We all know the stereotype of the preachy vegan. But what truly separates being passionate versus being preachy? Perhaps there’s something much larger at play here.
The Topic at Hand
Often I think we define the line between passionate and preachy as whether or not one’s beliefs threaten your own, or society and culture’s established institutions.
If someone shares a belief that you’re against, it’s more likely you won’t welcome their opinion than if it were someone you agreed with. Whether or not someone pushes their views on you or simply shares a passion is subjective.
Keeping that in mind, no wonder people generalize vegans as pushy. What could be more ingrained in our daily lives than the ways we eat. Food brings people together, it sustains our being. Therefore any way of living that warps the notion of how we should or shouldn’t eat is not taken well.
Imagine someone is obsessed with The Beatles (that person may or may not be me, but that’s beside the point). It seems they draw most conversations back to John, Paul, George, and/or Ringo. A bit annoying perhaps, but no one makes a big fuss. You most likely wouldn’t accuse this person of being preachy or pushy.
Now, you have another friend who is vegan. They bring it up a lot and your friend group has labeled them as preachy, pushy, and everything in between. Why give this friend a bad wrap because of their passion and not the other friend? Who or what decides this?
We fear altering the reality that we see around us because, at the end of the day, that’s all that we have. This reality involves the simplest things such as what we eat and why, our definition of health, and food preferences.
When confronted with the idea that all of the “truths” society tells about animal agriculture act as curtains covering a much larger, more violent picture, often it’s easier just to look away. Vegans try and remove the curtain, and that is what turns people off.
Find the Middle Ground
Generalizations about any group are dangerous, even vegans. We all could benefit from trying to find the middle ground with those around us. The unwavering, stagnant opinion plagues our nation, and world at large.
Just because two people may disagree doesn’t mean that they can’t co-exist. Compromise and compassion drive progress. Stagnation in our beliefs guarantees the opposite.
Of course there are most definitely some very pushy vegans out there that could benefit from a little compassion toward the animal-product-consumers of our population. I will be the first to acknowledge this. But, the next time your vegan friend brings up their way of life, hear them out. And for those vegans who refuse to listen to their meat-eating friends: hear them out too. Everyone has pearls of wisdom, listen and you just may discover them.
Also published on Medium.