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A vegan activist's great-great-great grandmother.

The apology below was written on December 3, 2018

Ever since we launched Vegan Street on social media in 2013, we have strived to be as inclusive and thoughtful as we could be while promoting our vegan message. Unfortunately, as flawed human vessels, sometimes we have messed up. Creating this meme was one of those times. What's worse, when people tried to point it out to us, we were resistant and refused to listen. Through our own evolution, we understand better how we screwed up and disappointed people when we released this meme in 2014. The point of this post is not just to apologize and try to make amends but, more important, help white people understand how to be better allies and supporters of people of color.

When we created this meme four years ago, our intention was to place veganism within the context of social justice movements, which is where it belongs. It was meant to be a fairly lighthearted way to place animal rights in the broader historic context of what we now accept to be true, but, hundreds of years before, was considered ludicrous or even heresy, as well as juxtapose the common excuses people make for justifying animal exploitation in the context of slavery to help people see how backwards and outmoded that way of thinking is.

Here is what we did wrong:

• We centered white people as long-suffering saviors.

• We poked fun at something that is still very real and painful for many people, something that, as white people, we do not personally experience.

• We took the atrocity of slavery and applied it to something else in a tone-deaf, grabby way.

We simply never should have created this meme.

This is not to say that animals do not suffer horrifically to accommodate human desires. They do. Since our inception, Vegan Street has been committed to creating materials every week to promote veganism because we feel this so profoundly: memes, interviews, reviews, recipes, etc. We do this on our free time because we believe wholeheartedly that cruelty to other animals is unjustifiable and unnecessary. Further - not that this is needed in addition to the above point - it is killing our planet.

This is also not to say that we can't draw analogies and notice similarities between cruelty to animals and human tragedies throughout the years. We can and we do. Stepping on it, though, is insensitive and grasping, especially when the long shadow of white supremacy is not a relic of the past, but something people of color - in the case of this meme, especially Black people - live with every day. Behaving as if racism were a thing of the past is oblivious, and something only those who've had the great good fortune to live without would do.

I wish we could take back this meme but we can't. Instead, I am grateful for the people who took the time to draw it to our attention and let us know that we must do better. We have learned a lot in the four years since we created this meme. We still have a lot more to learn and grow. Something like this, though, will never be created by us again.

We're learning and we're trying to do better. I hope we're all doing that. I will ask anyone who wants to say that you don't have a problem with this meme to please instead take that time to sit with your reaction instead, and think about how your words reinforce to people of color that veganism is not inclusive of them. Many thanks to Vegan Voices of Color for drawing our long overdue attention to this meme. Our sincere apologies to anyone offended or hurt by this graphic.

2014 Vegan Street

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