I am not a vegan, I’m not even a vegetarian, even though I do follow a mostly vegetarian diet. But I have vegan friends and I also know some very nice people who are vegan. Just like I know some very judgmental people who are vegan.
However, I have been getting more and more the feeling that there is a growing group of vegans who are extremely judgmental, pushy and sometimes downright mean. So let’s talk about it because this needs to be addressed!
Do you have to be vegan to love animals?
Earlier this week, I posted a photograph on my Instagram with me and a cat who lives at my mother-in-law’s farm. In my caption, I used the hashtag #animallover. I regularly use this hashtag, because I love animals. And then something I really wasn’t expecting happened: a vegan shamed me on the commentaries.
This person commented on my picture with “I thought you eat animals?“. I have to admit I didn’t immediately understand what she meant by that, so I asked her to elaborate. She proceeded by claiming she was “confused”. Other photos of mine suggested I eat animals, yet I was stating I “love” them.
By then I was aware this person was a vegan and I could have gotten defensive or started a fight. But I decided to have an educated discussion with her and said that eating meat doesn’t mean I cannot like animals. She proceeded by telling me that it does and said I should watch some documentaries in order to “educate” myself on the cruelty I am paying to be inflicted on the animals I “love”. Before insinuating I am a hypocrite and a bad person for eating meat.
Are vegan diets better than others?
My honest opinion is that everyone is capable to decide by themselves what diet they want to follow. Yes, I am aware there are animals kept in horrid conditions. Some of them solely with the purpose to be eaten. I know there are chickens who never saw the light of day and live in crowded cages. But I also know where the meat I buy comes from.
I live in Austria and this is a country that values biological food and their animals. When I go to buy meat in the supermarket, I have a choice of getting Austrian meat or from somewhere else. If I get the Austrian meat, I know where it comes from. Because the farmer’s name is stated. I know the cows or chickens or pigs grew up in farms, running free. Heck, my brother in law owns a pig farm and his pigs have it better than a lot of people I know! Same with my mother in law, who lives in a cow’s farm. Those cows get good food and while they produce milk, it is done in the less invasive way possible.
There are a lot of arguments why one should follow a vegan diet. Or a vegetarian diet. Or a paleo diet. Every diet out there comes with arguments stating why it is the best diet to follow. There are medical articles defending every single one of those diets. Ultimately, it is our choice to decide what and how we want to eat.
Personally, I believe in a balanced diet. That is my belief, my own opinion. I don’t think that me eating a beef steak or chicken breast makes me a bad person. Or that I cannot love animals because of that!
Are vegans better people for not eating meat?
I would never buy meat from a place I knew treated their animals badly! But if I have to be honest, I didn’t care until 3 years ago. Partly because I hardly ever cooked meat at home. Mostly because I had never given it another thought. But my boyfriend does and always did. He looks at the labels, buys what is produced locally. Whether it is meat or not. I thought every meat you buy in the supermarket came from those horrible farms. Because that is what those documentaries teach you, the bad things. Only the bad things. They are made and edited in order to shock the viewer. Have you ever seen a documentary about animals being treated well before being eaten? There are farmers who kill their animals in the most humane way they can because they value the animals!
Some omnivores are the best people you could ever meet. And some vegans are the worst people out there. The other way around applies just as well. I know vegans who preach about not eating meat but don’t recycle. Who take long showers and use cosmetics that test in animals, because they aren’t eating them or simply don’t know. Some omnivores always have a fabric bag with them for groceries. And some vegans always buy the plastic bags. Some vegans buy a new water bottle everytime they want water. And some omnivores have a steel or glass bottle with them at all times.
It’s not just about what you eat, it’s about how you live your overall life. Did you know some scientists defend that if everyone stopped eating meat, humans would get extinct? No, not because we need meat to survive. But because there would be too many animals and not enough space for both. Animals would ultimately take the territory where humans live now. That’s just one theory, one school of thought.
Vegans and omnivores need to be nicer to one another
Being a vegan does not make you a better person. It does not even make you a good person. Eating meat does not mean you don’t love animals. There is space for both! The world is big enough for both to exist and, most importantly, co-exist. Not all vegans are pushy, not all vegans judge omnivores.
But there is a very large group of vegans who shame those who don’t follow their ideas. And they should stop! I understand they may be newly converted and are passionate about it. That some of them don’t mean to be mean or come across as judgmental. And if you are a vegan who does this, think about it. You weren’t born a vegan! Chances are, you ate a meat-based diet for most of your life. And enjoyed it! Maybe you loved meat above everything. And maybe you are proud and want to show the world your changes you made in your life. Maybe meat eaters see you as pushy when all you want to do is help. But you are not inside someone else’s head. You don’t know what they are dealing with, what they think. Just like they don’t know what you think, where you come from.