On Community (A Vegan Manifesto)

<unnatural vegan=””> First, I am not vegan to be vegan or to be part of a community.

<eisel> Within 5 seconds, Unnatural Vegan here mentions the other topic I may be infamous for speaking about in an overly blunt, down-to-earth way: community.

So in the past, I’ve had several videos here talking about what does it mean to say vegans are a community, have we ever been a community, will we ever get our act together to be a community? Unnatural Vegan here makes an interesting statement that she’s not in it for community, that’s not her objective, that’s not her concern. Well, I differ from her there and this is not a criticism of her, it is a personal difference that I think is worth reflecting on; I am more ambitious than that. Yeah, I want a real community.

Look at Mothers Against Drunk Driving, they have at least one office in every U.S. state, there are 50 states in the United States, they have more than 50 offices that are staffed and open all the time, they’ve got that, we don’t. You tell me in 2016, what’s a more important message? MADD or veganism? It’s veganism. Even if in the past, even if in the 1980s you know, maybe there was an argument MADD were a really important lobby, today, veganism is a message that absolutely needs to have 50 offices in the United States.

I really lived through the period of time when gay groups went from being marginal to be ascendant, to being very influential. When I was living in Toronto, there were a number of different gay offices, staffed offices for gay rights, I remember there was one that was just specialized in lesbians, multiple gay offices with multiples political perspectives and if there was some controversy, the newspapers would go and interview those foundations. They were non-profit, political organizations, whatever you want to say e.g. Let’s say the police commissioner made a homophobic remark, the newspapers would go and interview. “Oh, let’s go to that gay foundation and gay legal rights advocacy group and get their opinion on this”, something like that, that’s a real community.

That’s a facet of, a reflection of, in Toronto, definitely at that time, there was a real gay community, they had a neighbourhood, they had buildings, they had offices, they had lawyers, they had nightclubs, they had festivals, I mean the gay community in Toronto, not every city has that. There were multiple, well organized vocal gay communities and the newspapers could go to them. It would be different if we were at the level of MADD, it would be different if we were at the level of Jews in British Columbia.

I mean Jewish people are a tiny minority in this part of Canada, They have bricks and mortar institutions, they’ve real organizations, they have fellowships and scholarships and all kinds of benefits for people from cradle to grave and, ultimately, you can go there and attend a picnic and talk to other human beings face to face and whatever, from fund-raising to charity work to everything can make a big difference.

I want it all, I want a real community and I see no reason to pretend that I don’t want that or that I wouldn’t value that, I see no reason to pretend that veganism is completely satisfactory to me if it’s just a diet or just something I do in private and that can’t have any political ramifications.

By blood I’m Jewish, by belief I am a nihilistic atheist, nevertheless, for my family and for my own life, it would benefit me more to pretend to be a religious Jew, for me to start participating in the temple, because Judaism here in Canada can provide me with a real community, everything from the picnics to the retirement homes. Picnics to private schools to retirement homes, from the cradle to the grave, the life cycle benefits of having a community are provided by Judaism, are provided by Mormonism, are provided by all kinds of crazy ideologies that rest on your believing in a God that doesn’t exist, resting on your saying prayers that will never be heard by anyone, unless you say your prayers on YouTube then your YouTube followers can hear you and that’s alright.

I look at groups like the Mormons and I think “I want it all, I want what you people have.” For the Mormons, it is nothing to organize a picnic that 200 people are going to show up at, okay? For me, even that is not enough, for the Mormons it’s nothing to do a fundraiser to help some orphans, to set up some charity they go get a project going and change the world.

I want that, I want vegans to have that, I’m worried about the whole life-cycle from cradle to grave. I have a 3-year old daughter, I don’t see that much of her she lives in Europe, I’m living in China, nevertheless, where is my daughter going to go to school, where is my daughter going to get day-care? Where am I going to go to a retirement home or where are my grandparents going to a retirement home? From the cradle to the grave.

Now look, the issues with gay rights activism, those also change over time. I think in the recent past, there were hard battles for the gay community to fight and now the gay community can really celebrate that so many of those battles have been won. In Canada? Sure, I mean in Saudi Arabia, it’s another story, there are tons of countries where the fights for basic gay rights are still at an early stage, don’t get me wrong but here in Canada, we’re one of the first countries to have gay marriage, there’s a whole legal battle surrounding that, equal rights for gays and so on, those battles fundamentally have already been won. The battles for veganism are just beginning.

Where’s that office? Where’s that neighbourhood, that nightclub? Where’s that retirement home and day-care centre? I want it all. I am fundamentally much more ambitious than Unnatural Vegan, I’m not satisfied with what you guys call “community”, I’m not satisfied with a bunch of self-indulgent middle-aged people, sitting around on Facebook, giving each other the thumbs up, I’m not satisfied with a bunch of teenagers on Instagram photographing their asses in a bikini and saying they’re changing the world, none of that does it for me. Okay?

I want more. Can I have it today? No. Can I have it next year? No. Am I going to see it before I die? Maybe.

MADD in just a few years, they took off, what percentage of people in America really give a damn about MADD? It’s a minority, really, it’s a small minority of people who support a foundation like that, tremendously successful. What percentage of people support, like really donate money to Jewish temples in Canada? I don’t know, it is a small, small minority. In the past I talked about Sikhism within Canada, these are small minority religious movements.

And again with homosexuals, homosexuality isn’t a diet, they don’t need to have separate restaurants, but they do! Like in Toronto, there’s a district, there is such a thing as a gay restaurant even though there’s no such thing as gay food! Vegans, we already have a reason to organize bricks and mortar, to have a restaurant in a physical place. Yeah, I want it all, from cradle to the grave, from the bricks and mortar temple to the lawyers, to the political organizations, to having that foundation that is respected enough that when there’s a controversy in government, the newspapers know who to call, maybe there’s several foundations to call, where there’s a voice advocating for veganism in parliament, in the newspapers, on the street. Yeah, I want it and I’m going to recognize I don’t have it, that’s real community and we’re going to have to work real hard to get it.

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