Why I’m (sometimes) an angry vegan

Veganism comes from a place of compassion and a desire to make the world a better place, so a disproportionately unfavourable view of vegans is frustrating, writes Riverford co-owner and IT engineer Jon Soellner.

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.

Vegan diet
Veganism can be a polarising debate. Image credit veganliftz.com.

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?


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  1. I agree with the sentiment – we have to look after our environment. Factory farming is a big negative. But to be vegan….that doesn’t make sense to me. Basic physiology says we eat a mixed diet – dentition and 1 stomach. The human body needs fats that come from animals. Seed oils are detrimental when over consumed.

    My approach is to eat meat from a trusted local supplier who you know has looked after the animal, grown their own grains and silage for overwintering the animals. You pay more, but you need less to be satisfied by a meal, so it isn’t over costly. Eat the whole animal – nothing should be wasted. It is all good nutrition.

    1. Olive oil, avocados and nuts all contain good oils. You can get an algae based omega 3 oil supplement. Fish get their omega 3 from algae, just as cows get their vitamin b12 from bacteria in the grass and soil.
      Can you give some basis for why you believe we must have animal fat?

      No-one has offered me evidence that we cannot live well without animal products.

    2. I hope you will not mind me saying this, but you have been misinformed. Most of us vegans held similar views to you, and they come from marketing. Veganisum is consistently the healthiest diet according to the science. I will not go on, but I urge you to check out these doctors, and researchers
      Dr T. Collin Campbell
      Dr Esselstyn
      Dr Dean Ornish
      Dr Barnard
      Dr Greger ( nutritionfacts.org )

      B12 comes from bacteria and farmers inject it into animals sometimes as they can not be sure they are getting it
      All protein comes from plants
      All essential fatty acids come from plants
      We are related to great apes, not cats who are carnivores

  2. I congratulate you. At the moment I cannot be vegan until I have lost weight but as I am, my husband and I are slowly edging towards that way.

    I wonder if people ever tell you we are not meant to be vegan because we have incisors?

    I am often told we are meant to be carnivores becasue of this, but I find that the people who mention this have no idea about the physiology of the human body.

    There are at least 9 other animals on this planet with molars who are vegans! Well some are vegetarian too 🙂 But the one thing they all have in common is, incisors which are used to.. wait for it.. tear bark off treas, tear vegetables open .

    I try to explain the difference in our digestive system, and other vegan/vegetarians, to that of a carnivore, the difference being, a very long gut and a short one!

    In case you are wondering why I dont have a high protein diet using nuts.. I am allergic 🙁

    I will take it one step at a time.. weight first then introducing more fruit and veg when the carbs dont hurt me 🙂

    BUt well done.. and dont be angry with ignorant people.. they cannot help it… its the meat they eat you see 🙂

    1. Hi Morgan. I have been vegan just over 4 months now and I have lost 9 lbs in weight without trying. The plant based diet is delicious and I have made my own choc sauce to go with glace ice and strawberries. I eat little bread anyway but leaving out biscuits and cakes and pastries for a while helped too. Good luck with this love. nuts are a bit fattening so I put a mix a variety of slightly salted beans and mix in fresh squeezed garlic into my salads and find myself in the fridge with a spoon regularly dipping in.

    2. A whole food plant based vegan diet it the best and easiest way to loss weight. Eating a high fat and animal source diet will induces diabetes.

      Eat plants and don’t eat oil, sugar, salt or refined carbohydrates. No animal products at all, and you should lose weigh without even trying, in fact the secret to becoming vegan is to eat more as our food is less calorie dense, yes you will have an appetite, but its what we are meant to eat so we are naturally slim on this diet. Look it up Plant Based Whole Food Diet.

  3. Thanks for this article!

    It was easy once I educated myself properly.

    Now I’m happy, proud, healthy and aligned with my compassionate outlook on life!

  4. I think people are threatened by what they don’t understand. Clinging to outdated ideas about eating and drinking. I was always thought of as weird because I drink herb teas and don’t eat cakes out of supermarket boxes. Don’t stay an angry vegan be a proud vegan you are doing what you think is right (apart from the biscuits!). I keep my mouth shut most of the time about the fact I don’t tolerate wheat! Hate being thought of as odd??

  5. I’m happy for people to be vegans if they want to be. I don’t think that being upset about the killing of agricultural animals is a very good reason for doing so. As far as I’m aware the industrial farming of fruit and vegetables often kills large numbers of wild animals. The books I have read suggest that in some countries the locals health has been seriously damaged and their lives shortened by the production as well. What I do think we need to recognise is how lucky we are to have the luxury of choosing what sort of diet we have. Perhaps it’s time we started giving thought to where it comes from?

    1. Yes it’s true that some animals died in the production of fruits and vegetables and Grains and stuff but it’s the least amount of harm we can do if we switch to a plant-based diet it’s killing listen to most and the millions and millions killed for animal agriculture…. also almost all of that is for animal consumption I hope you understand that. Our people are starving because they’re feeding millions of animals are food that we should be eating in the first place instead of filtrating the nutrients through Corpses of dead animals

    2. Why don’t you think it’s a good reason to be upset? That makes no sense! To be opposed to enslavement and brutal killings of animals is a good reason to become vegan it’s all about the animals our health and the environment! Also yes it’s true that animals die during the production for fruits and vegetables and Grains but did you know it’s the least amount of her mom that we can do compared to animal agriculture industries compared…. so if you’re worried about how many animals are killed then plants Productions are creating the least amount of harm to animals. Yes we have the right to choose what we want to eat but the animals don’t have rights to choose to live and that’s where we come in we have a responsibility to stop unnecessary cruelty. We are not living out of pure Survival anymore there’s no lines in the supermarket nothing is really threatening us except for ourselves we need to have change and the best way is to eat better and stop harming animals and environment and our bodies.

  6. We don’t need anything from meat that we can’t get from plants! Whole Foods give us the nutrition that we need do your own research and you will find if you eat enough calorie dense /nutritious foods, you will be healthy. There’s no evidence or science saying that plant foods are bad for you but there’s thousands against meat Dairy and eggs how do you justify eating them

  7. I believe strongly that we need to consider where and how our food is produced. But I do not think that strict veganism is a healthy choice there are too many things that at least need dairy, eggs or fish. Food supplements leave the question of how and from what they are produced. I do not get angry with vegans unless they start on me first.

  8. There are excellent arguments for living a vegan life, but saving the planet is not one of them. According to this https://inews.co.uk/news/environment/families-tackle-climate-change-car-transport-vegan-diet/ giving up your car is three times as significant, and giving up one flight twice as effective in a year. All of these lifestyle changes are, however, nothing compared to not breeding. Just having one child produces 70+ times as much CO2 as can be saved by switching to a vegan diet. Any Ferrari-driving, meat-eating, international jet-setter who opts not to reproduce is likely to contribute less to ruining the environment. It’s all that matters.

  9. Intensive grain-fed animal agriculture drives profound landscape transformation, contributing to deforestation and GHG emissions. Sustainably managed pasture systems can sequester huge amounts of carbon through building soil health and create a haven for wildlife.

    The recent IPCC report stated: “Ruminants can have positive ecological effects (species diversity, soil carbon) if they are fed extensively on existing grasslands,” and can “produce high-quality food from low-quality forage, in particular from landscapes that cannot be cropped and from [grass]”. This nuance was discarded in the ensuing ‘go vegan’ rally cry that seized upon some of the report’s findings while completely ignoring others..

    Intensive, conventional agriculture is the real environmental enemy here, not animal-sourced food, consumed in moderation (are ration cards a step too far?) and produced in resilient, sustainable and low-GHG emission systems (i.e. pasture-fed in the UK).

    From an ethical perspective? It’s down to your personal values and I respect yours. I was brought up on an organic beef farm and have been exposed to the complex emotions around meat production for as long as I can remember. For me, providing an animal with the best possible conditions for it to flourish in life, taking full responsibility for ensuring its death is humane, and acknowledging the significance of what that animal has provided by promoting zero wastage and appreciation of food’s origin is the approach that makes sense. Life and death. It’s the cycle that we’re wedded to. It’s how we do it that matters.

  10. One of the points raised referred to the number of creatures killed in producing our fruit and veg. This is particularly so in chemical farming where crops are sprayed regularly. I’m sure all are aware of the fall in the number of insects etc.
    Should people, therefore, eating a plant based diet (vegan) only eat organic, to not be contributing to this killing of creatures?

  11. It is quite normal to be upset at violence inflicted on any other being, not to feel upset is the abnormal response
    Most of the food grown in the world is fed to farmed animals, humans are starving as a result, but also we are literally eating the earth up, according to Cowspiracy 1 acre will support 6 vegans, 3 acres for vegetarians and 18 acres for omnivores. Cowspiracy is a good film, its on Netflix and can be seen from its own web page, this is Cowspiracys fact page https://www.cowspiracy.com/facts
    Meat production is inefficient so many more animals are killed growing food to feed other animals, also more plants are killed in animal agg.

  12. I,m grateful to the arguments put forward by vegans. It has caused me to question my relationship with meat and the undoubted cruelty inflicted upon animals. I have decided to stop eating meat. So vegetarian is best for me at this time. I,m not sure how long term health can be sustained by pure veganism.


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