Two years ago today I started this Kind experiment that was only supposed to last a week. And somewhere along the way, my perception of the world changed.
And somewhere along the way, I realized that I’m not cool with eating animals, or the milk they produce, or the eggs they produce, because doing so is cruel, and really not necessary.
And somewhere along the way, I realized that not only is eating animals and their milk and their eggs unnecessary, but also that I’m actually better off without them.
And somewhere along the way I became comfortable with identifying myself as vegan, in spite of the militant extremist hippie pre-conceptions that come with this label.
And I still don’t know if I’m vegan or a vegan.
Before my shift in consciousness, I was more or less in the willfully ignorant category. My consumption of animal products was never really challenged by anyone, and though I obviously knew that farm animals were dying so I could eat them, I didn’t realize just how cruel this industry was, and had no idea about the cruelty inherent in the dairy and egg industries. Until I read The Kind Diet, I never had to defend my animal product consumption, and I had no idea just how protective people are over their meat.
I’m pretty passive for the most part in the real world, happy to share my cookies, accept compliments on my non-leather shoes, and wear my "Eat Veggies Not Friends" shirt with a smile (though I will admit that my "what kind of asshole eats a lamb?" tote may come off as a tad confrontational).
I am super grateful when people point out the vegan items to me at a dinner party and when my co-worker orders a cheeseless pizza for me at our staff pizza lunch. I am proud of my mom when she puts down the purse she was going to buy at Winners after noticing the “Genuine Leather” tag. I never start the meat = heart disease discussion with anyone or comment on what someone is eating (unless it’s my mother...she gets me and loves me even when I go all preachy on her), though I am happy to give my opinion when prompted.
And in the facebook world, while I will share certain vegan-y animal rights things I come across on my fb profile, I will never venture over to anyone else’s profile to comment on his burger pic and start a dialogue about it. That, after all, is what public vegan facebook pages are for, as there is no shortage of meat eaters who make their way over to these pages eager to rile up the vegans and voraciously defend eating animals.
See, before two years ago, I never had to justify or question the morality of eating animals. None of my friends were vegan, and while I knew a few vegetarians, I was never in a position to have to defend my meat eating. Once this was challenged upon reading The Kind Diet, truth and reason and compassion won out, and I changed, because my eating animals was indefensible. So I’m totally fascinated by meat eaters who come on vegan fb pages to defend eating animals.
I get the whole willful ignorance thing, because I was there, and I get the whole shrug it off as the way of the world thing, because that is the easier way to make sense of it if you want to keep participating in it. But to actually feel that strongly about your right to eat meat and dairy and eggs in spite of the cruelty inherent in this practice, to go out of your way to engage people in a debate about it...I find this somewhat perplexing and entertaining.
I have certainly come across a ton of douchebag meat eaters, but I’ve also come across a ton of douchebag vegans. Holy crap can we ever be self-righteous, and violent, and insulting, and stupid. And we too are guilty of horrendously massacring the English language with embarrassing violations of spelling and grammar. Don’t you just love how people debating on social media thrive on taking jabs at the other guy’s grammar?
So to avoid being a douchebag online-vegan, I try to follow a few guidelines before jumping into a debate with a meat eater.
* Avoid trolls.
Trolls can be pretty funny & entertaining sometimes, but those who frequent vegan pages tend to be rather unimaginative, as they all resort to the same, not particularly original strategy. That would be spouting any variation of “Mmmmm, delicious!” or “Can’t wait to slap one of those on the BBQ!” when commenting on a picture of a cute baby pig or a tortured duck or a bloody skinned animal carcass. Sometimes they’ll post nasty imagery in the hope of offending us overly-sensitive vegans, failing to realize that these are the exact same images the vegan pages post to raise awareness.
Actually, I haven’t watched Earthlings. I think I'd have a brutal time processing it if I did. But I applaud those who have watched it. From what I hear, it's life-changing.
Anyways, the point is, trolls are only there for their own entertainment, not to actually seek out exchange of ideas. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize that they exist because there are plenty of people who respond to them and give them the reaction they crave. So as long as there are idiot vegans who waste their time feeding the trolls on vegan facebook pages, there will be trolls. Therefore, I blame the vegans .
* Be civil.
I make a valiant effort to avoid engaging in exchange of personal insults, regardless of whether someone is showing me that same courtesy, and regardless of how stupid someone appears to be. Sometimes it’s hard when you have people trying to argue that plants feel pain, and ask about vegans breast feeding their babies (because humans are animals and we’re against using animal products and all), and claim that your whole life philosophy is flawed because you drive a car that kills bugs, and if you were really vegan and against killing you wouldn’t drive a car because it kills bugs.
Riiiiight...I wouldn’t be walking or breathing either, because walking and breathing kills bugs too. And my car not only has the potential to kill bugs, it can also kill animals. And people. Including other vegans. Whoa. Mind. Blown.
So to avoid being a douchebag, I reply with sincerity as best I can. And yes, it can be hard to distinguish between the more advanced trolls and people with questionable reasoning skills asking a legitimate question, but sometimes you just gotta take a leap of faith and answer a question genuinely, because ridiculous as it may seem, it might be genuine. And before you think I’m being a condescending vegan douchebag right now by mentioning people’s “questionable reasoning skills”, that’s just because you haven’t dealt with people who accuse us of caring more about suffering animals than suffering people in the world.
Just google the link between meat consumption and world hunger and tell me again how I care more about dead cows than starving children. Or how caring for one automatically negates caring for the other.
However, when I balance out all the crap conversations I have with the insightful ones, it’s worth it. If anything, it’s an interesting insight into how people think. And if I don’t think I can carry out a conversation without becoming a vegan douchebag, I just don’t respond.
* Remember I’m not Chris Pine, and neither is anyone else, except for Chris Pine
With the exception of Chris Pine, perfection does not exist. We live in an imperfect world, and even the most militant vegan cannot live a 100% cruelty-free lifestyle. This doesn’t prevent the douchebag vegan from carefully scrutinizing the lives of others to catch them doing something wrong, because vegans tend to hold certain people and groups up as paradigms of vegan perfection.
Ellen DeGeneres eats eggs layed by her neighbor’s pet chickens.
Whaaaaaaaaat? I hate her. There’s really no ethical argument against what she’s doing, but I hate her. You let me down, vegan Ellen. You let us all down.
Alicia Silverstone admits to Oprah that she slips up on cheese sometimes at a party.
Whaaaaaaaaat? Alicia, girl, you were my vegan guru. How could you be so cruel? What kind of example are you setting for humanity?
I listen to my Zooey Deschanel Christmas cd even though Zooey is a spokesperson for Pantene, which tests on animals like a bunch of jerks so we can admire Zooey’s silky hair.
Whaaaaaaat? How can I live with myself? I love Zooey and her epic bangs and her folky singing. If I was a true vegan I wouldn't love her or her epic bangs or folky singing. I hang my head in shame.
To avoid being a douchebag vegan, one must avoid being a “Gotcha” vegan, and acknowledge that nobody is capable of existing on this planet without having some sort of negative effect on it. As James McWilliams says, ethical veganism is not an all or nothing position, and the goal is a world as free of animal exploitation as we can achieve.
AS WE CAN ACHIEVE.
There are limitations, but these limitations don’t negate the effort altogether. I’d rather focus on all the positive strides vegan celebrities have made in raising awareness about animal cruelty instead of focussing on their consumption of non-exploitative pet chicken eggs (though why Ellen would still eat eggs baffles me...that shit is gross).
So onward into Year Three of a Kinder lifestyle. Much to learn, much to eat, and much to look forward to...
I ended my first official blog post almost two years ago with a quote from Wil Wheaton.
The next time some idiot says that gaming and gamers are antisocial, I think I'll mention this ... and then punch them in the dick.I ended my one year veganniversary blog post one year ago with a pic of me and Alicia.
So it’s only fitting that I jump into Year Three with another pic with Alicia...
|Bahaha that's like the exact same expression as last year. I'm so unoriginal.|
...and another quote from Wil Wheaton, which serves as a good reminder to me as I strive to not be a douchebag vegan.
When it comes to living vegan,
I shall try, Wil Wheaton. I shall try.