) is that asexuals are not trying to make other people asexual, or think it is unethical to be non-asexual, whereas vegans do think non-veganism is unethical and try to persuade others to transition.
This post, which compares asexual experience to veg*n experience made me angry, and I even wrote a long reply before I thought better of it. Because it is a good illustration of a) how asexual activists and ethics-based veg*ns are different and b) is an example of fail within the asexual community which others should try not to repeat, I will address it.
That post describes various forms of veg*ism as “affinity for certain foods”, and says things like “a person who despises or is indifferent to fish is still capable of eating it, and may, to please someone they care about” suggesting that it a matter of personal preference rather than an ethical stance, and “She wants companionship, but won’t cook with meat, eggs or dairy, as her personal principles are too high a price to pay for it. She yearns for a culinary companion who would be able to satisfy this need, but is far too afraid of depriving someone of an important part of their diet to pursue such a thing” (the bold is mine). The problem is that is not what any form of veg*ism I am familiar with is like. For example, if I can temporarily forget about the ethical problems, I think fish is delicious, but that does not justify eating it, and I wouldn’t eat it just to ‘please someone I care about’, just as I wouldn’t slam a kitten against a concrete wall just to ‘please someone I care about’. Likewise, I have no problems with ‘depriving of someone of an important part of their diet’ if that ‘part of their diet’ requires abusing animals, since humans can live without eating animals vegans are proof of that. To me, suggesting that veg*ns are ‘far too afraid of depriving someone of an important part of their diet’ is like suggesting than people who are opposed to animal cruelty wouldn’t want to get into close relationships with someone who slams kittens into concrete walls because they would be ‘far too afraid of depriving someone of an important part of their pleasures’.
There are people who strongly dislike eating animals or animal secretions – for example, my mother hates eating eggs, hates it so strongly that even being in the presence of being in the presence of someone cooking or eat eggs makes her uncomfortable. This is not based on an ethical stance or an attempt to be ‘healthy’ – it’s a gut reaction. My mom, however, has never identified as a veg*n based on this.
To be honest, when people asked me when I was a semi-vegetarian ‘Why don’t you eat meat?’ I sometimes did say ‘I don’t like the way meat tastes’. But that was not an entirely sincere response. The main reason I chose a response like that is that, if I answered that it was because of ethical concerns (whether due to animal welfare or the environment), I could get a very hostile reaction, and when I was relatively new to veg*ism I wanted to avoid the hostility. Based on the people I’ve talked to, the people who don’t eat animals or animal secretions simply because of an ‘affinity’ don’t identify as veg*n, and that many people who are veg*n (including myself) love the way some animal-based foods taste and would start eating them again if we stopped thinking it was unethical.
Now the writer does acknowledge that analogies are never perfect, and went to mention what they consider to be flaws in the analogy – ‘I didn’t mention the carnivores who didn’t like eggs and dairy, representing aromantic non-asexuals’. Not, you know, the glaring problem that being asexual is not an ethical stance, but that for many committed veg*ns, it is.
Okay, so the person who wrote “Analogy to an Asexual Experience” doesn’t actually understand the experiences of veg*ns, but so what? Why would that make me angry? After all, I don’t get angry every time I’m misunderstood.
I think it made me so angry because, first of all, they were claiming to speak for me, as someone who is asexual and vegan, while clearly not understanding my position. The writer says “This is quite close to what being asexual sometimes feels like, for me” and I agree, being asexual is sometimes like that for me too, but being semi-vegetarian or vegan is not.
Second, as a semi-vegetarian, and 100x more as a vegan, no matter how much I try to explain what I mean when I say I am a veg*n, what veganism means, even if they asked me to talk about it in the first place, they refuse to listen to what I say. Therefore, I get very, very frustrated when non-vegans talk about what vegans think when it’s clear that they don’t actually know what vegans think. Ironically, it’s a bit like when non-asexuals talk about what asexuals think when it’s clear they don’t actually know. However, I can say from personal experience, that the difficulties of being vegan are very different from the difficulties of being asexual.
I guess I really needed to get this off my chest, because I didn’t plan to make this entire post about that. Oh well. In the next part, I will discuss not only asexuality and veg*nism, but also atheism, because for once I actually have something to say about atheism and asexuality.