Sunday, February 27, 2011

Party Poopers

Two big wet-blanket stereotypes that keep coming up since I went vegan: people who go vegan as a trend and preachy vegans.

The first of which I couldn't comprehend.  Someone in one of my classes was talking to the whole class about how vegetarians are the new yuppies and change their diet and their views to the fashion. Obviously there is a vegan stereotype, and it could be something that people go for to seem more edgy which for an artsy crowd can be a huge draw to a person but the trendiness veganism could ever possibly provide a person with is not a strong enough soul reason to isolate themselves from the rest of the meat eating, choco milk drinking world. Basically, the people that go vegan to impress some vegan group of hipsters but don't actually like vegan food, care about animal rights, enjoy monitoring their health extensively, seeking out vegan restaurants, or care about their environmental footprint are not going to stay vegan. Most people's reaction to veganism is shock and oddly, anger, or defensiveness, not admiration. I find it absurd that people think of trendiness as one of the main reasons people go vegan. It's such a silly assumption, especially in a fairly small town like mine that doesn't have an abundant "trendy" vegan culture.

Of course, veganism, or at least awareness of veganism and vegetarianism is growing in popularity. But using the word "trend" insinuates that this awareness will someday go out of style and shrink away. I disagree. With wider spread awareness of  the credible scientific facts (according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization's Report Livestock’s Long Shadow–Environmental Issues and Options) that the livestock industry is “... one of the most significant contributors to today’s most serious environmental problems,” and “Urgent action is required to remedy the situation" more people are becoming aware of the implications of consuming animal products. I think that this will lead to a generation of more eco-friendly eaters, be it vegetarians, vegans, "local-vores" or all. 

Unfortunately there are many extremists and extremist groups that make veganism look...extremist. Patronizing people that choose to eat meat is not a good approach to trying to recruit vegans. It simply makes people defensive. Personally I do think there are a lot of things everyone deserves to know about the meat industry and I struggle with the conflict of trying to tell my family and friends without it seeming like a guilt trip. 
I usually hold back. I feel a bit guilty about that but these people know of vegetarianism/veganism and have the resources (the great wide internet) available to explore it on their own leisure which is much more likely to give them the time to think about the problems with the meat industry than if they are attacked with facts, called murderers ect. ect. I had a young, naive Peta enthusiast phase where I was somewhat pushy with my friends. I never full out told people to go vegetarian but when people mocked me I would defensively list of things about the meat industry in hopes that they would come to see it the way I do. In the end the phase passed, it never did much for me or for those I was annoying but shortly after one of my meatiest friends (who even replaces the word please with bacon as a testament to his bacon loving) went vegetarian. I'm not taking credit for it, but the timing was interesting to me. Once there was space, room for personal though about vegetarianism it happened. And he's still vegetarian years later.

Plate 1 from the Potluck (missing the sushi, mac and "cheese" and cookies that came later)

This week I went to a vegan potluck in a neighboring city and met a bunch vegans for the first time (internet vegans not included of course). It was an interesting event, there were people of all ages and genders and it showed how diverse the vegan community is. And the food was indeed fine, dandy and scrumptious. The organizer of the event invited me to an anti-fur rally and petition signing. I am against the use of fur (unless in a traditional manner) but I am hesitant to attend. This particular event seems pretty laid back but I'm scared to get into the habit of being too pushy to strangers. They previously did a publicity stunt event involving running around in their underwear in the cold and I just can't see how that would change anyone's mind about wearing fur. I think the majority of people know fur exists, know what is is and simply drawing attention to that won't do much good. It's the information people need, not the empty exhibitionist displays. 

Feel free to comment on this, I'm still very undecided about going or not. 


  1. hi there.
    interesting post. i think if we would know how to turn meateaters into vegans, we would have struck gold, eh. ;-)

    so here is my thought on the matter, it's undecided like yours, it's not a finished truth, so to speak.

    I think you should do what you believe in, because then at least you are sincere and the other person most likely will apreciate that, sooner or later.

    I mean, if you are in your Peta fase LOL (a good phrase) go out and be in people's face, be obnoxious to them by telling the ugly truth to them. You know, most will be defensive and ridicule it. But it's just a first reaction of them. Later, some sooner and some later (and some never) when they are alone, they will remember what you have said and since you spoke with sincerity, they will give it a thought. Maybe that's what happened with the guy you talked about and who did become vegan. ;-)

    I do find that the WORST thing to do, is being naive, and don't talk about the subject, and "hope" that people will change. They won't, unless the ugly truth is smeared into their face, weather by you, or by looking on the internet and see Meet Your Meat.

    Another way to change people to a vegan diet is by talking to people what THEY are interested in. WE are interested in animal rights, but MOST people are interested in their health, right ?
    So if you talk that animals have rights too, they think you are nuts, but if you talk about that Bill Clinto reversed his bad health condition and his heart attacks by going vegan, they will listen more.
    To somebody doing sports, talk about which sporters are veggie. ;-)
    Talk about what the other person likes and give it a vegan twist. :-)

    Anyway, thanks for your article, it was interesting to read your thoughts because i am also undecided on how to deal with the meateaters sometimes. ;-)

  2. Haha, you're right if we knew how to turn meat eaters into vegans then they would be already.

    It's true, a lot of people probably do think about those obnoxious messages later. I still think it puts vegetarians and vegans in an awful light.

    I don't think that turning people vegan is necessarily what I want to do. I would be happiest just providing the facts and letting people form their opinions and take action in their own way, because then it will be action that lasts. A lot of people think veganism is too much for them, so in turn they don't do anything to change their diet or lifestyle.

    I find it unfortunate the exposure and promotion meat diets get in relation to vegetarian and vegan diets (pretty much none!). In the end I replied to the woman that asked me to come out to the demo and asked about the leaflets we'd be handing out. I'm not down for any "Holocaust on Your Plate" type stuff, but if there is something with clean, unbiased facts I'll be there.

    Thanks reading herwin :) and for your help!
    Now I'm curious what meat eaters would say on here.