Lauren Rebecca Perez, a vegan influencer who goes by @LaurenLovesVeg on Twitter, is being slammed for posting a TikTok video in which she equates the Black Lives Matter cause with the fight for animal rights. In the video, which has now been viewed over three million times on Twitter alone, she says, "Black Lives Matter, and Animal Lives Matter.
"Literally all sentient being on this planet deserve a life free from fear, free from abuse, free from unjust prosecution... If it's not their time to die, they don't deserve to die. So stop killing Black people and stop killing animals. Veganism. The Black Lives Matter movement. It's all the same fight."
The backlash was immediate. It's absolutely racist and offensive to equate Black people to animals, and that is exactly what she was doing. It's a tactic that has been used throughout history to dehumanize Black people, and she's only contributing to that poisonous rhetoric.
Not to mention, the entire world is currently in the middle of an uprising led by Black activists to fight for the Black Lives Matter cause. To center yourself and your veganism while simultaneously participating in racist behavior is abhorrent.
Some people who responded were nicer to her than they needed to be. Social entrepreneur Antonio French wrote, "Young woman, this is incredibly offensive. I'll give you the benefit of the doubt and assume your heart is in the right place, but your equivalence of my life with that of an animal is fundamentally racist, whether you realize it or not. Take this video down and apologize."
Even a fellow vegan, Jessica Masterson, jumped in to criticize Lauren: "I am passionate about animal liberation. I've been vegan for six years and was vegetarian for 12 years before that. But this tweet comes across as really tone-deaf and cruel. You're hijacking this pivotal moment for the #BLM movement to promote your own agenda. It's a bad look."
But the barrage of valid criticism didn't deter her. In response, she attempted to defend her message by claiming that it's "the same fight" for her, an idea countless people in her mentions tried to explain to her was false and harmful.
And then, in a spectacularly worse move, she doubled down, posting a two-part video the next day to continue to try and explain herself. Of course, the right move would have been to take down her original video, offer an unconditional apology, vow to do better, and show the receipts from the organizations supporting Black Lives Matter to which she donated, but none of that happened.
The video is still up. She clearly cares more about the views and attention she's getting than the harm she's doing. And she has now added this pseudo-apology and self-righteous garbage to the mess.
Even if some of the points she makes about the disproportionate way Black and Latinx people are affected by the food industry are true, this is so not the time to bring it up. She's only doing it to center the conversation around her and veganism and to — in quite a performative, theatrical way, I might add — once again erroneously tie the fight for animal rights to the Black Lives Matter struggle.
Her responses are absolutely brimming with criticism and hate, and yet, she has not taken down any of it. "Congrats on going 0-3 on videos," one Twitter user wrote. "Hard to do but you really did it."
Another person responded, "ALL of these are vegan points that you can discuss alone at a different time and not in your attempt to hijack the BLM movement. Nobody needed a part 2. You’re being incredibly disrespectful to BLM and you’re not helping the vegan movement at all."
If you are looking for ways to donate your time or money to Black Lives Matter and other antiracist organizations, we have created a list of resources to get you started.