Sunday, September 13, 2009

Why I Need Some New Vegan Message Tee Shirts that Simply Say “vegan”

It’s crucial for the spread of veganism that vegans be visible, and that they bring attention to their veganism in appropriate ways that foster polite and informative discussions. Most importantly veganism should never be depicted as difficult or extreme, or as anything less than a moral and political commitment to non-violent living.

One way of being visible is to wear vegan message tee shirts. I have two such shirts and am planning to purchase a couple more in the near future. I liked both shirts very much when I ordered them a couple years ago, but since then as my thinking about animal rights and veganism has evolved, I’ve come to see them differently.

One of the shirts has the word “vegan,” followed by this dictionary definition of the term: ‘vê·gən\ (noun): a person who abstains from consuming or using animal-derived foods or products, including meat, dairy, eggs, fur, leather, wool, etc. While this definition is technically correct, I have a couple of problems with it.

First, it’s incomplete by failing to describe veganism as a moral and political commitment to non-violence. One thing that needs to be clearly understood is that non-violence is the basis of veganism.

Secondly, the word “abstains” may imply to many people that being a vegan requires substantial sacrifice or deprivation. But as a vegan, I don’t feel that I’m abstaining from anything. Sure there were some things I initially missed. But the food I eat and drink is still tasty, and the few changes I needed to make to my clothing, footwear and other products I use in no way reduced their quality. While I still frequently wear this shirt in public, I don’t like it as much as I used to.

The other shirt has the message “PROUD TO BE A VEGAN.” I no longer like this shirt and no longer wear it outside the house. Veganism represents the minimum standard required to fulfill our moral obligations to other sentient beings. It’s not something heroic or above and beyond what should be expected of the individual, any more so than not littering, not being a racist, or not being rude. These are all examples of basic standards of decency, or what we owe each other every day. They are not things to be proud of, nor are they things that warrant more attention paid to the individuals carrying them out than to the issue itself.

There’s one vegan message item of mine that I really do like. It’s a coffee mug that I used at my last office job that has the single word “vegan.” It’s a great conversation starter. Often short and simple messages work the best.


Tyrvald said...

This really made me think. As someone who has a T-shirt that say's MEDICINAL with a cannabis leaf and another that says "FUCK BUSH" in the colors of an American flag but not one "VEGAN" shirt, I intend to follow your advice... but instead of buying a shirt that says vegan, might I suggest we all start using latex paint to make our own! That will save a lot of money, maybe we can have huge stamps that we can use to handcraft our own shirts in larger numbers to be sold much lower than the $19 a certain T-shirt/mug/crap website charges before one even begins to make a profit. Someone point me to a "VEGAN" shirt priced well under $10 and I'll pull out my ATM card! I'd prefer it be made of hemp, but I won't hold my breath... except to keep the ganja smoke in my lungs for a few seconds!

NCARA said...

Hi Ken! I agree it's difficult to find a shirt that reflects every person's view. I made and sold a vegan shirt for this year's Toronto Vegetarian Food Fair. It's a little hardcore but I polled a number of people and that's what they wanted. I'll be posting it on my blogsite soon ( but if you want to check it out right now it's on our Vegan Party of Canada Facebook wall.
I really enjoyed your 'The Many Problems of Animal Welfare" and have been recommending that everyone read it.
In peace,

Mylène Ouellet said...

Great post, Ken. I agree with all of the points you've made. I also want that cup. ;-)

Amanda said...

great post! just found your blog by way of MFIoF, can't wait to read other entries.

Vegan Bodybuilding said...

I've only got 2 vegan T-shirt designs I'm wearing right now, both say "Vegan Power" (as I lift weights, so good for the gym). A massive gorilla deadlifting
& a kick-arse ram
Basically they show a different side to veganism than the usual designs I see around

Anonymous said...

Your post was interesting, but I take issue with the notion that veganism is a commitment to nonviolence. Yes, I have a very, very strong commitment to nonviolence toward animals. I've had this commitment for the past 9 years now. But that does not mean that I am in any way against the use of force to end the extreme exploitation of the earth and the animals, or people. If someone was beating a cat in an alley and I walked by, you can bet your life that I would use any force at my disposal to stop them. Same if I saw someone raping a woman. So what is the difference between the woman being raped, the cat being beaten in the middle of the street (think of someone beating your own cat or dog, or your mother or sister for that matter), and the animal being tortured on a fur farm, or in a laboratory, or in a slaughterhouse? Don't they all deserve someone fighting for them? I am not at all against the use of vegan education--I've done much of it myself! But just because I am a very commited vegan for life, does not mean that I am a pacifist. There have been no social justice movements that have succeeded without the use of both legal AND illegal, forceful tactics.


Anonymous said...

excellent ideas!
thanks for posting them!
abolitionist (VEGAN) regards!

Geoff M. said...

I think your prayers have been answered Ken.

At this site you can submit a design and they will print it on whatever you want and allow other people to purchase stuff with your design on them. I think they may give you a cut of the sales of the items with your design.

Then you could link your blog to your product design on their site. Problem solved!

Lucas said...

Here ya go!

Only one I am aware of.

Mesiu said...

I just got myself this one:

Love it!