Veganism and Tradition – why are vegans seen as a threat?
Veganism and tradition are often at odds. Recent challenges to veganism in Italy and Germany demonstrate that vegans will face increasing opposition as our numbers grow. Veganism tests how willing people are to accept new modes of thinking. Because ethical vegans believe animal exploitation must end, they present a unique challenge to cultural traditions.
Animal exploitation is a natural and normative part of most, if not all, cultures. The idea of eliminating animals from entertainment, clothing and food can seem extreme – even to vegetarians.
Veganism represents a fundamental challenge to the concept of exploiting animals. And many people find that threatening. There is a great deal of fear that veganism will eliminate many traditional occupations, such as butchers/sausage makers/cheese makers/tanners, etc. Nations like Italy may face a serious challenge to their textile, silk and leather industries, which are widely considered some of the best in the world.
Change is possible
Of course, woolen mills can begin producing superior artificial fabrics. Leather goods manufacturers can begin working with alternative materials. But this will be a seismic shift in these industries. Thousands of years of tradition are not easily overturned, or even altered.
Vegans must support each other if we want to continue to face the difficulties of changing traditional modes of thinking. The reality is most people simply do not “get” the concept of animal rights. They understandably fear ending animal exploitation may destroy their livelihoods. They don’t want to lose traditional foods and cultural pastimes like bullfighting and fishing.
The way forward
Education will be an important part of encouraging change. But change won’t happen overnight. There will be plenty of trial and error as people become increasingly aware of the need to end our exploitation of animals. Veganism and tradition will continue to challenge each other.
We need to reach out and educate the public, but we also need to provide encouragement and other forms of support to each other. If we are going to keep this movement alive and growing, we have to find common ground wherever possible.