August 1, 2012
Are Vegans Snobs?
*Disclaimer: Elephants should probably be outside, not in rooms.
They won’t eat what’s on your menu. They won’t shop at your stores. They won’t wear the clothes you wear. And they look in horror at what’s on your plate. Who do vegans think they are?
Vegans are judgmental—I hear this frequently from regular folk (that means that 99% of people who are not vegan). They feel that vegans take on an attitude of superiority. So do vegans actually think they’re superior? Or are carnists projecting their own guilt about their consumer choices involving the oppression of animals?
In the recent contest by the New York Times, challenging readers to explain why it’s ethical to eat meat, the comments section was full of outrage: “why should we have to defend ourselves to a small minority of people?” I was just happy to see people considering the topic on a mass level.
I have discussed before that I feel that veganism is the path of evolution for human beings, touching on the misconception of vegan elitism. (Funny coincidence, Einstein had the same theory.) To sum it up: it’s not that vegans think they’re better than everyone else—it’s that they realize they’re not better than anyone else, hence the reason for their rejection of their ‘rank’ on the food chain.
And then there is the joke: “How do you know if someone is vegan? They’ll tell you.” (Except in all fairness they’ll have to tell you unless they want a large chunk of flesh handed to them at some point.)
So? Is it true? Are vegans happy with being a rare breed?
To make it clear: definitely not.
This is why you see vegan people standing on street corners with information about the environment and factory farming. Vegans want to make friends. The more the merrier.
Just because someone proudly claims to be vegan, it doesn’t mean that they’re putting you down for not being vegan. The vegan person may be the trigger for feelings of being judged, but vegans are just not that good – we can’t get inside your head and heart like that, as much as we might wish we could.
I used to rave out. When I was 19, I started going to electronic music events and it was such a positive experience for me in place of the bar scene where I would be ogled at and dancefloor raped. Raving is about dancing (dancing well), it’s about dressing colourfully and at times with a sense of humour, it’s about independence (it’s common for people to dance alone), and it’s about the contribution of art in its many forms.
When at rave parties, I would feel the PLUR (Peace Love Unity Respect), and have epiphany moments where I would feel at one with everyone in the room. We were all having the same experience together. There may or may not have been happy drugs involved.
I haven’t felt this since I became vegan, except at animal rights conferences.
When I became vegan 3.5 years ago, I would walk the streets and observe people acting like robots as they ate and shopped. I wondered how much they knew about animal industries. And if they knew what I knew, why they didn’t care. To be fair, I spent the first 26 years of my life relying on some form of animal product, but when I stepped into this new vegan world, it seemed that I was usually standing there alone.
Now, for the first time in a while, I’m going to a large outdoor rave, known and loved as BassCoast, and I’m wondering if I’ll feel connected to these people or alienated. There will definitely be freaks there. I can connect with freaks. Nudists. Hippies. Music lovers. Granolas. Check. Check. Check. Check. But there will also be many carnists there. Can I PLUR with them?
In BellyFit tonight (Tantra Fitness’s amazing bellydance/cardio class with Laura BonBon), I envisioned that the entire room of women was vegan. That each one of us had made a decision to be plant-powered. And for a moment, it became real. And in this moment, I realized how realistic this reality was.
This is the path to manifesting the world you want, vegans.
If you’re vegan and feeling the urge to judge others or alienate yourself from the group/dancefloor, envision everyone as already vegan. Because it’s entirely possible that they will one day soon be. And while it may be a stretch to envision, you have to dream it before it can exist in physical form. (Not getting new agey here, this is how ideas generally manifest, isn’t it? ~Think up idea, idea happens.)
So let’s review what it means to be a snob.
A snob is someone who turns down connections. Vegans want to make connections. This is why they’re always around holding up signs and passing out leafleats and distributing food.
A snob is someone who thinks they’re superior. Vegans know they’re not. So they eat low, low, low, low, low, low, low on the food chain.
A snob is someone who wants to be exclusive, part of a subgroup, different. Vegans want a vegan world – they don’t want to do all this to simply keep witnessing atrocities happening every day. They want a nonviolent world where they can relax and garden.
Snobs are cutting edge and will always change their stripes to be ahead of the game. Vegans didn’t use animal products yesterday, and they won’t tomorrow. They’re not trying to one up you.
So, what’s that you’re saying giant elephant? That you probably shouldn’t say out loud but you can since you’re an awesome elephant? Veganism is for most people about morality. Shh! Don’t say it out loud. It’s elitist and judgy.
Vegans for the most part feel that going vegan is a form of progress for them. It’s an accomplishment. This does not necessarily mean that they judge you for not having chosen a vegan lifestyle. I want to say ‘yet’.
Honestly, vegans do believe that at some point, you will at least ponder the decision. Maybe not in this lifetime, but eventually. But for vegans who think like this, it’s no different than an adult looking at a child without judgment—they know that eventually, the child will grow up and become a better communicator with more refined ways of getting what they want. This is a nice way of explaining how vegans see carnists: the decision to consume animal products is NOT valid and equal, but is a decision based on an entirely different set of life experiences for each person, and people will face the decision at their own pace.
Some might find this inside info. offensive. “See! This is exactly why I hate vegans!” you might be thinking. But the metaphor of old vs young souls is a gentle way to put it.
What does a toddler do to get what it wants? Has a tantrum.
What does an adult do to get what it wants? Something less violent.
Maturity, it seems, usually takes on the less violent form.
In comparison, what does a carnist do to nourish themselves? Pays someone to kill an animal for them, or spills the blood of an animal.
What does a vegan do to nourish themselves? Picks vegetation from the ground or a tree, or pays someone to do it.
To be fair, I think vegans do sometimes enjoy being outcasts and forget that the division between them and carnists is not a permanent one, a division that could change any day.
Vegans are, after all, totally imperfect humans. Not saints or nuns or goodie 2 shoes, and not aspiring to be. We may have grown past relying on animal products, but there are quadrillions of other ways left to grow.