To some extent, we’re all caught up in the machine of exploitation. Sometimes I think the financially poor are most likely to work for people without compunctions about selling animals and substances taken from animals, or delivering these items. Fewer resources mean less decision-making power at work.
But in most any job, and regardless of our level of education or income, the tension arises, because the dominator paradigm is everywhere humans operate.
Professional rescuers deal with it too. I know people who take cast-off primates from labs. Often, if the animals are monkeys, a lab will prevent the refuge from naming the lab or talking about what happened there as conditions of the primates’ release. The rescuers acknowledge, and suffer with, their inescapable enabling role.
Every kind of rescue situation (from a household sanctuary to a large nonprofit) has its daily dilemmas. We’re all expected to get used to them. Even though veganism is gaining social recognition, very few roles exist that leave an animal advocate’s ethics unscathed.
Turbulence and Refuge
James LaVeck once told me a commitment to a great cause is a solid foundation to build our inner lives upon, and also one virtually guaranteed to bring turbulence into the course of our lives. Our stress may be endless; but at least it’s explicable.
One thing that would help not just manage our tension but actually relieve it would be safety. The refuge of knowing that when we speak out or when we walk away based on principle, we won’t lose the ability to keep a roof overhead or struggle to pay vet bills.
And that brings me to the key reason why vegans need to support vegans.
Sure, vegans need to be in the world and visible in all kinds of regular contexts. No worries. We are, all the time.
But the more identifiable spaces vegans can make for vegan-run work, the more opportunities vegans will have to find surroundings that celebrate our veganism and sustain us not just as producers, but as vegans.
Vegan-Focused Enterprises Matter. So Do Vegan-Run Enterprises
If a vegan-owned cleaning service succeeds, for example, the benefits will be several:
A vegan-run enterprise will seek ways to avoid toxic chemicals (tested on animals; harsh on the environment; unhealthful for living beings indoors).
As the vegan-run undertaking succeeds, it can make increasingly stronger decisions on fair trade and fair compensation for work.
The entity could sustain one or more vegans, in a decent work environment, where mutual support and even co-operative work relationships can flourish.
We live in a critical time. Weighed down by humanity’s sheer mass, the human obsession for domesticating other life, and people’s addiction-like consumerism, the biosphere faces climate crisis. It faces an ever-worsening extinction period. Humanity’s prints on Earth saturate the water, seep into the rock sediment, and shrink the horns
, antlers, and tusks. The only biosphere we’ve ever known is trapped in the new Anthropocene geological era. We cannot afford to just shut up and sell. We never could.
Many vegans know, but are financially forced to work in places where authentic respect is sidelined, or be economically isolated. Support for vegan-run work is essential. It can diminish our daily fears and tensions, and reinforce our lifetime commitment. It can clear room to enable thought and advocacy from an ever-growing community of vegans.
Feel free to link a vegan-run enterprise, including your own, in the comment section.
Morels Cafe, Louisville, KY: http://morelscafe.com/
Louisville Vegan Jerky: http://lvjco.com
I appreciate the thoughts, Lee. I’m searching for a very part-time assistant for my vegan-run dog walking and pet care service, in Lexington KY. This article has reminded me to post my needs on local vegan pages and boards.
Why didn’t I think of this before??
Thank you, Peter. And Meg: Best wishes making good connections in the local vegan community.
Lee, I really liked your last post about the need to support vegan activists and vegan businesses. I am so proud to tell you that we have started (James and I), The Vegan Collective. We want to support Cleveland Vegan Businesses. We are paying $40 per week for a table at a local Farmer’s Market, and we’re starting April 7th, and giving free space to Vegan Businesses to promote themselves. It has been an uphill climb, but things seem to be working out and I think it will be WONDERFUL. Our first business to join us is Vegan Awesome Treats, a yoga loving couple, who makes Cinnamon and pretzel treats, called “Awesome Vegan Treats.” This is so good and I am so happy about this that I’m just bursting. My Vegan Collective banner and my Vegan Collective Tent were delivered to me this week. love peace, Nelli
Nice, Nelli and James. I like how you are jumping right in and supporting vegan businesses. Great big success vibes for the 7th!
Great points! Thank you for saying what needs to be said. As usual.
Oh that we all could put food on the table with a job that is consistent with our values. I have had conversations with other vegan author/speakers. After we share whatever our upcoming speaking gigs are, the conversation turns to, “what are you doing to really make money?“ We are torn between wanting to widely share our messages and not charge as much as other speakers who are also on the circuit. And yet, we argue, we should be paid what we are worth, especially equally with men. That’s a whole different story…
Thanks for your kind words, Ellen. Your note brings up the question of whether writing and speaking—presenting work to facilitate the exploration of ethics—can or ought to be a sustainably remunerated profession.
Everyone would agree a vegan-run (or any) cleaning service should be paid for. What about the facilitation of ethics?
People will pay tuition (now directed mainly to college administrators) for courses—in effect, a series of presentations. Yet many assume individually presented ethics work should be free—even when the presentations are informed by the presenter’s own substantial monetary investments in research and learning.
I couldn’t do vegan ethics at all were it not for a small but solid core of patrons. I’ve done some reading on the Universal Basic Income (UBI) concept and I think it could help support ethics work. Check this out:
As Steven Strehl says in the above-linked interview:
“We need to realise how much society is losing by driving people with the wrong incentives. How many teachers, philosophers, linguists or caregivers have we lost for the sake of making money, for the sake of surviving? I have been lucky in my life so far, but I do not want this to be the default in our society — that you need to be lucky to have a minimum of dignity.”
For me, patrons supporting my work through crowdfunding are making sure I can do at least some work a month with an ethical basic income (EBI?). And they know that I have to “do something” for traditional income; so, in effect, what they give is shifting a bit of my time from the “sake of surviving” jobs into vegan ethical work each month. So this is one vegan answer to sustaining works in vegan ethics.
Switching topics a little, I wonder about the gender disparity you mention. Do you think this is common in the vegan presenters’ sphere? I suppose I’ve just assumed that most all vegan presenters work on a near-volunteer basis.