Before I was vegan, I believed that vegans were all self-righteous assholes. I was sure everything they said about how it was wrong to eat animals made them think they were better than me. They surely were trying to prove something about how they had some enlightened way of living. Damn hippies. Hairy armpits and commie politics. Those damn vegans.
And then one day someone challenged me on the fact that my whole life has revolved around animals, and yet I continued to eat them. I was the consummate animal lover, having dozens of pets, riding horses my whole life, calling myself “Mommy” to all my animals. How dare I be called a hypocrite?
Because I was. I told the waiter I wanted my steak so rare, I wanted it to moo when I cut into it. I said chickens had stupid faces and deserved to die. I said, like literally the entire nonvegan population, I could never give up cheese. Then I picked up my cat in the dress I made him and said, Mommy needs to go to work now so you stay home and wait for me in your kitty castle… I oozed hypocrisy.
I also am a stubborn bastard. I would never admit I was wrong, especially when it came to having to give up the glory of being a steak grilling master or cheese connoisseur. I loved animals and that was enough, apparently. I didn’t and it wasn’t. Shit had to change.
After going vegan and learning exactly why I am, I still did not want to be THAT vegan. I did not want to alienate myself from people who had not yet changed and maybe never would. I would happily chew on my shitty salad and fried tofu at a barbeque restaurant while people stuffed their faces of the corpses of animals I knew did not want to die. I would keep my mouth shut when they did, too, for a while at least. At some point, I could not hold back and it did not make me any new friends. I would go out to eat with nonvegans, but it stressed me out so much that I slowly stopped going out at all. The information I had about the animal agriculture industry was too much to ignore and being a vegan myself was not enough. I already had a shelter, but my co-director would not let me talk about veganism, so I split with her and started a new organization based on vegan advocacy because I no longer could be quiet about it or be just another part of the rescue world that saved kitties and said nothing about the industrial scale of torture and murder of other species.
I no longer eat with nonvegans at nonvegan restaurants if I can at all help it. I can’t date nonvegans. I mostly eat at exclusively vegan restaurants so I do not have to watch other people consume animal products even though I don’t know them. I generally stay away from places and events in which I know animal products are being served simply to avoid the stress. I have lost friends and family members because of this. I no longer communicate with my sister or father because of their belligerence to my veganism.
Still, the vast majority of my friends and the donors to my organization are not vegan. Most of the encounters you have with people in the outside world are not vegan. I have accepted that not all vegans are my friends. Many are not good people at all. Men that are not vegan can actually be more dateable in some ways than vegan men, though the idea of kissing someone who happily puts corpses in their face makes me ill. I understand that I live in a nonvegan world and after 6 years of this, must learn to communicate effectively with it, though never giving up on the message that nothing less than veganism is the acceptable route for loving animals and caring about the environment and human health. I take a hard line because there is no gray in the life and death matter of animal agriculture. Animals are dead or alive. The planet is dead or alive. Humans are dead or alive. There is just no gray.
The biggest “beef” I have with people is being called angry all the time, and that usually revolves around something regarding veganism. I am actually not at all angry. In spite of doing a job I hate almost every day because I am financially crippled by it and despise the process of fundraising, recruiting, and basically anything involving a spreadsheet, I consider myself to be a generally happy person living a better than average life at the moment. I am understandably frustrated and am expressive which I am for all subjects ranging from rush hour traffic to the small size of the mangosteens (my favorite local fruit) this season, but when I write sitting calmly in my bed or office desk, I have no emotion at all. I don’t use emoticons which infuriates the population unable to read meaning from connotation relying instead on dumb shit pictures of little yellow faces, and this seems to confuse people. I have a pathological hatred of emoticons and emojis and when I use them, I do so only in disgust at all of society for forcing them upon me while degrading the beauty of human communication through the written word. I also have resting bitch face. It has not served me well. However, stating facts about the deaths of animals and the suffering of the many species humans use in our daily lives is never taken as anything other than angry shouting, no matter how softly you pad it. It confronts people in a way that questions whether they are good or bad people then everyone gets their knickers in a twist.
No matter how I phrase things, I am made out to be screaming like a raging lunatic that all nonvegans are horrible people and fucking morons. From someone who was a vegan-hating, nonvegan for 34 years, it would be hard to make this argument without indicting myself. Advocating for all species of animals above the whims of the blind human population is not an attack. Sharing information is not attacking. It is also not a tool to elevate my own status to some kind of sainthood. I would never say I am not a bitch and I don’t think anyone else who knows me in person could say it either. Being vegan has not made me less reactive and less aggressive in many ways and on many subjects. I’ve been a firecracker since birth and that will (hopefully) never change. I never would claim to be better than anyone, but I have taken new information that conflicted with my previous worldview and I adjusted my habits accordingly. On a daily basis I do not sacrifice anything by being vegan other than my sanity in dealing with the batshit crazy assholes who attack me for speaking up for all animals and choosing to not consume or use them.
The fact is, I was WRONG and I am damn proud to admit it and face it every day. It’s OK to be wrong. Be wrong. But also never stop learning. If you are faced with new information, keep an open mind. I think everyone who has made it to our website can agree that hurting animals is wrong. What hurts animals more than breeding them to be used against their will to be eventually killed for our pleasure when we no longer want or need them alive? Why would we not apply this to ALL species?
Everyone has the ability to change. I am not special for this. I used to pride myself on how many chicken wings I could stuff my face with and now I kiss my 6 year old chicken, Louise, goodnight on her perfect little face every night. I used to love bacon with basically every dish but cereal, and now my best friend and adopted child is a 400lb pig who I’d defend with my life. I don’t harm animals and I can still proudly be kind of a bitch in plenty of other ways, but I will never under any circumstances stop advocating for full veganism. If that pisses you off, I am completely OK with that.
For the record, I am not angry. I am frustrated at the state of the planet like MOST people for one reason or another. I do not think I am better than anyone. I just do not use animals and have made that choice because after many years of hating people like me, I opened my mind up to the possibility that I was a hypocrite and did something about it. If you haven’t done that yet, I firmly believe that if someone like me who wanted to drop all vegans on an island and napalm them could go vegan and run an animal rights organization in Vietnam, pretty much anyone can change.