Before I went vegan, most of my critiques about veganism weren’t actually about veganism itself, they were about vegans. In effect, I remember thinking that vegans had a superiority complex. That being said, I realized that veganism is just about expanding your circle of compassion to include non-human animals and I couldn’t figure out what was pretentious about that. If anything, veganism is about DEcentering humans from your worldview and acknowledging that other animals are here with us and not for us.
Though I was determined to not turn into a “preachy” vegan, once I went vegan myself, I realized that most are not actually that way. In effect, because of my internalized guilt around eating animals, I had projected negative traits onto vegans to block out their message.
The Consequence of Taking Things Personally
Someone stating facts about animal exploitation is not an attack on you as an individual, it’s an attack on animal exploitation. However, if you consume products that are derived from said animal exploitation, you are consequently supporting animal exploitation. Facts are facts and you can choose to engage with them as you please, but I encourage you not to hate vegans for simply sharing information. As for me, the reason why I was so quick to dismiss vegans was that it served me. The following is an example of how many carnists (or non-vegans if you prefer) choose to engage with veganism.
“You Can’t Love Animals and Eat Them” : What it Means vs What You Hear
Before I went vegan if someone would post: “you can’t love animals and eat them”, instead of acknowledging that hard truth, I read: “you’re a hypocrite if you eat animals and claim to love them”. It’s a valid interpretation, but it fails to address the facts.
Fact #1: You can only care for animals to a certain extent if you believe that they are here to serve you in some way (entertainment, food, clothes, etc.). Thus, it is possible to love some animals and eat others, but you definitely cannot love all animals if you’re eating them when it is not necessary to do so. I know that there are many love languages out there, but you don’t eat, kill, or exploit the individuals you love.
Fact #2: By seeing veganism as something that makes you feel bad about yourself, you fail to engage with the actual victims which are the animals. You give yourself a free pass to continue exploiting them because someone said something that made you feel a type of way.
Moral of the story: If you’re a carnist (or non-vegan if you prefer), quotes like “you can’t eat animals and love them” can understandably make you feel bad: you grew up thinking that certain animals are raised for food and veganism challenges this. That being said, why do animals have to suffer because of your discomfort? That isn’t fair to them and it isn’t fair to you because if you genuinely think that animal exploitation is wrong, you owe it to yourself to act accordingly.
Solution: The next time you feel uncomfortable when animal exploitation is discussed, sit with that discomfort and question it instead of attacking the person who brought it to your attention. Often, we shut out realities when they challenge our current belief system. Humans are creatures of habit, so it’s normal to cling onto old ones, but ask yourself whether or not the habits you’re holding on to are in line with your values. If they aren’t, change your habits – life is so much sweeter when your actions are in line with your beliefs!