Some Vegans will tell you that ridicule can be a valuable tool in educating non-Vegans about the merits of Veganism.
I vehemently disagree. Ridicule and humiliation are the tools of “superiority”, oppression and speciesism. In short, ridicule is the tool of bullies and tyrants… humbleness, kindness, patience and compassion are the tools of the enlightened.
It makes no sense to use ridicule in Vegan education, either as an abstract matter or a practical one. In the abstract, ridicule can only lead to the idea that belittling another sentient being is a good thing, making it that much easier for you to act without compassion in any other matter. Ridicule, while it may feel good in the short term, harms the person using it as much, if not more than the person being ridiculed.
Practically, ridicule just does not work, since the vast majority of humans react negatively to ridicule of themselves versus the tiny number who react positively. The idea that many people learn something from being ridiculed is false, and perpetuated by people who enjoy watching others suffer.
There are many people who react negatively even if someone else is the one being ridiculed, some just on general principle if nothing else. The old adage “you’ll catch more flies with honey than with vinegar” (please forgive the blatant animal exploitative analogy) was coined for a reason. If you can convert more people to Veganism through kindness than ridicule, it’s not only illogical to ridicule non-Vegans, but harmful to nonhumans which means you are not acting in line with your beliefs in any case.
Plus, who are you ridiculing? Are you ok with ridiculing your loved ones if they are not already Vegan?
It eventually all comes down to who you are going to believe. Do you trust that someone who is comfortable using humiliation as a tactic is doing what they do for the best interests of the animals? Or does it feel more like they are enjoying the discomfort of another sentient being?
This doesn’t mean that Vegans seeking to educate should be meek. A strong, clear moral message delivered in language that is kind, but firm is needed if this movement is going to progress. That message contains the idea that under no circumstances is any intentional exploitation of sentient nonhumans a morally justifiable matter. But there is a difference between kind and meek, just as there is a difference between firm and cruel.
The Abolitionist Vegan movement, as Professor Francione says, is a continuation of the peace movement. Nothing positive is to be gained by using tactics like ridicule or violence against the exploiters of nonhumans. Everything is to be gained by using tactics like kindness and compassion.
If you’re not already Vegan, and you think animals matter morally, then please go Vegan. It’s easy and great for you, incredible for the animals, and wonderful for the planet. If you’re already Vegan, please educate non-Vegans about why they should go Vegan. Please rescue, volunteer, adopt, foster, spay, and neuter the nonhuman refugees of domestication whenever you can. Please feed your nonhuman family Vegan where you can. These things are the most important, morally responsible things to do and are desperately needed by everyone.
To learn more about Abolitionist Veganism and the issues I’ve outlined in this post, check out The Master List Of Vegan Info:
Disclaimer: My only goal with this list is to produce as comprehensive a resource for Vegan information as possible. I am 100% Abolitionist Vegan and 100% against exploitation of nonhuman or human animals, any type of violence against human or nonhuman persons or property, welfare regulation, any form of speciesism, ethnic bigotry, genderism, ableism, heterosexism, etc., any of the large governmental or non-governmental nonhuman animal organizations, “happy meat,” vegetarianism, veg*nism, Meat-Free Mondays, or other forms of reductionism and anything else that makes it seem like any form of violence or exploitation of animals is ok. If any of those positions are endorsed on any site in this list, or any language is used to imply that, it’s not that I included that link because I agree, but simply because I don’t control every bit of information on all of these sites.