Think yourself a level headed and liberal person, yet find yourself getting frustrated at the growing trend for veganism? Is it their picky demands, smug sense of self-righteousness and moral superiority? Or is it something else?
Much like election time when everyone seems to become a political expert (and keyboard activist) as soon as the topic of ‘veganism’ is mentioned, everyone becomes part time nutritionist -part time professor of global economics and climate change.
But I am not here to debate the political/ morale/ nutritional/ economical/ ethical values of veganism (I am sure a number of angry trolls and vegan activist will do this in the comments for me). Rather I want to explore why vegans seem to invoke such a sense of annoyance in so many.
In a 2015 study on bias towards common prejudice target groups, only drug addicts were perceived more negatively than vegans and vegetarians.
Just to make sure it is absolutely clear: I am a carnivore. A murderous, dairy swigging meat eater, who claims to be an animal lover but has three cats I keep hostage, and gets excited about a good fillet. I chuckle at the vegan memes and get the bum sweats when someone interrupts my day with savage imagery of animal cruelty. Come on dude, Facebook is my distraction from real life. It’s meant to be a place for checking I’m having a better life than people I disliked at school, and videos of goats befriending monkeys (and other unlikely but adorable animal friendships). I don’t want my escapism spoiled by your dose of reality any more than I want to see that bitch from high school has two adorable kids and a golden retriever.
Whilst I don’t partake in a vegan lifestyle, I do support it. I suppose I am a vegan-sympathiser. Yet, I seem to be one of few carnivores to respect the rights and dietary choices of others. It seems we are all granted the right of free speech- until you’re talking lifestyle choices: that shit should be kept well to yourself. I find the vocal annoyance at veganism a little odd, sort of akin to the public indignation of gay marriage, or outrage at the concept of transgender rights. It’s simply choice, and as human beings, our moral and ethical priorities should surely be to simply respect the choices of others.
So here’s some quick tips on how not to get angry at or about vegans from a carnivore:
- When someone states they are vegan they are not inviting you to a heated debate, nor are they pushing their ethics upon you, they are simply stating their dietary preference. I don’t eat chips or roast potatoes, and whilst this is often met with a sense of mild curiosity, confusion and even what seems like offence, nobody ever questioned my morale underpinnings, or queried where I get my carbohydrate intake from. If you offer someone something to eat and they tell you they are vegan, they are not challenging you to a duel of facts, or a debate on global economy, they are simply stating they don’t eat meat or dairy. Respect that and move on with your day.
- You don’t need to question their health, any more than you would ask a fellow meat eater if they are getting enough vitamin C. We are not facing an epidemic of protein deficiency, and I highly doubt it will suddenly put irrevocable strain on the NHS. So take comfort in the fact that a person following a vegan diet is sufficiently nourished and if they are not it’s a matter for them and their health care professionals. Respect that and move on with your day.
- Restaurants offering vegan options is not pandering to them, its consumerism. If there is demand for it, and money to be made from it then businesses are going to want in. But fear not meat eaters, Gregss will not withdraw their steak bake in replacement of another plant based intruder. Whilst there is demand for meat based products businesses will happily take your money too. Vegans are not threatening your right to eat meat by their choosing not to.
- Don’t want to see it on your social media feed? Simple; block, delete, unfollow and unfriend. You can curate your social media to show whatever you like. I have a number of vegan friends, and when they are sharing videos of; 10 most surprising auditions from talent shows I watch. When they share posts promoting animal rights and vegan activism I simply scroll on. (FYI vegans don’t only talk animal rights- they do have other hobbies and interests, they mostly still function as whole and normal human beings)
- “But vegans have such a sense of moral supremacy” Well yes, and so they should. Maybe, just maybe you get angry about this as you know deep down, that maybe they are right,even just a tiny bit, and it makes you question your own conscience. But you know… bacon. I get it. I fully believe and agree that it does take more resources to farm beef than it does lentils. So why am I not vegan? Well simply, I don’t have the mental capacity. I am already trying to maintain my sanity whilst balancing three jobs, a social life, family and my physical health. And yes, that makes me a slightly shitty human being: knowing I could be helping the environment, and simply not making the time. It’s the same sense of guilt I get when I call myself a feminist but fail to find myself at the women’s march.
So how do I live with myself? Well I focus on my own sense of ethics and accept I am doing my best right now. I’m a keen recycler, and occasional up-cycler, I don’t shop in places I know support child labour, and I don’t buy into fast fashion. I am a dedicated blood donor, frequent charity fundraiser, I’m an advocate for community spirit and look out for my elderly neighbours. I don’t buy foods containing palm oil and buy fair trade if it’s an option. I don’t believe in food wastage and rarely throw out anything, I support local businesses whenever I can (including vegan cafes). I buy my free-range eggs from the farm shop where I can see the chickens are kept in decent conditions, and I get my murderous meats from a local butcher who I know and trust.
So no, I am not perfect, and maybe my efforts are trivial, but there is only so many fucks I can give before my own sanity fails. If you think yourself animal friendly but find yourself getting angry at veganism- maybe you just need to check your own ethics and know what you are passionate about, and take comfort in that you are doing your best in whatever way your moral compass directs you.
Not sure where your moral compass points? Then find that thing that boils your piss, and makes you want to act. Maybe it’s the refugee crisis or care for the elderly, maybe it’s just dog shit in your local park. Whatever it is, get passionate, volunteer, donate, sign petitions, be vocal, riot, protest, whatever it is that makes a difference in your own way. Because once you find your own cause to defend- maybe those pesky vegans won’t seem so radical or annoying.
*Whilst we value all feedback and opinions which challenge, we request that all comments are constructive and respectful.
Jennie is a freelance health and fitness writer, and personal trainer specialing in helping people who don’t feel comfortable in gyms and who have barriers to exercise. Find her on socials @setUfreefitness