by Grant Nash
‘People mock vegans because they don’t like to be reminded of the harm they do to animals; it’s really that simple. It’s the same strategy that’s been used to counter every social justice movement – propagating negative stereotypes in an attempt to try silence people.’ – Dr Casey Taft
I have been vegan for just over six years now and in all this time I have never been exposed to the amount of memes, jokes and illogical counter vegan arguments, usually in picture form, currently swamping my social media feeds.
Just a month ago I was sent a ‘funny’ vegan meme from a friend of mine about what to do when a vegan is choking, followed by an illustration of someone head-slamming the choking individual into the ground and killing him underlined by the words: ‘In the world of Bacon Fun, the only thing more fun than killing a pig is killing people who do not eat them.’
Did the friend honestly think I was going to appreciate this, have a good laugh or enjoy the content of this meme? The truth is I don’t believe he did. Instead, it’s a complete reflection of how veganism makes him feel. He gets nervous around the conversation, he brushes it off, doesn’t want to listen and makes sure he makes a joke of every possible vegan he can. Why? Because, as vegan advocate and Professor of Psychiatry at Boston University School of Medicine Dr Casey Taft, reminds us, people don’t like to be reminded of the harm they do to animals.
When I am faced with a joke, a mockery, or a poke, I take a breath, centre myself, think of those that are suffering and need our help, build up the courage and then, as warmly as possible, reply: ‘Thanks for your attempt at making me laugh, but please understand that I will never be able to laugh at the cruelty, the exploitation and murder that comes with animal agriculture. I simply will never find those things funny and the truth is almost every human I know, if exposed to the brutality of the food industry, wouldn’t either.’
This usually does one of two things; shuts them up quickly and gets them to move right along or allows me to get into a conversation about animal agriculture. Remember though that what comes next is usually a plethora of illogical fallacies and ill-conceived, absurd arguments, but hey, at least I’ve planted the seeds.
So, be strong my fellow vegan friends. My fear is that the stronger the movement becomes, the worse this is going to get, so hang in there. As Arthur Schopenhauer once said: ‘All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed (I’m not looking forward to this part). Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.’
Until the third stage, we continue, unapologetically in our struggle for the animals.