AV claimed in a Facebook post (17th February 2020) that they want to "come back to the roots" and "clarify the meaning" of veganism. However, AV have an "animals only" stance to veganism and have cherry-picked a single sentence from the extensive writings of vegan movement pioneer Leslie Cross claiming, bizarrely, that this sentence is the "original definition of veganism."
The line comes from the beginning of a Leslie Cross article in the International Vegetarian Union's World Forum (Spring 1951). AV fail to directly cite anything else from the article, probably because it would undermine their case.
In my view, an understanding of the writings of Leslie Cross totally obliterates AV's reducetarianism effort to neuter and limit the meaning of veganism. Cross frequently talked about the focus and the scope of veganism. AV wants to eliminate knowledge of the scope and restrict the full meaning of veganism to its focus alone. This is due to their politics which, ironically, is to claim to want to take politics out of the animal advocacy movement. They believe that human beings can set aside their politics, the effects of power relations and systems of oppression and, "for the animals," march alongside their oppressors. This a-political stance is both unrealistic and naive.
A central part of Cross' position is that veganism is part and parcel of the moral evolution of humanity. He essentially says this very thing in the World Forum article. We have to remember that the vegan movement was formed in 1944 in the latter years of a brutal global conflict. The vegans effectively declared peace amidst the horrors of war. Donald Watson lost many friends during the war, was lucky not to be killed himself, and said that people were utterly "shattered" by its effects.
For Leslie Cross, veganism would be the salvation of both human and nonhuman animals. In 1954, in a passionate essay entitled “The Surge of Freedom” Cross starts by saying: “This is an attempt to state in simple terms what veganism is and why and how it came into existence, and to suggest what it could mean for mankind.”*
Contrary to AV's restricted view of veganism, the pioneers of the vegan movement were very open about the fact that veganism includes the opposition to human oppression. For example, Eva Batt, in a 1960s pamphlet entitled "Why Veganism," writes states that veganism is a way of living that avoids the exploitation of humans, other animals, and even the soil while, in a comment in a 1945 edition of The Vegan, Donald Watson noted that the object of The Vegan Society was to "oppose the exploitation of sentient life." Sociologist Matthew Cole points out that, from 1948-51, the journal of The Vegan Society bore the strapline: "Advocating living without exploitation."
My sense is that, as the vegan social movement grows, people join who are not in tune with the left-leaning values of the movement. This is the real problem for AV, it doesn't like the original founding values of the vegan movement. However, as Steve Best stated in his "Total Liberation" keynote speech at the animal rights conference in Luxembourg, the animal movement is a left-wing movement. Now, there are some nuances to that statement, so I'd encourage readers to watch the video of the talk, which can be found here. Best reminds us of the values which the movement embraces: equality, democracy, inclusivity, non-discrimination, non-hierarchy, rights, justice, peace, and non-violence. He says that the values we oppose are right wing values of military, borders, hierarchy, family, nations, war, and security.
He says that our value heritage - whether we realise it or not - is from the left.
Social movement theory predicts this problem of clashing values in social movements, especially when they grow quickly and become more "mainstream." On "mainstream," see here from pattrice jones. Tom Regan would undoubtedly call it a "battle of ideas." But we should make no mistake that there is a battle of values currently going on in the animal advocacy movement.
Are we going to let these newbies come into the movement, reframe its values, and try to sell them back to us as its originals?
* People are products of their time and, of course, in the 1950s, sexist language was the norm.