On hating vegans and cyclists

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.

22 Replies to “On hating vegans and cyclists”

  1. I don’t hate Vegans but their self righteous attitudes towards other s is so annoying specially when they make some of their foods to imitate meat dishes like Tofurkey and meatless burgers.

    1. Don’t you think that we can all be a bit self-righteous? Perhaps because veganism is not mainstream, any behaviour associated with it seems to stand out? For example, meat-eaters can be self-righteous with their insistence on their ‘right’ to eat animals, regardless of whether they need to or not, or what kind of torment and torture the animal suffers on the way to their plates. Maybe it depends from what perspective we’re looking at an issue, as to whether behaviour can come across as self-righteous, or not?

    2. I confess I don’t really understand why people get upset with the idea of vegan sausages. Vegan family members may want to join in with the family BBQ and vegan sausages let them easily do that without feeling like the odd one out. Charity fundraisers can also have sausage sizzles without losing customers who can’t or don’t want to eat meat. And some people are just comforted with a traditional-looking meat and three veg dish where the meat can easily be substituted with a vegan alternative. Personally, I prefer chickpeas and lentils and all the amazing meals you can cook with pulses but there’s definitely a place for meat substitutes.

      1. Most Vegans I know didn’t stop eating animals and their by-products because they didn’t like the taste of them. They stopped eating them because their conscience over-rode their conditioning to do so. Plant-based meats are acceptable to Vegans for all the reasons you said above, and because no animal had to go through hell just to titillate their taste buds.

      2. I agree, I don’t understand either – because sausages don’t look like pigs and burgers don’t look like cows, so what’s the difference if there’s a plant-based version of a sausage or a burger? It baffles me!

  2. This is very interesting. I also think it’s great that dietary differences are more welcome in the larger social sphere: not just veganism and vegetarianism, but gluten-free for people with Crohn’s disease and other food allergies. It’s really a form of social diversity, as we become more and more open to people from different religions, ethnic backgrounds, gender identities and sexuality. Not surprisingly, I’ve found that people who hate vegans are also intolerant of other human differences.

    1. Yes, I think you’re right. Someone who is going to be annoyed by something as immaterial as another person’s diet is probably going to be less tolerant of other differences.

  3. Funny, my dh used to be one those who made fun of cyclists AND vegans. Today, he is an avid cyclist and started eating vegan about a month ago. I never would have thought it possible. Lead by example and leave the preaching out to get more people on the ‘right’ side of the planet! ;D

    1. That’s amazing! I’m so happy to hear about your husband’s conversion to both cycling and veganism. I totally agree that leading by example is the way to go.

  4. I think it stems from ideology, and a totalitarian ideology at that. Some, not all Vegans will preach that their way is the only way; this is true of many ideas, such as religion among other things. In extreme cases I think we just need a little more openness, dim down that ego that we all tap into occasionally. Great post Rachel.

    1. Thanks, Joseph. There is definitely a good way to communicate a message that makes it easier for others to hear and accept. Being honest, open, and humble is good advice.

  5. Switching to plant-based eating for me has been a choice to combat two family members dying of cancer, at least six family members who have had heart attacks and trying to get rid of feeling nasty all of the time!

    1. Good for you! There’s increasing evidence that following a plant-based diet can reduce your risk of heart disease and cancer.

  6. I agree with the article; I was raised vegetarian, and it has always provoked comments. These ranged from questioning my health to criticising my parents’ parenting! I believe that for a very long time, vegans and vegetarians have been eating against the grain for ultimately similar reasons – a variant of a moral/ethical/personal choice. People instantly become defensive, I suppose because non-‘v’s view this as an attack on their own choices – that they aren’t healthy, are causing harm to the environment, or, as living the lifestyle a vegetarian/vegan turned away from, are wrong in their own choices!

  7. Great article I complete agree it’s so refreshing and easy being a vegan now I remember 10 years ago feeling so embarrassed to tell people I was vegan because of all the negative responses now it’s basically seen as mainstream and I love it!

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