There is a disturbance in the world of Vegan YouTubers and influencers. One after another, Internet famous personalities are coming out of the closet to confess that they are no longer vegan. While this phenomenon is certainly concerning, this type of pushback is unsurprising in a world where veganism is quickly gaining favour. “Why I went vegan” videos were once expected to gain millions of views, but today, that same effect is achieved through “Why I am not vegan anymore” videos, comforting audiences ethical insecurities and making them feel at ease with their lack of action in the face of mass injustice.
In a previous article, we highlighted Jon Venus as a shining example of a bodybuilder busting myths surrounding veganism. Since that post, Jon Venus has come out on his YouTube channel saying he is no longer vegan, or no longer wants to be associated with the word or the movement.
Jon came onto the YouTube scene trying to build muscle while consuming vast amounts of animal products but these videos never really took off. It was only when he made the switch to veganism was he able to build his physique and see the immense growth of his channel. Today, there are seemingly endless vegan YouTubers to watch and the competition is stiff. Many YouTube personalities subsist off of advertising revenue meaning the more views, the more income they receive. This need for increased eyes can lead to some questionable, clickbait videos being produced.
In the case of Jon Venus, he posted a since-deleted video entitled “Why I am no longer vegan”. This attention-grabbing title caused an online flurry and led to a lot of controversy (publicity in the eyes of a YouTuber). In the video, Jon says he will always eat a plant-based diet but does not want to identify with the vegan movement that he sees as judgemental and aggressive. Despite him vlogging about a Pig Save a few months earlier, the sentiments from his most recent video was that he simply does not care about these issues anymore.
Now is an important time to clearly spell out the difference between being vegan and eating plant-based. The definition of veganism is a way of living that seeks to exclude, as far as possible and practicable, all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose. The definition of plant-based is eating a diet primarily or entirely composed of foods derived from plant sources. While veganism is a moral framework that encompasses every decision we make as human beings, plant-based refers only to the food on our plates. Many are too quick to adopt the term vegan without fully appreciating the nuances of this way of living. We are too eager to use #vegan to promote our posts when our ethics are not truly aligned with our actions. We are too quick to ditch a vegan “diet” when it becomes an inconvenience, forgetting that this was never a diet and it was never actually about us at all. While Jon Venus says he no longer wants to identify with the vegan movement, he continues to use vegan hashtags to promote his posts. Jon and others like him will continue to capitalize off of the vegan movement when it is convenient for them but shy away from the controversy surrounding it. Not only does this confuse people about what veganism is, but it also commodifies the movement while also making it appear too extreme to be associated with publicly. The bottom line is if you come out to the world as not being vegan anymore then you were never truly vegan to begin with. Veganism is not about being liked, it is about doing what is right, especially in the face of criticism.