In an age where moral motivation is arguably at an all-time low, Americans are shying away from the strident, self-righteous style of veganism historically adopted by animal rights activists in favor of a new, more tepid form of veganism that avoids uncomfortable conversations about ethics and generally applauds people for anything they feel like doing in the direction of plant-based eating for the sake of their health – and, if some non-human animals benefit as a result, that’s really cool, too.
“It’s so positive,” said tepid vegan Jerome Foster of Nashville, Tennessee, of his new dietary lifestyle. “There's no reason veganism should be so all-or-nothing. And all those awful factory farming videos! I’d much rather listen to a podcast about a professional athlete who got an edge by going mostly plant-based. That’s something that inspires me, not gets me down.”
Tepid vegan Tara Rusk of New York City, who eats mostly plant-based when she dines at home, agreed. “For too much of my life, I didn't give myself credit for the things that I did do. These days, I’m eating compassionately the large majority of the time. That’s something to celebrate."
And, while some argue that tepid veganism is a cop-out when it comes to social justice, many feel that it is actually the best hope for suffering farmed animals because, rather than calling for people to seriously examine their ethics around food, it demands only a modicum of integrity, within reach for most people. Some do, however, refer to tepid vegans by a different name.
“People with a self-congratulatory, vaguely-stated intention of wanting to do the right thing with virtually zero accountability or effectiveness?” said long-time animal liberation activist Mickey Dolan of Brooklyn, New York. “Aren’t those the Democrats?”