1.) Vegans only care about animals and aren’t concerned with human suffering.
- It feels necessary to state the obvious: it is possible to care about more than one thing at a time. That being said, there are truly so many worthy causes in the world. It would be impossible for any one individual to be passionate about every worthy cause that there is. If someone cares a lot about veterans and volunteers their time or donates money to related charities, we don’t accuse them of not caring about kids with cancer because they don’t volunteer or donate to them. So why it’s so common place to do this exact thing against vegans (or just anyone who has a passion for animals) is beyond me.
- Every single day we can make a difference in some capacity. When someone chooses to be vegan, every meal is a difference. Every purchase of cruelty-free make up or fake fur/leather makes a difference. Alone they are miniscule, but together with other people making similar choices, change is made. There are certainly things that can be done (or not done) every day that can make a difference for people too (many of which still has to do with what purchases you make). But too often, there is very little an individual can do, especially when it’s something occurring elsewhere in the world. So when someone says they care about how people are hurting around the world and that that should take priority over animal rights, I must be honest. Caring in and of itself doesn’t accomplish anything. If you’re not actively doing something, whether it’s donating, volunteering, spreading awareness, protesting, or at least voting for politicians that align with these values, then you don’t have a leg to stand on when criticizing how someone else makes a small difference in the world.
2.) Vegans think they’re superior.
- For someone who was raised an omnivore and lived a good portion of their life that way, there would have to be some sort of catalyst for them to change their ways. It’s certainly easier not to be vegan than it is to be vegan, so most people wouldn’t do it just for kicks and giggles. For many of us, it’s exposure to slaughterhouse footage and learning about the ramifications of the animal agriculture industry. Not to mention how unnecessary it is. The common rebuttal I hear to this criticism is that people only become vegan because they don’t think they’re superior. They don’t think they’re so much more important than other animals that they have a right to needlessly end those creature’s lives. I think there’s a lot of truth to this. It can actually be a rather humbling experience.
- If I’m being honest, I think it’s true that vegans do often feel morally superior to non-vegans. I think we all feel that way to some degree, but that doesn’t mean it’s something we think about constantly. It’s easy to feel morally superior to a serial killer or someone who steals from a homeless person. People also find it really easy to rip apart poachers or someone who throws kittens into a dumpster. You likely feel like this behavior is immoral and therefore not doing these things would be morally superior. However, even if someone is making a morally superior decision in one regard does not mean they are a morally superior person. There are terrible people in the world who are vegan and wonderful people who are not. If someone is going to change their behavior because they view something they’ve done as unethical, it would be strange to not find it unethical when other people do it. Some people are so eager to not come across as arrogant (because that’s obviously the stereotype) that they’re practically apologetic for being vegan and I just don’t see that as good activism.
3.) Vegans are extremists.
- When someone pictures the stereotypical vegan, they probably envision someone throwing red paint on someone wearing fur or protesters screaming “MURDERER!” and threatening dairy farmers. I certainly can’t condone every action people have taken in the name of veganism, just as you’d be unable to defend every action taken for a cause you believe in. Protesters scream “MURDERER!” and threaten women trying to get an abortion at Planned Parenthood. This is the stereotype many have for Christians. Misandry is the stereotype many have of feminists. These factions may scream the loudest, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t a minority in the overall movement. Violent extremism spans across many subjects, but to paint it as representative of the majority is disingenuous. I don’t have a statistic to support this statement, but I’m willing to bet that on any given night, you’re more likely to find your typical vegan on their couch eating Oreos and watching Netflix than planning an assault on some unsuspecting meat eater.
I haven’t personally experienced any aggression from others for being vegan. Most of the people in my life are either supportive or indifferent. But I know there are a lot of people in the world who have a certain impression of how vegans are and hold a lot of disdain for them because of this perception. I know I don’t want to be grouped in with the people who perpetrate violence in the name of veganism or any other belief. However, I also don’t want to feel apologetic for things I haven’t done. I would like to encourage people to look at each other as individuals and to judge them on their character and not their label.