A few weeks ago I was invited to a Facebook group called Vegan Debate
. All of its members are either vegans or cattle ranchers. That is quite an extraordinary combination - one where you would expect a lot of heated discussions going on, with flaming and trolling and name calling. Of course, there are the occasional culture clashes, but in general, the tone of voice is rather civilized. Most discussions have recently been started by the ranchers who are curious about certain aspects in the lives of us strange people who don't eat animals, such as: "Which food do you miss most since you went vegan?", "What's wrong with eating honey?", or "What do you wear instead of wool sweaters in winter?" Some of the questions are also geared towards ethical dilemmas, such as "Those Vegans that have pets, what is your view on spaying and neutering?", "How can someone with insulin problems i.e. diabetes ever become vegan?", or "How do you all feel about working dogs?" There's a lot of discussion going on in this group, and it is interesting to read the different points of view - in spite of my general observation that in terms of arguments, carnists mostly lose in the end, and the only remaining reasons to eat meat, after dissecting all their other arguments, are taste and convenience. Even though some of them don't admit to that, but discredit the numerous medical and environmental studies which clearly show the detriments of an omnivorous diet.
Eating entirely plant-based has become a strong part of my identity. Not only has it entered most of my About Me
statements in social media (along with being a queer bicyclist, photographer, leftie, environmentalist, German living in the Netherlands and married to an American - in various combinations), but I also realized it the other day when I was thinking about who I would rather spend holidays with: A bunch of vegan straight people vs a bunch of carnivorous gays and lesbians. A bunch of vegans who speak a language I don't understand, or a bunch of omnivores who speak one of my languages. A bunch of vegan car drivers vs. a bunch of meat-eating bicyclists. A bunch of vegan teenage hip-hoppers vs a bunch of carnist alternative rockers. If you had asked me two years ago, I would have preferred the gays over the straight ones, the ones whose language I speak over the strangers, the bikers over the car drivers, and the rockers over the teenage hip-hoppers. Today, I would almost always choose the vegans for travel companions. Food is just such a huge part of life, and when traveling it's often hard enough anyway to find food that doesn't contain animals, but even harder if you're out with omnivores who don't really care what they eat, as long as it's tasty, convenient, and inexpensive. But more than that, I think I've started to trust vegans more than non-vegans. Which is really remarkable, since a few years ago, even when I already was a vegetarian, I used to find them strange or extreme, ascetics, without a sense for pleasure, on the border to being self-flagellants. Little did I know!
Since going vegan, I rediscovered taste. The food I eat today is so much better, more varied, and more flavorful than the food I used to eat even when I was a vegetarian. Don't get me wrong: I am sure I would still love to taste a mackerel or a good piece of French cheese, and maybe even some Serrano or Parma ham (although I think I would find it way too salty by now, but who knows - it's been over a decade now that I have eaten meat, so I barely remember its taste). But the food I eat now is not less enjoyable. Some of the tastes I discovered are truly outstanding, and I also feel that it's much better for my body in terms of weight, acid reflux, energy level, skin, and joints, than a diet that relied to a substantial part on animal products. Apart from that, I also have a clean conscience in terms of the environment, world hunger, and animal welfare.
Granted, I've alienated or even lost a couple of friends by communicating (a lot) about veganism. It's usually people who either choose to ignore these issues, because, well, BACON, or who, for whatever reason, believe that they fare better going on a low carb / Paleo diet and engage in lengthy discussions about the various ways they believe meat is good for you, or simply deny these effects, much like they deny climate change. I am always happy to debate (even with cattle ranchers). But if I do so, I like to debate in a classy way, without insults, and by using well-founded arguments and credible data. Which is why I was happy to stumble upon a nifty little website called yourlogicalfallacyis.com
a few weeks ago. It lists and explains the most common logical fallacies. I've encountered most of them in my discussions about veganism, but most frequently the one called appeal to nature
('Eating animals is natural for humans!'), the one labeled anecdotal
("I once didn't eat meat for a week and I felt really sick!" or "I once tried a tofu burger, but it tasted like rubber!"), bandwagon
("Eating animals is part of our culture!" or "Everybody does it - so you're the freak!") and tu quoque
("You say you care for the environment, but you still use airplanes yourself!"). It's a really nice tool, and you can just share the appropriate hyperlink in a debate where someone commits a logical fallacy instead of trying to argue with them.
What makes me really happy though are the people who did not
block my Facebook posts or unfriend me on Facebook or in real life, but instead told me that my communication about eating animals has made them think; so much that some of them quit eating meat or dairy or at least considerably reduced their overall intake of animal products. I would never have thought that my communication could actually have an impact on other people's behavior, but that's what it did - and that is wonderful. Thank you, Max, Barbara, Joe, Beth, Karen, Crystal, Diane, Stefanie, Linda, Jenie, Joy, Stefan, and Trini - and anyone else who I forgot on this list. Thank you all you numerous others who have asked me for recipes because the photos of the dishes I've been cooking, taken with my cell phone, look yummy enough to make you want to cook them too. Thank you for not looking away when I post pictures of farm animals kept in poor, inhumane standards, thank you for still letting their fates touch your hearts and for participating less often in this cruel and unnecessary practice. You're doing the right thing - for your health, but also for the environment, your fellow-humans in developing countries, and for the animals.
The future is vegan. And no cattle rancher can stop us.