Yesterday, I came across this really great article called THE ULTIMATE ARGUMENTS AGAINST VEGANISM. It answers each of the circulating rationalizations people tend to make against choosing a vegan lifestyle. Both illogical arguments and genuine misinformation are answered, one-by-one, with well thought-out and poised responses. It’s a fantastic tool for any ethical vegan who finds him or herself at the other end of an unwanted debate with a jackass or a legit Q&A session with the well-intended.
Here’s why I think it matters.
I read somewhere that non-vegans will never ‘win’ an argument with a vegan because they aren’t arguing with the vegan, they’re arguing with their conscience.
I’m going to sidestep the notion that all conversations about veganism have to be arguments and just discuss the point of the statement as a whole.
At first glance, that statement is easy for vegans to proudly accept and relish in our own moral superiority. However, it’s actually a little unfair because it broadly casts aspersions on anyone who has failed to make the same choice as we have and with the same undeniable passion. The truth is that very few of us were born into a vegan lifestyle or even decided to live one until we were mature or informed enough to decide for ourselves. We had to arrive at that commitment in our own time, on our own path. So it doesn’t make a lot of sense to turn around and uniformly criticize non-vegans with the same insult.
When I think about how long it took me to become vegetarian, I know that I didn’t hold off because I made a conscious decision to eat and live in a way that was in conflict with my personal ethics. Rather, I just didn’t educate myself. I didn’t know. But I certainly wasn’t consciously harming other sentient beings. I was just living the life I was taught. During the 4 years that I was vegetarian, however, I opened myself to the conversations and to the information, and I finally understood that there was no other option, for me, but to live a vegan lifestyle.
I can honestly say, though, that my personal decision to be vegan, made quietly and in keeping with my developing code of ethics, incited more hostility and derision than any other personal decision that I’ve ever made. For some reason, I became a target for unsolicited debates, unwarranted aggression, judgment and a strangely frequent method of taunting by some meat-eaters who would dramatically act out their blissful enjoyment of devouring muscle for pleasure, meant purely to upset me.
But just as undeserving as I was for such attacks, so are many non-vegans undeserving of our blanket judgment. No more so are all non-vegans relentless sociopaths than all vegans self-righteous snobs. If our aim, as ethical vegans, is to spread information and insight with the hopes of inspiring positive change in the world, I don’t believe we can do that by tearing down everyone who isn’t us. I read something else that I think more accurately reflects the kindness that our compassionate choice embodies: Be the vegan you wish you met before you were vegan.
In my experience, most non-vegans shy away from honest conversations out of fear that they will be subjected to unforgettable, graphic descriptions of the horrors at factory farms. And while those are pure and authentic reasons to be vegan, not all souls can bear those realities right away. More so, those honest conversations can’t happen at all if the person feels attacked or unwelcome. So they shut down, and they walk away, creating a sacred missed opportunity.
So take a look at this article, and speak confidently, not aggressively, that our choice to live gently upon this earth was born out of compassion and education. Walk that walk and be available to anyone who is curious or intimidated.
There are a ton of reasons to feel panicked about the sustainability of our resources, or enraged by the exploitation of and violence against innocent animals, or deeply saddened by the push-back against change. But hostility won’t affect change in a positive way. It never has.
I’m not saying, “Don’t be angry.” No. Be angry at the injustice and the cruelty and the suffering and the despair and the insidious spread of misinformation. I’m just asking that we not be counterproductive. Don’t back down. Don’t give up. It’s too important. But be the light that guides. It’s the fastest way to permanent change.