Are vegans elitist exclusionists who hate everyone who isn’t vegan? Does not being vegan make you an awful person worthy of a swift kick in the groin? I share my personal position on this matter whether I hate non-vegans.
So, Do I hate non-vegans? Does not being vegan make you an awful person worthy of a swift kick in the groin, either literally or metaphorically through a drawn-out barrage of all caps YouTube comments debate? Let’s find out. Oh. And wear a cup.
Sometimes, when I’m trying to advocate for the animals, educate about the horrors of the animal products industry, and make some sort of difference in the world, I admit that I can come off as rather snarky. I think it’s a pretty common conception that vegans can be judgmental and elitist. But do we vegans hate all non-vegans?
First off, I can’t speak for all vegans because, whether you believe it or not, we really aren’t a covertly connected club with secret nightly meetings and a worldwide underground tunnel system for the international transport of tofu.
(I’ve said too much.)
Seriously, though, this post will mainly be my personal perspective on this issue, unlike my main educational nuggets, which are more research-based and unbiased. (Though still snarky from time to time.)
So, let it be known that I am not the universal voice of all vegans. (Sorry to disappoint.)
Vegans are as diverse a lot as non-vegans with just as many varied opinions and viewpoints, evidenced by the unfortunate in-fighting and fracturing off of various vegan factions, both dietary and philosophical.
But back to this post’s premise: Do I hate all non-vegans? The short answer is no.
Now it is possible to hate the action a person takes without hating the person. The common saying is “hate the sin and not the sinner.” I do very much hate the torture, rape and murder of sentient beings for nothing more than a meal. I hate the exploitation of billions of lives just to satisfy human appetites, fashion, or a monetary bottom line. I hate the utter callous disregard for non-human animals so often displayed by our society. And more than anything, I hate willful ignorance.
As a child, I was very bitter against my own species. I would lie in bed at night crying, overwhelmed with the enormity of suffering in the world and humanity’s seeming indifference to it all. I couldn’t understand how people could be so cruel and uncaring. And I hated them—all of them. But I think it’s important to note that what my cynical little angry five-year-old self really hated was the injustice—the utter unfairness of it all. I wanted to know why no one cared, and I felt powerless to make a difference.
I believe that is where so much of what is often seen as vegan “hate” really comes from–a devastating sense of loss, a profound mourning, and a feeling of utter powerlessness. When your eyes are opened to the extreme enormity of unnecessary animal suffering and death at the hands of our species, it’s hard not to become overwhelmed with anger and disgust. As the saying goes, if you’re not outraged, you’re not paying attention. And it’s true–there is plenty to be outraged about in this world.
And I think vegans should never lose touch with that anger and passion. When we lose that flame, we lose the drive to make a difference.
Of course, this passion can sometimes overwhelm us and come out sideways in petty aggression or arguments. But to my non-vegans out there, know that this almost always comes from wanting so badly to save the lives of innocent animals and feeling powerless against what often seems to be a losing battle.
It’s equally important to note that many non-vegans honestly and truly don’t know any better. They of course know that meat and eggs and dairy and honey all come from animals, but they lack that true connection. I think we vegans who are now so hyper-aware of the truth can easily forget how powerfully obscured the reality of our food is in our society. We forget how inundated we are since birth with the acceptability of animal exploitation. And we forget that most of us were once there too.
Most vegans, including myself, are not born and raised vegan. We once were the very non-vegans that we can now so easily judge. So do I hate non-vegans? No. How can I? They are where I once was.
Of course, once someone has learned the truth about animal products–if they then choose to continue to live a life of exploitative practices, then personally, I may choose to distance myself from them. But do i automatically hate them? No. Am I frustrated? Absolutely. Discouraged, angry, disheartened? Sure. And hey, I’m not perfect–I’ve acted out on occasion.
But I have learned since being a little hate-filled five-year-old with early-onset acid reflux, that aggression, hateful speech, elitism and exclusion are not effective means of educating. If I approach non-vegans with the premise that they are bad people, then I’m doing a disservice to not only them, but also to the animals. And if I portray veganism as an exclusive club completely beyond their “humble” grasp, then the animals are the ones who ultimately suffer the most–they could care less about petty differences and personality conflicts. They just want to live free.
Now all of this is not to say that it is okay to eat animals and animal byproducts. Don’t think I’ve gone soft on you. The exploitation, enslavement, torture, and murder of another being is never okay. It is never excusable or acceptable. And it’s not a lifestyle choice or personal right to support such atrocities. I covered the issue of personal choice in diet extensively in this video so please reference that before saying I’m out to kill personal freedoms.
The point here is that categorically hating an entire group of people categorically without considering where they are in their journey is unfair and ineffective activism.
everyone deserves a chance, human and animal alike.
Now that you’ve heard my thought on this topic, I’d love to hear from you. If you’re non-vegan, do you get the assume that all vegans hate you or are exclusive, rude, aggressive or elitist? If you’re vegan, do you find it difficult to interact with people still actively exploiting animals? How do you navigate those relationships? What methods of activism and education have you found most effective? Let me know in the comments!
— Emily Moran Barwick
Thank you for this video – it put all my feelings into words. I do believe that our passion and drive to end the torture and eating of sentient beings often comes out in the wrong way. I also get angry at the blatant disrespect for animal suffering. I have to stop and remember I was there at one time, vegetarian for 15+ years and can honestly say I had NO idea about the dairy/egg industries until reading Alicia Silverstone’s book The Kind Diet.
Emily Moran Barwick (BiteSizeVegan) says
so glad you liked it Paula and that it resonated with you. so many of us were once blind too!
i have to disagree emily. i’m not saying that i hate all non-vegans, but, in that particular “field”, humans who still consume meat products, dairy eggs and honey, use stuff tested on animals ride horses and kill bugs with no regret whatsoever, basically anyone who explores and abuses the rights and freedom of other sentient beings, of course i hate them! hell, i even hate myself by driving my car or use electricity, but i’m doing my best to try to five myself a chance to be a human, like you said to me… it’s hard and seems to be getting harder and harder to do so, but i’ll gladly pay the price for my 27 years of blindness and stupidity on using and abusing animals; i’m redeeming myself, trying to make amends everyday for that. now, getting back to the question, i do not hate non-vegans, not fully though, but i’m rapidly losing my faith on this frivolous humanity, because like gary said, we humans have no importance on planet earth; and i believe that this beautiful planet would do much better without our imbecile race. i’ll finish quoting: “humans are born with no purpose, live for no reason and die for nothing.”
Emily Moran Barwick (BiteSizeVegan) says
i can greatly identify with what you’re saying here, kira and feel the same way to a great extent. i do have hate in my heart and rage and disgust. i think it’s when i really take a step back and look at what those emotions are doing to me and what they are doing for the animals that i realize i have to find a different way. my resentments and hatred aren’t benefitting the animals- my outrage is. my passion is. i need to focus on those who do listen and do hear- those who refuse to see and continue to abuse, kill, and torture animals knowingly and willingly- i don’t want to waste my time on them when i can be educating those who will open their eyes and change. that’s where i can be effective. i hope that makes sense? but know that i totally identify with you more than i can say…
I am going to be taking classes to become a yoga teacher in January, and I am struggling with the anticipated diversity of the people I will have to teach, and also how to be less hateful towards people who aren’t vegan. I feel almost like I can’t be social anymore because of my fervent belief in a cruelty-free lifestyle. I am scared that I will become a yoga teacher with hate in my heart for the people I take classes with, or even my teachers, for eating dairy or eggs while I am at school with them. It feels like a burn on my heart, because my own family had given me hell for being conscious about what I put in and on my body since I was 11, so I know the feeling of being shut down and ignored for my beliefs all too well. Help! The anger is too real. What should I turn my focus to? I HAVE to tell people about veganism because I feel it’s the only way to live sustainably and it’s my job as someone who is aware to make other people aware.
Emily Barwick says
Man that is a tough one! But I think it’s more than natural to incorporate your veganism into your teaching. And to integrate that into your class even. I have a friend who teaches yoga and works with all non-vegans too. Maybe get in touch with him for specific tips? If you look for Temitope Yoga, he’s on FB, IG, Twitter, and has a website. His name is unique enough you should be able to find him ;D
Michelle DiNova says
I can get pretty angry & outraged, especially when I find myself exposed to a more than usual amount of animal suffering. There is already a continuous & constant ache in my heart, mind, body and soul that will remain forever scarred. Add to that the reality that many, not only CHOOSE IGNORANCE when it comes to animals’ suffering, but also continue to fund these defenseless innocent beings’ constant hell on earth.. , It’s completely expected, and justifiable, to be enraged at the heartless sadistic animal abusers, but with those non-vegans who are aware yet do nothing, there is an extra .infuriation due to the baffling confusion as to why???…and WTH is wrong with them.???…with no logical explanation for their apathy & inaction. Having said all of that, I make it a point to watch James Aspey videos when I feel myself getting internally overwhelmed with anger, or before I go out to any protest or outreach events, He totally grounds my attitude & emotions, and if I do come across a non-vegan agitator that gets under my skin, I then laugh as I think to myself, “Damn!! Imagine how pissed off I’d be if I didn’t watch James’ video before I came here”, ‘This is Your Wake-up Call’ is especially helpful, .usually……..though, I do still have my days.
Emily Moran Barwick says
Thank you so much for your comment and so sorry for the delay! I’m so glad to hear that the Wake Up Call For Vegans speech was helpful! It was one of the hardest to write, amazingly…it is a very challenging area for all of us. Thank you so much for sharing your struggles. I can really identify with you on many levels.
Wanda Sue says
ThankYou for your comments.
I’m having a terrible time dealing with all of the Ignorant & uncaring people that I’ve known & called “ My Friends” for most of my Life. I haven’t eaten Red meat in over 30 years & I gradually stopped eating Pork & then Chicken…still eliminating fish & Milk products gradually. It just took me time to Open my eyes to the Exploitation of Animal Farming & the Such. I can’t be friends anymore with ppl that Eat Animals. Its plain Ignorance, Laziness & pure Selfishness on a level that I find Is totally Unacceptable. Instead of wasting My Time with ppl like This… I will relentlessly commit the use my Free Time on Animal Welfare…. not “ Friends” that choose to be Ignorant to Fulfill their Own Personal Carnivorous Desires & are Not even Open to the Idea of EVOLVING!!!
Mistreatment of Animals is Barbaric on every level… Then Murdering them & the EATING their Bodies! Ugh…. REALLY!?! Totally Disgusting.
crazy vegan says
Obviously if someone needs animal products for medical reasons, that’s different. I had non-vegan pills, because I was very sick and I don’t want to die. If the doctor gives me non-vegan medication for a life threatening illness, I take the medication, unless I have easy access to a vegan alternative.
But people who go around eating meat for fun? NO sympathy for them, ever. I know that sounds extreme, but what if your friends were eating PEOPLE? Would you still like them?
I am really struggling with the anger I feel about meat eaters and the fact they would rather stay ignorant to the truth. I share videos on fb, only ones of conversations, not slaughter or anything and am already getting unfriended by people. No one wants to hear it so I will stop with the videos. I just thought that even if I get one person thinking about the cruelty and what it does to the environment then that is something.
It really gets me down, it was useful reading what you wrote, it’s likely we were all there once. You say that if people know the truth and don’t care then distance yourself but it’s hard to have a conversation to know if they know the truth or to advise them.
I was talking to someone that I am close to and he said that he has enough to think about with his own life than thinking about animals. Is that a cop out? Is he an awful person? How far do we go with this?