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The Trouble With Vegans

Everyone loves insulting Vegans, particularly during the holidays when we consume epic amounts of meat. Is it finally time to leave them alone?

You clicked on this because you thought it would be yet another rousing rendition of the popular Internet pastime “Let's sneer contemptuously at vegans and make fun of them,” didn't you? But it's not. Tricked you.

Vegan comedian Myq Kaplan appeared on the Conan O'Brien show in 2012, performing a funny set that included a joke about being vegan: “Vegans live up to 15 years longer cause we're not invited to anything fun or dangerous. So we sit at home crying and drinking, being careful not to cry into the drink, because tears are a product of animal suffering.” (Watch his act here)

The vegan joke later surfaced in a photo meme, but as the words were over Kaplan's picture, he felt identified enough as the person who made the joke so he wasn't upset about it.

But last week, as Kaplan explained in a Dec. 31 blog post, a butcher shop appropriated the joke on a sandwich board outside their store without crediting Kaplan or mentioning that the joke was written by a vegan. Because yuk yuk, vegans have no sense of humor whatsoever and they don't know how to have fun. I'm sure the irony of this has not escaped anyone.

I decided to write about this because it has annoyed and baffled me for a long time that even though the majority of them don't bother anyone, vegans seem to be one of the most reviled groups of people on the planet. And I don't recall ever reading anything nice about vegans that wasn't written by a vegan, so warm up your rantin' fingers to type your fury into the comments section, because I'm going to.

Even though, as you might have deduced from the last sentence, I am not vegan; I'm vegetarian. I was vegan for several years but now am not. And no, I don't think I'm doing animals any favors whatsoever by being vegetarian. The meat and dairy industries are intertwined in ways I won't go into here, so really, I just don't want to eat meat and that's all there is to it.

Most vegans – those who choose the diet for animal welfare reasons, not health or environmental ones – learned about cruelty and injustice in an industry and subsequently decided to not give their money to that industry anymore. Why that bothers anyone, I really don't understand. In any other context, I think people would applaud a person who sticks to his or her principles and doesn't just puss out and try not to think about it. But because it's about food, people seem to get indignant. As though somehow, a person choosing a hummus wrap instead of a turkey one from a party tray is an affront to them and the way they live their lives.

So, I'm sure by now that some of you are itching to leave hysterical comments about how annoying vegans are, so I'll bullet point a few, in my opinion, dumb myths about vegans to save time.

Vegans want to tell you all about being vegan...
The No. 1 gripe from meat eaters about vegans is that they're preachy about the way they eat and try to convert everyone they meet. In my experience, the last person who wants to talk about being vegan to nonvegans is a fucking vegan. You don't think it gets tiresome, not to mention boring, to explain over and over again why you don't eat eggs? Or to be lectured about how your teeth are pointy for ripping apart flesh and therefore you're dumb for being vegan? I can tell you from experience that it gets old really fast.

I can also tell you that in more than 20 years of not eating meat and a few years being vegan, people have questioned me about what I eat; I never bring it up. Especially at a table full of meat eaters, which is often when people will probe you about it. During Christmas dinner with my family this year, for example, I was just eating my mashed potatoes and vegetables and minding my own goddamn business when my cousin's husband demanded in front of everyone, “So why don't you eat meat?” In front of like six members of my family feeding me and enjoying their lamb and venison meatballs all around me. It's so annoying, nosy and rude, that it makes me wonder where that vegan at a dinner party joke came from (“How do you find a vegan at a dinner party? Don't worry, they will let you know.”) Yuk yuk yuk. Because if there's one thing vegans enjoy, it's pointless, uncomfortable conversations.

...and they really enjoy all those irritating questions you ask about their dietary choices.

If someone detects that you are vegan, even if you hadn't said boo about it, you will be asked one or more of the following questions, guaranteed:
“So what do you eat?”
“How do you get your protein then?”
“What's wrong with eggs? Why don't you eat eggs? They're not meat.”
“But humans are at the top of the food chain. We're supposed to eat meat, so why don't you?”
“But you eat plants? Because plants are killed too.”
“So do you swallow, like cum? Because semen is an animal product.” (<Yes, I was actually asked this. By a stranger at a wedding.)

Next time you're tempted to interrogate a vegan, Google that shit and leave the vegan alone. And if you hate hearing about why people are vegan, I have a simple solution for you: STOP ASKING ABOUT IT. That should help a lot.

Eating meat makes you fun and humorous.
No, it doesn't.

Vegans secretly covet my meat and dairy products, they just won't eat it because they enjoy feeling superior.
This is one of the dumbest ever.

Eating meat makes you adventurous.
Yes, selecting little plastic-wrapped packages of meat at the grocery store that other people killed, cleaned and chopped for you or ordering a meat dish from a restaurant menu must be quite a rush.

I often have to reassure people that I don't give a shit what they eat. Because for some reason, they assume I do. In reality, however, I have much bigger concerns and more interesting things to think about than whether you eat hamburgers. Of course there are preachy assholes who are vegan, just like there are preachy assholes who eat meat. If you love meat and want to eat it, go ahead. That's your choice, just like being vegan is a choice. It would be nice if more people respected that.