Shades of Green: Vegan Arrogance

In Columns, Opinion

I don’t know why I took my vegan friend camping with me and my family. You’d think a vegan would know better than to trek off on a week-long vacation without an endless supply of trail mix or dried edamame, or whatever it is that vegans live off of when they’re on the road.

What can I say – she seemed open-minded to new things. We both liked spicy Indian food, backpacking through foreign lands and camping in the wilderness.

Little did I know that she wasn’t as open-minded as I thought.

My dad broke a sweat every time it came to cooking up a meal.

“Do you want cereal? Potatoes? Is it okay if I put cheese on the eggs – do you eat eggs?”

She wouldn’t eat a damned thing. She’d rather starve than eat horrid, lowly camping food.

“Look at these crackers,” she pointed to the ingredients list. “Contains chicken broth. See, things you don’t even expect contain animal ingredients.”

“Oh,” I said disconcertingly as I nibbled on the crackers that my dad so enthusiastically provided with hummus.

What was I to do? I don’t like consuming meat just as much as the next vegetarian, but this was my dad’s food, and he wanted more than anything for us to have a good time. He glanced over at us sitting by the bowl of crackers and hummus.

“What’s wrong? You don’t like it?” His heart was broken.

The girl could have brought her own food if she didn’t want to torture my family and me with her snobbish remarks regarding our eating habits. Unfortunately, I think that’s what she enjoyed most about it. She sat high up on that throne of “I’m-better-than-you-because-I-love-animals-more.”

Don’t get me wrong, I greatly respect those upholding veggie diets; they are both healthier and less detrimental to the environment. Still, somehow along the lines the morality and meaning behind meatless meals have been turned into some trendy competition.

So, who’s better than who? I don’t eat red meat, so I must be better than you. Well, I don’t eat ANY meat, so I’m better. Well, I don’t eat any meat OR dairy. So?! I don’t eat any meat OR dairy OR anything that’s not organic OR anything with preservatives. I ONLY EAT RAW VEGETABLES. SO THERE. I WIN.

Touché, my friend. You don’t get to enjoy any culinary aspects of the world’s many cultures. You most definitely win.

“The Colbert Report” recently featured a book called “Eating Animals” by Jonathon Safran Foer. During the interview, Foer noted that it would have been okay to eat a hot dog fifty years ago because those farm animals weren’t ridden with antibiotics or forcefully reproduced through artificial insemination. In fact, today’s farm animals are so deformed that they can’t reproduce sexually, even if they wanted to.

OK, thanks Foer, I’ll never eat another animal again. That’s fine. There are too many people in this country demanding a hamburger for breakfast, lunch and dinner, thus giving way to mass reproduction of meat. It’s efficient to forcefully feed and breed cows, then fluff up their carcasses with preservatives and chemicals to provide enough patties for McDonald’s customers everywhere.

By avoiding meat, you’re avoiding many bodily diseases such as cancer and obesity, while at the same time decreasing the demand for torturing all the helpless Bessies in this cruel, hungry world.

Good job.

But when the time comes to enjoy something cultural, or if a family cooks a meal for you, it’s offensive and snobbish to deny the offer. Basically, nobody is going to shoot you on site for eating an egg or maybe a piece of chicken every now and again.

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  • YetAnotherAnon

    Why oh why are so many people missing the point here!?

    I don’t know about you, but I have friends who refuse to eat all sorts of things on a daily basis, and not at all because of their vegan beliefs! frends that avoid butter to ‘stay thin’, people who don’t eat fish, beacuse it ‘tastes fishy’, people who don’t eat salt(!) ‘not to retain so much water’, and the list goes on!

    I have never seen anyone even comment on these choices! (though in some cases a comment or two, especially from a nutritionist would do them good) so those of you reading this and thinking ‘how rude’ should ask themselves if the article would even have been published if the question at ‘STEAK’ wouldn’t be meat!?

  • Ward Chanley

    “Why oh why are so many people missing the point here!?”

    …because April Ehrlich felt entitled to post an anti-vegan rant attempting to claim all vegans, everywhere, are “arrogant” because one vegan wouldn’t compromise her veganism to make April feel more comfortable.

    The crux of the response from other non-vegans here defending animal consumption ultimately rests on this: we make you uncomfortable. We – by our mere existence – point out that your excuses for enslaving animals for your own tastebuds are *merely excuses*, not actual *reasons* (based on, surprise, actual reason).

    The reason vegans are commenting is because April Ehrlich’s assumptions are insulting and silly – is she claiming (or are her defenders here claiming) that a kosher-observant Jew should eat “a little” bacon, once in a while, to make non-kosher, non-Jews feel comfortable?

  • YetAnotherAnon

    @ Ward Chanley

    I thought I made it clear in my comment, that I too am not ok with the article, as I think it wouldn’t even exist, if the author took ‘personal dislike and intolerance of this particular lifestyle choice’ out of the equation. and in spite of the arguments made by the vegans and non-vegans I can’t help but wonder if we’re all really talking about meat or tolerance itself.

    p.s. I too am a vegan and agree with your ‘we make them think about their choices more (often) than they’d like to, and that makes them uncomfortable’ argument a 100%!

  • Moj

    I’m sorry… did you mention in your article that your friend complained about not being catered to? That’s what I thought. While I agree that it would have been smart of her to bring some of her own food, she’s doing no physical or lasting harm to you or your father. If your father really was breaking a sweat cooking (which I’m guessing is highly exaggerated), then it sounds like he needs to hit the gym. How can you possibly expect your friend or any other vegan to sacrifice their strongly held beliefs just to make you feel special? I can assure you that the guilt they feel for eating something they find extremely unethical would be far greater than your petty disappointment that they wouldn’t except your food offering. You’re the one who’s being selfish.

    And as for omnivores who complain that vegans being catered to is a double standard, why should vegans have to cater to you? I agree that I don’t expect to be provided with veg options when I’m in the company of others (though if they know I’m vegan beforehand they are usually extremely considerate anyway, unlike this girl), but if it were the other way around, there is absolutely no reason I should provide an omnivore with animal products simply because they can eat them. Everyone can eat vegetarian food with a clean conscience.

  • Ward Chanley

    @YetAnotherAnon:

    “I thought I made it clear in my comment, that I too am not ok with the article”

    Partly my fault; with three (or four?) anonymous posters commenting, it’s tough to tell which Anon is Anon.

    I was responding most specifically to Anon flinging the “maybe you crazy vegans think we should eat animals that are still alive” and the “Hitler was a vegetarian” fallacies. YAAnon, I took it from YOUR post that you were vegan, or at least vegan sympathetic.

  • Ward Chanley

    @Moj:

    “I agree that I don’t expect to be provided with veg options when I’m in the company of others (though if they know I’m vegan beforehand they are usually extremely considerate anyway, unlike this girl),”

    Again, we really don’t know that. What we have from the piece is that Ms. Ehrlich’s vegan ex-roommate wouldn’t eat what her father offered – no special surprise, since either he didn’t *care* that the roommate was vegan and offered her animal products ANYWAY, or didn’t understand – but April apparently *did.*

    We’ve all said that perhaps the vegan should have brought more of her own food, but again:

    1. The vegan didn’t starve. If she had, Ms. Ehrlich surely would have mentioned it – likely hysterically – in the piece.

    2. What we know from Ms. Ehrlich’s account is that daddy felt badly, because the vegan in question turned down eggs and cheese, and apparently April herself feels it’s perfectly acceptable to call oneself a “vegetarian” and eat crackers flavored with chicken flesh, or to eat chicken or other animal flesh “once in while” as part of a “cultural experience” or for the sake of not “offending” someone if you’e offered animal flesh.

    This – precisely this – is why the term “vegetarian” is meaningless. Non-vegetarians call themselves vegetarian when they can’t even be bothered to exclude animal FLESH with any regularity, let along any other animal products.

    This is *why* “vegan” exists as a separate term.

  • strawberryriddick

    “But when the time comes to enjoy something cultural, or if a family cooks a meal for you, it’s offensive and snobbish to deny the offer. Basically, nobody is going to shoot you on site for eating an egg or maybe a piece of chicken every now and again.”

    We’re not afraid anyone will swoop down and call us out on not being “real” vegans. April, as a fan of bodybuilding both when I was an omnivore and now as a vegan, I can GUARANTEE that I consumed more meat, dairy, and eggs in one sitting than you do in a day. I’d eat up to a pound of meat per meal. I’d drink raw eggs with my protein shakes. I loved the stuff. But, after going vegan, that stuff is no longer appealing. I recall being in a cabin with a few people on a trip and waking up to smell hot dog urine. “Oh no!” I thought. “The dog got out and peed in front of the heater! The girls are going to be in so much trouble for that! Oh no!” When someone came downstairs to wake the rest of us up, I asked if she smelled anything. “No, nothing weird. I mean, we are cooking sausage upstairs, though.” Oh, oh GOD, that smell is SAUSAGE? Mind you, I used to LOVE sausage.

    My roommate is an omnivore and that’s fine, I don’t care…diet shouldn’t be your basis for friendship. The other day, I came home and was hit in the face with the scent of hot, stinky armpit. It smelled like a nasty gym bag full of unwashed, fermented clothing. I figured my roommate had worked out (we have a home gym) and just didn’t shower afterward. Later, I asked what he did that day and he mentioned he cooked up a couple of steaks. Are you KIDDING? I used to LOVE steak…I ate that stuff extra rare and sometimes RAW, and now it just smells like a men’s locker room?

    That’s why vegans don’t want to eat your piece of chicken: it smells like foul bathrooms at a truck stop. Seriously, it’s just nasty. What’s really rude is when a family knows you’re vegan but refuses to cook for you. If you can’t figure out how to make something without dumping dairy, eggs, and meat into it, you fail in the kitchen.

    I agree your roommate was a jerk for not bringing food on the camping trip. I always have food with me out of habit (bodybuilding…gotta keep that stuff on-hand) and would ensure I bring more on a trip so that no one has to cater to me. Still, I can’t imagine anyone “breaking a sweat” when trying to compose a meal. If your dad can’t figure out how to cook food that doesn’t contain animal products, he needs to stop, take a breath, and figure that out. And, if he doesn’t WANT to, then he should have told your douche bag of a roommate, “FIX YOUR OWN DAMN MEAL.”

    Anyway, just wanted to let you know why us “snobbish” vegans don’t see a “harmless” piece of chicken as, well, harmless. Imagine someone rubbing a piece of bread around a urinal and then offering it to you…the stench is sickening.

  • c’mon now

    I know someone who is self-righteous like that. They are the same kind of people who look down on someone who may drive an SUV, unless it’s a Subaru Forester…then it’s OK. People are funny like that. They get it in their head that certain things are OK for them, but not others. I actually drive a Forester. Before that I had some people make suggestive comments that the car I had at the time was “huge” or “so big” really meaning “we are better than you because we drive a Subaru and not some gas guzzling SUV. What they didn’t know is that what I was driving beat the Forester by 3-4 mpg. I got the forester because it’s a great car and it is AWD. I’m not into polluting and ruining the planet. I prefer to eat free-range eggs and chicken. I love to grill nice steak now & then. I like vegetarian food. But some of these extremists need to feel superior. Funny thing I saw on the local news; A group of college kids in a green-technology program decided they needed to fly to somewhere in central America to take a WEEKEND class in something related to eco-technology. I shouldn’t judge as I don’t know all the details, but it just seems kind of contradictory to be so concerned with the environment that you are majoring in green tech, but can justify having to use all that jet fuel for a weekend class, probably driving around in some old, gas-guzzling Land Rover while they were there. But again…that’s OK. You just want to slap some of these people, but you know they wouldn’t get it. Again, same type of people who want wind energy but then complain about the wind turbines ruining the landscape.

  • samuel

    “But when the time comes to enjoy something cultural, or if a family cooks a meal for you, it’s offensive and snobbish to deny the offer. Basically, nobody is going to shoot you on site for eating an egg or maybe a piece of chicken every now and again.”

    Here, I killed a cooked up a baby human, eat it or offend me.

  • William Paul

    This isn’t about being ‘better’ than anyone.

    So, if I offered you cooked human meat, would you decline?
    I’d think so. Would me responding with I think you’re better than me be morally justified? No it wouldn’t.

    For Vegans, this isn’t about Love. This is about Respect. Respecting their right not to be treated as Property.
    Your friend wasn’t acting ‘better’ than you, she was doing the morally right thing.

  • Jay

    Aril, this is pure drivel and buffoonery.

  • Barry

    I can’t believe all these vegans missed the point. The camping vegan should have brought her own food. It is just falt out rude to respond the way she did to her hosts. My vegetarian friends quietly choose to eat what is acceptable to at my house without feeling the need to point out my shortcomings or tell me I am serving them poison. IN the history of civilization the meal has alwasy been a focal point for family and commuity sharing and bonding. The rude vegan is clueless and she should just hang out with other vegans or learn how to be polite. You can live a lifestyle without shoving it in everyone elses face.

  • I am also a vegetarian and my body has never been in a very good shape. Being a vegan can really make you much heathier.”*’

  • Lana

    April I found your article to contain many facts that were opinionated. A person who is vegan, such as myself can not eat meat under any circumstances because it will make me very sick – to a point where I have to go to E.R. Have you ever been extreemly lactose & tolerant? Well, its like that instensified. So no, your friend probally refused the crackers because she didn’t want to get sick.
    One of the many things you said was: “By avoiding meat, you’re avoiding many bodily diseases such as cancer and obesity, while at the same time decreasing the demand for torturing all the helpless Bessies in this cruel, hungry world.” You do not have the attribuation for this assertion and it sounds sarcastic as if you do not care what animals are initially for when not raised as pets. – You claim your vegetarian? hmn…
    I do agree that its offensive to deny the offer when some one offers you food but when you are vegan you have to refuse- if it has animal products. Furthermore, you will feel like shooting yourself when you do eat an egg or a piece of chicken ‘every now and again’ exspecially if it is for a religiouse reason or if you are a hard-core vegan. Some of us have no choice but to be vegan because of our diets.

  • Hanna

    This article is embarrassing to read. Mocking someone else’s ethics and calling them arrogant or snobbish just because you do not agree with them is just childish. The tone of this article is drenched in sarcasm, therefore alienating anyone who does not agree with your particular brand of “vegetarianism”, the type that only holds true as long as it does not “offend anybody”. Not to mention writing a scathing article such as this one about your “friend” is more impolite and rude than all of the turned away food of a single camping trip.

  • Bklynchica

    I don’t understand these extremes. It’s either “hamburgers for breakfast, lunch, and dinner,” or veganism. Both are unhealthy extremes that our bodies are not evolved for. I venture that vegans have an eating disorder…maybe related to OCD.

    A reasonable and natural diet should consist of fish, a little meat, some fruit and nuts, and a lot of vegetables. Oh, and avoid complex carbs.

    As far as ethics goes, modern agriculture that allows vegans to survive (in the hunter/gatherer societies of humans’ dawn vegans wouldn’t have had a chance) is extremely harmful to the environment. There is really no way of getting around harming animals, soil, and water in attempting to feed an overpopulated Earth. No individual will eat entirely ethically unless they grow all of their own food, or until there is a large population die off.

    So everyone should get off their high horses 😛

  • Janae

    It wasn’t that your friend would rather starve than eating “lowly camping food” it’s that she’s vegan, probably because she’s opposed to animals suffering and dying terrible deaths just for a meal. She wouldn’t eat eggs (with cheese!) because chickens are shoved in tiny “battery cages” in which they can’t even stretch out, and they are pumped full of chemicals and have their beaks cut off so they don’t try to kill themselves, or each other, out of stress. Cheese, like all dairy products, support the veal industry, and meat in general. Dairy cows, when they stop producing enough milk, get slaughtered and end up in your grocery store. And while they are dairy cows, they’re pumped full of awful hormones and impregnated by machines (affectionately called “rape machines” by some farmers) and then their offspring either enter the dairy cow world, or are kept tied up in little boxes to become veal.
    I’m sorry it’s “snobbish” to you to not accept that plate of eggs with cheese, but she’s vegan for a reason, not just whenever it is convenient.
    Also, as a vegan, I’ve been in many situations where I’ve been told not to worry, that there would be vegan food for me, and I’d get there and have “oh, you don’t eat fish? What about some grilled cheese?” By now I just bring my own food places, which some people actually still consider insulting, bringing your own food to a dinner or camping trip. You’d probably still find a way to say how she acted all superior, asking to fry up her vegan brats before you put meat on the grill. It’s a lose-lose situation. I’ve often acted like I wasn’t hungry when there weren’t any vegan options around (contrary to what was promised) in an attempt to try to not offend the hosts, and then when I get home I have a huge meal.

    Basically, she should have brought some food with, but even then, this article would still exist and be terrible.

  • i’m a veggan and being a veggan means engaging in a more healthy lifestyle“’

  • Alfie

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  • cpb

    lol, look at all the sensitive vegan pricks this post ticked off. The arrogant and condescending reply’s to this person’s post is evidence of their ‘holier than thou’ attitude. I waited on tables for 2 years and I can tell you, this post is 100% indicative of what it’s like to attempt to serve a vegan. They were always the worst customers. Always!

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