The other morning, at my place of work, someone brought in vegan “Breakfast Cookies”. (Breakfast cookies, I suppose, are like regular cookies, but have enough “healthy ingredients” like oats and pumpkin, to be considered a good replacement for cereal).
Now, these cookies were delicious, moist and sweet, and although the cook is not vegan, she was experimenting with a recipe and wanted to share the results. Those cookies didn’t last long–people ate them up faster than a labrador eats spaghetti! But there were plenty of comments like, “Careful, they’re vegan!”, and “Not bad, for vegan”. My colleagues were almost blinded by their veganophobia. Did they think that by eating the cookies, they’d somehow turn into a vegan?
Veganophobia happens all the time. A vegetarian friend was planning her wedding and wanted to have a meal that reflected her and her fiance’s values. Pressure from relatives resulted in her decision to include fish on the menu. “They couldn’t stand the idea of eating vegan for just one night!” she said. “Even though it was my wedding and my preference to be vegan.” Veganophobia caused her guests to put their focus on the meal instead on the celebration of the couple.
Animal rescues have been debating whether to serve meat at their fundraising events for a long time now. They worry that their attendance and fundraising efforts will suffer if they don’t serve meat. Veganophobia forces the organizations to sacrifice the well-being of some animals (livestock) in order to raise awareness of other animals (pets).
Will eating one vegan meal really be so painful? Will giving up meat for a special occasion be a terrible sacrifice? Will eating one vegan cookie turn you into a vegan? Obviously, the answer to all three questions is no. But where does veganophobia come from? Wikipedia detail some history of veganophobia.
One explanation might be the fact that vegan food, until recently, has had a bad reputation for being tasteless “rabbit food”. Luckily, many talented vegan chefs are slowly changing the perception of vegan food. As more people are exposed to better tasting vegan food, perhaps they’ll be less likely to freak out at the thought of going without meat for one meal.
Read any number of comments in an article about veganism in a mainstream publication and you will find a level of taunting and derision that rivals that found in any political debate these days. Other dietary choices like gluten-free or paleo may be targets of online ridicule, but not at the level aimed at the vegan diet! If you google “Why do people hate vegans”, you get about 1.4 million results! Compare that to “Why do people hate bedbugs”, with about 765,000 results, and you can see that vegans are strongly reviled.
Sure, there are plenty of examples of sanctimonious and obnoxious vegans. But same goes for meat-eaters. How many times have I heard, “I didn’t get to the top of the food chain to eat lettuce!” As if that person single-handedly was responsible for the evolution of the entire human population. As with any minority, though, the bad behavior of a few will reflect upon the entire group. So vegans in general have gotten a bad name.
What’s the best way to deal with veganophobia? I’m not sure, but humor always helps. Some vegan comedians might give you some inspiration!