Angry Vegans are A-Okay

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Angry Vegans are A-Okay

Anger: n. A strong feeling of annoyance or displeasure.

Outrage: n. an extremely strong reaction of anger, shock, or indignation

I’ve been in the minority all of my life for various reasons- I know what it is like to be discriminated against for simply existing and my veganism is no exception.  So, to combat all those negative stereotypes (think “angry militant vegan”), I try very hard to afford folks respect during a debate on veganism because…well, because it’s the right thing to do.  No one wins in an argument, it’s only through honest debate that we learn what the other side has to say.  Something like that.

There used to be a blog in my reader that was vegan but is no longer.  I kept this blog in my reader for several reasons.

  1. I simply like this blogger and wish them nothing but happiness.
  2. Veganism was set aside due to a temporary current health situation.*  I had hopes (due to the blogger’s own writings) that they would return to the vegan lifestyle once this temporary condition changed.

*I am not advocating that we should set aside our veganism “for our health” as this statement implies.  I simply understand why some people think that they have to given the society we currently live in.

Then one day, “the” post appeared.  The one addressing the fact that the blogger is no longer vegan.  It’s the Ye Olde Standard, “I’m listening to my body and doing what I think is best for me.”  It’s the same way that every ex-vegan begins a post to explain why they aren’t vegan any longer.  The ending of the post is always something about thanking the people (non-vegans) for rallying around them and supporting their “decision to live a healthy meat eating diet.”  Which, of course, is always followed by a large amount of anti-vegan rhetoric in the form of comments.  How vegans are militant, crazy, and attack ex-vegans.  Somewhere in there is always a reply from the blog owner to one of the people who commented saying something about how they’ve been getting “emails from vegans and, wow, are they judgmental / angry / threatening / yadda yadda.”

Listen, I’m not calling anyone a liar but, I’ve been running multiple blogs for years on extremely controversial topics and I’ve only gotten a handful of angry emails.  And I piss people off a lot.  Just saying.

Then there’s this:

I went vegan for health reasons and personal choice and not for ethical reasons.

That, followed by the statement that they didn’t want to be judged “on their food choices.”  So, what are we to judge this person on who admits to not having ethics about their food choices and puts personal choice over the lives of non-humans?  Their ability to parallel park?  Excuse me, that’s just silly.  After all, it is a food blog that this person is running.

Some people say it doesn’t matter why you’re vegan- it only matters that you are.

Logic would say that a vegan would agree, right?  Well, if you have no ethics about what you are eating then it’ll be pretty damn easy to set it aside at whim.  After all, who stays loyal to “a diet?”  Not the majority.  So, if you are vegan without any ethical considerations, then it’ll be easy for you to become an ex-vegan when the non-vegan cupcakes are passed around the office.

Does that mean I’m hating on all health vegans?  Absolutely notI appreciate that their vegan diet helps the animals. But if you are a health vegan, why not go all the way?  You’ve already proved that you have commitment to veganism through your diet, why not take it further?  I’d support you, I’d help you and so would thousands of other vegans out there.

I’ve been told before that the vegan movement fails because of “bitter, angry, protesting, raging vegans going around shoving shit down peoples throats like the religious right…ANGER never wins any battles in this war.

The vegan movement fails because most people, quite simply, are unwilling to have personal sacrifice in their lives.  It’s too hard, there’s no where they can eat out, they don’t want to have to look for vegan shoes, jackets, or bedding.  And of course- they couldn’t live without dairy.  Veganism means we look beyond ourselves and extend freedom and life to the animals we share this planet with.  It’s the bigger picture and, sadly, most people just don’t care.

It’s hard to hear that you won’t get to eat out as often or have as many choices when you do, or that you can’t buy those cute shoes you love because they’re leather- I get it.  I’m vegan.  But being vegan isn’t about me or you.  It’s about them- the animals that never have a life beyond cruelty, beyond pain and fear.  It’s about starting conversations about hard topics, it’s speaking your mind when something isn’t ethical- it’s being ethical yourself.  And, sometimes, it is about being angry- or is it outraged?

I think that there can be an appropriate place for anger.  It is appropriate to be angry that these animals are being heinously abused.  That’s why it’s called an injustice. It is appropriate to be angry enough to want to do something about it.  Anger can be a powerful motivator when used in a positive manner.  Control it.  Channel the anger into positive by working to help affect change and raise awareness.

All of the gains made that we received in the area of civil rights have come about because the Negro stood up courageously for these rights and he was willing to aggressively press on. So I would think that it would be much better in the long run to stand up and be aggressive with understanding, good will and with a sense of discipline. Yet these things should not be substitutes for pressing on and with this aggressive attitude. I believe we will bring the gains or other civil rights into being much sooner than just standing idly by waiting for these things to be given voluntarily. – Martin Luther King, Jr

Personally, I’m angry that the vegan movement has been reduced to an eating plan on so many blogs.  I’m angry that there are more stories about what vegan foods celebrities enjoy than unifying our movement for real change.  I’m angry that this life and death movement has been sugar-coated by the mainstream- turning it into an “every little bit counts” campaign.  And I’m angry that (in trying to make veganism mainstream) vegans have watered down our commitment so that now consistent is equated to militant.  Why aren’t we standing up for each other, standing by each other, and working together to create a larger more influential community?  Why do we continually try to redefine what veganism is so that it will fit in with the mainstream, the very thing we’re trying to change?

And listen, before you tell me about how my being angry furthers the notion that vegans are militant, angry, single-issue, nit-picking, policing, finger pointers- it’s perfectly natural to be angry.  It doesn’t make me an angry person, it makes me angry at the situation.  Anger is an emotion that anyone can have, vegan or not.  It’s what you do with that anger that’s important.

Me, I’m going to use my anger in a positive way.  After all, I am a voice for billions of animals every single day.  I can’t let them down.

August 4th, 2011|Op-Ed|

About the Author:

Founder & Creator of Your Daily Vegan. Twitter: @YourDailyVegan

30 Comments

  1. Amanda November 1, 2016 at 9:49 pm - Reply

    What I don’t understand, and what never seems to be addressed (at least anywhere that I’ve seen or heard), is why the non-judgmental, kind vegans (which I dare say is most vegans) don’t step up and put a stop to the militant vegans. Their way of doing this is clearly having an extremely deleterious affect on the vegan movement (as evidenced in part by this article as well). I’ve heard HORRIFIC comments from the militant crowd about people who at one end aren’t vegan, and at the other and aren’t vegan enough. It’s unbelievable to me that for a movement that is supposed to be based on kindness, such black HATRED is tolerated. The militant vegans will never listen to the pleas for kindness from anyone but fellow-vegans (provided they’re vegan enough). Why isn’t there push-back from the rest? The “angry vegan” idea didn’t spring out of thin air. Most people think that all vegans are like this, because that’s what they’re seeing. If they think that is what being vegan is about, can we blame them for wanting no part in it?

  2. India October 24, 2016 at 5:37 pm - Reply

    Thank you for this post! This is exactly how I’ve been feeling lately! It’s such a relief to know someone feels the same.

  3. Jenna January 27, 2014 at 1:58 am - Reply

    I can’t help but feel angry too.. When others eat meat and have no compassion … They don’t even think about what the animal that was brutally murdered went through. It’s disgusting and sad. I don’t want to be judgemental or angry but this is how I feel.

  4. Joy October 29, 2013 at 1:02 am - Reply

    I been vegan for almost 2 years and I can’t help but get angry lately :( it’s so… Disgusting how people have no compassion for these innocent creatures :(

  5. Christen February 1, 2012 at 2:13 am - Reply

    Thank you so much for writing this! I just recently became vegan and am having a hard time being nice and not making waves when I talk about my new vegan lifestyle. I am angry with how brain washed and desensitize people are to the serious pain and suffering we let animals endure! I simply cannot believe it nor believe I did not realize this sooner! Factory farming and where our food and clothing comes from should be taught to us as children. Anyways… I am upset and I do not want to hide it. Thank you!

  6. Katie December 2, 2011 at 5:23 pm - Reply

    Thank you for this! I didn’t realize until I became a vegan just how hot a topic it is! I posted a blog post a few weeks ago urging my readers to man-up and watch the film “Earthlings” – in a totally “inform yourself” kind of way. I got some serious backlash in the way of people posing arguments like: “do you know how many people commit suicide at plants that produce your iDevices? I suppose you should throw your phone, computer and iPad away and curl your lip at those who don’t”! It seems that urging people to find out where their dinner comes from raises an irrational anger that cannot be negotiated away. You’re brave and awesome for blogging in this arena. My anger surrounding talking about my vegan lifestyle is in the process of displacement – more kale makes me less angry. Keep on rockin’!

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  8. Joshua September 24, 2011 at 11:43 pm - Reply

    Thank you so much for this posting. I have been vegan for 5 years, and the only vegetarian among all of my friends or family. I still have not mastered the anger bit. I feel very dissatisfied that I’m currently unable to really affect the dietary choices of anybody other than myself. I’m trying to read lots of books and articles and become educated enough on the issues to the point that I feel comfortable doing vegan activism.

  9. PhilosopherPoet September 2, 2011 at 10:27 am - Reply

    This article truly shifted my thinking.

    I’m afraid I can’t speak from the perspective of a Vegan or Vegetarian…although eating healthy and taking action against environmental destruction is never a bad thing.

    Since the Industrial revolution, and the mass production of food it’s hard too look at meat as a bad thing. When you’re browsing the supermarket and you’re staring at the neatly wrapped pork chops it doesn’t seem the same. Although how many of us buying meat, would be prepared to shoot the pig, gut it, and then begin cooking it?

    I’m sure your perspective (assuming you’re a meat eater) would change somehow. You have to look at everything in perspective.

    Superbly written, thanks for sharing ;)

  10. Candice August 31, 2011 at 3:59 pm - Reply

    Every little bit does help, I’m angry at vegans for trying to keep veganism OUT of the mainstream..like their favorite indie band, they want to claim it for their own, because their identity is so attached to it. GROW UP..Meatless Monday is one less chicken bought., one less chicken killed, one less chicken bred. And if a person makes a small step towards veganism it’s better than NO STEP. You purists, the movement isn’t based on you…surprise!

  11. steve August 31, 2011 at 3:09 pm - Reply

    @Suzanne, I think the analogy with the Civil Rights movement has to do with the rights of animals, not the rights of vegans. Animals cannot choose not to be animals that we consider food. Most vegans sacrifice a lot of things they could enjoy for the sake of other animals, we’re generally not selfish or martyrs. Angry sometimes, yes, but it’s because we’re fighting for someone who can’t fight for himself, not because we are discriminated against ourselves.

  12. Chris Boyd August 31, 2011 at 2:56 pm - Reply

    Great post!

  13. Susanne August 29, 2011 at 12:22 am - Reply

    I am just a little confused on why you’d use the photo you used for this blog post? It’s a march for equal rights for black people. Vegans can stop being vegan.. *as evidenced in the blogger that you’re discussing here)..we choose to be vegan. Black people are black. They can’t just one day decide to stop being black and then all the other blacks get mad at them. I think the use of the photo for this piece is a little tacky. I mean, think about it.

  14. Janie August 17, 2011 at 4:25 pm - Reply

    As a fairly new vegan, I am much more aware of animal suffering. I was vegetarian for 30+ years because it didn’t seem right that animals should die for me so I could eat them. But, I had no idea what corporate dairy and egg farms were like. My husband decided to go vegan for health reasons and of course, I joined him. If it hadn’t been for health reasons to get him started, we may have never learned what we know now. So, while it can be frustrating to see all the health-only posts and blogs, it is a way to open the door to real change and more educated eaters.

  15. Teresa August 10, 2011 at 10:34 pm - Reply

    Thank you for the great post! After 4 years as a vegetarian, I made the leap to veganism almost two years ago! I appreciate this post as a reminder of the true ideals I embodied when I became a vegan. It is a calling to consistently work to improve myself as a vegan and work to help those around me understand the ethical ideals I try to live out daily. It is always good to have reminders; thank you for your wonderful statement!

  16. Nathan August 10, 2011 at 2:44 pm - Reply

    Speaking of an upset vegan!! VegNews published an article in their recent issue, July/August 2011, that supports animal testing legislation through a lack of fact checking and research. I was pretty upset about this. Here is more info on their article:

    http://personalcaretruth.com/2011/08/vegnews-magazine-endorses-animal-testing-legislation/

  17. Daya August 6, 2011 at 8:33 pm - Reply

    The ‘angry vegan’ mentality is the same mentality that causes feminists to be accused of being angry ‘bra-burners’, and causes gays to be accused of throwing their lifestyle in peoples’ faces if they merely mention that they have a partner, in spite of straight people going around wearing wedding rings and talking about their spouses, girlfriends, and boyfriends all the time. This backlash will always happen when the oppressed stand up for their rights against oppressors.

  18. Charlotte August 5, 2011 at 2:50 pm - Reply

    Great post. I’m angry because most people are so defensive about their food choices that it’s near impossible to discuss the main issue, i.e. animal rights. My approach is to present veganism as a good choice to make by not conforming to negative stereotypes – i.e. making it clear that I am not anorexic, not judgmental, that my food is delicious and not limited to tofu, and that I am able to be healthy and athletic, etc.

    I’ve actually never met a vegan who was at all judgmental against non-vegan people (only against the food production system generally), but the stereotype is somehow so prevalent that even my close friends who are omnivores start *incredibly* defensive conversations about veganism if they so much as see me eating a vegetable, nevermind if I mention that I am vegan for whatever reason.

    And it makes me angry that I have to bend over backwards, smiling and listening to people say that “I can’t be vegan because I love the taste of bacon/cheese”, or (unprompted) “don’t judge me, it’s my choice to eat meat, and there isn’t any one choice that’s right – morals aren’t universal, and this is what works for me and my health and me me me me me”. I know that if I were to ask why the taste of something is more important than reducing suffering, or why people don’t want to think about factory farming, or why they believe that their organic meat came from a happy cow, I become “that militant, judgmental vegan who likes animals better than people”. On the other hand, the “every choice is valid because I am a special snowflake” crap makes me angry enough to motivate me to take action wherever I can, so maybe there’s a sliver lining.

  19. omyogi August 5, 2011 at 6:49 am - Reply

    This is a wonderful post. Thank you.
    I originally went vegan after reading a book after a severe health episode. My original motivation was health and vitality but as I read more and more about the diet AND lifestyle, I became solidified in my decision. And I have never looked back. I think the problem that “health vegans” or just your average fad-dieter (celebrity driven consumerism) is that there is little follow-up on their part. They don’t reach for that second and third book, not realizing that they’d feel much less alone in their decision and realize there are a ton more choices than they think. I mean, I decided to go Vegan when I lived in Philadelphia…land of plenty…and 4 months later was living in Germany…land of schnitzel and brats…and I found my way through for my 18 months there. I can do it, anyone can.
    Thanks again for the post…and for this awesome forum for discussion.
    Namaste.

  20. Jacob August 4, 2011 at 11:53 pm - Reply

    I agree with everything completely. However, while we shouldn’t be wholly accepting of “trendy vegans” or people who claim to be “vegan-ish”.. they still are a lot closer than the majority of people. With that being said, their needs to be some sort way for us to help those people make the connection, because they are so close. Part of me does struggle with the fact it takes a certain type of person to go vegan for animals (myself).. We realize that their sacrifices are for the greater good. Most people, sadly, are simply unable to make this decision/sacrifice. I don’t view what I do as a sacrifice, I view it as a blessing. I feel lucky to have found the knowledge and wake up every day knowing I’m part of the solution and not the problem… I just don’t know if you can FORCE people to feel that way. Hell, there are still a ton of people who believe blacks shouldn’t have rights. It’s insanity, but it exists.

    Visit my blog http://www.jacobrepko.wordpress.com. I write about a lot. Veganism being one of them.

  21. VeganMortician August 4, 2011 at 9:46 pm - Reply

    Great article. Thank you. I doubt my anger will ever be quelled, but it is what it is. “Wow, you’re vegan? That must be hard.” No, not when you realize what’s actually important in life.

  22. Harry August 4, 2011 at 6:02 pm - Reply

    ‘Restlessness is discontent … and discontent is the first necessity for progress.’ If Thomas Edison were still alive I’m sure he’d agree that anger is a frequent emotion felt when restless about what is going on around us.

    To achieve progress we must be restless. Being restless heightens many of our emotions of which anger is just one. Hurt and sorrow and love are others. ALL of these emotions provide the fuel to push on to a better world.

    Superb post. Thank you.

  23. Sarah August 4, 2011 at 5:50 pm - Reply

    I agree with every word- THANK YOU! xx

  24. VegaNation August 4, 2011 at 5:49 pm - Reply

    What a sensational piece- I agree with every angry word- THANK YOU!, hugs, Sarah

  25. Rita August 4, 2011 at 12:15 pm - Reply

    Great stuff: the nimsy-pimsy “never have a dark thought” school of mush is going nowhere – well, I guess it does some good somewhere – but it certainly doesn’t get people out on the streets, where they should be. Fierce, negative emotions are fine – go ahead and have them, it doesn’t mean you’re going to hit anyone, it just means you’re going to try your damndest to change a bad situation for the better!

  26. Rhea August 4, 2011 at 11:53 am - Reply

    Beautifully written! Thank you.

  27. Takia August 4, 2011 at 11:15 am - Reply

    This is a great post! When I first decided to go vegan, I must admit that it was for health reasons and not ethics. I had never thought about the food on my plate as a life. As I learned more about veganism, I couldn’t help but to also consider my decision an ethical one. I was raised believing that humans had reign over animals but I no longer believe that is true. So consider me angry. I realize that the mistreatment and abuse that animals go through at the expense of chicken nuggets is unfair. I get angry because it is so difficult to change people’s perspective about diet. People in my community identify with certain meats as a part of our culture so veganism becomes a threat to their sense of being…which in my opinion is ridiculous.

    Again, great post! Keep them coming.

    Takia
    phillyfoodforthought.com

  28. Gina August 4, 2011 at 9:16 am - Reply

    What a well written post! I hear you – you are vegan, you don’t eat vegan. I have been working hard to be vegan. It’s a committment. We can’t just be do as I say and not as I do. Deliberate compassion is what is going to save this world and just like any relationship – our relationship with our fellow creatures and with this planet – you have to work at it.

    I don’t get angry, I try to educate. You aren’t living a lifestyle if you can’t explain it to others. That’s why vegans have such a bad rap. Most talk the talk but do not walk the walk. They also fail to remember that compassion extends to all animals – including the human one.

    Once again, fabulous post!

  29. Anne-Marie August 4, 2011 at 8:08 am - Reply

    Excellent post!!

  30. Julia August 4, 2011 at 8:07 am - Reply

    I’m angry at the same things you listed re: the movement. I’ve come to the realization that those that claim to be ex-vegans just don’t get it and never actually understood what veganism was/is about. That’s why it was so easy for them to claim they were vegan one day and not the next. I feel the only way to stay/be vegan is to understand the ethical stance behind it. I’m comfortable in my life as a vegan and can’t even imagine going back to a non-vegan lifestyle. I also find it interesting that these people always mention “militant, angry” vegans when most vegans I have met are just the opposite. I recently experienced this – “…vegans have watered down our commitment so that now consistent is equated to militant.” WTF! I refuse to feel bad for my consistency. This just fuels even more confusion within the movement. Why are vegans asking me if I am a strict vegan?! What do they even mean? To me, you are either vegan or not.

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