Vegan icons and counterfeits



In a previous post “Fashioning the vegan choice”, referring to academic papers, I argued that the guilty feelings of not being ethical enough works as a repellent to vegan fashion for most customers. Broadly, social comparison bias can be defined as the dislike and feeling of competitiveness (conscious or unconscious) of others because they are perceived in some way, physically or mentally, as better than ourselves. So people feel threatened and guilty in their identity and to overcome this feeling and protect their self-esteem, they put down that which makes them guilty. Too bad for vegan fashion!

Consequently, in order to avoid activating the detrimental bias, I suggested not to attract people to vegan fashion by compassion but rather by fashioning the vegan choice.

However, I would like to introduce a slight nuance, especially after singer Beyoncé admitted she was still eating meat despite her praise for the vegan diet.

This is the kind of announcement that astounds vegans and discredits veganism.

By the way the Beyoncé case was not the first one that sullied the vegan creed.

You do remember Peta’s campaign in 1994 featuring five top supermodels famously declaring, “I would rather go naked than wear fur”. Of the original team, only Christy Turlington and Elle McPherson have stuck to their anti-fur stance. Cindy Crawford said the adverts were just another modelling job; Kate Moss declared: “I wear what I want to wear” when pictured with fur clothing and Naomi Campell has recently posed for fur brands. That day, Peta made a serious mistake by hiring non-vegan models.

It’s embarrassing that a star improperly claims to be a vegan but it’s much more damaging when the most famous animal rights organisation hires non-vegan celebrities to create a buzz. When their inconsistency is exposed the backlash is devastating.

Reputation is an important and fragile thing. It relies on people’s intimacy, credibility and liability, especially in regard to veganism. Indeed, vegans live a rigorous lifestyle and refuse to use, wear or eat animal products. Their detractors, in a vain quest to cover up their poor ethics, scrutinise vegans and point out any misconduct. That is why vegan icons should be irreproachable.

The vegan choice should be fashioned with reliable vegans and not counterfeits.

Thus, I should have completed the title of my previous post with “fashioning the vegan choice with real vegan icons”.

It is just not possible to be partly vegan or vegan just for the diet. Veganism is much more than a simple diet. It’s a global lifestyle. And to be honest I realise only now how critics against the Veganuary are right. This event sends a message that it is okay to try just for the diet and to fail. It blurs the vegan ethics. Veganism is about nonviolence. First and foremost, it’s about nonviolence to other sentient beings. So veganism is not an option, it’s a moral imperative and those who endorse veganism should not make any concessions.

Let’s leave Beyoncé and Lopez with their weight issues and go with celebrities who are ethically committed to veganism. They are numerous. Here is my non-exhaustive list of certified vegans that I love:

  • Al Gore, politician and environmentalist
  • Chloe Tesla, model
  • Ellen Page, actress
  • Ellen DeGeneres, comedian and TV host
  • Evanna Lynch, actress and model
  • Guillaume Sarlat, my husband, entrepreneur
  • James Cameron, film maker
  • Joaquin Phoenix, actor, producer, music video director, musician and activist
  • Leanne Mai-ly Hilgart, CEO and Creative Director
  • Melanie Joy social psychologist and activist
  • Moby, singer-songwriter
  • Natalie Portman, actress and producer
  • Pamela Anderson, actress and activist
  • Paul Watson, first President of Greenpeace
  • Peter Dinklage, actor
  • Rooney Mara, actress
  • RZA, rapper

…and so many others….