Last Updated on September 16, 2020 by Nina Ahmedow
Earlier this month, the organization Million Dollar Vegan challenged Donald Trump to go vegan for the month of January. There’s a video of several vegan doctors explaining why veganism is the best way to “make America healthy again” and another one of a little boy saying the organization will donate $1 million to American veterans if Trump goes vegan for January.
The idea here is that if somebody like Trump tries out veganism and sees the positive effects he will be more likely to promote it and maybe even change legislation.
The Problem with Asking Trump to Go Vegan
Aside from how unrealistic it is that Trump will fight the animal agriculture lobby, health is also not the reason to go vegan. You go vegan for the animals. If you go vegan strictly for health reasons you can easily change your mind again if something else is deemed healthier.
This focus on health in recent years is a marketing scheme to convince people that going vegan is better for them. The animals don’t matter in that context. And while I’m happy about anyone that goes vegan, I don’t believe selfish motives are the best way to make people stay vegan.
Of course, health reasons can be an initial reason and then lead people to do more research. But I don’t believe the people who only go vegan for themselves are the best advocates for veganism.
And by no means am I trying to say that you shouldn’t take care of your health. But veganism is not a health movement, it’s a social justice movement. Not all vegan food is healthy, and not all non-vegan food is unhealthy.
Why It Doesn’t Matter If Trump Goes Vegan
So let’s say Trump actually decided to go vegan. And not only for January but he’d become a full-fledged vegan. (It sounds ridiculous, doesn’t it?) The organization seems to believe this would inspire others. Aside from the fact that there’s probably no less inspiring person than Trump out there, why would the average person do what the US President does? Does the average person have a jet to fly around the world in? Does the average person live in a huge mansion? I really don’t get how Trump’s or any world leader’s behavior would be accessible to the average person.
Most people who don’t feel ready yet to go vegan are worried about the price of vegan products. Or they worry about where to find vegan substitutes for the foods they are used to. None of that will be any easier if the most powerful people on the planet can afford to go vegan.
If anything, big politicians announcing that they’re vegan might make it look even more like an elitist movement. What people really need are relatable examples from their own communities. They need to know that most people can be vegan. I think the money for this campaign would have been better spent supporting vegans in poor communities who are doing actual work, such as Chilis on Wheels.
Support Marginalized Communities Instead
We already know that it would be easy for Trump to go vegan if he wanted to. But what about all the people out there who would like to but don’t know how? The people who live in food deserts where it’s so much more difficult to find healthy, vegan food?
Whether Trump goes vegan or not will not make an impact on the world. But if people who have difficulty accessing healthy food get the support they need this can save lives.
Once again, mainstream vegans have shown that they don’t understand how intertwined the oppression of animals is with the oppression of humans. (I have a whole post on intersectionality and the privilege of white vegan men.) Instead of supporting those who lack the financial resources they are investing money to challenge the most privileged person on the planet to go vegan.
What do you think about this campaign challenging Trump to go vegan? Do you think I’m missing the point?