How do you handle it when someone attacks your veganism?
The other day, I shared an article about vegan food on Facebook, and one of the comments I got was “God, I hate vegans.” Even after seven years of eating vegan, this attitude always gives me pause. What horrible thing did a vegan do to this person? Hate is a powerful emotion, so clearly a vegan must have destroyed his family or run over his dog, right?
Chances are, though, that this was just a flip comment. There are lots of reasons that omnivores can feel threatened by vegans:
- Food is a very personal thing for a lot of people, and when you’re opting out of certain types of food, people assume that you’re judging them for not doing that.
- Maybe he met a vegan that was rude and judgmental and decided that all vegans are this way. This is not fair, but it’s a scenario I have run into many times.
- Maybe he thinks that he is hilarious.
Or, the motivation for that remark could have been something else entirely. He could have had a terrible day and is being mean to everyone. You just happen to be in the line of fire at the moment, and your veganism seems like an easy target.
I think that the most common motivation for this kind of comment – and the one most harmful to the vegan movement – is the idea that vegans are preachy, judgmental jerks. Sure, there are vegans that are judgmental jerks, but assuming that all vegans are jerks because of one experience with one vegan is just as judgmental.
I promise you that there are omnivores that are jerks, too. I had an omnivore “friend” once attack me when we were out to dinner because I asked the server if I could get my pizza without cheese. Does that mean that all omnivores are jerks? Of course not! It means that that guy is a jerk.
What you eat doesn’t define what kind of person you are.
So, what do you do when you run into a vegan hater? I think you have two good options:
- Ignore it. Just change the subject and move on. There are lots of less touchy things you can talk about. You know, like politics.
- Kill them with kindness. At its heart, veganism is about empathy and compassion. Like it or not, when faced with this kind of situation, you’re kind of a vegan ambassador. This person thinks vegans are all jerks? Show him that we aren’t! You don’t have to argue. Just keep calm. Maybe make a joke. You can even say something like, “I’m so sorry that you met a vegan that was mean to you. We aren’t all that way, I promise!”
Whichever you choose, I think keeping your cool is key. Meeting his anger with more anger just helps him justify his prejudice. Of course, this isn’t always easy, so don’t beat yourself up if you have a less than stellar reaction.
How do you guys handle these types of situations? I feel like I’ve gotten better at it over the years, but I’m always up for new ideas in this department!
Image Credit: Hater photo via Shutterstock