Vegans Are Annoying
The first thing that a lot of people think of when they hear the word "vegan" is those annoying vegans in the comments section getting all morally superior and lashing out at "murderous, flesh-eating monsters" or something along those lines. For some, this is the only sort of vegan they have ever encountered--somebody judgmental, holier-than-thou and often downright aggressive.
It makes sense—who doesn't hate having someone else's belief system shoved down their throat? It's bad behavior on the part of these vegans. Everybody has the right to draw their own conclusions and nobody wants to be told what to do. On the other hand, it's a bit much to write off veganism as a whole based on a few overzealous types. I encourage everyone (on both sides) to learn and understand before they judge--particularly vegans.
Vegans Make Me Feel Bad
Ever had that uncomfortable feeling when someone says the "v" word? Even if the vegan at the table isn't calling you a murderer, you might still feel judged as you tuck into your steak. But is that because of the vegan's attitude--or are you projecting?
Chances are, if you eat meat, you are at least passively aware that the meat industry is associated with animal cruelty. You definitely know that what you are eating used to eat, sleep and breathe. When confronted with a person who chooses to take an ethical stand against animal agriculture, you might feel a sense of discomfort as something which usually doesn't occur to you when you eat meat is brought to your attention. You are suddenly more aware that you are eating a dead animal--and the easiest thing to do is blame the vegan for making you feel self-conscious about your choices.
Conversely, you could just be sitting at the table with someone who is shamelessly reproaching you for every mouthful you take--and let's face it, that is pretty uncomfortable when you're just trying to enjoy your meal.
Vegans Won't Shut Up about Being Vegan
A common complaint against vegans is that they just won't shut up about being vegan.
First off, I guarantee you know vegans who you don't know are vegan. You are just thinking of those few vocal ones who literally won't let the matter rest. And sure, it gets boring if that's all someone will talk about.
What a lot of non-vegans don't understand, though, is that veganism is more than just a diet for most people, it's a lifestyle. It's something that is an integral part of who we are as people, how we think, our perception of the world around us. It's a hobby, a passion, a way of life. So of course we like to talk about it. We think it's interesting and we want to share. If we told you we'd taken up knitting, would you roll your eyes and tune out?
I think this attitude ties in to the fact that vegans, on some level, make people feel defensive about their decision to eat meat and animal products. Of course, the obnoxious, preachy vegan stereotype comes into play too.
What Is Veganism Anyway?
Most people are raised eating a meat-based diet, so the idea of giving up meat and animal products seems totally foreign. Anything we don't understand, we tend to fear, which leads to anger, which leads to...you know how it goes.
This aversion to vegans is fundamentally based on a lack of knowledge, and many people don't want to learn--because they are afraid they might be confronted with an ugly truth they don't want to accept. People enjoy meat, cheese, milk, etc., and don't want to be told that it is terrible for your health, a huge contributing factor in global warming, the product of intense animal cruelty. Their arguments--'you can't get enough protein from a vegan diet' or 'vegans are weak and pale and unhealthy' come from a place of ignorance and fear. But try telling them that, and you automatically become the preachy vegan forcing your views down their throat.
The Takeaway? Be Nice!
So where does that leave both sides? In the same state of misunderstanding and resentment as always, I'm afraid. But there is hope.
The best way to forge understanding on both sides is to be compassionate, non-judgmental, open-minded and willing to share your views in a non-aggressive way. Vegans, focus on your own journey and let others come to it--or not--in their own time and their own way. If they ask for your opinion, you can give it; otherwise, keep your peace. Non-vegans, do a bit of research before you jump to conclusions, and respect the choices of others, even if you think they are daft.
Vegans and non-vegans alike: don't hate. There are enough problems in the world.
This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.