Not all vegans are jerks.

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Image by hisashi_0822 via Flickr

So yesterday, I got a incredibly asshatted nice email from an anonymous source saying that because I wear leather shoes and “don’t care about the animals”, that I am not a vegan. That according to Ellen DeGeneres and her glossary of vegan terms, I am merely a vegetarian. They said (I use “they” because they didn’t sign the email, nor was there gender indication in the email address itself) that saying that I was being vegan “for the health of it” was akin to telling the animals that I was ok with them being slaughtered for their muscles and their wool.

I didn’t know what to say…at first. I honestly sat there, shocked and appalled that a total stranger would take the time out of their day to write such a hurtful email to someone they (may have?) never met.

Then I realized this person is one of the vegans that run around telling everyone that they’re doing everything wrong, and that they are HORRIBLE PEOPLE for wearing leather shoes or wool or eating meat, and will hand you a pamphlet with graphic depictions of cows being slaughtered as you walk out of a burger joint. (We’ll call that type of person a JV = a Judgemental Vegan)

After mulling this over for a bit, and in the interest of finding out how educated my friends/family are about veganism, I asked a couple of friends (via various methods…Facebook and Twitter mostly) to name the first thing that popped into their mind when I said the word vegan and here’s what they said:

  • What exactly do you eat? I mean, I know you eat plants and stuff, but really, where do you get your protein?
  • That one guy who stands on the corner near my son’s preschool and hands out “meat is murder” leaflets. He always yells at me for wearing leather shoes.
  • Omigod, don’t you have to throw out your leather or something? I’ll take your Frye boots if you’re just going to throw them out.
  • I met a lady the other day who was vegan, and she was HUGE. I thought all vegans were skinny hippies? No offense.
  • Don’t you have to eat tofu all the time? I don’t like tofu. I just couldn’t do it.

I had to break it to that last person that the frosting on the cupcakes I made her the other day had tofu in it. :)

Conclusion? People are shockingly uneducated (as I was when I first thought about switching) about vegans, veganism and plant-based diets in general.

Anyway – after chatting with a lovely (and totally non-judgemental) fellow vegan, I decided that this person (who thinks sheep get slaughtered for their wool….obviously completely mis-informed) just needs to calm down and that I can ignore them and not take all of their vitriol to heart.

People like my anonymous emailer are what turns people off from listening to vegans and what they have to say. It’s a basic tenet of life: If you’re rude, condescending and judgmental, nobody is going to want to stick around and hear what you have to say.

However, on the flip side, if you’re kind and share with others, you bake vegan goodies for get-togethers or bring a vegan dish to a potluck (if, for no other reason, so YOU have something to eat!), if you address all questions about your lifestyle with kindness and don’t take them as accusations, if you live your life the way you like and with a big dose of kindness, then people will be more open to listening to the “vegan party line.”

In other words Anonymous Emailer? CALM THE FUCK DOWN AND LIVE YOUR OWN LIFE. I’m going to just keep doing me. :)

Note #1: yes, I am aware that sheep do not die when their wool is sheared. I’m still a “new vegan”, so I’m not entirely sure why we don’t wear wool. If you DON’T shear them, that’s cruel…so I totally don’t understand.

Note #2: I’m not throwing out my leather boots or my jacket. First off, they were all insanely expensive. (I did get rid of 2 leather jackets during The Great Purge.) Second, me throwing them away so they can rot in a landfill doesn’t help ANYONE. Third, I can’t escape wearing wool because I knit and most of the sweaters and socks I knit are wool.

CONCLUSION: If you want to call me a vegetarian, that’s fine. But I still eat vegan food and work hard to make sure I’m not consuming any animal products, so I’m going to keep calling myself a Vegan.

4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Gina
    Sep 16, 2010 @ 10:49:14

    As a vegetarian of 21 years (oy…)I would like to say that born-again vegans/vegetarians annoy the hell out of me. What a person chooses to put in their body is an extremely personal choice akin to religious or political beliefs. I don’t tell you who you can or cannot sleep with. Don’t tell me what I can or cannot eat.

    Reply

  2. Ashley
    Sep 16, 2010 @ 11:10:47

    Good for you! I’ve been vegan for 4 years and run a vegan food company in Las Vegas. I say that if you feel like you are vegan and really do your best, then you’re vegan!
    That money that was spent on the leather has already spoken to the company, there’s no use in throwing it out! I would even go as far as to buy second hand leather, simply because it has already been paid for and MONEY TALKS. These items are being manufactured because there is a demand. If you have already caused that demand to be there, it doesn’t matter what you do after that!
    Good luck to you! Vegans rule! (especially the nice ones!)

    Reply

  3. ARDELLd
    Sep 17, 2010 @ 15:06:15

    I am not a vegan, but I appreciate Ashley’s comment as any leather I have was either a gift or bought second hand. Glad to hear you don’t need to refuse gifts or throw everything away :) I have a fabulous Coach bag that my friend was throwing away…seemed a huge waste to watch a $250 handbag going in the trash because it needed a little polish. I think that was the “green” and not wasteful thing to do…and that was 10 years ago and I still love it! :)

    Reply

  4. curvydiva
    Sep 18, 2010 @ 17:14:42

    Yep…I’ve been around those guys that hand out the leaflets. In college, they would stand by the Burger King. I took one graciously and flipped through it while ordering chicken nuggets. The guy looked like he wanted to stab me. :)

    As a vegetarian now, I can say that going veg is kinda like those who convert over to a new religion…and just HAVE to tell everyone about it (and why they’re wrong if they don’t follow the same practice0! I generally just smile, nod and pat them on the back and then go about me merry way…no point in losing sleep over it!

    Reply

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