If you are a vegan and believe there is a tsunami of hate directed your way, you are not being paranoid. In Australia, with its meat-centric diet and a barbecue culture where much more than a shrimp is thrown on the grill, vegetarians and vegans, who incidentally make up about 5 and 2 per cent of the population respectively, are often viewed with suspicion and distaste.
It never ceases to amaze me why would people hate those who are so compassionate that they refuse to eat animal carcasses or taint their bodies – and their conscience – with anything produced by what they consider a cruel agricultural industry. But it also doesn’t surprise me. And here’s why.
Firstly, vegans have today banded into a vociferous activist group who can choose to be intimidatory and downright annoying. Nobody wants to be lectured on what they should and shouldn’t eat and, even more importantly, on what their vocation in life should be. Last month, we saw footage on television, of packs of vegan activists storming Australian cattle farms and demanding that the ‘cruelty’ be stopped forthwith. Others have pushed their way into restaurants to blare their anti-meat message to non-plussed diners peacefully chomping on juicy lamb steaks and tender veal cutlets.
Secondly, vegans force people to see a part of themselves that they aren’t proud of. People generally love animals, but they are also eating them, and the meat-shunners are somehow making it seem like a condemnation of their choice to dine on dead animals.
Also, people have eaten meat for thousands of years, and when a band of angry people descend upon us telling us we should not, it represents a threat to the status quo, and such change makes people anxious.
Despite figures of an exponential rise of vegans – and consequently, vegan food on the market – vegans will continue to be a thorn in countless sides. And although their activism for the voiceless – the battle to cease the spillage of innocent blood to titillate taste-buds, is to be admired – sometimes its best vegans kept their opinions to themselves and ate their tofu burgers in dignified silence.