“What does a vegan do if someone is choking?”
“Tell you they’re vegan.”
People stereotype vegans, and make jokes about us. And joking is fine. But here’s something I need to grok: Why do some people hate vegans?
Some people think we are self-righteous and obnoxious. I have met my share of self-righteous, obnoxious vegans in my day, so I get it. (I also meet a ton of self-righteous, obnoxious carnivores, but whatever.)
I recently saw a Facebook post about how Israeli soldiers can request non-leather boots and non-wool berets–now they can also get vegan meals. I was prepared to see a lot of anti-Israel comments under this post, but the hateful comments I saw were actually anti-vegan. Lots of “this liberal fanaticism is way out of hand!” and “why are we catering to a bunch of liberal freaks?” That sort of thing.
Many people don’t understand why some vegans don’t wear wool or animal byproducts even if it doesn’t involve killing the animal, so I’m going to clear this up for you.
Any time an animal is kept in a manner by which they or their byproducts are manufactured or exploited if you will, the animal suffers, and the people managing the animals are working in an environment that is not respectful of the animals’ lives or the workers’ lives. You may not care about how sheep raised for their wool are treated–and it’s your right to not care–but I do and it’s my right to care. And you may not care about people who work in factories and how they are treated, but I do. That’s why I don’t buy wool. Because unless the wool is from a farm of happy sheep (such farms may exist but that’s not where the vast majority of our wool is coming from) I don’t want to be a part of the capitalist market of turning sheep’s wool into things made of wool for me. If I lived in a cold place, of course I would probably have to be very creative about how to keep warm, but people figure it out.
The issue of sheep’s wool aside, I am very startled at how people see vegans as a threat to their right to consume meat in whatever amount, and who treat the existence and the perspective of vegans as a threat as an affront to their civil rights.
Just a week ago, I posted a graphic on Instagram showing a medically-proven, researched statistic that a vegan diet can be very beneficial for people with asthma. I was accused of spouting “liberal nonsense” and someone even chose to unfollow me because of this post. Really?
There is proven research supporting the reduction and elimination of diabetes with a raw and vegan diet. The documentary “Forks Over Knives” discusses this at great length, as do other films such as “Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead” and “Vegucated.”
Plant-based eating is not a fad. It’s not a thing people do to annoy hamburger-eaters.
The costs to our environment because of how much meat, dairy, and eggs we consume as a planet – and particularly as a country – are real costs. The costs to our pocketbooks paying for trying to treat and cure diseases that have long been proven to be associated with the consumption of animal products affects all of us. It’s part of why healthcare is so messed up in this country. Treating heart disease, diabetes and complications of obesity is very expensive. Countries that don’t eat like we do don’t have the health problems we do. That’s just a fact.
There are those who will continue to claim that veganism is an elitist annoying trend that is the fault of fanatical liberals, but I choose to see the “trend” towards more plant-based eating as one that can help our environment, our economy, our health, and our overall well-being.
Having a general sensibility of creating a world free of the suffering of human beings is often linked to kindness to animals and a passion for plant-based eating. Here is a list of famous vegetarians and vegans and some of the things they’ve said about their lifestyle. You might be surprised how many people you respect and admire who are on this list!
- Mahatma Gandhi. A non-violent activist and leader of the independence movement of India. “I do feel that spiritual progress does demand at some stage that we should cease to kill our fellow creatures for the satisfaction of our bodily wants.”
- Buddha. A human being who discovered a way to freedom from suffering, and taught others to reach it through meditation and moral conduct. “The eating of meat extinguishes the seed of great compassion.”
- Plato. A philosopher and mathematician in Classical Greece whose writings explored justice, beauty and equality. “The gods created certain kinds of beings to replenish our bodies…they are the trees and the plants and the seeds.”
- Leonardo Da Vinci. A painter, architect, inventor, interdisciplinary genius and student of all things scientific. “If man wants freedom why keep birds and animals in cages? Truly man is the king of beasts, for his brutality exceeds them. We live by the death of others. We are burial places! I have since an early age abjured the use of meat.”
- Albert Einstein. A theoretical physicist who developed the general theory of relativity, one of the two pillars of modern physics. Einstein’s work is also known for its influence on the philosophy of science. “It is my view that the vegetarian manner of living, by its purely physical effect on the human temperament, would most beneficially influence the lot of mankind.”
- Paul McCartney. A former Beatle and key figure in contemporary culture as a singer, composer, poet, writer, artist, humanitarian, entrepreneur and holder of more than 3,000 copyrights. “If slaughterhouses had glass walls, we’d all be vegetarian.”
- Ellen Degeneres. Talk show host, animal rights activist and comedian. “I personally chose to go vegan because I educated myself on factory farming and cruelty to animals, and I suddenly realized that what was on my plate were living things, with feelings. And I just couldn’t disconnect myself from it any longer.”
- Johnny Depp. Actor, producer, and musician. “If you don’t like seeing pictures of violence towards animals being posted, you need to help stop the violence, not the pictures.”
- Natalie Portman. Academy Award-nominated actress who is also a humanitarian and animal rights activist. “Three times a day, I remind myself that I value life and do not want to cause pain to or kill other living beings. That is why I eat the way I do.”
Grok With Us:
- What kinds of ethical concerns do you have about the way people consume food or resources in your country?
- Have you ever made a major change in your diet? Why, and how did it feel, physically and emotionally?
- How has what you eat changed how you feel about your body, your health or our world?