Are aggressive vegans and vegetarians preventing their own cause?

A recent study has shown that perhaps it is the attitude of some "extreme vegans" that is stopping their cause from getting any traction.

Are aggressive vegans and vegetarians preventing their own cause?

A recent study revealed the top 5 reasons that meat eaters don't want to become vegetarian or vegan.

  1. I like the taste of meat too much (81 per cent)
  2. Meat substitutes are too expensive (58 per cent)
  3. I'd struggle for meal ideas (50 per cent)
  4. My family eat meat and wouldn't consider going vegetarian or vegan with me (41 per cent)
  5. The attitude of certain vegetarians/vegans has put me off (26 per cent).

Although I have heard the first four reasons many times, it was number 5 that caught my attention. It isn't the first time that this subject matter has been raised and it was almost nice to know I wasn't alone. My diet can range drastically from one day to another. I can happily eat vegetable based meals for a few days, pasta and cheese, even quorn mince rather than pork or beef. I do eat meat personally, it's a diet I've had my entire life. However, I'm always happy to go to vegetarian restaurants try new vegan dishes with my friends. I guess you could say I'm not a picky eater.

However, there is one aspect of my generation at the moment which angers me somewhat. Aggressive Vegetarians/Vegans on social media. Now I'm happy to say that those friends I have who are vegans do not shove it down my throat. They are happy to have a long discussion about why they have made the decision to change their diet and usually have absolutely no problem with others around them who have a different opinion or choice of diet. Unfortunately, I can not say the same about vegetarians I know and people I see on the internet.

The one thing that baffles me most is, why are the aggressive dieters taking to their social media platforms like facebook to share their rage? I understand spreading your concern for the treatment of animals. I also understand your wish to discuss with your friends. But… the one thing I cannot understand is when you take to your facebook page, share very traumatic pictures of livestock or dead animals and then caption it with a phrase like "Meat Eaters are the devil". Surely you must realise that your friends will see this?

The first few times I saw it, I thought perhaps it was because of a recent event or discussion the individuals had had. But when it became a regular occurrence, i couldn't help but feel offended. Not only are they singling out people for their dietary choices, they are assigning blame to everyone. They don't know that perhaps I eat a small amount of meat every few nights. Perhaps I don't like ribs or steak. The attitude instantly puts me off their message and makes me scroll past, losing the message in the process.

There will always be people who want to eat meat, there will always be people who don't. The types of people who make horrible comments about animals being treated unfairly anger me too. But I don't then post a picture of a dead cow on my facebook page and tell all my friends that they are awful human beings.

With anything, the way to make change is through teaching and discussion. If you shout me down before I even join the conversation, i'm not going to learn a thing. You'll eventually be shouting at a wall.

25% of the study respondents revealed that they had been lectured or made to feel bad about their dietary choices. What gives someone the right to behave in that way? To me, diet is a personal choice. You may be doing it for health reasons, to regulate food intake, to be more healthy in general or for moral reasons. Whatever your choice, it is just that - YOUR choice. If you then wish to share your reasoning then feel free, many of us want to listen and learn about new ways of living. But don't start telling me I'm a cruel person because I want to have some free range chicken now and then?

Despite this survey, research last year found that the number of vegans living in the UK had risen by 360%. That's incredible! And it makes veganism the fastest growing lifestyle movement in the UK. Perhaps if you approach your message differently and teach rather than shame, those figures can increase even further.

There are many of us who want to learn more, don't make us an enemy of your message before you've even begun speaking.

Author

Grace McCabe

Grace McCabe

Arts Award Voice - Local JournalistGrace is a Theatre and Drama graduate currently working in London. She loves writing, the arts and is a musician in her spare time.

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8 Comments

  • Bhavesh Jadva

    On 22 August 2017, 20:34 Bhavesh Jadva Voice Team commented:

    Militant arbiters of any so-called movement inherently become the story of said movement but it's needless to focus on them or let them become the focus of a thing like that because, certainly with benign examples like veganism, there's no harm to be done meaning anyone who isn't self-serving and aggressive about it all is going to be more effective in, overall, making it all a nice story with a bow tied on.

  • Grace McCabe

    On 22 August 2017, 20:43 Grace McCabe commented:

    I see your point, I really do. But I will never agree that making me feel awful for a dietary choice is ever going to make me regard their overall message in a positive way.

  • Bhavesh Jadva

    On 22 August 2017, 20:56 Bhavesh Jadva Voice Team commented:

    Oh no absolutely - I'm not indemnifying keyboard warriors from guilt by any stretch. But I reckon it's important to ignore them really and more importantly, not let them actually put you off from something that you may find benefit from be it veganism or some other viewpoint. Obviously, it's hard to feel offended by someone and then succumb to that thing on the basis of which they offended you though so it's all a conscientious nightmare haha.

  • Sienna James

    On 29 August 2017, 18:36 Sienna James Voice Team commented:

    I appreciate this piece Grace! Veganism needs to grow, ans sometimes the promotion just doesn't help the cause. From a Peaceful Vegan ;)

  • Grace McCabe

    On 30 August 2017, 11:14 Grace McCabe commented:

    Thanks @Sienna!! That's exactly my point, as with anything, let's make the promotion positive and watch the message spread :D

  • Sam Nead

    On 1 September 2017, 21:40 Sam Nead Contributor commented:

    You're completely right that being overly aggressive and shaming others for their lifestyle choices is a bad approach, but the majority of vegans aren't like that, I promise! In fact, a lot of us rarely talk about it because we're so used to being vilified and shouted down. I agree with Bhav that such extremists shouldn't be the focus, especially when it is, in essence, a peaceful movement :)

  • Grace McCabe

    On 4 September 2017, 09:05 Grace McCabe commented:

    Definitely Sam :) So I hope that this article and the others like it will encourage more positive messages to be spread. The one thing that bugs me the most is when those who agree with the aggressive people don't do anything about the negativity because ultimately they are spreading the overall message but I think more positive and friendly, educational messages need to be shared instead of diet shaming :D

  • Ekaterina Ivchenko

    On 4 March 2019, 20:08 Ekaterina Ivchenko commented:

    Hi Grace. You listed a couple of reason why people are not ready to give up eating animals. What is your reason? I assume you watched a couple of movies vegans marketed to you. So you are aware the reality of animal lives and death. Why you as a person pro peace, pro harmony pro ecology are still among animal eaters, supporter from animal farming and and climate change? Just try to be honest with you. Do not push the guilt to people who is too blunt presenting the terrible horrible naked truth!

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