It is easy for outsiders to think that all vegans are the same. All vegans are preachy, all vegans are attention seekers, all vegans think they are morally superior… the list goes on.
The truth is that all vegans are unique.
Some people are able to vocalise their views with confidence and gravitas whilst others shy away from all debate and many keep their veganism to themselves, afraid of initiating a vegan witch-hunt and there are millions of different personalities between. Vegans are united in their mission to end exploitation of animals, but this is where the similarity ends.
I would say that I sit in the middle of these people. I am happy to talk to anybody about my choice to live a vegan lifestyle, but the way and extent to which I talk to people differs. I’ve learnt to pick my battles.
A couple of years ago I was talking to a friend of a friend who, metaphorically, cornered me with a nonsensical argument that vegans don’t care about world hunger. Looking back, there were so many things that I could have said, but I had got myself into such a state that I couldn’t think of a single thing to say.
It would be easy to blame this on the person I was talking to for winding me up, for not seeing my side of the argument, but we all know that cognitive dissonance is a powerful thing and our brains can lash out when threatened. Looking back, this was a battle I should have avoided.
For some people, arguing is a sport and vegans pose the perfect opponent. With so many infuriating arguments, all of which wind us up something rotten, it can be easy for people who like arguing to think they have won when we get flustered. I have learnt to recognise this person – the person who seeks to argue with you come what may.
You could set out the most perfect argument — a logical argument with figures to back up what you are saying. You could perfect every word so that there was no possible comeback from your argument and they would continue on. You could ask them questions to get them to come to their own logical conclusion, and they would still argue back.
For some vegans, this is the environment in which they thrive, and that’s fine. But for others, the mental strain of this confrontation is too much, and that’s also fine.
My point is that vegans should be allowed to pick their battles as much as non-vegans. If a vegan wants to keep their veganism to themselves, that is up to them. If a vegan wants to shout about it from the rooftops, that is up to them.
We all want to end animal exploitation, but exactly how you want to do that is up to you.