Vegans. The word alone is enough to make people roll their eyes and sigh. Maybe it’s because every single vegan is on a do or die mission to convert the mainstream population to their radical way of life, or maybe it’s because people just love having a stereotype to hate. I’ll preface this article by saying that I am not a vegan, I don’t feel bad about eating meat and I don’t feel like I will anytime soon. However, that doesn’t mean that vegans are my sworn enemy and I need to start attacking them any chance I get.
Veganism seems to have shifted from a genuinely good-hearted movement that aims to encourage environmental consciousness and improve animal welfare, to something that middle-aged men who have cars as their profile picture and 15-year-old edge lords make shitty memes about on Facebook. It’s become a joke to a lot of people and an easy way to dismiss someone’s point, just because they follow a different diet to you.
Over the weekend, a prominent vegan activist shared a video that shows him nearly being hit by an overtaking car. Harley Johnstone, the activist responsible for the video, goes off on one, screaming and yelling at the driver who looks pretty perplexed. The video went viral and illustrated the tensions between drivers and cyclists, but that’s not what many took away from it.
The comments were littered with things like “Typical vegan” and “I’d love to run him down,” as well as an abundance of people who acted like they’ve never experienced road rage before. I’m not saying that Harley didn’t go overboard, but the way people used his diet as an excuse to totally disregard the fact that he could have died is somewhat worrying.
Say what you will, but there’s no denying that vegans and vegetarians in Australia are marginalised and bullied. I spoke to Vinnie Batten, president of university vegan society QUT Veg, who illustrated how vegans and vegetarians are treated in Australia. Vinnie said that “It’s really not fair to paint an entire demographic with the actions of the extreme. Most of us are trying to do nothing more than reduce our environmental footprint and ethical impact of what lands on our plate, and it’s disappointing when people go out of their way to mock and belittle that.”
Vinne also mentioned how some businesses can make vegans feel like an inconvenience for simply following their dietary requirements. How is discriminating against a vegan for their lifestyle any different to racial discrimination, sexism or other forms of bigotry?
Sure, some vegans are insufferable and attempt to push their agenda or make you feel like a lesser being for eating meat, but surely we’ve all worked out now that this attitude doesn’t apply to the overwhelming majority. Australia is now the third-fastest growing vegan market in the world and 11.2% of the population follow a vegetarian or vegan diet. Veganism is clearly not a fad and the sooner people stop treating it like that, the less it has to clog up our daily discussions and newsfeeds.
I’m not saying that everyone should start eating tofu, cycling to work or linking arms to sing Kumbaya, but can we at least stop the circle-jerk of ‘haha vegans suck amirite?’ because it isn’t helping anyone.
Some people eat meat, some people don’t. How about we stop posting stale memes that weren’t funny three years ago, and start making fun of each other for the abundance of other weird things that humans do.