Vegans? We’ve gotta talk.
Updated: Oct 29, 2019
And I don’t mean shout. I mean talk.
Let me state this clearly, because I fear you are not going to hear it, however factual it may be: I support you. I think the moral, ethical and consumer choices you make are the correct ones for the care of all creatures and the planet. I commend your dedication. I think you are right.
But the messaging has gone astray. Really astray. This hostile aggression and attitude of food shaming is serving no one. Except possibly some really over priced restaurants.
I used to be a vegan. Want to know why? Not because I cared about the poor little fluffy (and not so fluffy) animals (and believe me, I do care about the poor little fluffy animals), but because it was the perfect disguise for my anorexia. I stopped being the worrying waif who was a problem, and I started being just a fussy eater who was a pain. Suddenly people stopped talking to me about food and let me get on with my funny little ethical diet. I used morals as a screen for abuse. In a time when over 1.6 million people in the UK are estimated to be directly affected by eating disorders, this is a veil I know I was not alone in using.
And the shaming? I am just not sure that is doing your cause any favours. The access to good, healthy, food and whole food diet is very much related to your income. The way that poverty is utterly ignored in your food discourse in this day and age is downright offensive. With food bank use in the UK at a record high due to necessity, your quick fix recipe for that organically farmed nutrient rich superfood which cures cancer and saves baby elephants which is oh so simple to cook in this 7 hour video is a little dismissive of many people’s realities. For many, food choices themselves are an utter luxury.
And the racism? Do not compare the issues people of colour have to process on a daily basis with your food choices. Stop putting those things in the same conversation. When white people equate slavery to anything else: they are standing on the wrong side of history. On very shaky ground. It is not your comparison to make. Stop it. No ifs, no buts. Stop claiming “speciesism”. Do not ever show me that picture equating eating pork to lynching black men (yes it exists and yes it is used). You’re not winning arguments, you’re not winning points, in fact this makes you look really, really nasty.
And the aggression? Let’s go back to basics, I have rarely come across a situation where shouting at someone that they are wrong, convinces them to change their mind, let alone their behaviour. Maybe it’s the petulant teenager in me, but I see someone miming a coughing fit at a smoker and it makes me want to start smoking. Who has ever walked past a street preacher screaming that you are a sinner who made you think “Gosh, he’s a happy chap, I must seek his answer for spiritual enlightenment”?
Shouting at people makes them stop listening. Even if you are right. And you are right. So how about we find a way to help people hear what you are saying and provide ways we can facilitate change, instead of force feeding people self righteous condemnation. It leaves a sour taste all round.