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Politics

The left needs a vegan moment

Compared to what seems like a united right, the so-called left appears in disarray. Perhaps it can learn a lesson from veganism.

Vegetarianism is a fairly nebulous term, allowing people to incorporate some dubious foods like milk and even seafood, as long as the diet is mainly plant-based. Such confusion has stymied food industries from really moving to providing vegetarian food because they cannot be sure of what their target market is or really wants. Then along came veganism with its very clear philosophical basis and criteria of totally excluding animal products and exploitation of them. This enabled the food industries, even those formerly only producing meat, to go all in on veganism.

Veganism provides a clear benchmark with no fuzziness to confuse consumers, and it is something they can feel good about because it is naturally cruelty-free. Even the pharmaceutical industry has clearer criteria about what supplements people might need, whereas with vegetarianism, that can vary considerably, depending upon what their diet actually consists of. Veganism makes everybody's choices a lot clearer.

The left is rather like vegetarianism, in that in broad terms it has appeal, but what does it actually mean when it comes to policies. The left is too ill-defined to be sure of what someone who claims to be leftist actually stands for. This is where the clarity of veganism can provide an answer, and perhaps be a clearer alternative. The vegan option for the left is humanism. In other words, does a person stand for the dignity of humanity and work for bringing all of humanity out of starvation and suffering, and providing myriad opportunities to live fulfilling lives.

This is a clear clarion call and set of criteria. It is for people what veganism is for animals. Cruelty-free policies that benefit all of humanity and allow them maximum agency in the running of their own lives, free from an imposed ideological pedanticism backed up by threats of state violence. Currently, many who call themselves left are supporting a blend of neoliberalism with social support. That is nowhere near properly supporting people as those positions still support mass exploitation and huge wealth inequality. They are like carno-vegetarianism which is patently contradictory.

Humanism has evolved over time, but essentially puts people at the centre of their own lives. It should not include mandatory atheism as that is essentially a religion, and thus what each individual should be freely able to choose whether or not to believe, but not form part of the rules limiting societies, just like any religion shouldn't. Their precepts can inform an individual's choices and actions, but should not codified into law verbatim. Conversely, humanism doesn't preclude us pursuing spiritual aspirations, as long as we don't try to force any dogma or activities upon others.

We need to have clear guidelines for running our societies, but not the current exploitative regimes that favour the already powerful and implore us to live in perpetual stress, while bombarding us with propaganda promoting rampant selfishness. Humanism and veganism provide a way of living cruelty-free, and that should free us from much of the latent guilt that weighs upon us. We don't have to look at life as zero-sum, but as a mutually beneficial cooperative.

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