Vegans. We all know at least one, and if you don’t think you do, believe me, you do. There are lots of them in the closet, and some of them even just keep their opinions to themselves, although not too many do. I’m pretty bloody hard (pardon the pun) on vegans in private conversation but I’m going to take a cheap shot now and express a fairly ignorant opinion. I don’t like veganism. It feels wrong. Yeah, sure, I kind of buy that it might help me live longer but at what cost?
I believe omnivorous creatures should be omnivorous. I know, it’s awful to think of the little animals being farmed and slaughtered just so I can stay morbidly obese, but I’m just not a good enough person to stop eating all products which come from animals. Initially, I thought the whole thing was a fad, but over some time I’ve come to realise that vegans and their life philosophy are here to stay, and in greater numbers than anyone could possibly have imagined 5 or 6-years ago.
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar came in for some harsh criticism in recent weeks because of some comments he made on eating less red meat, and, of course, there was the usual circus surrounding the comments, with a few exceptional sane commentators. But can anyone tell me why so many people lost their minds? There are a lot of things you can criticise our Taoiseach for, you don’t have to lay waste to his eating habits. I get that it’s not a good look for a farming nation to have its leader say he’s eating less red-meat but in fairness, it’s not a hanging offence.
Now, what I do consider a hanging offence is the emergence of a vulgar hybrid on our supermarket shelves. Non-dairy ice cream. Of course, I blame the vegans. Lactose intolerance is a real condition that has been floating around the fringes of acceptable society for decades and this monster of a food-type has only landed on our shelves, with a broad range, in relatively recent times. I attempted to eat a non-dairy tub of ice cream (you read it right don’t bother looking twice) and low-and-behold I wanted to vomit! A perfectly not good, perfectly expensive tub of vomit-inducing mud is what I had in my hands. Words cannot express how awful I found the experience, so I’m going to punch my keypad in an effort to express my discontent: “vbgknhjhhjhjjnbbgk,m/.mbgj.” And that looks just about how I felt.
Now, for the genuine lactose intolerant among us, I get it, I really do. I mean, I didn’t get it until I ran this piece by a lactose intolerant friend of mine, but I do get it now. The millions of euros spent by the ice-cream companies to research and develop the best possible dairy substitute mean that you can enjoy something which, to you, is barely palatable, after years of eating what I can only assume were much, much worse efforts at dairy-free ice cream. I’m not a monster, I can appreciate the deprivation you all suffered while the vegans got organised and put pressure on the mainstream brands to produce quality, non-dairy ice-creams.
In a nutshell, I don’t have any fundamental problem with vegan products such as non-dairy ice cream, but I do take issue with the somewhat tyrannical approach being adopted by some in the vegan movement. Of course, the militant vegan will place a higher value on animal dignity than on human dignity, and in truth is it harmful? Probably not too harmful, no. Would I try to stop them? No, absolutely not. But I would like to see them engage, like many vegans do, in reasoned discussion about their motives. Vegans have some really good points to make but they often make them so poorly.
It stands to reason that eating less red meat is better for your health, and the environment, but so are loads of things. Walking instead of driving is both better for your health and the environment, but no-one advocates walking 100-miles instead of taking the car. Reason would tell you that if you want to help the environment, you should take public transport and do some cardio when you get home in the evening if you want to improve your health. And that is where the extremist vegans of the world go so far wrong. Showing images of slaughterhouses on billboards, and anthropomorphized animals in cartoons for children, trying to convince them that they are bad people because they eat animals, is only going to incense people.
No matter what your cause, if you want to make a real, sustainable impact on the world, you have to convince as many people as possible to make a change, and the reality we all have to understand is that extremist views never have mass appeal. That is why you must encourage people to make changes a little bit at a time, and convince them to join you on your journey with reason and logic. Not by shouting at them and telling them they are wrong without offering a thought-out explanation of why they should change their ways.
It is often easy to try and evoke an emotional reaction in those with whom we debate important issues. But in my experience, that just annoys people. You won’t convince people of your point of view by pulling on their heartstrings, you’ll just make them feel bad. You might even convince them that they have to change, but they’ll struggle to take any actions to do so, and when the emotive response wears-off, nothing changes. On the other hand, if you can formulate a logical argument as to why your point of view is “better”, then you might actually convince people to change the way they think and thus, change the way they act.
The mere thought of my little dog being hurt upsets me beyond belief, and there is no objective, rational difference between the value of my dog’s life and that of an animal raised for slaughter, other than the subjective, arbitrary values we apply to them. So, in a perfect world, none of us would eat animals or their by-products but we don’t live in a perfect world and we never will. Admirable and all as the vegan ideology may be, the reality is that militant veganism will not affect the change they wish to see in the world. It can only be achieved in moderation and with incremental change.
In conclusion, vegans are not bad people. In fact, they are probably really good people. They’re better than I am. My latest attempts to lose weight involve only eating products of animals; beef, pork, chicken, eggs, mayonnaise, cheese and... that’s about it really. It breaks my heart to think about pigs in slaughterhouses or lambs on kill-lines. It really does, but I don’t have enough empathy to stop eating them and the products they produce. We have evolved as omnivorous creatures, and there will always be that animalistic drive to eat other animals, especially the tasty ones. Some of us will eat more, and others will eat less, and a small few will eat no animal products at all, and perhaps the animal-eating-abstentionists of the world are simply more evolved in some way than the rest of us, but the fact remains that they don’t have to remind us of it so god damn always!
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