A recent survey in Germany made me wonder. The question of the survey was: Are Vegans misanthropic?* and it was undertaken with 707 vegans in Germany (445 women, 257 men and 5 transsexuals) between 16 and 84 years old.
Not to my surprise, the results showed that the misanthropic vegan is a cliché and that vegans actually care a lot about their fellow human beings. More than 90% of vegans mentioned that they care about social justice, equality for handicapped and sick people, equality for gay and bisexuals, care about overcoming racism and anti-Semitism, care about gender equality and environmental conservation and are against the exploitation of third world countries. Nearly 90 % mentioned that it is critical to provide support to refugees. Although there was no control group with non-vegans to understand if vegans are more philanthropic than non-vegans, the survey still tells us a story: vegans care a lot about their fellow human beings.
After reading the results of this survey, I wondered, where does this cliché come from? I certainly love my fellow human beings and would consider myself a philanthropic. However, as vegans we might often hear the criticism that we think that we are morally superior to meat-eating people or that we are ‚too complicated‘ when it comes to shared meals in family or friends gatherings. As we question the norm in our world where consuming animal products are taken for granted, can this be a defense mechanism of non-vegans to judge us as misanthropic?
What do you think where this cliché comes from? And do you think it would help the vegan movement to disprove this cliché? I’d be very interested to hear your thoughts about this topic.
*The survey was done by www.vegan.eu and www.gleichklang.de.
There are nearly 1 Million vegans in Germany and their numbers are growing. No wonder that the variety of vegan products in the supermarkets, number of vegan restaurants, vegan festivals, vegan chefs and vegan cook books are also increasing.
A legally binding definition of the term “vegan” was suggested in April 2016 in Germany. Vegan products should not involve any hidden animal product at any stage of the production or processing. This involves also that no ingredients (including additives, carriers, flavourings and enzymes) or processing aids are allowed to be of animal origin (source: VEBU Germany).
This definition can be already found in the “vegan” label of the European Vegetarian Union (EVU) in Germany. As soon as a product is now labelled with this logo “vegan” in Germany (Fig. 1 – logo on the left) it is truly 100 % vegan! This is supposed to make the life of many vegans who live in or travel to Germany much easier given that some vegan labels (especially if food producers use their own vegan labels) could still “hide” some animal product. Whether in the production, processing or product itself.
Figure 1: The logo on the left means 100 % vegan; the logo on the right means vegetarian (ingredients such as milk, egg and honey are allowed).
The “vegan” label should not be mistaken with the label “vegetarisch” (englisch: vegetarian) on the right (Fig. 1) given that products with this label can include ingredients such as milk, egg and honey.
Another exciting item of news from Germany is that, commencing in October 2016, a 3 year long Bachelor degree in Vegan Food management will be launched. This 3-4 years long course provides expert knowledge and skills in veganism, economy, management as well as communication strategies and is a preparation to work as a manager or specialist in the vegan food business (http://www.fh-mittelstand.de/vegan/)
There are definitely exciting times ahead for vegans in Germany!