Meat Eaters, Vegetarians and Vegans – What’s The Beef?

Have you ever noticed how the topic of veganism always seems to spark a debate or even a down-right dirty name calling kerfuffle? Isn’t it strange that a social justice movement focused on reducing harm can cause so many frontal veins to burst?

As veganism grows more mainstream, so does the social norm to hate on it, and it leads one to wonder whether it’s a form of collective guilt or simply a defence mechanism. We have very strong emotional ties with our diets and understandably many of us will feel upset or get defensive when ours is being critiqued. But why all the rage?

Meat Eaters, Vegetarians and Vegans – What’s The Beef?

Okay, so, maybe the vegan you met was a bit of a jerk (we may only be 1% of the population – it still happens) but since when was it okay to judge an entire group of people on the action of one?

From personal experience, a lot of anger sparks from the sharing of information (graphic or not) and consequently leads to bitter comments online, straw man theories or a backlash of questionable justifications and excuses for the ‘need’ to consume animal products – and whilst this in itself isn’t ‘hate’, often the delivery can often be quite aggressive.

I get it.

When someone shares a video uncovering grotesque footage exposing the treatment of dairy cows whilst you’re chowing down on a cheese toastie … it ain’t gonna make you feel too good. And how dare that person make you feel bad for doing something so normal?

Well, without wanting to go all pop-psychology on you, Freud’s theory of defence-mechanisms seems quite fitting:

“A psychological strategy to manipulate, deny or distort reality in order to defend against feelings of anxiety and unacceptable impulses to maintain ones self-schema”

So the go-to reaction in this scenario is often to ignore, get offended by, or argue against what you have just witnessed, instead of rationally questioning it and seeking more information.

Our society has a deep dependency on the consumption of animal products and it’s ingrained in us from a young age that this is a healthy and normal way to live – so much so, we don’t ever question it. Well, with diet related diseases on the rise, ocean dead-zones and CO2 levels ever increasing and 150,00,000,000 animals killed per year for food, it’s about time we did.

But what about vegans? 

We’re pretty angry in our own right too sometimes, and for a movement based on compassion, oddly enough we really can be.

This ire generally comes from a place of frustration, a desperation to open the eyes of others who have not yet made the same cognitive connection, and a plight to stop the unjust suffering of the innocent – like any other social justice movement.

The problem here lies in communication.

Meat Eaters VS Vegans.

Sometimes even…

Vegetarians VS Vegans.

We’re at loggerheads. Vegans want to make a change in those unwilling to do so, or unwilling to listen and henceforth, we’ve got a ‘preacher’ on our hands.

Unfortunately it doesn’t look as though this perception will be changing any time soon – not at least until veganism enters a state of majority populous, which is a long time coming. But it’s certainly coming – with the likes of global big-bucks meatpacker, Tyson Foods investing $150 million into a meatless-meat technology venture and buying 5% of Beyond Meat, it goes to show that simple supply and demand is enough to make a difference in industry decisions.

Unable to offer a resolve to the tension between meat eaters & vegans, the only advice to give (and take ourselves) is:

  1. Listen to others
  2. Ask questions
  3. Seek and share the truth

Essentially the key is to keep an open mind and take the time to interact with those who hold opposing opinions, because when we do this we all stand the chance to either learn or educate.

Let’s talk.

Image credit: Mission Blue