Crash Test Vegetarian

Vegan to Omnivore outreach program

What’s so wrong about hugging trees anyway?

on July 21, 2011

When I tell someone I’m vegan, I get one of one of three main responses:

“Whats vegan?”
“Oh you’re one of those.”
“Oh, I’m a Republican.”

I can’t help but wonder –WHY?

You don’t get a reaction when you say, “I recycle,” or “I don’t smoke/drink/do drugs,” or even, “I agree with the Libertarians” OK, maybe you would get a bit of a reaction from that announcement.

Somehow, being vegan is offensive.   People have a near visceral reaction.  Not every vegan is a earth child (read as  non-shaving, non-deoderant wearing, patchouli wearing, pot smoking hippy. Not that there’s anything wrong with any of those things, but it’s just a stereotype)… and yet, tell someone you’re a vegan and they are likely to back away as if somehow they’re going to catch some kind of disease.  That or hand you a bar of soap and and a drug test.

At one point in history being a carnivore made sense. We were cave men and women. We couldn’t stay still long enough to cultivate the land what with fighting dinosaurs and woolly mammoths and junk. At least that is my story and I am sticking to it.  It was understandable all the way up to the recent past i.e. 19th century; when we were still having issues with horticulture. Our crops depended too much on nature and not enough on us.  But we’re not even close to resembling a time like that anymore.   So technically speaking, consuming meat is an archaic behavior (or just purely  habit, kinda like biting your finger nails).  We still slaughter turkeys for Thanksgiving (but thankfully not Native Americans at least not that we know of), when the closest thing we actually need to come to slaughtering is the big bad box of Tofurkey.

But at the heart of it, what the heck does it have to do with anyone else?  Regardless of the reason you are vegan or vegetarian, you aren’t forcing them to quit eating meat (Unless you are a militant vegetarian – you know the ones I am talking about, the people that target the meat eaters. Don’t do that, it hurts the cause  – my flexitarian husband’s words).

People KNOW that our planets resources are quickly being consumed.  People KNOW that we don’t need to continue the killing.  People KNOW that we all need to do our part to reduce our ‘footprint.’

Yet somehow we become a target for insults and ignorance.

Also, I’m pretty sure my chesticles are magnetically charged to attract food.

Thoughts?  (Not on the last part, that just can’t be fixed)

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9 responses to “What’s so wrong about hugging trees anyway?

  1. stace8383 says:

    I’m surprised you get such a reaction! I only know a few vegans, my best friend included, but none of them have ever mentioned such a common negative reaction to it! As far as I’m concerned, it’s a dietary choice (or necessity in some cases), and does not reflect political or religious views or anything else about a person!

    • Izzy says:

      The people I choose to associate with have been beautifully supportive and even accomidating. I’m very blessed to have many amazing people in my life. However, people whom I don’t exactly associate with, say… the significant other of a coworker that found out I was vegan for example, have not exactly been kind.

      The actual comments usually come as, “whats vegan” or “Oh man, I couldn’t give up a big juicy bloody slab of dead cow.”

  2. vegandeb says:

    I get the “a friend of mine knows someone who got really sick eating vegan. You better be careful” comment a lot. The one comment that really hurt was when my nephew who I absolutely adore, was looking at one of my Vegan Outreach pamphlets of animal slaughter and he said “this is making me hungry”. I know he was trying to be funny but it still hurt.

    Also, I hate to break it to you but not everyone agrees that our resources are running out and we need to watch our carbon footprint. I know several very conservative people who absolutely do not believe that. How did those people enter my life anyway? Just kidding. I love them even if they are wrong. 🙂

  3. E says:

    Great post, girl; i can relate. My longtime hervivorousness has gotten a wide variety of reactions, many curious and positive, but unfortunately, a lot of people do get defensive.. The most important thing i’ve figured out over time is to be gentle and not get defensive, be able to have a sense of humor about things (this has been a survival tactic, especially when traveling to places like France and the American South where vegetarianism, let alone veganism, is far outside the social norm) but do be willing to stand your ground should any disrespect be tossed in your direction. One jab I am tired of clenching my teeth at– you wouldn’t believe how many people actually think that claiming to be a member of “People Eating Tasty Animals” acronym is “still” funny (which it never really was). Beside the point, it also seems an impossible concept to some that not all vegans are banner-waving PETA members (not that I have any issue with them).

  4. When I lived in the south, my co-workers informed me that they were eating double the meat since I wasn’t eating it. Were they being funny or serious? I don’t know, but it does make you cringe.

    Later I moved to the DC area, I had a neighbor from Texas who constantly asked me questions about being a vegan. ‘If I owned a farm would I eat the animals’ type thing. And he was flabbergasted that I wouldn’t. I told him if I had a farm I’d eat the fruit and veggies I harvested and that if I had farm animals they would be free to roam around and live without the fear of being eaten. He told me I wouldn’t make much money. Um, I could sell my fruits and vegetables!… Those were painfully long conversations, he had a ton of questions. But instead of treating it like he was attacking my lifestyle, I realized that even if he never agreed with me, I was educating him. As it turns out, his wife became a vegetarian. So in a way, I won a small battle.

    Now I live in California, and I haven’t really had much of an issue with being a vegan.

    But I agree that there are people out there who get defensive when you tell them what you eat. I think that they are afraid that you are going to try to convenience them to give up their meat. I’ve taken the stance that if you want to know about my lifestyle, I’ll answer any questions you may have. I try to make sure that they are aware that I’m not going to force them to change. But at the same time I try to lead by example.

    • Izzy says:

      A considerable amount of it probably has to do with geography. After all, in California there are more vegan and vegetarian options than a person can shake a stick at so there’s a greater awareness… and it’s more “normal.” Where I live in Florida, very few people even know what the word “vegan” means. Somehow cheese is vegan.

  5. Sharon says:

    Hi Izzy. Thank for stopping by my blog. It sounds like you and I share a lot of similarities in terms of outlook and what we’re trying to achieve in the kitchen. 🙂 Like you, I’m trying to create vegan dishes that would appeal to omnivores too. Any reduction in meat-eating is a step in the right direction, in my eyes. I love your posts and look forward to trying out your recipes. I’ll stop by again soon xx

  6. theverynewvegan says:

    Love this post, and congrats on going vegetarian and vegan in one day!! All at once!! You’re are a champion. I haven’t gotten any crazy reactions yet when I tell people I’m vegan. However, it think that is a matter of selection because I live in the San Fracisco bay area… I’m sure I’ll get some eventually. Even when the reactions do come, I’ll be ready.

    I don’t drink at all so I’m used to people looking at me aghast…”You don’t drink?!?!?! Ever????? What do you do for fun?!!??!”

    “Umm….I do everything you do, I just don’t drink…”

    (Don’t freak out people, I’m not a nun, I just don’t drink). See? I’m already a pro, a little vegan-reaction-shock won’t phase me at all 😉

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