Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Please don’t feed the stereotypes.

As you know, I’m a newbie blogger. I was excited to actually get off my lazy vegan ass and write about my convictions, but I know myself well enough to realize that I might give up after a week or so. I’ve pleasantly surprised myself, and my readership is slowly expanding. (Bring your friends!) In pursuit of said readership, I posted a link on Facebook once I had enough content to warrant luring people to my new digital realm.

In true Facebook fashion, most people ignored it. A few expressed interest, and one FLIPPED HER SHIT. Turns out that she had met a vegan once, a rabid girl who had positively traumatized her by…I don’t know, exactly. I asked, but she wouldn’t tell me. I don’t know if she had explicit slaughterhouse pictures shoved in her face, or was simply told that meat is murder. At any rate, the encounter left her feeling like she killed babies for fun (her words). She described herself as “just one of those people who likes meat” and confessed that meals don’t feel complete without it. She did let me email her two of my favorite easy recipes to prove that vegan meals can be nutritionally complete as well as delicious. I haven’t heard back from her, but I hope she tries them. I struggled to be as gentle and compassionate as possible, because it was obvious that she’d been very upset by her first conversation with a vegan. Incidentally, that is a vegan who, some days, I would like to throttle.

Anonymous Hardcore Vegan Girl, you definitely made my life a little harder. I’m not denigrating your approach, but it doesn’t work for me. For all I know, you weren’t even that aggro and my friend’s perception is just warped. But I’ve found that shaming people into changing their habits doesn’t work (thanks, PETA). Scolding them only makes them retreat into their ingrained patterns of behavior. Screaming, “You eat BABIES!” at someone, while probably true, is not likely to engage him or her in a sensible dialogue about eating habits and oppression. It’s going to send that person running straight back to Burger King for a Whopper and a mega-rant about that nutty vegan bitch. Then, later on, someone like me has the unenviable task of repairing that damage. There is a time and a place for direct, in-your-face action—and we need more such times and places. But in my experience, alienating someone rarely does more good than harm.

Anonymous Hardcore Vegan Girl, you and I would probably be friends if we met. I would love the chance to stand next to you at an action or a protest, because I haven’t had that in-the-trenches experience. My activism is almost exclusively on a personal level, because that’s what fits my attitude and my lifestyle. I think I could learn a lot from your anger, your refusal to dampen your message to make it more palatable to the masses. We need that kind of anger. But we also need people to listen when we speak, and they can’t do that if we’re always shouting at them.


  1. this post made me realize one of the many reasons why we are friends! Our approach to our passions and beliefs are the same. Not shove-it-down-your-throat, but "watch my life and see a difference!" Love your writing. Hope my daily comments aren't stalker-ish! ;-)

  2. I love your comments, Lib! Indeed, lived convictions are the strongest. :)