There’s the saying, “How do you know if someone is vegan? Wait 5 minutes, and they’ll tell you.” While there are so many reasons why this statement could be refuted (which I’m not going to get into within the context of this blog post) I know there is also more than a shred of truth in it. I know this as someone who has literally only been a vegan one month and already feels this innate strong desire to evangelize for the vegan lifestyle as if I’m some kind of expert with convincing power over the masses.
Generally, I try to have a ‘you do you, and I’ll do me” kind of outlook on life. I try to stay out of people’s business and as long as they’re doing what makes them happy — fine. In fact, even if they’re not happy, I try not to be the one to poke at their lifestyle and try to “fix” everyone. No one likes that person. So in theory, I have all these great intentions about being that loving and accepting person who gets along with everyone. But then I look at my activism in the social justice sphere of things, and I’ve certainly made a hard line in the sand there. I just straight up do not accept people posting or commenting bigoted, racist, homophobic, ableist, transphobic, heteronormative bullshit. I either unfollow them, remove them from my friend’s list, or comment and make sure they know that I am completely disapproving at their offensive thinking. I just don’t have a lot of patience for people being ignorant and hurtful. I’ve gotten better at this — instead of commenting nowadays I just try to silently unfollow or defriend so that I don’t end up getting myself all worked up over something that I probably can’t change. In general, I fully admit that I don’t have a lot of tolerance for viewpoints that differ from mine when their antiquated and narrow-minded thinking is directly affecting and hurting people I love. Point blank.
So why should it be or is it any different with my vegan lifestyle? I, like many vegans and vegetarians, came to plant-based living because of ethical reasons. I’ve always been uncomfortable consuming meat (had to not think about what I was really eating) but didn’t really know all the full details about where my food was coming from. I watched Food Inc. and then Earthlings, and both made me end up switching to vegetarianism a couple years ago. I lasted eight months before my resolve let up and I just decided one day to eat meat again. Not sure what I was thinking at the time, to be honest. But once I really knew what was happening to the animals and really thought about the fact that it was completely and totally unnecessary for me to make animals suffer just so I can eat them — I couldn’t do it anymore.
Once you watch a movie like Earthlings, it changes you. It’s the movie called the ‘vegan maker’ because it is so extremely difficult to watch. But when I was finished, I felt informed and outraged. My first thought after watching this and Vegucated and Cowspiracy, was “what if everyone watched these movies?” I would honestly love if everyone was super informed about the process behind raising animals for food and products. I wish everyone knew how many rainforests are being destroyed, how much water is used in the production of dairy and meat, how completely unsustainable our food sources and production methods are for feeding our growing population, how many fish species will be GONE by 2025, how these animals really live and are killed. If everyone knew all this and still chose to eat and consume them — that’s their decision that I can respect. But as movies like Vegucated (and real life case studies like myself and many other vegans) prove, the act of knowing the truth actually makes some people realize that they wish they’d been vegan their whole life. And as someone who loves to educate others by sharing interesting links and studies and such, it’s only natural that I want to make sure everyone knows the truth so they can make informed decisions.
This is compounded by being surrounded by so many people who call themselves ‘animal lovers’. Having a horse and being part of an equestrian community and seeing people post about horse rescues and sad cases of neglect and abuse — then having them also post about their carne asada tacos and their birria (goat meat) burritos…I just can’t help but feel this wave of total contradiction and hypocrisy. It makes me feel that need to ‘preach’, which I restrain. It’s just so weird to me that people are overwhelmed with love and emotion for dogs and other pets, but don’t give two shits about a pig when they’re eating it. Doesn’t make any sense to me, other than people are ingrained with cultural habits that have become normal and therefore a necessity. Basically, humans are a hivemind. I feel that urge to evangelize because maybe if more people were thoughtful about what they’re eating they’d realize they don’t actually want to follow the herd.
Another reason that being a vegan makes people want to preach is because when you’ve made this decision based out of a love for animals and a respect for them, seeing all the blatant disrespect everywhere goes completely against what you believe. It’s so common for a vegan to post a recipe link and have someone comment, “this would be so much better with bacon.” No, actually, it wouldn’t. To me, that’s like someone commenting with “white pride” when someone posts a gay pride flag. And it’s somehow oddly offensive when I post a photo of my kale salad (people always get on the defensive) but it’s okay for anyone to post photos of their chicken carbonara or spaghetti with meat sauce? So strange.
So anyway, I think we seem preachy because of a few factors:
1) We get put on the defensive frequently and have to defend what we’re eating and explain ourselves to people all the time. People say vegans talk about being vegan all the time, but most of the time it’s because we’re asked.
2) Ethical vegans are really sad at the idea of animals being killed for food, so seeing pictures of huge slabs of meat on Facebook feels hurtful to us even when not directed at us. It’s the equivalent to us of seeing a dead dog scrolling by on our FB newsfeed.
3) Many vegans became vegan because someone taught them something that opened up their eyes. It’s only natural to want to be the one to do that for someone else.
4) It’s an emotional way of life. It’s caring, thoughtful, philanthropic way of living. It’s near impossible to disconnect our ethics from our eating and living, so we feel passionate about this topic. It doesn’t take long either. I knew on Day 1 when I went vegan that this was going to be a permanent decision for the rest of my life.---------------
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