I am reposting my response to a vegan soapboxing about animal rights and respect. The title is provocative — I think there are plenty of ways and reasons to be vegan and vegetarian without being a hypocrite. I just wish that the hypocritical thinking wasn’t as pervasive as it currently is — it doesn’t help anyone when vegans are constantly trying to position themselves amongst the “elite” of environmental activists, and it calls into question their understanding of the systemic nature of oppression. To talk about the oppression of animals (and plants, and…), we need to talk about human power, privilege, and identity, and how that shapes our relationships with non-humans on this world. It means taking a look at our spirituality and the spiritual connection we experience and share (or not) with all living things, regardless of their kingdom.
The argument I hear boils down to “I don’t eat meat because I respect animals.” I believe it’s a dangerous and incoherent line of reasoning. “Oppose the injustice against the plant kingdom: stop eating plants!” I.e., the injustice isn’t in what we eat, it is in HOW. For examples, see many of the aboriginal cultures we are still systematically dismantling. The full response is below.