My older blog post on this topic: Vegan Vibes: It’s not a Competition
Also related topic: Our Messed Up Relationship with Food and the Food Guilt Trap
I love being vegan, I feel healthy, happy, and nourished every day. However there is another side to the lifestyle that has me irked. The image of the vegan as a ‘tree-hugging hippy’ is slowly waning, and modern, everyday vegans are working very hard to get rid of it. ‘Vegan’ does not define a person’s personality, a vegan can be corporate, a uni student, a kid, working anywhere or doing anything they like.
Aggression and Judgement
Being vegan, or even lowering meat intake generally, can be very beneficial for your health and wellbeing. However, people claiming it is the cure-all to everything from bedbugs to tooth cavities are most likely not scientists and have ‘done their own research’ (which likely means ‘read some articles from some anti-vax mummy bloggers‘).
This information, then given to others, is damaging and can lead people to make the wrong decisions for themselves. Especially at the start, where they may be vulnerable to the advice given to them by seasoned vegans.
Vegans as a collective can get so aggressive. I have seen people do the following: giving 1 star to a family butchers that has done nothing to them; sharing private photos of farming families to ‘name and shame’ them; doxxing people because they don’t save insects (this happened to me); asking, genuinely ‘should I kill my child’s head lice’ (I have seen this question asked more than once), calling people horrible names and generally acting like children.
Hold on, I thought to be vegan was to be compassionate, and care for others. However, if you are not adhering to every single thing that someone says, suddenly, you are out of the circle. The cliquey attitude in vegan groups can be incredibly high. Your fellow human should be the first thing you are looking out for, how can you claim to be vegan if you are yelling at your friends for eating the food they want to? Remember, veganism is also a restriction diet for some, and if they have had an eating disorder in their life it may not be an option if they wish to have a healthy relationship with food.
The Perfection Paradigm
Perfection keeps us working, it keeps us striving. However, this pressure to be perfect can be exhausting and make us cranky, give us a skewed version of reality and make it a lot harder for us to be satisfied with everyday life.
Veganism doesn’t have to be perfect. Someone is not necessarily unhealthy because they are not vegan. The Reducetarian movement, where people are simply encouraged to eat a bit less meat, is a fantastic first stepping stone to health. If that’s all someone ever does it is likely to improve their quality of life exponentially.
Trying to one-up others and think of yourself as better than other vegans with less ‘zeal’ than you is likely going to make people care less, not more, about the cause. People go vegan for different reasons: the animals, health, taste, convenience, price and more, and while you may have similar thought patterns in one area, they may be completely different in others, and that’s ok!
USA Dominance, Governmental Suspicion & ‘Influencers’
“The good thing about science is that it’s true whether or not you believe in it.”
― Neil deGrasse Tyson
The USA has such an overarching dominance on blogs and articles. However, the Americans are some of the most suspicious of their government in the Western world. This is not so much the case in other Western countries (such as Australia, where our care factor is at an all-time low considering the Prime Minister changes every five minutes), but this suspicion and general ‘tread lightly’ approach is starting to spread into other country’s psyches.
Science is not suddenly irrelevant because you don’t believe in it. Doctors and governments are not trying to kill you by giving you or your children an inoculation. They are not poisoning us by putting fluoride in the water, an exceptionally special case I encountered online kept using a ‘ughhh keep licking the boot!’ response (her cat was vegan so there’s not much else we can say there). What does this mean? That because someone believes that science is there to help us, a pawn of the government they must be? Please.
Wait…what was the first one?
The Instagram vegans are an exceptional case. Photos of a fruit or veggie saying ‘it literally cures cancer!’ PEOPLE ARE STUPID AND WILL BELIEVE YOU. If 10,000 people view your photo and 1 person believes it, we may get a case such as that horrific case of the ‘Wellness Warrior’ (the name alone makes me cringe) who had cancer in her arm and believed she could cure it herself with green smoothies. Guess what? Her (and her mum, who she convinced to stop breast cancer treatment) would probably still be alive today if they had undertaken conventional treatment.
The swing away from science in the general public is weird. Why do people think that scientists are trying to ‘trick’ society? People go into science to solve problems and invent new products and services, and while some of these can absolutely get skewed (the modern psychology industry and big pharma should be taken with a grain of salt, for example), most of the time, these people are trying to help the rest of us, and we are saying no thank you.
“If I get polio, HIV, HPV, MMR, it’s MY CHOIIIICE~!”
The suspicion around government in the US fuels these flames, but the rest of the developed world has no excuse except the internet giving us too much information, bloggers (myself included) can just say whatever we want and someone could take it as pure fact. Coincidence is almost never taken into account.
If we can’t use our critical thinking part of our brain, what are we? We are barely more than Neanderthals. We become malleable to outlets feeding us information that has been concocted. We get ‘outraged’ over opinions that aren’t the same as ours (even though it is we that could be wrong).
Veganism is a wonderful lifestyle, it’s healthy, inclusive, fun and creative. There are so many awesome and inspiring new foods to try and bloggers to follow. Just keeping that grain of salt with you at all times is essential. Especially when it comes to your health.
Less talking, more listening. More reading, less watching TV or getting news from the internet. More studying, less outrage. More diversity, less white conservative media. More science, less Instagram ‘influencers’ trying to hurt and actively damage people’s lives.
Use your brain (and not your outrage brain) usually, having someone with a different opinion who is a good listener and has high empathy, is a good place to start with this. Let someone show you a completely different side. We ALL grow up in a bubble. Attempt to get out of it.