While I try (try!) not to criticise specific individuals, organisations, campaigns, etc. these days, it currently seems important to highlight that the following practices might not be the most effective, or the most ethical, ways to advocate for our beneficiaries:
- Refusing to pass on donations that we have set aside for charitable causes unless others do what we want.
- Allowing our donations to be put towards animal exploitation, or anti-LGBT / anti-choice causes.
- Appealing for donations to a for-profit company (open to abuse, and ineffective for tax and Gift Aid).
- Aligning ourselves with an organisation that has a history of child abuse and cover ups.
- Tokenising a young woman of colour as the "figurehead" for a campaign that's actually run by a white man.
- Centring celebrities (including those with a history of racism and the denial of science) rather than exploited nonhuman animals.
- Empowering those who refuse to go vegan themselves to encourage (or bribe) others to do so.
- Focusing on short term gains, rather than lasting change.
- Reducing veganism to a dietary choice.
- Portraying veganism as a sacrifice.
- Failing to check that one's preferred organisation name is not already in use (or, worse still, ignoring the fact that it is).
- Supporting campaigns that exhibit the behaviour above.
As vegans, it's very easy to assume that anyone or anything that purports to promote veganism is beneficial to our overall objective of ending animal exploitation. However, this would be a dangerous assumption. It's quite possible for any vegan initiative to be ineffective or even counter productive. (As well as for those that have some benefit to fail to realise their potential benefit.) Therefore, constructive criticism should be welcomed by all who share our cause.
So the million dollar question that we need to ask ourselves is this: how open are we to constructive criticism? Are we really and truly prepared to listen to our critics, and others outside our usual circles, and consider whether there's any merit in any of their arguments? Both before and after we launch new projects?
Because that's what we need to maximise the effectiveness of our own advocacy - and that of the movement. And to hasten the end of animal exploitation.