Jordi Casamitjana, the author of the book “Ethical Vegan”, looks at the main ways the opponents of veganism may try to stop the vegan world from being created in the future

Although I am not very good at it, I like playing chess.

An activity in which stopping and thinking not only is tolerated but considered essential for success is very appealing to me. I am a rational person, you see, and I like to think things through. And although I am not very competitive (I don’t care if I lose in games) I am very goal-oriented, so having a simple set of rules and a well-defined end goal feels at home to me — both in games and in real life.

I have worked most of my adult life protecting animals by being part of campaigns of several animal protection organisations that hired my time and expertise, and over the years I have become good at it. Not only I have done what my employers and clients paid me to do, but I achieved specific goals that I believe benefited animals, people, and society. For instance, I have closed five zoos, I successfully prosecuted several illegal hunters, I helped to ban bullfighting in several towns, cities, and regions, and I secured ethical veganism as a protected philosophical belief under the Equality Act 2010 in Great Britain. 

What has been the secret of my success? Stopping and thinking, as when playing chess, because then is when you can develop adequate strategies and tactics, and plan appropriately for their delivery. But chess has also given me something else that helped. It gave me an indication of how to think once I stopped. In chess, you not only think about which move would be better for you to do, but you think about what your opponent would be thinking, and which strategy may be planning to defeat you. If you learn to think like your opponent, your victory will be closer to being guaranteed. 

I have always applied this principle of “think what your opponent will think, plan, and do” in all the antagonistic campaigns (those that have opponents trying to defeat you) I have designed, and I truly believe this is the secret of their success. 

I have been an ethical vegan for over twenty years, and veganism has become not only a very important identity to me, but my current livelihood. By having become a writer on vegan issues, I am now fully engaged in working to build the vegan world. However, this is not a simple task. The goal of this “game” is huge. It is, literally, changing the entire world. And changing it while many powerful people don’t want us to change it. Our opponents, the animal agriculture industry, the vivisectionists, the hunting and bullfighting fraternities, the zoo industry, and any of the other agents of carnism (the prevailing ideology that legitimises animal consumption — a term coined in 2001 by the psychologist Dr Melany Joy — which I interpret as the opposite of veganism) don’t want us to succeed, and they will do whatever they can to stop us from achieving our end goal (the vegan world, where speciesism has been abolished, all exploited animals have been liberated, the climate crisis, mass extinctions, most pandemics, and world hunger have been averted, and there is no more systemic carnism).

Therefore, if I put my campaigner hat on while looking at veganism, my thoughts immediately go to “what would carnists (those meat-eaters who promote animal exploitation and support carnism) would do to try to stop us?” I thought that spelling out in an article the answer my brain has given me so far may be of some use to other strategists and tacticians of the vegan movement. They are just speculative thoughts, and I do not have any hard data or inside track to back them up, but these are the same limitations chess players have, which have never stopped them from thinking. So, here is what I came up with.    

The Biggest Thing Stopping the World from Turning Vegan

Photo By Fedorovacz via Shutterstock (Royalty-free stock photo ID: 592466789)

Chess players are more restricted than vegan campaigners. They do not have the chance to brainstorm their ideas with others, as they are alone and trapped inside their heads. I, on the other side, am free, so one of my first steps in speculating about how our opponents will try to stop the vegan world from coming has been looking around to see what other vegans think about this, and get them inspired by their ideas. 

Interestingly — and this is what prompted me to write this article, by the way — a few months ago I saw a post in a Facebook vegan group that asked the question “What do you think is the biggest thing stopping the world turning vegan?” The post had more than 500 comments, so I thought this would be a perfect sample to have an idea of what people think (like the informal brainstorming sessions that I often run in the first stages of the designing of a campaign plan). I read them all, copied them, pasted them into an Excel sheet, and started to order them into categories so I could count them. 

After appropriate filtering and lumping, I first categorised the answers by type of “thing”. The results were that most answers (54%) referred to psychological things (part of people’s minds, character or way of thinking, such as cognitive dissonance or being selfish), followed by 17% Logistical things (such as lack of vegan options or abundance of cheese), 15% talking about sociological things (such as peer pressure or culture), 13% mentioning political things (such as the government or capitalism), 1% economic things (such as cost), and 1% spiritual things (such as religion). These most used categories would give me the chapter titles I will use below in this article.

I then looked for further categorisation within all the answers, and I could classify all 583 items into 52 different categories. Ranking them all by frequency of answers, here are the top 25 ranks:  

5Greed and Gluttony4.6%
6Brainwashing 4.5%
8Lack of Education 3.1%
9Denial 3.1%
10Tradition and culture2.9%
11Lack of empathy2.6%
13Cognitive dissonance2.4%
16Lack of compassion1.9%
17Addiction 1.9%
18Misinformation 1.9%
19Corporation’s Propaganda and Marketing lies1.9%
20Protein requirements1.7%

As this is not a proper scientific study, these values should not be taken as significant statistical results representative of the vegan movement, but just as a list of popular things vegans of different backgrounds believe are obstacles to the building of the vegan world. Inspired by them, I came up with my own answers.

Psychological and Spiritual Barriers

Photo By Golubovy via Shutterstock (Royalty-free stock photo ID: 1921567991)

I find it interesting that most vegans who answered the Facebook post question thought that the major barriers to making the world vegan are psychological issues. Something in the very way people’s minds are built seems to be the main obstacle. Weaknesses of the human condition, such as selfishness, greed, gluttony, lack of empathy, taste preferences, fear, cognitive dissonance, ego, pride, apathy, addiction, etc. It is almost as saying that the difficulty in building the vegan world is that the builders are flawed humans, most of whom do not want to build it. 

Its difficult to argue against this, but all the vices, “sins”, and weaknesses of humans mentioned are not, by any means, unavoidable and permanent. They may be common and reinforced by society to such an extent they have become systemic, but ethical vegans may have successfully fought against such weaknesses, and if a sufficiently high number of them end up in influential decision-making positions, they could build the vegan world without having to wait for everyone to become fully vegan. If experienced ethical vegans have successfully changed their mindsets and attitudes so they are less selfish, greedy, fearful, egotistic, apathetic, and addicted to certain products than they used to be, they could eventually build the vegan world even if they will have to work extra hard and for longer to build it while the rest of the population would not help. However, we may only need a critical mass (some say 30% of the population) of ethical vegans (not just people eating a vegan diet) to make the policy changes needed to accelerate the transformation. 

But remember that the rest of the population not only may not help, but some may actively try to sabotage the ethical vegans’ progress. What could carnists do to stop the coming of the vegan world by exploiting the psychological weaknesses of humans?  

One thing they could do is to brand highly ethical people as “extremists”; encouraging anyone to take “the middle way”; to be pragmatic rather than have ideals; not to hold any philosophy too seriously; to value more the freedom to do what you want than the restraint to avoid hurting others. In other words, asking people to move away from what they see is the radical unrealistic holier–than–thou attitude of vegans, and if they really feel the need to change and do something to challenge the status quo (only if they really think they must), then move towards Reduceterianism or Flexitarianism instead. They will tell people that, if they feel bad about exploiting animals or destroying the environment, they should not stop doing it, but just do it a bit less. If they want to still do everything they normally do, by doing it a bit less they will become reducetarians — and that’s fine by them. If they want to do it much less, but still be able to do it again if they feel like it, then they will become flexitarians — and that’s OK by them. Making veganism look like a trivial personal choice rather than an important ethical imperative needed to save the world will help the carnist agenda.

If enough carnists (even those who eat what vegans eat but they continue being supremacists who exploit all sorts of animals for clothes, cosmetics, household products, or entertainment) manage to infiltrate vegan organisations, they may be able to steer them away from the concept of veganism and move them into plant-based-ism instead. These infiltrators (who may just be naïve corrupted vegans rather than malicious “undercover” carnists) could persuade these organisations that they should ask their supporters to become reducetarians or flexitarians instead of vegans (deceiving them into believing this is more realistic and will help more sentient beings) or at the most plant-based-people. They could conjure studies to sell this idea, as many would not detect the biases that may distort their results.

Another thing they could do is to praise those vegans who let themselves “fall from grace” and begin consuming some animal products due to their greed, gluttony, addiction, overvalue of taste, etc., not only saying that this is perfectly OK, but they deserve a new title for having diluted the concept of veganism. For instance, give the title of beegans to those who now eat honey, ostreovegans to those who eat bivalves, and veggans to those who eat backyard eggs, and by doing so legitimise the animal exploitation they participate in.

One of the best tactics would be to get greedy shallow social media influencers and celebs to announce they have become vegan, and after a while post to their millions of supporters videos of the type “Why I am no longer vegan”, and reward them with more likes and shares (which for them it means cash). 

In other words, sell the idea that all humans are greedy, selfish, apathetic, violent, and deeply immoral creatures, and it is a complete waste of time trying to change them, so it’s better to embrace all these weaknesses and abandon the vegan world project. I must say, I think carnists (and their enablers) have been very successful in the last few years in using these psychological obstacles to slow down the progress of the vegan movement.   

Sociological Barriers

Photo By Drazen Zigic via Shutterstock (Royalty-free stock photo ID: 1754238413)

In addition to being a philosophy, veganism has become a socio-political movement in the last 80 years, and building the vegan world is a sociological phenomenon. Therefore, our opponents are likely to build sociological barriers to block our advances. These could be aimed at reducing our numbers, undermining our resolve, making us waste energy and resources, and cracking the integrity and morale of our movement.

For instance, they could ensure that the vegan movement is full of “undesirable” people who not only will cause havoc and make others leave but would damage the reputation of the movement and make it less coherent — and in doing so fewer people will end up joining it. One way to do that is to make veganism elitist, classist, racist, or misogynist, by allowing individuals with such ideologies to have prominent positions in it, and by preventing any healthy gatekeeping that would challenge them. This would be quite difficult to achieve because the anti-speciesist non-discriminative nature of the vegan philosophy would make it incompatible with these supremacist ideologists. 

However, there may be a way to neutralise this. If, despite what the philosophy is and how it was defined by its pioneers, veganism is promoted as only addressing non-human animal oppression, excluding humans from the scope of concern (the slogan ”veganism is only about animals”), and those applying ahimsa (the basic principle of veganism which means “do no harm”) to all sentient beings including marginalised groups of humans, are branded as “traitors” of the vegan cause, then the free pass to racists, ableists, misogynists, xenophobes, transphobes, and other types of undesirables may be guaranteed. There is some evidence this is already happening — albeit at a small scale — as many (including me) have detected a racism problem in the movement, and there is also a worrying anti-intersectional vegan component in it that has become quite vocal. 

This corruption of our movement can lead to fights with other social justice movements, or at the very least may prevent several of these to join forces against the oppressors they are fighting — who tend to be mostly the same, often white cisgender carnist men. If carnists could make feminists, environmentalists, or antifascists hate vegans because of a lack of solidarity with their equally worthy causes, carnism would last longer.  

Another way of polluting the movement is by encouraging conspiracy theorists to join it. These may be less easy to detect with any gatekeeping, so they could get in with higher numbers. In addition to the fact that, in the 21st century, being a conspiracy theorist and being a far-right bigot often go hand in hand, the worst damage here would be threatening the concept of truth vegan outreachers so depend on. If conspiracy theorists, with their distorted view of the world and their denial of evidence and facts, are allowed to speak on behalf of the movement, not only outsiders would stay away from veganism for seeing it as some kind of cult, but would stop listening to any of our arguments that are based on truth and reality, because they will assume they are the kind of nonsense conspiracists often regurgitate. Our credibility would be completely undermined, relinquishing the movement to a perpetual fringe state of irrelevancy. 

Another way to mess with our movement is by fostering infighting and by creating unhelpful divisions. I believe there are five natural gateways to veganism (animals, the environment, social justice, health, and spirituality), and after vegans have adopted the philosophy by any of these gateways, they will eventually embrace the other four dimensions. However, if instead of dimensions of the same thing these are seen as different philosophies (or different types of vegans) that are somehow mutually exclusive, this may become a type of “divide and conquer” move that will weaken the movement. If, on the contrary, vegans become more tolerant of diversity of opinion, and accept these five dimensions as aspects of their philosophy, then the movement could grow. Fighting diversity or denying other vegans their veganhood because they entered veganism from another gateway will not solve the problem as this will reduce the size of the movement and decrease its resilience and adaptative power. 

Another unhelpful division carnists could elicit is between wildlife protectors and vegans. By wrongly portraying the natural world as an almost “evil” place where every animal suffers all the time, they could persuade some vegans that trying to conserve natural ecosystems and protect endangered species may be against the concept of reducing animal suffering (which they say it is part of veganism). This not only supports the supremacist and speciesist position of humans being the stewards of the world who can choose which animals live and which don’t, but would also broaden the chasm between vegans (including eco-vegans) and non-vegan conservationists, effectively weakening both movements, and hampering the rewilding programmes that are an important part of building the vegan world. 

Maintaining the core values of veganism intact but allowing different interpretations and views from the rest of the principles and axioms is the right balance to achieve, but another way carnist can make us break this balance is by diluting the concept of veganism so much that such core values become dangerously threatened. If to grow in numbers and demographics we became more tolerant and open, we may inadvertently stop protecting the core values and principles of veganism, breaking our foundations and forcing the movement to collapse for having lost its north. 

These core values are, at least, the following: ahimsa (try to not harm any sentient being); all members of the animal kingdom are sentient beings; anti-speciesism (no discrimination against individuals for the groups they have been classified into); against all exploitation of animals for any purpose (any exploitation can harm them so none should be supported); and adhering to the official definition of veganism of the Vegan Society (seeking to exclude, as far as is possible and practicable, all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose).

Carnists could exploit the openness of the vegan movement (which is now truly global and open to any culture and demographic) to attack such values (for instance, encouraging the ostreovegans or beegans mentioned earlier, or stating that riding horses or supporting zoos is perfectly vegan), and unless these are protected with the right type of gatekeeping, the dilution of the concept of veganism may become catastrophic for the movement. 

Political and Economic Barriers

Photo By kryzhov via Shutterstock (Royalty-free stock photo ID: 287591669)

If carnism uses political barriers to stop the vegan world it could be very successful, as such barriers tend to affect almost all aspects of human life, and they can be very intrusive and powerful. For instance, making being vegan a crime — something that thankfully has not happened yet — could have a devastating effect on the movement, as it is currently enjoying a boost due to its growing mainstreamness. 

It does not need to be that extreme, though. Allowing discrimination against vegans so it is harder for them to work, find employment, or obtain the products and services they need for a normal life, may slow the vegan movement down and limit its influence. Not punishing the harassment and victimisation of vegans may also drive people away from veganism and demoralise those starting to build the vegan world. Unfortunately, all this may be the political reality of most vegans in the world today. Most, but not all, as, luckily, things are changing on this front, as the recognition of ethical veganism as a protected class in Great Britain since 2020 has shown — if I was a carnist strategist, I would be trying to stop the proliferation of this recognition to other countries.    

For centuries, political institutions and laws have been favouring animal welfare approaches rather than animal rights approaches, which essentially means favouring reform of animal exploitation rather than its abolition. This keeps the carnist status quo alive. However, with time, more and more practices that were only reformed in the past are beginning to be banned (such as fur farming, bullfighting, hunting, animal testing, wild animals in circuses, sport fishing, etc), so there is a trend that favours the vegan movement — although it’s frustratingly slow. Protecting culturally important symbolic leisure activities that involve animal exploitation (such as bullfighting or foxhunting) is a good carnist tactic because their legal acceptance works as a barrier towards banning any other animal exploitation practice that the general population considers essential for survival (such as using animals for food, clothes, or medical research). This is why so much effort has been put to stop the anti-bullfighting and anti-hunting movements.   

Most animal protection organisations continue being animal welfare organisations that do not promote veganism, so although many now run abolitionist campaigns, they do not see veganism as the moral baseline — to the despair of vegan strategists such as Prof Gary L Francione, author of “Animal Rights: The Abolitionist Approach”. Until the animal protection movement sorts its act out and openly embraces veganism, the vegan movement will not progress fast, so a good carnist tactic would be to ensure the “animal welfare” approach dominates over the “vegan animal rights” approach, and that most charity donations go to the former.  

The stronger political barrier currently in full operation that has not shown any sign of being cracked anywhere is governments subsidies to animal agriculture and vivisection. Although not all nations engage in vivisection and animal testing, most have animal agriculture that national governments subsidise. This means that, no matter how successful vegan outreachers may be in persuading people that adopting a vegan lifestyle is the way to go, the reduction of demand for animal products is offset by government subsidies to the animal agriculture industry, which can then continue exploiting animals as usual. Unless this barrier is dismantled, the vegan world could not pass its embryonic state.

The indoctrination of carnism has been in operation for so many centuries that many of our political structures have it deeply embedded in them. Most communities are still run under patriarchal supremacist political systems which are intrinsically speciesist and anti-vegan (toxic masculinity was one of the obstacles mentioned in the Facebook post I discussed). Capitalism itself, with its greedy consumerism and economic selfishness, also plays firmly into the carnist agenda. To maintain the vegan world (because it is not just a matter of building it, but keeping it forever) the main political systems should radically change, moving away from the current bipartisan capitalist and totalitarian communist systems into a completely new paradigm (which I call ahimsa politics, where not harming others becomes the major political rule).    

Also, another way politics have been working against the vegan world — at least in western developed countries — is by keeping many aspects of animal agriculture hidden from the general public, so people do not make the connection between animal products and animal suffering. Hiding the truth of animal exploitation has always been an essential tactic of carnism, and as carnism is the prevailing ideology it has used political leverage to do this. The carnist industries have more resources than the vegan movement, so they have been using them to lobby political decision-makers into stopping any law that moves us towards the vegan world and passing laws that make the work of vegans more difficult. For instance, the US has had in recent years many so-called Ag-Gag Laws which restrict free speech by preventing journalists and activists from documenting how animal farms operate. Many such laws have been repealed, but new ones keep coming because heavy lobbying continues. Although the vegan movement can also lobby politicians, so far we are at a disadvantage not just regarding the number of lobbyists, but also because of the corruption of many politicians who are in the pockets of animal agriculture and pharmacological industries that exploit animals in the billions. 

These industries — with their biased research — also influence scientific bodies (such as food standards, medical colleges, or veterinary institutions) which end up reinforcing the carnist indoctrination with myths and propaganda that not only affects consumer choices but also policies and laws. 

Corporations’ propaganda and marketing lies are not challenged by official standards institutions so the public can continue to be deceived into consuming animal products, or visiting establishments where animals are exploited (such as zoos and aquaria), guilt-free. People are constantly brainwashed by animal exploiters who get away with their lies and psychological manipulations because governments protect them from scrutiny and accountability. They are so successful in their deception (including greenwashing and vegan washing) that even vegans fall for it, ending up giving animal exploiters money to buy some of their plant-based products (money that should have gone to vegan companies instead, but they are now taken by key animal agriculture companies such as McDonald’s or Burger King). 

The animal agriculture tactic of letting plant-based entrepreneurs develop alternatives to animal products, and then buy their businesses for a lot of cash and only sell such products in a tokenistic way (to not threaten their own animal products), is also a good tactic to prevent the vegan world ever becoming a reality. It will also help them if such entrepreneurs have to spend so much capital to develop alternative products that they have to charge more to their customers, making vegan food more expensive than subsidised animal food.  

Money talks, and those who have it often use it to get more — taking it away from others with unethical methods. As long as vegans continue giving their money to animal agriculture and carnist companies instead of their vegan counterparts, carnism will have an advantage over veganism, and they will use it to influence politics. The world of politics not only is very corrupt, but it is very corruptible, and this will always be a big obstacle to building the vegan world. 

Logistical Barriers

Photo By Africa Studio via Shutterstock (Royalty-free stock photo ID: 784965145)

The number one obstacle mentioned in the Facebook post was “meat”. Not everyone explained what they meant, but I take it that most meant the existence of the concept of meat, as a legitimate source of food people think it is essential for survival and much tastier than plant-based food. 

If people are brainwashed into believing that meat equals good protein, which equals good food, which equals the food of the superior (a fallacy that Carol J. Adams already exposed when she explored the social meaning of meat in her book “The Sexual Politics of Meat: A Feminist-Vegetarian Critical Theory”) they will not be content with eating plants as a replacement. Although producing grains, seeds, vegetables, fruits, and nuts may end up being cheaper than producing meat (especially if you remove the subsidies the animal agriculture industry receives to decrease the prices of their products), meat-addicted people may still want meat, and they will use what they say is the lack of appealing of plant-based food as a reason to not becoming vegan. If carnists manage to perpetuate the concept of meat, despite all the science that shows it is not only unnecessary for survival but is actually one of the main causes of the top diseases of people in developed countries, they will be able to slow down the progress toward the vegan world. If people continue demanding meat to eat, and continue to use land to grow plants to feed farm animals bread for food, instead of humans, they will not even consider becoming vegan because they will believe they will starve if they do. 

The vegan movement has reacted to the effects of this social addiction by replicating many of the types of meat in plant-based form (the so-called fake meats), but many carnists still do not like them. This has led to making the meat imitations closer and closer to the animal versions, but after trying them out of curiosity, many meat-eaters revert to eating animal meat. I suspect this is because the meat concept remains intact, and what meat-eaters have imprinted in their brainwashed head is that the good thing about meat is not its taste, smell, texture, and colour, but the fact that it comes from an animal.

Therefore, a good carnist tactic would be to keep the meat concept alive by not fighting the fake meats that are increasingly indistinguishable from animalistic meats, but by incorporating them into their menus. This is what many big burger chains are now doing, which is making more difficult the job of vegan campaigners. Since the first vegan activist started going to the streets to campaign for veganism they have been pointing out that what people are eating is a piece of an individual animal who was killed for them (exposing the “absent referent” Carol J. Adams identified in meat, which through fragmentation, objectification and consumption disconnects the consumer from the animal). However, now this is more difficult because you cannot tell whether a burger comes from an animal or not. Fake meats, and in particular, good imitations of animal meat, help to maintain humanity’s addiction to the patriarchal supremacist speciesist concept of meat, which is one of the key tenets of carnism.

The case of cheese is very similar, perpetuating the dairy industry, and vegetarians are not helping us to get rid of it. The addiction to both meat and cheese together has converted what should be a very healthy diet (the vegan diet) into a vegan junk food diet, another unhealthy diet full of processed highly-salted highly-calorific fatty food. The result is that we lose the health argument to persuade people to become vegan, and we are losing vegans who succumb to ill health.

Additionally, maintaining the concept of meat and cheese alive also makes junk food vegans have a higher carbon footprint than whole-food-plant-based (WFPB) vegans have, undermining the environmental message of veganism. Overall, what this obsession with replicating meat, cheese, and milk does is work as an equalizer between vegans and carnists, so it becomes less obvious how beneficial is the vegan lifestyle for people’s health and the environment. This is pushing people towards reducetarianism and flexiterianism rather than veganism. To take this successful carnist tactic to another level, replacing realistic plant-based fake meats with actual animal-based versions that can be grown in labs (the lab meats, cell meats, or cultivated meats) will cement the concept of meat for eternity — and this is why I am totally against such products.

Another logistical barrier is pet food. Even if people become vegan, many still feed animal products to their companion dogs and cats, even now that research has shown that feeding them a nutritionally complete plant-food diet may be even healthier. A quarter of the negative environmental impact of meat production comes from the pet-food industry, so in the vegan world, people should only give their companion animals non-animal-based food. It is in the interest of carnists that vegans disbelieve the research that shows such food is healthy and that dogs and cats like it. It is better for them to perpetuate the myths that these highly domesticated animals are still “obligate carnivores” because this subconsciously reinforces the idea that humans are obligate omnivores who need to consume animal products and you cannot change their nature — even with an appropriately nutritious plant-based diet. 

However, the biggest logistical barrier to the vegan world is the size of the human population. Although if we converted all animal farms into crops — and stopped breeding farm animals and feeding them most of our crops — we could feed far more people that we are feeding now, the problem is that conventional crops are not really vegan-friendly on account of the millions of deaths they cause via pesticides and fertilizers. The crops in the vegan world would need to be veganic crops (not only organic crops), and currently, only a minuscule part of them are. This is a logistical problem that the environmentalist George Monbiot has looked into in his book “Regenesis: Feeding the world without devouring the planet”. He found that all the alternatives to animal agriculture are not perfect, so a combination of methods will need to be used to be able to feed everyone in the transition toward the vegan world. 

One of the most promising solutions he identified is precision fermentation (not to be confused with cell meat as this one does not use any animal cells, but growing fermented food from algae, bacteria, or fungi) because it could produce much more vegan food much quicker and with fewer resources than crops of any type. In consequence, a good carnist strategy would be campaigning against precision fermentation (or hijacking it to produce animal proteins, such as whey, instead of producing healthier non-animal proteins) and ensuring regenerative veganic agriculture never outcompetes the other types of agriculture (claiming that it is too difficult). Above all, carnist lobbyists would be keen to stop any attempts to switch government subsidies from animal agriculture to veganic agriculture, because this would accelerate the research of the latter to become more efficient and produce bigger yields. 

There is No Carnist Conspiracy

Photo By galitsin via Shutterstock (Royalty-free stock photo ID: 1118538416)

If you are vegan, you may think that what I am doing here is irresponsible. Spelling out all the good tactics our opponents can employ is feeding them the vital information they can use to defeat us. I can see why you may think that, but you have overlooked one detail. Throughout this article, I have been using the adjective “carnist” to describe our opponents. To facilitate the narrative, I have personalised them as if they are an army with officers and generals waiving a war against us. Well, they are not, because they do not exist. They do exist as people, but not as an organised “army” with a commanding structure and a strategic plan. 

Carnism is the prevailing ideology that justifies the exploitation of animals and tells people which animals can be exploited and how (such as eat a pig but pet a dog), but this ideology is already embedded in all cultures and institutions, so it does not need a dedicated group of people promoting it and defending it. People are not taught carnism in schools or universities, they are taught carnist policies, attitudes, and values without explicitly linking it to this ideology, and this is why some say it is a hidden ideology (hidden in plain sight). There are no carnism clubs, there are no carnist ideologues, there are no carnist strategists, and there are no carnist leaders. There is not a carnist elite meeting in ivory towers conspiring to hurt animals and destroy the environment — sometimes it may look like there is, but I truly believe there is not, because if there was one, the vegan movement would not have advanced to where it is today. 

The vegan movement is a transformative socio-political movement. The carnist movement is not, as there is no such movement. They are the status quo, and as such, they do not move anywhere — or know how to do it. And they hold the prevailing ideology, so they do not feel threatened by any other. 

The barriers to the vegan world have not been erected by the carnists. They have not been conceived by their tacticians and executed by their agents. They all erected themselves quite spontaneously and organically when the vegan movement came along, and carnists have just been reinforcing them opportunistically. It has been the vegan movement, with its revolutionary attempts to change the world and rock the boat, that has prompted the appearance of many of these barriers.

If you have paid attention to the carnist tactics I have speculated about, you might have noticed that I suggested many might have been executed by people within the vegan movement itself — did you see the 25th obstacle of the table above? Many vegans, without malice, without intention, without awareness, are reinforcing the very barriers they are set to demolish, and they may not even realise they are doing it. That is why I thought I should write this article. To shine a light on what they might be doing, in the hope that, when they finally see it, they may stop and think.    

We can win this because the opposition is dispersed, disorganised, unmotivated, uninformed, and unled. The vegan world is inevitable, we are just trying to get there sooner than later because any delay causes animal suffering, and if we get our act together we certainly can overcome all barriers we will find on our way.

When you stop and think while playing chess, you think about what your opponent may be thinking, but you also think about what would be the consequence of your moves. If you move your bishop here, would you leave your queen exposed? If you take that pawn, would you lose that knight? 

Strategy is looking at the bigger picture, and this includes you. What you do, and what effect your actions have on the system you are playing, both in the short and long term.

I am not very good at chess, but I am good at thinking.

“Originally from Catalonia, but resident in the UK for several decades, Jordi is a vegan zoologist and author, who has been involved in different aspects of animal protection for many years. In addition to scientific research, he has worked mostly as an undercover investigator, animal welfare consultant, and animal protection campaigner. He has been an ethical vegan since 2002, and in 2020 he secured the legal protection of all ethical vegans in Great Britain from discrimination in a landmark employment tribunal case that was discussed all over the world. He is also the author of the book, ‘Ethical Vegan: a personal and political journey to change the world’.