Patience: Just Leave Vegans Alone

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By Alisa Patience

Lent, the Christian religious tradition of giving up something one loves for forty days, has begun. Many use this time as a way to re-start their New Years’ Resolutions, and — already — I’ve heard several students say they are giving up all animal-related products to become vegan for Lent. Some credit this diet inspiration to existing vegans because they have become so vocal, even pushy, that others are following the dieting examples out of guilt. In fact, it seems like many have expressed great resentment towards vegans because of their perceived “pushy” attitudes of superiority and judgment towards people who eat meat and dairy at the expense of the animals the products come from.

I’m not vegan, so my defense of the stigmas associated with veganism isn’t coming from a place of personal motivation, but it seems to me that vegans are not being unreasonably forceful about their diets when talking about them with other people, and they shouldn’t be so harshly criticized. The most I see any vegan expressing is their joy for how they eat on social media. While comments like these are public, they aren’t hurting anyone. Additionally, for those who read the comments and take offense, it’s my opinion that they should make an effort not to get so bent out of shape over the beliefs of vegans.

No one has the right to criticize another person’s diet. There are so many things that determine whether a person is good or not, but what they eat is not one of them and therefore doesn’t warrant the criticism it gets concerning veganism, even if vegans do come off as somewhat judgmental. As human beings, everyone is allowed to express praise for the things they love and believe in. If someone loves being vegan and believes in the principles surrounding it, let them enjoy that.

Of course, people speaking about what they believe in can influence or inspire others to make changes, but those are changes people make on their own and that aren’t representative of a culture trying to force its beliefs onto other people. There are advantages to eating meat, like the large protein intake, and there are physical and ecological advantages to being vegan, such as not contributing to the large use of water it takes to prepare a single serving of meat. I don’t think the growing vegan population is evidence of force or over preaching. I think it’s evidence of inspiration.

Maybe vegans have a knack for making meat-eaters feel attacked for contributing to causes of animal abuse, mass production, pollution, water waste, etc., but from what I’ve observed, it seems like vegans have good intentions. The defensive responses by those who enjoy consuming today’s animal products seem out of line. Maybe vegans could lay off a little bit, but — at the end of the day —, I think we should just let people eat what they want without so much ridicule.