On hating vegans and cyclists

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There was a good article in the Guardian yesterday titled, Why do people hate vegans? It references a 2015 study that found vegans suffer from the same level of discrimination as ethnic and religious minorities.

In 2015, a study conducted by Cara C MacInnis and Gordon Hodson for the journal Group Processes & Intergroup Relations observed that vegetarians and vegans in western society – and vegans in particular – experience discrimination and bias on a par with ethnic and religious minorities.

I have been vegan for a long time, more than 15 years, and if anything, it has got much better and I feel less hated now than I used to be. In many ways, people hate me more as a cyclist than as a vegan.

Veganism has become mainstream over the past few years with wide adoption by cool young people who have changed the stereotype for the better. We’re no longer viewed as cranky, militant hippies with unshaved armpits. Every good restaurant has a vegan menu and supermarkets stock a huge range of vegan items. Indeed, there is money to be made in the growth of veganism and many companies are cashing in.

Veganism is bringing in the big bucks, it’s increasing the intake of fruit and vegetables by the general population which is surely a good thing, and it’s less damaging to the environment than a meat-eating diet. With all these benefits then, why do some people hate vegans?

The article goes on to say that veganism is a “rebuke to the majority’s values”. It questions people’s dietary choices and makes them defensive. But this says more about them than about vegans. If someone feels secure in their decision to eat meat then they wouldn’t care whether others choose to eat it or not. By deriding vegans for their choice of diet they are doing exactly what they complain vegans are doing to them: forcing their beliefs on others. Why does it matter to a meat-eater whether I eat meat or not? It’s the same reason that my choice to ride a bike instead of driving riles some motorists. It forces self-reflection and people are afraid of what they will see.