The New Indian* Wars: Indigenous People vs. Militant Vegans

by E.M. Lunsford

There is an old joke that goes:

Q: “At a party, how do you know who the vegans are?”

A: “Don’t worry, they’ll let you know.”

Most vegans are quiet, keep to themselves. But there is a very “loud and proud” contingency who make all vegans look bad. And those vegans are all over social media, spreading “the word” like religious zealots. Like the worst malignant religious zealots, they beat you over the head with their ideologies, including harassment, abuse, and threats.

We see it often within both the Indigenous and disabled communities. Of which I am both.

I have multiple auto-immune disorders. I was a vegetarian for 36 years, and recently, a spate of health issues has been traced to not being able to adequately absorb nutritional needs from pills, tablets, and supplements. My hair was falling out. I lost most of my body hair (on the upside: no leg shaving!). The most efficient way for me to get the vitamins, minerals, and amino acids would be from: eating meat. I’m still having issues with it. The smell, the look, the taste, the texture. But when I was a vegetarian, I (seldom) berated others for their food choices (except when teasing friends, who would tease me back).

Friend: biting into a burger

Me: “MOO!”

Friend: “Wow, a bilingual rabbit! How’s that salad?

I still prefer my vegetables. Always have. Even as a child, it was almost impossible to get me to eat meat, but vegetables? I’d tear into those zealously. I have a photo of me in my high chair, making a mess of trying to shovel my vegetables into my face. I was the weird child that enjoyed vegetables even the most vegetable-friendly child wouldn’t go near: spinach, parsnips, broccoli, cauliflower…

ANTI-INDIGENOUS (and ableist)

So much of what we see is very racist, very anti-Indigenous. Even from other races, the few

POC that are also vegan, including other Indigenous people. We get threats often. Such as this:

Or this:

Of course, as always, Twitter is FINE with this. But if we say anything in return, we get a cascade of vitriol, and no amount of reporting them does anything, but if they report us, you know the drill: suspended. Keep in mind, Twitter’s CEO, Jack Dorsey, is “Buddhist” and vegan himself. And male. Let’s not forget male. A lot of the harassment and abuse seems to be leveled at Indigenous/disabled women. Not always, but the larger percentage. If you “slaughter our archaic traditions” you are talking about slaughtering our entire cultures, our entire people. You are saying we are no longer allowed to be Indigenous or practice our Indigenous ways. For a group who claims they have compassion for animals, they seem to forget humans are animals (anthropoids) themselves, and they have zero compassion for humans in any form. Not even others in their group.

Most often attacked is sustenance hunting done, primarily, by Indigenous people. This includes the seal hunting in the far north. Celebrity vegans such as Pamela Anderson and Ellen DeGeneres have derided the seal hunt, calling for an end to it, based on misinformation primarily built on “oh, cute animal, don’t hurt”. By calling for the end of the seal hunting, they are calling for an end to Inuit people. Pamela seems to think they’re bashing baby seal skulls, and the pelts are only worth $2 each. This shows a vast ignorance of the subject borne of cognitive dissonance, and that she has never priced items made from seal pelts (which is another facet of subsistence). Both Anderson and DeGeneres need to visit the area. In winter. And try to survive on their own. Sub-zero temperatures, short growing season, and the outrageous prices for “fresh” produce.

They claim it’s expensive because it costs so much to ship, but as one Twitter Native stated, they ship across Canada, over great distances, all the time without raising prices. https://twitter.com/FancyBaeBae/status/1197932788655284224 Here are some examples of prices up that way:

For more examples, just Google “produce prices Inuit”. Then tell them they MUST go vegan.

It’s not just produce prices and short growing seasons. Inuit people use the fur, the fat, the bones. When you live in a climate such as this, you have to keep warm, which means wearing furs, and a diet high in fats to keep your body warm as it burns calories furiously trying to keep you from freezing. Bones can be used for many items, including jewelry to be sold so that they can buy the things they cannot hunt.

But the vegan brigade knows nothing of this, refuses to listen to Indigenous people, and keep insisting everyone can and MUST “go vegan” for the planet, for the animals. This is problematic in many ways.

They want to talk about “respecting” the animals. Our people always had respect for the animals. We understood the relationship of the animals and ourselves in the web of life. It was not Indigenous people who created factory farming. It was not Indigenous people who cleared forests for ranch lands. It is not Indigenous people still taking land for more ranching.

… the moralizing is mind-boggling. This particular militant has repeatedly told people he was far superior to everyone else, his spirituality and morality were above anyone else. This particular militant became famous when he went after a fellow vegan for having bought a child a non-vegan ice cream.
https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/zmgayw/vegan-man-doxxes-vegan-woman-for-giving-dairy-i ce-cream-to-crying-childHe also describes himself in his bio as non-spiritual. Ironic.​  

Let’s also note it was not Indigenous people who slaughtered the buffalo wholesale in order to starve out Indigenous people. Famous photos show mountains of bison skulls, etc., that were slaughtered in order to force Indigenous people into the reservations, which were nothing but prisoner of war camps. Camps where they were promised food, then were given very little. Any “good” meat was given to the white army officers running the camps. If the people got anything, it was rancid and rotting. They were seldom allowed to leave the camp to hunt. This is one of the things that lead to an uprising, resulting in The Dakota 38.

(https://newsmaven.io/indiancountrytoday/archive/the-traumatic-true-history-and-name-list-of-t​    h e-dakota-38-3awsx1BAdU2v_KWM81RomQ/ ) Foods we never had before, such as flour,​  sugar, coffee… are all very bad for you, leading to severe health issues. Flour often had weevils. And we won’t even go there with alcohol.

Another aside: my maternal great great grandfather (white) was an “Indian fighter”, who built​       the scaffold the 38 Dakota were hanged from. Later in life he mused that perhaps the “Indians” got a bad deal. YA THINK, GRANDPA?????

Today, things are not much better. The land we were pushed on to has poor soil for growing, or has been contaminated by oil, uranium, mercury, and a host of other toxins, as is the water. Many reservations are considered “food deserts”. Some reservations have only ONE grocery store. The grocery store may be very far away, and if you have transport, and/or money for fuel, when you get there, much of it may be expired, yet still sport an exorbitant price tag. Produce is old, wrinkly, moldy in spots. The cheapest food is carbs, starches, salt, sugar, fats. All a perfect storm for Indigenous people to have a high risk of obesity and diabetes. There was a controversy not long ago where one of the grocery stores was literally selling rotten meat.

https://rapidcityjournal.com/news/tribe-closes-pine-ridge-grocery-store/article_c0d6c246-9e33-1 1e1-a5f5-0019bb2963f4.html

Reservations, for the most part, are the poorest of the poor. Pine Ridge is noted as the poorest of all reservations. For them to lose their only grocery store (temporarily) is a travesty.

https://www.voanews.com/usa/native-american-tribes-fighting-high-prices-poor-food-quality

An aside: it’s not just reservations, it’s many poor areas:

https://www.businessinsider.com/a-majority-of-food-retailers-in-detroit-are-selling-rotten-expiredgroceries-2012-4

They will also disingenuously make dietary suggestions, but I will include that in the section on health.

This isn’t just about reservation Indians. 70%+ Indigenous people do not live on reservations. Many, whether urban, suburban, or rural, tend to live below the poverty line, and have the same issues accessing fresh, healthy food to feed their families, let alone enough​      ​.

So please, keep telling us how you know our personal, lived experiences, and how you​​ know we can be vegan, if we really try.

but, they’re not harassing anyone…nor being racist, deciding they get to judge who is and isn’t Indigenous…because real Indigenous people live in the woods, in primitive housing, and chase down their food on foot, right?

but, we’re imagining these things. There is no harassment, they haven’t seen it, therefore, it doesn’t exist.

They will also disingenuously use other cultures as examples, such as the people of India, with 38% of their population being vegetarian​​. Not vegan. But they do not take into account that many are because meat is expensive and is more often the fare of the wealthy. Some are vegetarian due to religious restrictions, but more often than not, it is due to poverty.

Health Issues

Vegans will proceed to tell us they know more about medicine and health than we—and our doctors—know. There are MANY health issues for which veganism is not only dangerous but could potentially be deadly. But you can’t tell the militants this. They know more than anyone else, ever.

… we know better than your DOCTOR does!

Crohn’s Disease, for example. It’s an inflammatory bowel disease that is exacerbated by fiber, such as that found in vegetables. At the least, it can cause gas, bloating, pain, and diarrhea. At its worst, it can kill. But vegans will tell you it’s just not true. There are many medical issues for which a vegan diet can be painful, dangerous, or even deadly.

this particular troll on Reddit is known for accusing everyone of having multiple accounts,​          something they are guilty of themselves.

Militant vegans will claim veganism will cure anything, while simultaneously doubting you have the medical conditions you claim to have. They will insist they have a right to question you about your entire (private) medical history. They will post false information, written by primarily vegan sources, that denigrate any real science. These are people who have had children taken from them, because they fed them a vegan diet from birth.

https://www.cnn.com/2019/08/22/australia/australia-vegan-baby-intl-hnk-trnd/index.html

In another case, a vegan nearly killed their kitten with a vegan diet. Cats need​ taurine, which comes from meat. While you can get it in supplemental form, it is not as effective as just giving them meat. Supplements are often not absorbed by the system of man nor animal the same way as getting it via food.

https://www.heraldsun.com.au/leader/west/kitten-nearly-dies-from-vegan-diet/news-story/6be8b 8f8a38eeafe50989961a20fb6fa

And one “humane” vegan cruelly takes in a wild animal that was never meant to be a pet, and feeds it a vegan diet, denying heartily that is not the reason the fennec fox looked so bad.

https://www.boredpanda.com/fennec-fox-vegan-diet-animal-abuse-jumanji-sonia-sae/?utm_sour ce=google&utm_medium=organic&utm_campaign=organic

These are examples of their ethics, morals, and “lack of cruelty”. They are astoundingly short-sighted when it comes to seeing their own hypocrisy. Their cognitive dissonance where health issues are involved can be dizzying. And the solipsism about the experiences of others is just head-pounding. Their “ethic” of not being cruel does not extend to human animals. They feel that because we are higher animals, our sentience means we can make these decisions for ourselves, other animals, other people. And they will do it by force, as you have seen. They have outright told people to just die. Which leads us to….

Violence

As you have seen, the militant vegans are not above threats, abuse, harassment, even doxxing. Even among themselves, as everyone thinks they’re more ethical, moral, or superior than the next. They respond with verbal violence to what they see as “excuses” as to why someone can’t/won’t go vegan. They use deflection, false equivalencies, straw men, and projection, attempting to turn it around on the non-vegans. They will insist they know better than you about your financial abilities, health requirements, local availability. They will literally tell you that if you really wanted to, you could live on cheap staples such as rice and beans. In some areas, even rice and beans aren’t that cheap, and subsisting on only rice and beans is not nutritionally complete and will lead to further deficiencies and health issues. They will attempt to guide you to “dollar store veganism”, suggesting foods that are highly processed, full of salt, sugar, fat, and preservatives. While some forms of processing may preserve a lot of the nutritional value, that tends to be lacking in cheaper brands, which often use older, less-quality produce. Additionally, much of the “cheap vegan” suggestions are high in carbohydrates and starches (not to mention most pasta has eggs in it) and can further endanger those with diabetes. But, they figure it’s a small price (for you​) to pay.

There is also a high level of cognitive dissonance. When it is pointed out that plants have feelings, too (https://www.pbs.org/wnet/nature/what-plants-talk-about-introduction/8228​    / ) their​ argument is they aren’t sentient in the ways animals are; they don’t have hearts, brains, lungs, or a circulatory system that involves blood, (so) it’s not the same. Many studies have shown that plants communicate with each other, feed and nurture each other, letting others know of threats from insects, animals, and other predation.

They will also deny that their dietary choice ​​could possibly be harmful in any way. Food trends for vegan foods create much harm for many cultures. Though, as we’ve stated, they don’t care if it harms humans.

South American cultures have subsisted on quinoa as a staple food for thousands of years. But increased demand has caused it to be priced out of reach of people in poverty. So, they have to go with what they can more easily afford: chicken. Win, vegans!

Avocados, used by millennials for toast, and vegans to replace many animal-based fats, have created a demand that has not escaped the notice of cartels in Mexico. Land is being stolen and illegally cleared to plant illicit avocado groves.

https://www.dailyinterlake.com/article/20191124/AP/311249948

Cashews, used for “milk” or “cheese”, is another horrific matter. Cashews (in the family Anacardaciae) come from “cashew apples” (one nut per fruit) that contain a milky sap that will burn skin. The slave labor used to collect cashews suffer injuries and permanent damage doing work that pays a pittance.

https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2013/nov/02/cashew-nut-workers-pay-conditi ons-profits

Almonds, also used for “milk” and “cheese”, require so much water that it has become a large part of the lack of water availability in California—where the greater percentage of almonds are grown—during some of the worst drought conditions in history. Less water available for farmers of less water-demanding crops, or to fight the deadly wildfires we’ve been seeing in recent years.

They insist that meat is the real reason for climate change, meanwhile denying their diet contributes in any way. If a certain crop cannot be grown locally, it must be shipped. That requires fossil fuels that contribute to climate change. Many of their food products, such as meatless burgers, cheeses, etc., require a great deal of processing and no longer resembles actual food. To give them the ‘taste’ they would otherwise get from eating meat—seriously, why? If you’re so anti-meat, why are you trying to make vegetation taste like it? —requires things like “pea protein”, and other highly processed additives, salt, sugar, fats, and preservatives. Many of them far less “healthy” that just eating meat. The processing also requires a lot of energy, fossil fuels, packaging.

These are all cruel to humans, but these militants refuse to see or accept that.

They also cannot see that the demand for a plant-based diet also takes from animals, as the land needed for their hoped-for increase in veganism would require far more land than is already being used, which means clearing the land of trees, where much wildlife lives and survives. They’ll claim you can use the old factory ranches, but this leads to other problems they didn’t foresee: what happens to all the animals?

The possibilities are as such:

  1. Let them live out their lives on the ranches. Then how do you care for them? How do those people make money to survive? Pasture pets can be expensive: food, shelter, medicine. Meanwhile, as you wait for them to die off of old age, you cannot use the land for anything else.
  2. Release them. This is a multi-faceted problem. They could roam off into the woodlands, and face many issues. A slow, torturous death of starvation or illness, not being able to fend for themselves, which could lead to spreading of diseases to other animals, domestic or wild. They would immediately be targeted by other animals. Militant vegans refuse to accept that nature is not kind, pleasant, or nice. Even with slaughterhouse practices, it’s still more humane than other predators, carnivorous or omnivorous, who tear into an animal while it’s still alive. They could survive, go feral, overpopulate, and create a demand for food sources of other animals. This would displace wild animals, and lead to further starvation and illness of many species. Potentially devastating. Plus, if you’ve ever dealt with hogs gone feral, you know how dangerous domestic animals gone feral can be.

They also ignore all the insects and animals killed by harvesting of fields, from insecticides, herbicides, and machinery. Birds, rodents, etc., nest in fields, and thousands are killed by harvesting machinery. But, they come up with excuses as to why that is somehow okay if animals die for their dietary choice, but not anyone else’s. They’ll deflect that we’re doing the same, yet they have no answers to those issues I’ve brought up here, other than falsehoods. I won’t even discuss that humans are omnivores, based on dentition and digestive systems.

Bottom line, they want free will to choose as they wish, but they do not want to extend that courtesy to anyone else. They don’t want anyone telling them how to live but feel perfectly free to demand others do as they command. And this is where they become abusive, harassing, and threatening. And again, social media platforms allow them to get away with things they would never allow marginalized people to do or say.

As a matter of fact, they feel they ​are the marginalized society, for something they have a choice​ in deciding to practice. Considering the majority of these militant vegans are Caucasian, it becomes another example of a need to feel oppressed, and, for the most part, blatant white-centering.

By the way, 84% of vegans/vegetarians will go back to eating meat at some point. https://www.thehealthy.com/food/vegetarians-vegans-go-back-meat/

E.M. Lunsford is an Indigenous writer who has opted not to use a standard bio. Some biographical details are available in Lunsford’s article on 
Native American Heritage Month.

E.M. Lunsford’s Content Page

*Editor’s Note:

If you know me, you know I believe strongly in avoiding the ‘I’ word. You may, therefore, feel it odd that it is used in this article’s title. My approach was outlined yesterday here.