It Does Get “Tangled Up”
What I observe about human nature is that we are creatures who are profoundly proud and stubborn.
We don’t take easily to someone telling us what to do, think or feel.
I’ve said it before in other blogs: I get that.
I get it completely and I understand why people tend to get uncomfortable around vegans.
The vegan message is one that requires introspection and confronting ourselves in ways that aren’t always flattering and never easy.
I didn’t enjoy looking in the mirror and admitting that I was saying one thing (“I care about all animals”) and doing another (eating meat and dairy products), which was in complete contradiction to my most cherished views.
My extended family is a good example of people getting uncomfortable with a message.
Most of my cousins have hidden my posts from their Facebook newsfeeds.
I suspect I’m not being unfriended by them because, after all, I’m family.
But since they have virtually no contact with me, there’s little difference, and it gives them a sense of relief no doubt to not have to deal with that pesky relative’s animal advocacy posts.
Who does she think she is trying to change our minds about something?
Someone speaking out for animal liberation from exploitation, cruelty and death is seemingly telling them what to think and, no matter how gently the message is conveyed, it’s seen as a threat to the ego.
And while I understand as a fellow human being how difficult that can be, I also know that if someone does indeed care about animals, it’s necessary to face what we put them through with our buying choices.
It’s not actually telling someone what to think, it’s exposing them to the reality of animal suffering and the ways in which we were all raised to participate in it, against our own internal voice that says we should never inflict harm on other creatures.
The subject of veganism usually comes up around a table with friends or family, and it’s either quickly brushed off or becomes a trying conversation.
Many years ago before I went vegetarian (veganism would come much later), I sat at a table with my cousin and his girlfriend and their friend, Skip.
Skip was the only vegetarian I had ever met up to that time, and as three of us ate Cornish hens, he sat at the table with us and ate a completely vegetarian (maybe even vegan, I can’t remember) meal.
I was profoundly uncomfortable and felt guilt about what I was eating.
I remember that as one of the earliest examples of becoming aware of my hypocrisy in my professed love of animals.
I’m quite certain that day was a huge turning point in my life and offered a milestone, and I thank Skip for that, wherever he is (I never saw him after that).
The thing is, Skip never said a word that night, but his actions spoke volumes.
He had planted a seed that said “there’s another way to live”.
From my Facebook friend, Carol Williams:
Eating together is a powerful way of connecting, socially, to others. Offering a meal to someone is a valued part of our idea of hospitality. When we reject someone’s food, we are appearing to reject them and all that they stand for. This, of course, is hurtful. As a vegan I am hurt by comments about plant based foods being inferior or nasty, and by people avoiding them if they know they are vegan. I am sure that people who still eat animals (most people) are often hurt and puzzled by their vegan guest’s rejection of the meal everyone else is happy to eat.
But this is making it all about us, and our egos, and it ought to be only about the morality of what we do to other animals in order to turn them into food for us – this is where the discussions ought to be, but they get all tangled up in people’s ideas of what they are ‘entitled’ to eat as free human beings and in taking offence at someone who is, in their perception of things, attempting to interfere in their lifestyle choices. Perhaps if we could drop the egos, we might move forward.
That’s the key–things get tangled up because our egos get in the way.
People resisting the vegan message are letting their pride and defiance get in the way, much as we did as rebellious teenagers–we strike out at anything that seems to interfere with our freedom of choice, no matter if it’s good, sound or even simply compassionate advice.
And vegans must be careful to treat others with respect when we talk about why we went vegan, which is really the result of honest self-reflection, not superiority.
Most people have compassion for animals. Most people, if they truly got honest, would have to agree that abstaining from products that cause animal suffering and death is the logical way to live what they already feel in their hearts.
Let’s not let it get all tangled up.