Monday, January 16, 2017

Why You Shouldn't Comment Mmmm Bacon on a Vegan Post

If you are a vegan or a vegetarian and have ever shared your feelings about animals with a friend, family member or a co-worker or shared an animal post that moved you on your Facebook feed you know people make comments they may think are harmless or funny but come across as heartless and mean. I get it. The non-vegs wonder why the vegans seem so preachy or share vegan posts and videos on social media and think it's a good time to say something like “mmm bacon” on a vegan post. It's not. Maybe I can shed some light from my perspective.

Popular vegan meme, source unknown

I've learned a few things in my 20+ years on and off as a vegetarian turned permanently vegan and even more so as someone who was resistant to changing my diet and struggled with giving up things I liked to eat in the past, regardless of what I read or heard about it.

I've shared some graphic posts, articles, and memes urging my friends and followers to keep animals off their plates not because I want to offend people, shame anyone, or don't accept those who have different beliefs than I do. Quite the opposite.

When my friends are outraged by discrimination, a crime, a child abuse case, a brutal murder, some atrocity or injustice, many of them will share it on social media in anger and disbelief. We may be alerting our friends and family about violence that has occurred, generate awareness to fund research for diseases without a cure, hoping that world leaders will hear our outrage to end a massacre of children and families in Syria, or warning that vertical blind cords or IKEA dressers could kill children. There are a myriad of urgent messages that could have direct consequences if we don't act and often we do with our words, our eating habits, our charitable giving, our activism, the places we shop, our vacation destinations, our wallets.

Whether we were a victim, witness, or simply read about it on Facebook, we share it to our friends so they can collectively express grief, outrage, sympathy, or take action. We are often highlighting problems that we feel people are unaware of, and asking for change, giving warnings, and sharing solutions.

Sometimes we are so shocked at things that happen to animals, children, a group, an entire city or country that we are moved to tears with empathy and deeply troubled by the lack of humanity. We feel that we want to do something... anything, but we can't accomplish it alone. We rally a call for help to those closest to us.

It is exactly the same reasoning when your friendly vegetarian shares a picture of a mother pig in a gestation crate or a brutal undercover video that exposes what happens on factory farms. They are rallying for help. You don't need to love animals, or think they are at the same level as humans (although many of us don't draw a sharp line between species) but it is difficult to argue that the psychological and physical abuse of animals is justified regardless of whether you choose to purchase items from the meat and dairy section or not.

There are so many commonalities humans can have with one another throughout life. Our children can go to the same school. We can like the same kind of music, the same sports, recreational activities, movies, hobbies, religion, TV shows but none of those aspects that tie us to friendships, family trees, or communities force us to reconcile abuse and murder on a regular basis like a vegan having to reconcile watching you carve a turkey, be successful on your fishing trip, smile in your fur collared coat, or take pride in the size of the mouse you caught in your trap.

People are tasking vegans and vegetarians with forgiving murder or abuse constantly. Every single time your veg friend sees meat, fur, and of course a dead body, they equate it with a loss of life. They assess who is responsible and when they remain friends with you... if it is your lunch, your coat, your sport - they are in a sense, processing and forgiving a murder or animal abuse and it can be extremely difficult and mentally taxing at times.

Sometimes we try to share posts, to inform our friends, especially if we think it is not common knowledge. Laws exist in some areas in the United States that make it illegal for footage to be obtained on factory farms. We are not taught about brutal farm practices injuring animals without painkillers in schools, our kids don't go on field trips to the slaughterhouse, or participate in these atrocities with our own hands. And while this helps vegans forgive their meat-eating family and friends, this is also why it important for people to educate others whether they are prepared and receptive or not.

So next time your friend shares a story, video, or news with you about animals, especially if you are one to share foods you eat, recipes you like, things that trouble you in the news and in the world, I hope you take a moment to watch what your veggie friend needs you to see and perhaps think twice about what you eat, wear, and do for fun if it contributes to loss of life.

At the very least please refrain from rubbing it in to someone who is in mini-mourning with an “mmmm bacon” or any insensitive statement along those lines. And, of course, for those that would like to keep animals off their plate I suggest some of the recipes on my site, meal ideas on my Instragram, or the wealth of recipes and resources available to switch to a kinder diet and lifestyle for years to come.

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