Dear Vegans, STOP Being Self-Righteous

I spent several years of my life as a vegan. I love tasty vegan food. I regularly cook vegan, not just for myself but for my vegan friends. I think there are lots of great reasons to be vegan, none of which are my business because I’m not interested in challenging the life choices of other people or harassing people for how they decide to live, eat, and lead their lives. Eating a vegan diet is one way to approach eating, and if it works for you, that is fantastic.

But I really need vegans to stop being self-righteous. And I know I have written this post again, but it’s irritating me again, because I’m noticing an uptick in self-righteous veganness, and I am, as always, over it. People who are self-righteous about food period can go get stuffed — this includes paleo people who sneer at you for not eating the way they do, ketogenic diet people who leap in to lecture you about their dietary superiority whenever they have a chance, and everyone else who thinks their way is superior and wants to subject you to a lecture.

We can all agree, I would hope, that lecturing people about their food choices is bullshit, and yet I see people doing it all the time, and I’m sorry, vegans, but you are some of the worst offenders. It’s not that other people don’t do it — because they do — but that you do it in some of the most obnoxious, pervasive, sometimes actively offensive ways possible, and it is incredibly off-putting. It’s not just annoying because I don’t want to be lectured about my food choices, but because you actively make me not want to be vegan ever again even if I was considering it — while I think it’s offensive to say ‘vegan ranting always makes me want to eat bacon, ha ha ha,’ like many carnivores do, I do think it’s worth noting that if your goal is to persuade people to veganism, the way to do that does not involve alienating people and pissing them off.

I have been lectured, metaphorically slapped in the face, and repeatedly shamed for not being vegan more times than I care to count. Aside from the ridiculous PETA stunts that most of you are not responsible for and shouldn’t be collectively blamed for (though seriously, come get your people), I have seen a lot of really absurd pro-vegan messaging that reads more like anti-everything else, often in really irritable ways.

Perhaps I am a strange person, but if someone wants to convince me of something, I am more interested in hearing the positives than I am in being told that everything I do is wrong. If you want to sell me a car, don’t tell me every other car sucks. Tell me why your car is great, and why it’s the one I should buy. It gets great mileage! It’s super comfortable to drive! It’s easy to toss a manual wheelchair in the back so I can go out with disabled friends! It has very intuitive controls! The sound system is top-notch! It comes in colours I like! It can handle rough dirt roads! It has an excellent safety record! These are all great selling points that make me actively interested in your car!

And veganism has a lot of things going for it — things that I rarely see discussed when people are trying to extoll the virtues of veganism. For example, it features an incredible array of really tasty food, including traditional foods from a variety of cultures. If you love vegetables, which I do, veganism can really be where it’s at, because you get access to a wide assortment of food that will blow your mind. It can be more cost-effective than eating large amounts of animal products, depending on how and where you eat. It can be less intimidating than cooking animal products, if you’re just learning how to cook. You can grow a substantial amount of your food at home, which is pretty cool. If you care about animals, you can abstract yourself from much of the abusive farming system (animals are still harmed in the production of vegan food — and if you value human beings, you also need to purchase food that’s been grown on ethical farms that don’t abuse their workers).

When I hear about veganism, though, it’s all about how veganism is morally, ethically, and culturally superior to other diets. And I’m not interested in that. More so: I’m actively offended by it. Don’t judge the lives of other people to advance your diet. Don’t tell me that veganism will make me lose weight, like my fat is a problem. Don’t tell me that if I care about animals, veganism is the only way to express that. Don’t give me a long list of high-profile, famous vegans and tell me they were superior because of how they ate. Don’t sell me on veganism as a negative — here are all the reasons other diets are terrible. Sell me on veganism as a positive — here are all the wonderful things about veganism. And don’t sell to me at all unless I am actively in the market, if you know what I am saying.

It irks me to no end when I see vegans mocking other diets, acting like they’re better than the rest of us, and generally being jerks. We’re all humans and we all need to figure our own stuff out — and that means that you should be offering advice and help to people asking about veganism, without being preachy and obnoxious to people who aren’t currently interested.

And if you found this offensive, well, now you know how I feel when vegans are lecturing me.

Image: Vegan Ssam, Young Sok Kun, Flickr.