I have a tendency to be passionate when talking about things I care about, including but not limited to: my children, my wife, my work, running, and veganism. Occasionally when talking about veganism I can come across as angry and sometimes, yeah, I am angry.
My transition into veganism started when I decided to eat a plant-based diet for environmental reasons. We’re (hopefully) all aware of the environmental issues we face, which aren’t going to just go away without everybody taking some degree of accountability for their actions and their choices as consumers.
One thing that struck me in particular recently was that the UK is among the most nature-depleted countries in the world. Something must change, or we'll be leaving our children with an irrevocably damaged planet. I don't want to do that. There is strong evidence to suggest that eating a plant-based diet is the single biggest thing a person can do to reduce their environmental footprint.
I also had some vague notion that it would probably be healthier, too. Turns out it probably is, or at least would be for me if I could stop eating biscuits.
Naturally I then found myself thinking more and more about the meat industry. I saw upsetting footage from inside UK industrial meat and dairy farms, watched talks discussing the moral issues around the meat industry. I found that the more I looked in from the other side of the fence, the more upset and disgusted I was. This is what led me to adopt veganism properly.
So why do I get angry sometimes? There are a few reasons.
I get angry primarily because (warning: controversial opinion incoming) people are literally prioritising their taste buds above the life of a living, conscious animal with feelings and emotions. One of the key points of veganism is that eating animals is entirely unneccesary for most people, so why do it?
I get angry because we now know that the intensive meat and dairy industries are one of the biggest worldwide contributors to climate change. Even for grass-fed beef, the jury’s still out. The meat and dairy industries overall have a hugely negative environmental impact, so why do people continue to support them?
For me, the moral considerations alone are a no-brainer for adopting veganism. I also consider both the environmental and health reasons individually to be no-brainers for adopting a plant-based diet.
I get angry because despite this, when veganism comes up in conversation, usually because I’m asked about it, people tend to react negatively. I’ve been met with eye-rolling, disgusted expressions and phrases like “ugh, you’re not one of those, are you?”. Veganism comes from a place of compassion and a desire to make the world a better place, so this disproportionately unfavourable view of vegans is frustrating. Shouldn’t we all be trying to make the world a better place? I do try to keep in mind that it’s a complex issue and there are many reasons why people might react in this way.
So yes, I can occasionally get momentarily angry when talking about these things. Who doesn’t get passionate when discussing things they care about?
It’s important to consider new evidence when it becomes available, think on it and assess whether to change behaviour in order to stay aligned with your values. Behavioural change is a hard thing for people to do, especially when it goes against societal norms. However, with all the evidence stacking up in favour of plant-based living, isn’t it time we all considered the things we value and whether our behaviour supports those things?