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.