The Vegan Flag is Here!

Last month, Gad Hakimi, an Iranian-Israeli designer, unveiled his design for the Vegan Flag.  The flag is a geometric design, comprised of a white “V” on a green and blue background. It is meant to represent the fact that, “as vegans it is our duty to protect all the animals wherever they are: land, sea and air.”

Of course, vegans are never of one mind when it comes to anything requiring cooperation and cohesion, so the controversy was almost immediate. Some even felt the use of the colour white was somehow a form of “micro-aggression” – perhaps forgetting many African nations have chosen to use white for their flags following independence.

Frances McCormack, an abolitionist vegan who writes for Ecorazzi, promptly published “Why I Won’t Be Waving a Vegan Flag.” McCormack decries the flag for (somehow?) placing the emphasis on humans (rather than animals) and for making it seem like vegans are oppressed.

In response to these concerns, I’d first like to first point out that many vegans (including myself), believe veganism is about us. To say it is about the animals is patently ridiculous. They are not incarcerating themselves and selling their bodies to the highest bidder. That is clearly something humans are responsible for, and only humans can change. Vegans believe that we, as human beings, need radically re-examine our treatment of non-human animals. We need to help spread this message to others, and yes, we are a movement of people trying to do this. To pretend that veganism is only about the animals is just silly. It’s about human beings recognizing animal slavery must be left in the past, and our species must evolve to treat other sentient beings with dignity and respect, rather than as means to an end.

In her article for Ecorazzi, McCormack states:

“vegans don’t need a flag because we’re not an oppressed group that needs to self-identify and forge community and solidarity; if you remember why we’re vegan, it’s because we don’t want to use animals anymore. Our advocacy is not self-advocacy; we are not marginalised.”

I agree vegans aren’t oppressed. But, unlike McCormack, I believe we must work to forge solidarity and community. We’re attempting to change hearts and minds. And whether McCormack likes it or not, advertising is key to spreading any message. Also, it’s worth pointing out that the Girl Guides have a flag, and it’s not because they feel oppressed. It’s because they want young girls to feel pride and a sense of belonging and shared purpose.

More Credible Concerns

In a study on the psychology of flags, researchers revealed symbols like flags make groups appear more competent and cohesive, but also less warm. I don’t see this as particularly problematic: unity and competence are the two qualities most lacking in the vegan movement. And people already think vegans aren’t warm, so I don’t see how it could get much worse in that respect!

Tangible Benefits

The are many benefits to vegans having a flag, not the least of which is finally having a universal vegan symbol. In the past, we have used the letter “V”, which is great. But the Vegan Society design is also often used, and this is problematic. The Vegan Society does many fantastic things. Their founder, Donald Watson, was the first to provide a succinct and clear definition of veganism in the 1940s. They continue to work for vegan advocacy, and provide a program for certifying food as vegan. But their design is trademarked: it can’t be reprinted without permission. While this is understandable, it makes it difficult to share this symbol. To spread our message, we need an easily-shared, universal symbol, free from copyright. And that’s exactly what the vegan flag represents.

I am extremely optimistic about the vegan flag. And I think Gad Hakimi’s design represents the beginning of a more accessible approach to information sharing that will help vegans to spread the message on a wider scale. I also think Hakimi’s analogy of the LGBT rainbow flag is important. Not because vegans face the kind of discrimination and oppression faced by LGBT+ people. Rather, having a flag helps to connect people with the message of a movement. And that connection is exactly what the vegan movement needs right now.

What do you think? Join the conversation!

%d bloggers like this: