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Conversations with Vegans

 
pollinator
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Good morning Permies!

Last night, my much better half and I had a visit from one of her long-time friends from glassblowing school. She's a vegan. Guess how I know.

She didn't start out that way. She was an omnivore when I met her, but since her current relationship to a guy who's very vegan, she's embraced it with a convert's zeal. A militant and evangelical convert, and one who doesn't mind posting CAFO animal slaughter footage, without warning, on the third page of an otherwise innocuous but pro-vegan Instagram post (yeah, some of her pro-vegan crowd called her out for insensitivity on that one).

Mostly, her visit was fun, but she'd keep coming back to the issue of food, and making sweeping generalisations, and treating opinion and unfounded scientistic reasoning as fact. Did you know, for instance, that it's fine to till fields seven times a season for organic vegan crops, just so long as no cute, fuzzy, farm animals are harmed? What voles, ground-nesting birds, other assorted mammals and insect life? What soil microbiome?

And when we talked about how we are most assuredly not vegan, but we sometimes find ourselves eating that way because it's cheaper and dry goods, which mostly happen to be vegan in my pantry, keep longer, she treated it as a half-measure, one that we were most certainly to fulfill one day, and be happy with all the frolicking free bunnies and lambies and bovines and pigs, who, sure, didn't have niches in a natural environment, but would adapt, or, I don't know, something (except that unspecified something was "...die in a myriad of unpleasant ways because they ceased being wild animals back about 14,000 years ago and don't have those skills anymore.")

I was soooo good. I barely opened my mouth at all. The only thing I ended up saying was how I think that the absolute best veganism is that which happens from scratch, in the kitchen at home, a somewhat veiled reference to what had been said earlier about one of Veganism's issues being processed foods and all the concerns surrounding them.

Please don't misunderstand me. I care for the welfare of animals, especially those that I eat. Apart from the "sad tastes bad" reasoning, which actually correlates to studies about stress negatively affecting taste and texture of tissue in meat animals, I actually care that animals not suffer unnecessarily for me to eat. Ideally, all animal farming would be scaled down to the point where the "one bad day" theory was somewhere between feasible and lucrative, and CAFO were illegal.

But I didn't even get to voice that opinion. I was constantly being berated, albeit gently, condescendingly, as to a child who didn't know any better, by these opinions based on the idea that killing things that we can emote with is somehow evil, but those too alien, too far-removed from us, like fungi, plant life, and bacteria, are fair game. And I am the specist?

I would love to hear about the experiences of others. How do we get across that not only do we have our own valid opinions and positions, but that we are allowed to disagree? I mean, I don't really care how people eat, much in the same way that I don't care how people worship, until it's shoved up under my nose like a fresh cow pat (and if it does harm to ecology and food systems). I can get past the assumptions that I am immoral, unself-examined, and that I don't care about the suffering of other organisms; I know I care, and anyone who pays any attention at all will get that. I don't source what meat I do eat from reliably sustainable and ethical sources because I like paying the premium.

Is there a kind but clear way to let vegans come to the conclusion themselves that they could be as guilty of specism as they claim omnivores to be, and because they've limited the scope of their systems, their concept of organisms that can feel pain, to those who can express it closest to us? Or am I off-base?

I tried talking it over with my favourite vegan in the world, my Flemish Giant, Mizzou, but she's taking the high road on this one for vegans everywhere and not even speaking to me.

-CK
 
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I've argued with fanatics before and it's absolutely pointless. I think the best you can hope for is the understanding that discussing the origins of food is not something you are interested in doing with her, firm boundary.
 
pollinator
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there is a lot of this bad feeling within the vegan community, such that it is. Those Vegans (the species you encountered) often spend a lot of their time policing other vegans, and it neither appreciated nor helpful- in fact it ruins the whole thing for everyone.

For years I was the vegan, and I was very involved in community, and did a lot of recipe testing for cookbooks, food blogging when it was cool, etc. But in my real life nobody knew I was a vegan til they watched me eat. I spent yeeeeeeears listening to people complain about the horror of baked goods without eggs and then spend the next half hour crowing about how I must be lying because this cake is good and it must have eggs in it. I had nothing to prove and no-one to convince, not even my kid, so I just did a lot of ignoring silliness from everyone, every once in a while gave someone a poke in the belly to say, hey, time to tone it down a bit, and carried on.
Ten years later, I am not vegan anymore. (I did it for a religious thing, it was time to stop, I might do it again, no strong feelings either way). We eat probably 85% vegan in my house today, our diet changed completely, and the experience was great for me. I learned to cook, learned to grow my own food, focused on sustainability in many forms, and came away with a real appreciation for what goes into food, meat, veg, and indeed all we have available to us and the amount of resources and effort that go into this food.
Today when there are vegan visitors, people call me to cook, I am thrilled to bake for events or make a vegan BBQ spread for someone who hasn't been able to eat well on a business trip.
I appreciate their choices, but I am the first person to cut off someone who gives any sort of opinion about how anyone else should eat. We are SO LUCKY to have a choice in our food, so many of my ancestors and probably yours too did not. People who are crusading are not helping. They are on the point of the journey where they probably think they are, but they're not. In fact some simply like being in a position where they can consider themselves better than other people because of their choices (or what they claim to be their choices, as there are buckets of examples of holier-than-thous chowing down on McDonalds when they think nobody's looking).

Edited to add: I think a lot of it has to do with the zeal of the recent convert. People find new beliefs and feel the need to school everyone. it's a shame. Because I didn't come to veganism on the animal rights bandwagon I didn't feel the need to get into that. But my environmental leanings and concerns about animal and worker welfare still color my food choices today, in how I choose what we eat (we're not eating farmed fish, we're not eating mass-scale eggs or chicken, etc etc etc).
When I do encounter these people, I find I have to use the same tack I use with people who are my political opposites (which is frequent lately):
I can tell you care about the environment/animal welfare/etc just as much as I do.
("I can tell you love the country just as much as I do" is my political version).
I don't try to reconcile. I just leave it there. They can make the connection and a real conversation can proceed, or we can move to another subject.
 
pollinator
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Chris Kott wrote:.....I would love to hear about the experiences of others. How do we get across that not only do we have our own valid opinions and positions, but that we are allowed to disagree? ...........

Is there a kind but clear way to let vegans come to the conclusion themselves that they could be as guilty of specism as they claim omnivores to be, and because they've limited the scope of their systems, their concept of organisms that can feel pain, to those who can express it closest to us?...



It's possible that some with the 'virulent vegan' approach, along with other similar proselytizers, are trying to resolve a past, early-life postion on the Karpman Drama Triangle (see   https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Karpman_drama_triangle ).  Thus, "the cause" and "rescue" becomes an entity unto itself for which there is no middle ground and no allowable alternative views.  At its core, is a burning desire to rescue the self from its own inner persecutors,......and such a condition pin-balls between being rescuer, victim, and persecutor until this condition is resolved at some point (....and *if* it is ever resolved at some point).  You may find through steady and sustained observation that your friend has such 'demons' underneath vying for control at various times.

As a synopsis:    http://pairadocks.blogspot.com/2019/06/cause-risk-rescue-addictions.html
 
pollinator
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I am fortunate that my closest friends here who are both vegan are not the preachy type, They are quite happy to come for dinner with meat eaters and eat with them (not the meat obviously) In fact they are so quiet about it they came to a BBQ the first one at my house and since I had only known them a couple of weeks I knew nothing about their diet, they DID NOT TELL ME... luckily I had two vegetarians coming and had some vegi-burger plans that I could modify as the grill heated up, but really tell people! I have known the evangelical type, but they do not become friends, the conversation normally gets as far as them saying "Oh you wouldn't eat meat if you had to kill it" closely followed by me offering them to come round and watch us slaughter and process our ducks/chickens.

With any point of view that I am 100% against and not willing to change on I simply avoid it, Take the entire Brexit fiasco, my aunt and uncle are on one side, my parents and I on the other. We simply do not talk about it it's much easier that way.
 
pollinator
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I started carnivore diet thanks to permies forum and Matt Walker who explained his experience and healing.

Most of my neighbours are vegan. We know each other and they have seen me getting better. They know I would love to be able to eat my own fruits but that I say they hurt my guts.

Some of them even tell me that I showed them that, truely, not everybody can eat vegan, that it is not as universal as they thought! But some others have told me that they would prefer to stay ill than quit their vegan diet.

So the 1st argument is to say that we all have a different microbiome, and that unfortunately you cannot eat the way they do.

2nd point is respect. I want to make sprout the idea that we should ask for laws to adapt to this new wave, and considere "EATISM", discrimination on your way of eating, to be as reprehensive as sexism and racism. If we let people love as they want, I think that to let people eat as they need is a basic right!!!

I have nothing against people and they can eat plant-based, which is what say people who want to signal they are not fanatics, but veganism is linked to convincing others to change diet and embrace veganism. I do not considere it a a sect or a religion as some say, but as an extremism that basically need others to become vegan. I do not mean all the people, but the definition of veganism as a movement. I do not deny that some people seem to be ok on this diet, and do not pretend that they all become ill just because some really do.

It is just not for everybody. Who pretends the reverse is just violent. This is the difference I think there is between those who eat plant-based and those who eat vegan. (well some say they eat vegan also because the name is beautiful! I know vegan who eat animal products also when they feel the need. When I wrote so once, I was furiously answered they were not vegan but flexitarian!! )
 
Xisca Nicolas
pollinator
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Chris Kott wrote:Please don't misunderstand me. I care for the welfare of animals, especially those that I eat.

I know I care, and anyone who pays any attention at all will get that.



I feel for you and she hurt with her violence the point of making you have to stand for you real care and show what should not need to be shown. Sometimes this violence can be subtle and I have received it too. It is immoral from those people and should be condemned already tacitely as it is not by law. If you had received the same violence for your sexual orientation,t henn you would have been allowed to sue her!


Chris Kott wrote: , but those too alien, too far-removed from us, like fungi, plant life, and bacteria, are fair game. And I am the specist?

I know I care, and anyone who pays any attention at all will get that. I don't source what meat I do eat from reliably sustainable and ethical sources because I like paying the premium.

Is there a kind but clear way to let vegans come to the conclusion themselves that they could be as guilty of specism as they claim omnivores to be, and because they've limited the scope of their systems, their concept of organisms that can feel pain, to those who can express it closest to us? Or am I off-base



Has any permie already seen that animals other than humans are actually specists?

Apart from the case of mothers who rescue some lost Young of another species, I can see everywhere that animals care for their own species, and that it Works very well to maintain balance in nature! Anti-species are actually violent to their own species more thann to other species, and this is not acceptable in terms of respect. Again, I admit all diets including people who eat what I cannot, and I would not even interfere if people hurt themselves, as long as they do not ask me for advice. Who knows if my diet absolutely suits me?

But discriminating people on their way of eating, and being violent within our own species while other animals are much SAFER within their OWN species, NO!
Speciesm is not a valid discrimination and hides violence against people who made different choices.
 
Chris Kott
pollinator
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Honestly, I feel at times that I need to treat some types of vegan with the same "kid gloves" I use for evangelicals of any stripe. They might be sincere as all get-out, but their my-way-or-the-highway stance often gets my contrarian streak up in arms.

And the worst ones aren't the rabid, frothing, animal right-to-life sign-waving screamers that interrupt your steak dinner (I mean, okay, if I am paying to eat out according to my ethical standards, I will literally have a silent, intellectual freak-out on that group of brainless twits that will leave them questioning just how ethical their positions are; don't mess with my steak), but the condescending, oh-if-only-we-could-teach-you-better level of insulting preachiness.

If their methods are so off-putting that we can't even communicate that we're on the same page with regards to CAFOs, how is it reasonable to assume that we can get to discussing the more difficult parts, like the one-bad-day doctrine?

-CK

EDIT: And thanks for all the input. I feel that we really do need to move past the obstacles our labels put in front of us. I think that's an overriding issue with contemporary human nature in the group dynamic, whatever specific issue is being discussed. The fact that we need to have this discussion in the Cider Press underlines, for me, how difficult it is to discuss basic issues crucial to our continued survival.
 
pollinator
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Sometimes when my brother works with me, I lay out ground rules ahead of time. He is not allowed to talk about chemtrails, internment camps, the World Trade Center, changing the monetary system, religion, or anything to do with the British royal family being cannibals. He's not allowed to talk about his drug buddies or the fact that they have ripped him off. But most of all he's not allowed to talk about whichever horrible woman has most recently emptied his pockets.

And smells. The job site never smells right to him. Every old building has its own aroma that it's beyond my control , so I just can't do anything for him.

I almost forgot money. He's not allowed to talk about my money and what I should do with it. During his 45 years on Earth he has managed to accumulate nothing, so he likes to think about other people's money. He's not allowed to talk about his money until the end of the day when I give it to him. When that time comes , he's not allowed to talk about his need for more, which he could work off at some later date.

You probably won't need this many ground rules , because it seems like this lady is hooked on one particular thing. She hasn't shown you any respect, so I don't think there's any point tiptoeing around feelings. Just tell her that you put no stock in what she has to say and you'd rather not hear any of it.
 
gardener
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I admit I'd be *much* happier if the focus was on eating healthy foods grown in soil, not dirt, rather than their biological classification. I've thought for years that if "anti-animal eaters" would get on the bandwagon of saving all the "animal micro-organisms" being killed by current industrial farming practices, the planet would be in a better place. I've also been aware for a long time about how many vegetarians and vegans are eating inadequately to meet their body's needs. Unfortunately, just adding meat to those diets wouldn't solve the problem.

I have also read a book that specifically talks about the ability of plants to communicate. Maybe if humans could slow down sufficiently, we could realize that plants are sentient too? I tried to explain that concept to someone who turned out to be vegetarian (but not the obnoxious type) and she begged me to stop - she did *not* want to "hear the screams of the vegetables". (Arrogant Worms quote)

I also like the quote from Omnivore's Dilema, "Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants." Personally, much of what one can buy in a grocery store, barely qualifies as "food".
 
Dale Hodgins
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Your title says conversations, but it seems that you've been subjected to unwanted lectures or sermons.😨

I've had that kind of conversation with my mom. I've found myself doing it to my own kids on a few occasions. That's not a conversation.
......
Funny side note. My niece is often a vegan and gluten intolerant when eating with groups of people at public events. But when she watches YouTube cooking shows in the privacy of her home, she eats chicken wings and a baguette bread.😂
 
pollinator
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Dale Hodgins wrote:Your title says conversations, but it seems that you've been subjected to unwanted lectures or sermons.😨

I've had that kind of conversation with my mom. I've found myself doing it to my own kids on a few occasions. That's not a conversation.
......
Funny side note. My niece is often a vegan and gluten intolerant when eating with groups of people at public events. But when she watches YouTube cooking shows in the privacy of her home, she eats chicken wings and a baguette bread.😂



I don't think she's unusual in that either 😛When polled, 60% of self-identified vegetarians said they had knowingly eaten meat in the last 24h and 84% of vegans/vegetarians eventually give up the diet entirely. There's been a lot of research that the all-or-nothing bent doesn't do anyone any favors. A lot of the time, people find they can't keep it up 100% of the time, feel like a failure and eventually drop off the diet. The people who are loudest and most uncompromising about it seem to be the new converts, for whom the honeymoon period hasn't worn off yet. I was reading a book recently where the author said they adhered to "vegetabletarianism", meaning they ate mostly plant products most of the time. I think that's a more practical way to go (although it probably could use some better branding).
 
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We come from a very multicultural ‘foodie’ family, even those who have married into it either were or have become ‘foodies’. There’s at least one vegetarian and one pescetarian in that group. No known vegans. Our Christmas/Easter/Birthday/Anniversary tables are quite spectacular as a result.

None of us preach about our food habits, but are enthusiastic about recipes of all sorts.

A friend has recently become a vegan but, given her history, it’s more likely to be a fad – she is the mother in a household of dyed-in-the-wool all male carnivores, so good luck with that.

I don’t care what belief systems people have, as long as they are respectful of others in the same way people are respectful of them – give a little, take a little.

I work in an environment with huge multiculturalism/multi-ethnicity and several times a year we have events where everyone brings a plate (of food). Typically, food is labelled so the vegetarians, vegans, Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims, Jews, and others know what is acceptable to them. Nobody is upset by the food choices e.g. a pork dish beside a veggie dish, etc. Everyone just enjoys the cornucopia of variety and discussing recipes regardless of cultural differences – people mostly have a baseline of good.

However, when people become fanatics, whether it’s in religious, political, or diet contexts, they are on the fringe of acceptability. Those types of people find comfort in likeminded groups and are usually sidelined by others.

I have ceased friendships with several people over the years simply because our lives have become so different that we no longer have anything in common except for a small thread decades ago. Life is like that, people move on, new friendships are created. Though, it does get harder as one ages – deep and lasting friendships take years to foster.

Personally, I do not react well to fanatics of any shade – by definition they are narrow-minded and inflexible, something we are not. If my friends became fanatics of any calibre, they’d get dropped quicker than a turd sandwich.

 
pioneer
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I am not vegan; but I come at this from the other side. I've never enjoyed meat, as a young child I would employ all sorts of devious methods of hiding the meat on my plate, spitting it out, or otherwise attempting to not be totally disgusted by the simple act of eating. This was no high moral posture, it was entirely aesthetic... I still hate the taste of meat.

But from that point in time to now, 40 years later, I get told daily how wrong I am.
"No! Meat is good! I'd only eat meat if I could, you must not have tried a 'good' steak."
People post all sort of disgusting (to me) pictures of gratuitously large hunks of meat, still bloody, and demand that everyone tell them how great it looks... by in honesty it doesn't look great to me. But If I say so they jump down my thought, just as voraciously as the aforementioned vegan did to the original poster.

My friends all hunt, I am glad that they have a connection to their food. Some of my friends raise and slaughter their own animals. I am proud of them.

I believe there are far more militant carnivores than their are militant vegans. The carnivores are just less challenging, therefore more acceptable to society as a whole.
Calling me, or others 'soy-boy' as an attempt to -what, emasculate, certainly diminish?- the reality that people can choose their own food, even if they don't like what you do, for what ever reason. The constant bombardment with images, pictures, and smell of meat makes me sympathise with the preachy vegan, but I also know that they are only hurting their own cause. Very few meat eaters are going to be willing to listen.
 
Chris Kott
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That last is a big part of my point.

I eat meat much less frequently than I was raised to. We had meat as the basis for at least two of the three meals of the day, and sometimes we would have eggs and bacon, ham, or sausage for breakfast, too.

Nowadays, I only approach that kind of frequency if our weekly big meal, the leftovers of which provide us with nearly a week's worth of lunches, contains meat; I never approach my previous normal volume of consumption.

And I feel fine. I mean, I think I need to get more fish in my diet (my other half just doesn't like fish, won't eat it), but I don't crave steaks and burgers every night.

So from my perspective, I have come a long way. I make vegan meals accidentally, because we run out of butter and I make a dairy-free one-pot dish of food derived exclusively from plants.

And yet I need to see the sad, black-and-white billboard posters of the faces of livestock ostensibly entreating me to do better. Because what I have already accomplished isn't worth shit, apparently.

The issue I have is that there is no possibility of middle ground with some of these folks. I don't feel like being condescended to or shamed by people who obviously need more B vitamins in their diets. Maybe they wouldn't be so cranky, then. They would look less emaciated, some of them.

I suppose if I had one guilty pleasure in all of this, it's whenever I read about yet another vegan influencer (read:spreader of undeserved condescension and shame) subjected to their own brand of shame-y, judge-y posturing. The only thing I feel bad about is that, when they do so, they aren't doing it as a deliberate slam to veganism, or as a cheat (it arguably is, but only against the tenets of veganism), but often because they are experiencing health problems because of their dietary choices, and are seeking to fix them with a historically normal dietary practice.

To my mind, discussing different dietary philosophies with a vegan is like trying to discuss the positive attributes of Satanism with a frothingly rabid ultra-right christian fundamentalist (or, really, any system of belief other than theirs; I was raised as a small-c conservative Catholic in a small town, I would know, and without any radical or extreme examples); if it isn't under the umbrella of veganism, it's evil, and if it isn't exactly the way they want it to be, it needs to be improved. If you eat mostly vegan, it's considered a slight if you don't go the rest of the way and call yourself by their label.

I think that, instead of being angry with bad people, I will, instead, eat steak at every chance I get. Not just any steak, but the best local and ethically-raised steak I can find. And I will reverse-sear it to a nice rare, maybe blue in the centre, and I will instagram it. And it will be delicious.

And in between steaks, I might make a delicious lentil chili, which will just-so-happen to be vegan.

Or maybe, just maybe, I will have something that combines both worlds, a sort of frankensteined, experimental meal of both plant and animal products. What I would call such an unheard-of, unholy freak of a meal is entirely uncertain, but I am sure it will be one thing: delicious.

Jokes aside, I don't care how people choose to eat, as long as it doesn't affect how I live, much in the same way that I don't care how people worship, or the details of their individual sex lives. I don't care.

I care about the needless shaming that doesn't leave room for the opinions of others, the incomplete reasoning that leads to unfounded conclusions, and the harm that people are doing to themselves, to society, and to the planet in trying to do the "right" thing, when all that they are doing is alienating entire groups of people that, for the purposes of taste, variety, and their pocketbooks, would have likely come eighty to ninety percent of the way towards veganism on their own had nobody tried to manipulate them towards it.

Really feeling that steak right now, but I think I will have oatmeal instead. With cream.

-CK
 
Xisca Nicolas
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If the title was "conversations with heterosexuals", them talking to homosexual persons, it would be scandalous.
So why is it not the case for each person trying to eat in the way their body tells them to?

Listen to your body and the rest should be illegal. Vegans have to be respected, and meat eaters too. Specism is an idea and animals are anyway all specists: they favor their species, and eventually eat other species. Actually they all do as they at least eat bugs in their Grass or in their fruits!

I want discrimination based on the way of eating to be as illegal as based on the way of loving or any difference. Discrimination is just not acceptable.

 
pollinator
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Xisca - they are not being discriminated against. People don't get fired for being vegan. It is not a fair comparison. This thread is about respect and how often vegans don't respect other people's food choices.
 
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