Two years ago, or there about, marked the beginning of the end of the greatest online vegetarian community there ever was. That place was Vegifide.com. Vegifide exemplified everything that was good and bad about vegetarians – from selfless compassion and logically-derived moral positions, to smug self-righteousness and espousals of batshit insane conspiracy theories. People didn’t always get along on that site. We argued, and sometimes things got heated. We also shared ideas, recipes, offered support to each other, and fostered true, genuine friendships. It was a true community. Now people don’t always get along in a community, but in a way that’s what makes it good – that freedom of interaction allows for conflict, but also allows for genuine and honest interaction.
If it weren’t for Vegifide, I very likely never would have gone vegan. Communicating with so many vegetarians made it impossible for me to continue to ignore the truths of animal cruelty endemic in the dairy and egg industries. Several aspiring vegetarians also joined that site and participated to get information and support. This is one reason that the community was so great – we shared information that allowed people to take steps forward on the path of vegetarianism at all different levels. Vegifide, on the whole, influenced a lot of people for the better.
Vegifide also had a HUGE St. Louis presence. I have met some of my best friends from there, people who I hang out with drinking, eating meals, watching football, etc, to this day. (I also met the person who ripped my heart out from there. Can’t win ‘em all I guess!) I don’t want to give the impression that this was only a St. Louis thing – it just so happens that a disproportionate amount of people were from here. Users from all over, from the Pacific Northwest to the UK, were active members of this community.
Vegifide still exists. Technically. I don’t have an account there; I was kicked off, along with several other prominent members in an incident that I won’t get in to too much, other than to say that some users, including me, took exception to some actions taken by the owner. We (the banished members) have our side of the story, and I’m sure the guy that runs (ran?) Vegifide has his. I feel pretty strongly that I was not in the wrong in this situation, and to the owner’s credit, he did offer a full, unconditional and (what I took to be) sincere apology for his actions regarding the mass banning. He welcomed us all back; none of us took him up on it. And it was too late anyway; the damage had been done.
From then on, Vegifide died a very slow, very ugly death. In the following months users steadily stopped coming to the site. The banned users made their “home” on another site (that’s now pretty much dead as well). It was never the same. No vegetarian site that I know of, before or since, has compared to Vegifide. There’s Volentia, and VeggieBoards, but neither are even in the same league.
As I said, Vegifide still exists, but only technically. There was a “hiatus” that lasted several months, and a few months ago the site came back online. I went there today. The last five posts on that site were all trying to sell term papers. That right, the most active current members of Vegifide are spammers for online papermills catering to stupid and unethical college kids. Yeah, the house is still standing, but the yard is completely overgrown, most of the windows have been busted out by kids throwing rocks, and the only people living there are squatters with a heroin addiction. This isn’t the kind of dignified death Vegifide deserves.
My friend Carl has flirted with the idea of helping create a new site, but he has these silly little trivial distractions like a wife, kids, and a mortgage that apparently are more important to him. (Some people just can’t get their priorities straight!) I would love to be involved with something new like that, recruit the old members of Vegifide (the ones I liked at least), and “get the band back together.” I want to recapture what probably can never be recaptured. So I will keep looking. And hoping. But I’m not really expecting anything.
I won’t lie: in the months that passed aftervthe mass banning, watching Vegifide die gave me a certain sense of cruel satisfaction. “Yeah, that motherfucker deserves it,” was my attitude. That was petty of me; again, if it weren’t for Vegifide I might not be vegan right now. I truly believe that Vegifide made the world a better place, as it helped lots of people transition to vegetarianism or veganism. Therefore, considering this, in my opinion the creation of Vegifide was an act of animal rights activism much greater than anything I have ever done. That place was special. And I miss it.
When the schadenfreude wears off, all that’s left is regret.