How to veg out (without bragging about it)

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The Nerd’s Last Word with Michael Bosley

“I’ll stick to bacon, thanks!” reads the terse comment left on a Facebook advertisement for a vegan meat alternative by one of the major supermarket brands.

“Why do vegans feel the need to ram their lifestyles down our throats!?” reads another. In fact, the whole thread, save for a small number of actual vegans who have tagged fellow vegans is full of defensive meat eaters who have taken exception to an advertisement on their free-to-use platform that isn’t even aimed at them.

Vegans eh? Choosing to live a lifestyle that has the least impact on the environment and animals. Who do they think they are? 

In this age of ‘instant offence’ where the line between a contented existence and outrage is a hairline trigger away, every subject of discussion and life choice is an opportunity to find injustice where there seemingly is none.

For many meat eaters, this oppression is not borne from any personal experience they’ve had with a vegan, but from a stereotyped image created by other meat-eaters that all vegans are holier-than-thou social justice warriors shaming and indoctrinating other meat eaters into following their salad eating ways.

“How do you identify a vegan? Don’t worry, they’ll be sure to tell you.”

That’s right, vegans, eh? Having to ask for vegan menus at restaurants. Do they ever shut up about it?

I’m a fully-fledged meat eater myself but have never felt that vegans have ever encroached on what I choose to eat. On the contrary, I respect them for having the conviction to act on their beliefs and if anything, it serves to highlight my lazy life choices that are based more often than not on convenience and cost rather than any genuine moral choice.

Perhaps then, it is not any one action by vegans that causes irritation in meat eaters, but the fact that their life choice highlights an inconvenient truth that we purchase and consume unquestioningly and contradict ourselves as a nation of supposed animal lovers.

It leaves us uncomfortable as individuals who have carefully created an image of ourselves as responsible, empathic and conscientious and ultimately have that perception challenged by the positive actions of others.

It’s instead become a socially accepted norm that those who choose to make positive changes in their lives should simply keep quiet about it for fear of offending those who have not, possibly eroding their delicately constructed sense of a virtuous self that in action, never really existed.

Instead of a reactionary attack on those who leave us feeling uncomfortable, perhaps we should begin to look inwardly and understand what it is about ourselves that we can change for the better, or in the very least tolerate or even appreciate the choices of others.

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