Eat your meat and shut up.

13 Jan

Can you look me in the eye and say that?

Whether it’s on big blogs like elephantjournal or sites like YouTube, I keep seeing a ton of things with titles like, “Why I’m eating meat again in 2012!”  Each one features an incredibly defensive former vegan offering a million reasons why they’re sick of vegans and how it’s impossible to satisfy the extremist rules of the vegan police and how for health reasons it’s become crystal clear they need to resume their meat consumption.

Maybe there are some people who have started eating sheep again sheepishly, but what I’ve seen have been big loud boasts. I don’t get it.

I mean, I get it that people might want to start eating meat again. There’s sacrifice involved in being vegan. For some people, it’s the taste of meggairy (meat, eggs and dairy) that they miss. For others it’s the social cost. Or maybe it’s the nuisance factor, or the feeling of being constrained by rules.

I’m not bothered by any of those but the social, which I’ve written about already. But what strikes me about these people who are returning to meggairy is that most of them use the language of people who would never go vegan and who revel in heaping disdain upon us.

Self-righteous assholes is one of the ways we’re described. Hey, I can be a self-righteous asshole, both before I was vegan and now, but where is the anger coming from? They also attack us for our rigidity and go to great lengths to let us know that veganism simply isn’t the right choice for everybody.

My guess is that these are personalities that need to try something new every few years. That need to change. That enjoy the feeling of doing something different. Because how hard is it to really go vegan in the first place? It wasn’t all that hard for me – someone who ate meat for almost half a hundred years, someone who didn’t really like vegetables all that much, someone who will oddly refer to themselves in the third person all of a sudden.

But here’s what I really don’t get: If you were vegan, or even vegetarian, for a long time, as many of these reverts seem to have been, then I can’t imagine you aren’t aware of the horrors of industrial animal production. Yet what’s missing from the rants that I’ve seen is any kind of acknowledgment along the lines of, “But I will only eat animals I feel were raised as cruelty-free as possible,” or “I will never eat fast food or any other meat whose origins I can’t ascertain,” or “I still will only eat animal products occasionally.”

It’s quite the opposite. It’s not only an explanation of why it’s no longer something they want to do, but rather it’s an indictment of anyone who continues to do it. We’re all just a bunch of hypocrites. Being vegan doesn’t work. We should worry about ourselves and stop judging others.

I imagine there’s a number of reasons why people go vegan in the first place, and a number of reasons why they go back, I just thought the reverts would go back to animals with their tails between their legs, not with their claws out and teeth bared.

But while I recognize that people go vegan for a number of reasons, I feel that people stay vegan for one reason: what they’ve learned about the lives of these animals makes them feel they simply can’t go back. And I wonder if the people who go back to meat ever watched any of the movies like “Earthlings” or read any of the books like “Eating Animals” or if instead being vegan was just another fad to them – a way to lose some weight or boost their heart health. Hey, that was me once, but then I read the books. Until I did I didn’t know if I could keep it up but after I did I knew I could never go back.

Eating animal products is far from illegal in this country, in fact it usually feels like it’s the opposite: it’s what our country wants us to do, not what it doesn’t want us to do. What I’m getting at is that these reverts can do what they want. If they learned enough about animal treatment to avoid animals that are victims of the industry’s worst horrors, then in a way they have returned to the carny world as better people.

Maybe it’s a good sign that they feel the need to lash out as they exit. Maybe it means they realize the enormity of what they’ve chosen to once again do. And that’s still a realization that almost everyone you know doesn’t realize.

So go ahead, reverts. Unleash your diatribes about how your body needs meat to function well. How it’s not a matter of eating wisely or supplementation but rather how there’s an optimal level of wellness for your body that simply can’t be achieved without meat. I’m not a doctor; maybe you’re right. Only you know how hard you tried to make it work for you.

Do what you want and eat what you want. But please, for just a minute, try to remember how you felt when you were on the receiving end of these attacks. Think about how disturbed it is for you to now be launching the same vicious criticisms that once made you question what you were doing or made what you were trying to do more difficult.. Try to remember how when you heard these criticisms, they rang like a bell of defensiveness and ignorance and self-righteous cruelty. Because that’s exactly what you’re doing now.

6 Responses to “Eat your meat and shut up.”

  1. Josh Latham January 13, 2012 at 5:53 pm #

    Another great article. I hate to be a conspiracy theorists but I wonder how much of these videos and blogs aren’t just plants by the meat and dairy industry.

    • insufferablevegan January 13, 2012 at 10:55 pm #

      Thanks, Josh. You know, I feel stupid admitting this, but I hadn’t even considered that some of those blogs could be from food industry PR people, but you could very well be right. Some of what I saw was just so nasty that I was thinking, “Really? You purposefully didn’t eat animal products for years and now this?!”

      • luminousvegans January 14, 2012 at 9:43 am #

        I also never considered that….so thank you too for giving me something to think about.

  2. Midge January 14, 2012 at 12:17 am #

    I have seen and heard many vegetarian/vegan folks who have returned to their meat-eating ways. I’m sure you’ve heard quite recently about this one particular actress, a former PETA spokesperson at that, who gave up meat because her new beau is meat-loving. I don’t judge people for that, and just hope that they get back into it. But I do take an issue when they are super defensive over it. I’m sure they do that to try to reduce their guilt.

    I do think though that some of these folks did not have a strong enough foundation on the animal rights aspect of being a vegan. I know that it’s not an easy subject to think about, but it really needs to be part of the discussion at some point.

  3. Have Gone Vegan January 22, 2012 at 5:45 pm #

    I agree with Midge that it’s a guilt thing. People don’t like to feel that they’re wrong, or bad, so in order to justify everything that they railed against earlier, they now declare veganism itself to be flawed. In his book, Change of Heart, Nick Cooney talks about cognitive dissonance — that yucky feeling when your behaviour doesn’t match up with your beliefs. Maybe that’s key to why former vegans are so loud and obnoxious instead of being sad and embarrassed.

  4. Vegan Karen April 24, 2012 at 10:51 pm #

    I think it’s a peer pressure thing. Think about the kid in school who was pushed around then suddenly there was a new kid, so the bullied kid is left alone, ONLY TO BECOME one of the henchmen of the bully. It happens all the time.
    I am Vegan. I feel great being Vegan. I have more energy. I think clearer (yes, I really do) and I am 130 pounds without trying. (I was 195 at one point, my steak days.)
    If someone asks me, I will explain all about being Vegan. I explain about the heart attacks I won’t be having. The cancer I won’t be getting. The energy I will have while everyone else is resting. (I even told my cousin just today that when the Zombie Appocolyse happens I will have the energy to outrun them, unlike the meat eaters! LOL)
    I will explain about how cattle farming is killing the earth, and offer up the Documentary Forks Over Knives and Food, Inc.
    It’s sad that people “go back” when they KNOW how much better off they are being vegan… but some people just aren’t cut out to be pioneers.

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