I have some crazy vegans on my social media feeds. There, I said it.

Now, there’s nothing wrong with cutting out animal products. There are meaningful environmental, moral, and health reasons for eating cheese made out of pine nuts. Advocating for the rights of living creatures is not enough for an unfriend, even if it comes with pictures of chickens being gutted.

But then I noticed a pro-vegan graphic that made me want to upchuck my turkey sandwich.

Vegan anti-semitism

It was a stack of bodies in Auschwitz piled up, shown side by side with a heap of hunted pigs. With a swastika in the center, the image compares the atrocities committed by the Nazis to factory farming. I wish I could say that this was a rogue image, but in reality, it’s a deeply anti-Semitic brand of vegan propaganda which refers to the slaughter of livestock as the “animal Holocaust.”

Vegan anti-Semitism

From comparing chickens in coops to emaciated Jews stacked up in barracks, the “animal Holocaust” narrative argues that eating meat is comparable to partaking in the institutionalized torture and mass murder of WWII.

At first I thought this was just an insensitively photoshopped graphic or two. But then I typed “animal Holocaust” into Twitter. There, vegans left and right truly believe that eating meat is just as traumatic of an atrocity as the near-successful attempt to mass-exterminate Jewish people. 

“The way we treat farm animals is equivalent to the holocaust,” wrote one user. “What’s happening to all the #animals is a #Holocaust I don’t care what anyone says. If it upsets people seeing pictures like this..put yourself in the animals position for a moment.”

The problem is, as the descendant of Holocaust survivors, I’m more concerned with putting myself in the shoes (or lack thereof) of the victims of Hitler’s regime. Most of the people who were herded through Auschwitz’s gates and into gas chambers – much like in this barbaric imagery – aren’t able to tell these misguided herbivores to take a hike, so I will.

Dear vegans shouting “animal Holocaust”: You are not empowering animals. In fact, you’re falling prey to Hitler ideology — that Jewish people are subhuman. The Nazis believed my grandparents were as savage as beasts. They used propaganda to compare us to rodents and other fauna. This was a means of numbing society’s hearts to us, to tolerate and even get people to carry out our mass murder. Now you’re doing the same.

There’s no doubt that the victims of concentration camps were treated like animals. The “animal Holocaust” imagery is, in many ways, spot on. That was the goal of the Nazis: to rip an entire ethnicity of its humanity. Why propagate the imagery that promotes that narrative?

There’s nothing wrong with saying factory farming is atrocious. But when the vegan movement insensitively plays a rerun of Nazi propaganda to promote their diet, that’s appalling, too.

Even if you believe that humans and pigs have equal value on this planet, the solely hate-driven genocide was far more brutal and unnecessary than factory farming ever could be.

In the Holocaust, human beings were tortured senselessly with no purpose. Unlike the pigs in these images (the non-kosher choice noted), Jewish people were not butchered to feed people. They were slaughtered out of pure hate. Auschwitz was not a factory farm. Unlike the stack of piglets, victims were not turned into someone’s dinner. They were piled up to rot, cremated against religious law, or shot into shallow graves.

You think that animal testing is bad? At least it has an objective use: to ensure human beings do not come into contact with toxins. Josef Mengele’s human experiments, which included timing how long it took for Jews to drown, ripping out their necessary organs for no reason, and sewing pregnant women’s genitalia shut before they gave birth, were just a practice in suffering. There was no product delivered or discovery for the good of science. It was just evil wearing medical gloves.

I don’t care if you clog my feed up with poor turtles being ripped from their shells. You can call cheese-lovers every name in the book.

Animals are valuable. We need people to defend them. But we also need people to defend people, especially the victims of genocide. My family’s lives were more precious than that of a chicken, cow, even a panda.

I’m not here to debate whether or not animals should be consumed or if their neuro-systems make them worthy of a human experience. I’m here to tell you to stop re-victimizing my people. Minimizing the horrors they’ve experienced doesn’t help the planet become a vegan utopia, it brings it back decades.

You can change the menu, but you can’t change that fact.

Ariel Sobel

Ariel Sobel is a slam poet turned screenwriter from Long Island, New York - which makes it very hard for people to pronounce her name. To learn more about her, check out her website or for the really personal stuff, watch her TEDx Talk, Losing My Artistic License.

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