I live in Dresden and like most German cities we have a city magazine that lists daily and monthly theatre, cinema, art etc, events. They also have a special every month, covering a Dresden specific topic. This month it was a special about being vegan and vegetarian in Dresden. At first I thought: “Wow”. Because being vegan in April seven years ago (yay, veganniversary! yay, blog anniversary!) it was indeed not that easy being a vegan in Dresden, at least if you were going to eat out. Of course we already had tons of vegan products available at grocery stores. And there’s always grains, nuts, fruits, and vegetables! The cover article mentions how veganism started in Dresden right after the wall came down. Those vegans were political activists and one of them mentions how you even had to make your own spreads from scratch. Which didn’t matter because they they didn’t mind making everything from scratch. That, by the way is something I have always loved about veganism, too.The ability to make your food or other things from scratch. That’s one reason why I started this blog.
This mindset seems to have changed. At least that is the impression I got from an inverview that follows the cover article. It’s an interview with a vegan who sells vegan products online. He talks about this and mentions cookbooks his company recommends. They praise the author of these vegan recipe books, because for that person being vegan and having fun apparently is important. Not too bad, right? I have fun being vegan, too. But then he talks about two categories of vegans. One that he calls “old vegans” and “dogmatics”. The ones who don’t want to kill animals or contribute to their killing. That, he adds, is called veganism 1.0. Veganism 2.0 on the other side is about a “great lifestyle” and about fun.
It’s really nothing new that vegans are called “dogmatics”, “extremists” or “lunatics”. It has happened to me, too. I guess we scare some people. They don’t want to be confronted with their eating habits, they don’t want to be confronted with their bad conscience. Or they just want to eat their steak. And that is ok. I don’t want to be criticised for my eating habits and for my way of living so I don’t criticise them either. And if asked, I try to explain my motives. But vegans calling other vegans dogmatic because they don’t want to kill animals? Seriously? April fool’s? Shouldn’t those people know what motivates us? Shouldn’t they know our arguments?
No, I think they don’t. Or they don’t want to. And the motivation behind this got clearer as I read on. Somehow the German health care system was mentioned. The interviewee said that “most diseases” are caused by not eating right. He talks about how the health care system will collapse. And how we cannot expect people to pay for someone else’s diabetes. Because it’s their own fault. (Sorry to point this out, but please let’s not talk about this topic in this manner in the comments. I will delete a comment that tells me it’s somebody’s own fault that they got sick.). Oh, we cannot expect that? Isn’t that what our German health care system is built on? Our welfare state? Ever heard the word solidarity? Does it mean that if I live in a small and clean village I don’t have to pay for those who die of polluted air in a city? Or if I ride a bike I don’t have to pay for car accident victims? Or maybe if I don’t have kids I don’t have to pay for a new mother’s stay at the hospital? Because it the end it’s her fault that she got pregnant, right? Ok, sorry. I am being sarcastic. But this shows that the topic is more complicated than letting somebody eat greens. People are complicated. Their bodies are complicated. Diseases are complicated. And health care systems are complicated. Maybe the German health care system is so fucked up (which is a debatable opinion, too) because of structural, organisational, or political reasons? Maybe somebody suffers from a so called first world disease for a completely different reason? (Also it would have been nice if some facts or references would have been added to those interview claims.)
I think this is not about fun at all. One a certain level, this is about egoism. We don’t care for others, we don’t pay for others. But mostly this is about consumption and capitalism. Lately veganism has been crazy popular in Germany. TV, newspapers, internet…veganism is everywhere. It’s popular, cool, it’s a trendy lifestyle. This current lifestyle is nothing for dogmatics, activists, or moralists. Because those don’t care much about their own well being their own body, their own health. (Or at least not as much as this new lifestyle wants them to care.) For them it’s often about politics, ethics, and changing our society. Maybe they have ecological reasons, too. They don’t care that veganism often means to forego things. But foregoing things is not desirable in a society based entirely on consumption. Every day we learn that we have to consume and we need to consume. There’s no war, we don’t have to sacrifice. We don’t live in the German Democratic Country. We have access to stuff! Unless we’re poor. But then fancy new products are not for us anyway. If you sacrifice stuff on purpose, if you don’t consume on purpose you must have lost your mind, you must be “extreme”. I mean, how can that vegan next to me dare to eat a salad without dressing? Just because those dressing had milk in it? How can you refuse to eat milk? How can you not buy that milk chocolate? Sacrifice is hard. It’s extreme!
Dogmatics are bad for a society based on consumption because they don’t buy certain products. They forego, they ask questions, they boycott. And not so long ago they also gave vegan products a very bad rep. I mean, who wants to bring a tofu sausage to a barbecue? If you do that you must be a lunatic. One of those foregoing extremists. But if you make it work that vegan products are not longer being associated with those “dogmatics” and instead they are perceived as fashionable, you can sell those products to so many new target groups. Because, I think, in the end this is all about making money. I don’t like being called extreme just because somebody can sell their products that way. Well, I hope that doesn’t backfire. And I rather stay “dogmatic”. Because I think this veganism 2.0 is no fun.