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SPEAKING FOR THOSE WHO CAN’T SPEAK FOR THEMSELVES

SPEAKING FOR THOSE WHO
CAN’T SPEAK FOR THEMSELVES

Are Social Media Undermining Vegan Advocacy?

By Rayane Laddi

A few months ago, Mark Zuckerberg revealed that one of his favorite past-time is “to create some of the highest quality beef in the world”. Indeed, he keeps a cattle of wagyu and angus beef on the Hawaiian island of Kauai. He decided to raise them with a diet of macadamia nuts and … beer!

The media coverage of this story has been lighthearted and positive. One Fortune article was titled “Mark Zuckerberg says his daughter ‘thought that I was a cattle rancher’ for a while thanks to his unusual hobby in Hawaii.”

Yet, camouflaged by the amused tone of journalists hides a heartless cruelty. The sad reality of dozens of captive sentient beings who are mis-fed nuts and poisoned with alcohol in anticipation of a violent and unnecessary slaughter.

In addition to ethical concerns, there is the worry of environmental destruction. As a matter of fact, cattle ranching plagues the fragile ecosystem of Hawaii, provoking deforestation, soil degradation, and biodiversity loss.

However, the question I want to raise in view of this situation is, “Can vegans depend on this man and his company (META) to advance the animal rights mission?” Explicitly, is it wise for this movement to rely on unsympathetic private platforms with a long record of content censorship? And, even more broadly, can vegans depend on social media at all to efficiently advance their cause?

Anecdotes of people adopting veganism because of a YouTube video, or a Reddit post can be counted by the thousands. Yet there is no major study examining the true impact of vegan content on social media. No researcher has asked pertinent questions such as: Are those anecdotes accurate? Are we conflating social media engagement with making meaningful change? For every person who has been receptive to the vegan message, how many have been put off? Have social media users become desensitized to the hyperactivity of vegans online? etc. To the point, there is no hard evidence justifying the hundreds of thousands of dollars habitually spent by animal rights organizations and activists on social media campaigns.

Unfortunately, the cost of a social media presence for veganism is more than monetary. Alarmingly, the social media ecosystem is quickly deforming the vegan movement beyond recognition.

In 1944, veganism was first defined as the “principle of the emancipation of animals from exploitation by man” and “to seek an end to the use of animals by man for food, commodities, work, hunting, vivisection, and by all other uses involving exploitation of animal life by man.” It is a clear and uniting ethical stance focused on the liberation of animals.

Yet most social media activity related to veganism is a witch brew of pseudo-science peddling, nutrition quackery, trend chasing, snake oil salesmanship, new age confusion, and personality cults. An idiotic world which gravity field has brought down one of the most enlightened ethical philosophy to the mud of a fad diet. An expected outcome from platforms that reward popularity indiscriminately of any quality or safety standards.

After losing credibility and reputation at the hands of virtual gurus, veganism can count on identity politics and echo chambers to lose its universal appeal. Since being captured by the intersectionality paradigm, the vegan message of compassion is prevented from appealing to independent, moderate, and conservative crowds. For instance, try making the rightwing argument for veganism without encountering a barrage of dislikes, downvotes, and angry comments from … vegans!

Then, there is the social media addiction that has consumed the time, attention, energy, creativity, and passion of too many animal advocates. It is a compulsion disguised as activism which pushes people into an emotional spiral of burning outrage, hindering obsessions, mindless reactions, and crazed fits. It is an unequivocal demonstration that algorithms, and not principles or strategy, are piloting the vegan movement.

At the same time, there is a great need for vegans to think outside the social media box and make a real life and off-line contribution to the fight for animal liberation.

For example, Liz White, a longtime activist and the leader of the Animal Protection Party of Canada, shared with me in an interview that “(…) if we really want things to change for animals in Canada, we have to do the politics. And it’s the politicians. They’re the gatekeepers of all the legislation. They decide who lives, who dies, when they die, in what manner, is it cruel, how they’re sold, what’s done with them. All of that is political. And until we address that, there is no way that we are going to change the landscape with regard to how we treat animals, particularly animals used as food (…)”

On Facebook, the Animal Protection Party of Canada has about 8,000 followers. Yet, at the time of writing this article, the party only counts twelve candidates. A staggering ratio of one candidate for every 1500 followers. But nothing surprising here! This is just one more project in a long list of original and impactful initiatives that fail to pull vegans away from the orbit of social media.

In the Netflix documentary ‘The Social Dilemma,’ the phrase “if you’re not paying for the product, you are the product” is heard multiple times. At the end, it is important to remind ourselves that however inspiring, necessary, and powerful vegan content can be, from a business perspective, it will never amount to being more than a lure for consumers whose private data is exploited by big corporations. Putting aside all societal debates, any individual should clearly see their interest in taking a wise distance from greedy platforms which have no regard for mental health or privacy.


Rayane Laddi is host of THE VEGAN REPORT podcast whose mission is to inspire you to take action in the fight for animal rights. Every week, explore a new way of making a difference. Episodes feature interviews with passionate vegan leaders who share their activism journey. New release every Tuesday.

If you liked this article Please share it!

Are Social Media Undermining Vegan Advocacy?

By Rayane Laddi

A few months ago, Mark Zuckerberg revealed that one of his favorite past-time is “to create some of the highest quality beef in the world”. Indeed, he keeps a cattle of wagyu and angus beef on the Hawaiian island of Kauai. He decided to raise them with a diet of macadamia nuts and … beer!

The media coverage of this story has been lighthearted and positive. One Fortune article was titled “Mark Zuckerberg says his daughter ‘thought that I was a cattle rancher’ for a while thanks to his unusual hobby in Hawaii.”

Yet, camouflaged by the amused tone of journalists hides a heartless cruelty. The sad reality of dozens of captive sentient beings who are mis-fed nuts and poisoned with alcohol in anticipation of a violent and unnecessary slaughter.

In addition to ethical concerns, there is the worry of environmental destruction. As a matter of fact, cattle ranching plagues the fragile ecosystem of Hawaii, provoking deforestation, soil degradation, and biodiversity loss.

However, the question I want to raise in view of this situation is, “Can vegans depend on this man and his company (META) to advance the animal rights mission?” Explicitly, is it wise for this movement to rely on unsympathetic private platforms with a long record of content censorship? And, even more broadly, can vegans depend on social media at all to efficiently advance their cause?

Anecdotes of people adopting veganism because of a YouTube video, or a Reddit post can be counted by the thousands. Yet there is no major study examining the true impact of vegan content on social media. No researcher has asked pertinent questions such as: Are those anecdotes accurate? Are we conflating social media engagement with making meaningful change? For every person who has been receptive to the vegan message, how many have been put off? Have social media users become desensitized to the hyperactivity of vegans online? etc. To the point, there is no hard evidence justifying the hundreds of thousands of dollars habitually spent by animal rights organizations and activists on social media campaigns.

Unfortunately, the cost of a social media presence for veganism is more than monetary. Alarmingly, the social media ecosystem is quickly deforming the vegan movement beyond recognition.

In 1944, veganism was first defined as the “principle of the emancipation of animals from exploitation by man” and “to seek an end to the use of animals by man for food, commodities, work, hunting, vivisection, and by all other uses involving exploitation of animal life by man.” It is a clear and uniting ethical stance focused on the liberation of animals.

Yet most social media activity related to veganism is a witch brew of pseudo-science peddling, nutrition quackery, trend chasing, snake oil salesmanship, new age confusion, and personality cults. An idiotic world which gravity field has brought down one of the most enlightened ethical philosophy to the mud of a fad diet. An expected outcome from platforms that reward popularity indiscriminately of any quality or safety standards.

After losing credibility and reputation at the hands of virtual gurus, veganism can count on identity politics and echo chambers to lose its universal appeal. Since being captured by the intersectionality paradigm, the vegan message of compassion is prevented from appealing to independent, moderate, and conservative crowds. For instance, try making the rightwing argument for veganism without encountering a barrage of dislikes, downvotes, and angry comments from … vegans!

Then, there is the social media addiction that has consumed the time, attention, energy, creativity, and passion of too many animal advocates. It is a compulsion disguised as activism which pushes people into an emotional spiral of burning outrage, hindering obsessions, mindless reactions, and crazed fits. It is an unequivocal demonstration that algorithms, and not principles or strategy, are piloting the vegan movement.

At the same time, there is a great need for vegans to think outside the social media box and make a real life and off-line contribution to the fight for animal liberation.

For example, Liz White, a longtime activist and the leader of the Animal Protection Party of Canada, shared with me in an interview that “(…) if we really want things to change for animals in Canada, we have to do the politics. And it’s the politicians. They’re the gatekeepers of all the legislation. They decide who lives, who dies, when they die, in what manner, is it cruel, how they’re sold, what’s done with them. All of that is political. And until we address that, there is no way that we are going to change the landscape with regard to how we treat animals, particularly animals used as food (…)”

On Facebook, the Animal Protection Party of Canada has about 8,000 followers. Yet, at the time of writing this article, the party only counts twelve candidates. A staggering ratio of one candidate for every 1500 followers. But nothing surprising here! This is just one more project in a long list of original and impactful initiatives that fail to pull vegans away from the orbit of social media.

In the Netflix documentary ‘The Social Dilemma,’ the phrase “if you’re not paying for the product, you are the product” is heard multiple times. At the end, it is important to remind ourselves that however inspiring, necessary, and powerful vegan content can be, from a business perspective, it will never amount to being more than a lure for consumers whose private data is exploited by big corporations. Putting aside all societal debates, any individual should clearly see their interest in taking a wise distance from greedy platforms which have no regard for mental health or privacy.


Rayane Laddi is host of THE VEGAN REPORT podcast whose mission is to inspire you to take action in the fight for animal rights. Every week, explore a new way of making a difference. Episodes feature interviews with passionate vegan leaders who share their activism journey. New release every Tuesday.

If you liked this article Please share it!