This is more of a tumblr thing than anything I've encountered offline. Vegans get told that they have 'vegan privilege' and to 'check their privilege' when they try to engage in conversations (or arguments) about veganism and people going vegan. It is usually used in response to the claim by many vegans that anyone can go vegan, a claim that generally dismisses things like disability, illness, location, access, and many other things that may affect a person's ability to go vegan. There are many privileges that people talk about when trying to deconstruct inequality, discrimination, power, oppression, institutions and similar things. Vegan privilege is not one of these things though. It does not exist.
Things like white privilege, male privilege and cisgender privilege are all things that exist because people gain certain privileges from being in those groups (I've linked each privilege to posts by others if you want to learn more about them). Vegans as a group gain no privileges from being vegan. In fact, we deal with a lot of abuse, ridicule and questioning for our choices. Which is an understandable reaction as we are doing something that deviates from the 'norm'. Let me reiterate though: we do not gain any privileges from being vegan.
Where privilege does come into veganism however is in the following ways:
These are not things that only people who choose to be vegan are able to do. Many non-vegans are also able to choose what to eat, where to spend their money, have access to a variety of foods, etc.
If we add to this 'being on a healthy diet', that would require the ability to access information about health and nutrition, and also to buy supplements if needed (see posts on nutrition and protein). It would also require us to not be impeded by ill health (yes there are some people who cannot go vegan for health reasons, rare as they are, they do exist). Again, this is not something that is only available to vegans.
The privileges that allow people to become vegan are the same privileges that affect non-vegans. For example, class, ability, access, time, health. These are real privileges that we should acknowledge, but they are not exclusively vegan and being vegan does not give us privileges. We should, however, be aware of our privileges and attempt to do what we can about them and with them.
Related: Myth #4: Vegans are all rich
A big thank you to my friends for proof-reading my posts.
© Keira Edwards-Huolohan 2013 - 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Keira Edwards-Huolohan with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.