|Be about the love!|
Lately I've been talking to other vegans and transitioning vegans a lot about what their biggest challenge is. Hands down, top of the list, no doubt about it, that would be vegan haters. (Non-vegans who hate on vegans every chance they get, just for grins and giggles.) It's not nearly as tough to go vegan as it is to deal with all the crazy non-vegan insults, rudeness and intolerance. Not to mention being shunned and misunderstood by beloved friends and family. That's really tough, you guys.
And vegans who hate on non-vegans are just as bad.
I love my friends and family. But honestly, I just feel uncomfortable around some (thankfully, not all) of them now because there is always that latent hatred they exude toward my lifestyle and my right to be happy about it and promote it freely. Some people don't even realize they're doing it. And yet, they make it very clear how they feel about my choices without saying a word. You know?
Some of them might as well put their hand over my mouth and shush me because that's exactly the vibe they give off. My beliefs are not allowed to be spoken of in their company. I should be seen but not heard. Ironically, many of those who feel that way are always speaking out for freedom of speech. Just not if you're vegan, I guess.
Why do people hate vegans so much? I just don't get it. Oh, I get some things. I know that some people mistake our enthusiasm and the promotion of proven facts for some kind of brainwashing technique. I know that many people are so seeped in the traditions surrounding a meat and dairy based diet that it's hard for them to think of any other way as viable.
But what I don't get is why they have to be so rude about it, even if they don't realize how hurtful it is. Surely, somewhere inside them there is that little voice saying, “Hey, that wasn't very nice of you!”
Of course, there are those who find it perfectly acceptable and not at all rude to put down my lifestyle and mock my research. They don't see anything wrong with it. Some even take pride in making me feel bad. I catch them in conversation with others talking about how good they got me. They seem proud to be bigoted. What's up with that?
I'm pretty sure that most vegan haters don't even realize they're bigots. That's why I say, “Are you a vegan hater?” I know that you may not even realize that when you leave opposing comments on vegan posts or avoid vegan friends and family you make them feel as if their views have no significance. Still, it's bigotry, plain and simple.
I would never suggest that what we go through as vegans can possibly compare with the hatred perpetrated on other groups, races, etc. Still, when you look down on someone or criticize them simply because they're vegan or practice any other belief or way of life, or insult their way of life, that's prejudice all the same. Not to mention quite rude and inconsiderate.
As a vegan, when I go on Facebook now, I scroll past many, many posts that I find offensive. Seeing posts of other animals roasting on a grill, hunters posing with their trophy kills, fishermen with their big catches, etc., it's all very difficult to see. But scroll I do, because the only thing that will come of me commenting is an argument with someone I care about.
I also scroll past many things I know are untrue. I've been indiscriminately researching this subject and other nutritional, socioeconomic and environmentally related topics for well over 40 years. But it's just not worth it to me to lose a friend over proving a point.
Every once in a while I will speak up on a subject. I try to do it respectfully and courteously now, because I have realized that hatred goes both ways. I don't want to be reverse side of the bigot coin. Nevertheless, the backlash of hatred and intolerance I often receive in return can be overwhelmingly cruel, even if I simply post a link to pertinent information.
Some people simply hate vegans, no matter how respectful we are. What's worse, though, is how very acceptable it is. Our society has convinced a lot of people that razzing vegans is OK and even funny. Some comedians have a hay day with vegans. It's not funny though. It's actually quite hurtful. If they were putting down any other group of people, it would be considered bigotry. But hey, everyone hates vegans, so who cares about their feelings?
I don't hate my non-vegan friends. I hate that some of them see my views as foolish. I hate that some of them accept certain outdated, unsustainable, yet traditional ways of life as viable, irregardless of the overwhelming evidence that these traditions are killing us all. I hate the way some of them poke fun at my ideals. But I love my friends more than anything. I could never hurt them the way those vegan haters hurt me.
And all because I choose to be kind. All because I have chosen a different path than theirs.
Don't be that kind of vegan hater, my friends. You're better than that. I know you are.
And what about those other vegan haters? You know. The vegans who hate on non-vegans? Well, they suck too. Prejudice is prejudice. Bigotry is bigotry. So, knock it off you guys. You're being hypocritical. Be the love instead. That's what you believe in, so act like it.
Hate the behavior, not the person. We are all fallible. You're not perfect either. Life is a beautiful, personal journey of learning and growing. And just because we're not on the same path, well, that doesn't mean we can't stop and smile at each other across the gap.