I read the following quote today and it frustrated me.
“Being vegan is offensive to people who eat animals. When people meet vegans, they become aware in that moment that they eat animals. Rarely do they have to confront this truth. People become uncomfortable and place that feeling on the vegan. Their own sense of mercy and compassion arises and makes them uneasy. Mercy asks of you to abstain from this cruelty.” – Gary Smith
It frustrates me because being vegan isn’t offensive to me (as an omnivore/starch-and-carbavore). In the past couple of years I’ve cut a lot of meat out of my diet. I rarely eat red meat. I’m morally against veal. I’m down to chicken, turkey and the occasional seafood, but only if I’m not buying. Can I afford to eat solely cruelty free? No. Can I afford to eat vegan? No.
My meat-intake mainly consists of tomato sauce made with ground turkey (with noodles and Parmesan cheese). I’m from New England–I was raised on extra-sharp white cheddar. I’m not crazy about beans (unless they’re refried) and nuts have too much fat to make them adequate for sole protein intake.
I just… I don’t care if you’re vegan, or if you’re like that guy from Parks and Rec who only eats meat. I don’t care if your entire food pyramid is made up of pizza-flavored goldfish and coke (much like my food pyramid freshman year of college). Other people’s food choices very rarely affect me.
One of my greatest pet peeves is when one person lumps an entire group of people together. Mostly it happens with religious groups or political parties. This is the first time I’ve come across something like this.
To me, this quote feels like someone is making the argument “people who have tattoos are offensive to people who don’t have tattoos.” It’s an oversimplification of a much more complex and serious lifestyle choice, but the essence is still similar. The fact remains that by making an assumption that I am making assumptions about you, you’re being as bad as you claim I’m being.
I understand that I might be the only omnivore who feels this way, and I understand that there are meat-eaters who do find veganism offensive and do transfer their uncomfortableness to them. I, however, am not like that.
Perhaps, like everything in my life, it all comes down to semantics and word choice. Putting a word like “some,” “many” or even “most” (though “most” would not be my first choice) before each use of the word “people” in that quote would have made all the difference. Instead of making sweeping generalizations and unqualified absolutes, the speaker would have been saying “Being vegan is offensive to [some] people who eat animals. When [many] people meet vegans, they become aware in that moment that they eat animals.”
All I want to say is that there are over 6 billion varied, unique and complex people on this earth. Not every omnivore looks down on vegans. Please do me that favor in return.