Monday, 4 November 2013
As a vegan, and a vegetarian previously, I have ended up in many heated debates about my food and lifestyle choices. Most of the time it begins with a question as to why I’m vegan, to which I simply reply that I think it’s wrong to hurt animals. General discussion ensues; I talk of the cruelties of the meat and dairy industries while the other person becomes increasingly defensive of their actions. Phrases like “But we evolved to eat meat” and “I only buy humanely sourced, organic meat anyway” are thrown around, eventually devolving into “You vegans think you’re so much better than everyone else” and a plethora of other personal insults. I have been described as militant, preachy, irrational amongst other things despite approaching the topic calmly and with facts and figures to back myself up.
Rather than reacting appropriately to the information being given, the non-vegan reacts to the debate itself, which becomes increasingly aggressive. They become defensive when they realize their lifelong values are being questioned and desperately attempt to justify their actions. When these attempts are debunked by simple logic or nutritional information the last resort is to insult vegans personally, in an attempt to discredit veganism and further justify their position. This kind of backlash is a perfect example of how meat-eaters can sometimes perceive vegans as a threat – a threat to their comfortable lifestyles and blissful ignorance. However rather than shooting the messenger, perhaps this kind of anger needs to be directed at the unethical industries that cause the discussion in the first place.