Mostly, vegans are soft-spoken, loving, kind, compassionate and committed to living a life that is kind to all beings and to the planet. Generally, it is a powerfully simple sentiment imbued with only good intentions. Still, this gentle movement that promotes the consumption of a plant-based diet, living a healthier life and leaving a lighter footprint on the planet evokes rage like I have never seen. Just read the comments on a random article talking about veganism, posted on a website. They can make your hair curl! The rage and indignation over someone’s endorsement of a plant-based diet is mind-blowing.
Which leads me to the next question; what is this rage all about?
Often people feel the need to justify their food choices, whenever they are in the company of a free spoken vegan, like me. If only, I had a dollar for every person saying “I do not eat as much red meat as I used to” during a social gathering.
Sadly, people as a society depend so heavily on an animal-based diet, no small number of people are denied that very basic right. But I am not sure that the anger is about guilt or justification.
Let us start by looking your root premise. It is an over-simplification to believe that something is either true or false. Why? Because humans experience a range of powerful and complex emotions, such as desire, greed, pride, revenge, need for status, shame, humiliation, etc. These emotions exert a strong influence over a person’s ability to interpret facts.
Now, our overall progress as a society is predicated on our learning how to control these emotions and make decisions based on facts. However, fact-based decision making has not made as much progress in our society as it deserves because many decisions are overwhelmed by those emotions. Add in other psychological dynamics such as ideology (which substitutes belief for facts), inertia (change requires significant energy), momentum (the desire to will obstacles out of our way), impulsiveness (wanting it now!) and stubbornness (no one will change my mind).
Veganism is a common example of denial: how we eat. Desire, greed and need for status can easily override rational considerations, providing the stimuli that power our eating habits.
For instance, everyone on social media, such as instagram, facebook, twitter and so on, posts pictures of burgers, beef, icecream and other non-vegan foods. You do not want to be an outcast, you want to fit in, am I right? So you choose to either jusify or deny your choice of keeping your non-vegan diet, because you are a pack animal and you do not want to be the one stated as “wierd” or “different”. You justify it with denial plus some delusion. Yes, the facts about how it will impact your environment and fellow earthlings are true, but saying no to the non-vegan food would mean confronting a strong desire, pride in ability to fit in, your eating habits, and your social status as a publicly-seen person. In short, it would mean admitting to a whole set of factual limitations concerning your life. Reality feels constricting, so denial rules.
The same reasoning process applies to a thousand different kinds of decisions, whether deciding on ordering french fries or another drink, or buying a new SUV, or going on a date with someone who is married, or ignoring the fact that your date or spouse consistently drinks too much, or that you and your spouse have not had a meaningful conversation in over a year. Denying those facts allows you to keep moving rather than stopping and facing the painful restrictions and demands of reality.
There is an immutable fact about denial: it does not work—long term. Reality always wins. And when it does, the next step in the process is blame, which shifts responsibility onto someone or something else. “I only did it because of you! If you had not done that, I would not have done this.” So where there is denial, blame is always available to ease the pain when reality bites.
The state of being “in denial” is a big part of peoples rage according to veganism. Therefore, I think it is smart of us vegans to keep being kind, loving and informative. To make the non-vegans see vegansim as something they are not “forced” to do. We do not want to fuel their rage, but instead destroy their illusions in the kindest possible way, so we can try to open their mind, step by step. Also, give non-vegans all the tips and tricks they need to go vegan. That will make their road easier, if they start considering the vegan lifestyle.
Much love ❤