I didn’t post last week, as I’d just left home to set off on my workawaying adventure. Now that I’ve settled in at my workaway, hopefully I can get back into my routine.
This week, I want to touch on the attitude that some vegans – albeit a minority – have towards meat-eaters. This attitude is epitomised in a certain video by Freelee The Banana Girl. In the video, she states that vegans are better than meat-eaters because we’ve made a better choice.
I think this argument is flawed, but I suspect many of us hold these views to some degree. When we look around us and see so many people participating in animal suffering, it’s easy to think poorly of them. I sometimes catch myself doing it.
But it’s important to remember that veganism is only one example of an ethical choice. Non-vegans may be zero-waste, or choose to buy only FairTrade products. Or they may devote hours every week to helping those in need. Does being vegan mean I’m ‘better’ than those people? No. Some might argue that being vegan has a greater positive impact than these other choices, but this is somewhat subjective.
Also, everyone’s situation is completely different. Some people have never been exposed to the arguments for veganism. Others would like to change, but are extremely busy, or overwhelmed by their current circumstances. Many people have no idea how to cook without animal products. Some have never learnt to cook at all, and are reliant on ready-meals. Others are surrounded by extremely unsupportive family members and friends. These are not insurmountable hurdles, but they do make things considerably more difficult.
In general, I have found that vegans tend to make more ethical choices than the general population. They also seem more likely to treat other humans with compassion. But this is not always the case. I’ve seen vegans use racist and otherwise offensive language, for instance. These people have no claim to moral superiority.
Essentially, making one choice that’s more ethical than someone else’s doesn’t make you a better person. There are so many factors which influence people’s choices, and no-one is objectively ‘better’ than anyone else. If my life had been different, I might never have become vegan.
Acting as if we’re superior to others isn’t going to make us any friends. Were far more likely to get through to non-vegans if we’re compassionate and down-to-earth. Otherwise, we’re just reinforcing the negative stereotypes about vegans.
I know it’s only a minority of vegans who behave in this way. People often accuse us quite unfairly of believing we’re superior to others. As is often pointed out, we’re vegan because we don’t believe we’re superior to anyone, including animals. We should be proud that we’ve made such a compassionate choice. But it’s important that we remember to extend that compassion to other humans too.