Veg*nism and elitism...

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  • This is something I have been thinking about a lot, recently. I have a friend who has gone vegan in the past year, and when he first talked to me about it, he had what I felt was a refreshing attitude towards it... he talked about it him doing what felt right for himself, and said that he felt he'd make a more positive difference to the world by having a positive attitude towards his and other peoples' choices, and that people were more likely to be open to the idea of a vegan lifestyle having met open and non-judgemental vegans rather than the more militant type.


    Recently, though, it's all gone a bit more "you're a bad person because you eat eggs", which made me sad. And he happily says he looks down on people who eat meat. He's very keen on converting people... though really, you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar, right?


    I've been a vegetarian for seven years now - was vegan for a couple of months about five years ago but am more comfortable as a vegetarian. Something I have noticed, is that a lot (not all, of course) of vegans I know are very condescending and occasionally aggressive towards me, and they often say things to me like "...but by not eating meat, that's a really good start" *cue angelic music and halo around their head*


    ...veggies do it too, of course... and there's always something to look down on other people about: eating things containing egg when you don't whether those eggs are free-range, buying from The Body Shop when they are now owned by Loreal, taking gelatine capsules...


    Why? Why not respect other peoples' choices, and be supportive? We're all on the same side, right?

  • It's a difficult question with no simple answer. On the one hand, it's easy to argue that other people's choices should be respected... but when those choices involve causing suffering to other creatures, it's easy to see why people become passionate about it and find it hard to be tolerant. Would we be so relaxed about it if it was humans being exploited? "Ah well, it's your personal choice if you're happy to use products obtained through exploiting people and causing them pain"?


    I think the easiest way to look at it is from a perspective of pragmatism though. However you feel, you'll seldom convince people of your argument by alienating them.

  • Yes, I think I'm thinking more about the word "respect" - you know, you can say "I believe eating meat/drinking milk is wrong because..." without telling people they are bad. I don't think that benefits anyone. As you say, you're more likely to convince people of your POV if you're taking a positive stance.


  • I think the easiest way to look at it is from a perspective of pragmatism though. However you feel, you'll seldom convince people of your argument by alienating them.



    Agreed. I will only talk to people about why i'm a vegan if they ask-otherwise it just gets peoples backs up. At the end of the day its my decision and thats all I'm responsible for-I never became vegan to convert others.

    [FONT=Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif]May all beings have happiness and create the causes of happiness.
    May they all be free from suffering and from creating the causes of suffering.
    [/FONT]

  • Yes, I think I'm thinking more about the word "respect" - you know, you can say "I believe eating meat is wrong because..." without telling people they are bad. As you say, you're more likely to convince people of your POV if you're taking a positive stance.

    Just playing devil's advocate here... but should you respect someone who continues to partake in something that they know to cause much pain and suffering?

  • Agreed. I will only talk to people about why i'm a vegan if they ask-otherwise it just gets peoples backs up. At the end of the day its my decision and thats all I'm responsible for-I never became vegan to convert others.

    Likewise. Most people at work don't even realise that I'm veggie. I'm happy to talk about it if the subject comes up, but I don't advertise the fact.

  • Just playing devil's advocate here... but should you respect someone who continues to partake in something that they know to cause much pain and suffering?



    You may not respect that specific choice, but yes, I think you can still respect the person.

    [FONT=Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif]May all beings have happiness and create the causes of happiness.
    May they all be free from suffering and from creating the causes of suffering.
    [/FONT]

  • Just playing devil's advocate here... but should you respect someone who continues to partake in something that they know to cause much pain and suffering?


    I think you should respect everyone.
    I do understand what you're saying, and I'm a veggie for ethical reasons and feel strongly about a lot of veggie issues so I appreciate how difficult it can be not to get angry at times.

  • I think you should respect everyone.
    I do understand what you're saying, and I'm a veggie for ethical reasons and feel strongly about a lot of veggie issues so I appreciate how difficult it can be not to get angry at times.

    Would you respect a rapist?


    I dont think vegans feel elite. Its just everyone else feels inferior:pp:D

    only teasing before i get shot!!:whistle:

    On a serious note, check out some vegan forums. The level of superiority self-righteousness is astonishing. Fortunately, I don't believe that this represents the average vegan any more than I believe our members on UKH represent the average, sane hippy. :reddevil:

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  • Can I remind people that this is a veggie and vegan support forum for veggies and vegans to discuss issues of interest to them? It's not a forum for meat-eaters to voice their opinions. As always, feel free to start a thread in another section of the forum if there's something that you feel you have a pressing need to say.

  • The issue is elitism, rather than disagreement... and elitism within a group of people who are all, ultimately, on the same side... but who go about things a different way, and who have different opinions on some elements of the base issue.

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  • Would you respect a rapist?

    On a serious note, check out some vegan forums. The level of superiority self-righteousness is astonishing. Fortunately, I don't believe that this represents the average vegan any more than I believe our members on UKH represent the average, sane hippy. :reddevil:





    I don't agree Atomik, I don't think vegans on vegan forums have a self-righteousness attitude (some do.........not the majority).
    I find that people who do not share vegan ideals have a confrontational attitude. When anyone I am speaking with finds out I am vegan, they immediately go into attack mode! I do nothing to provoke this other than to state I am vegan! :(

    I do agree with you though that the members of this forum don't represent the image of the 'average, sane hippy' so I suppose it just comes down to human beings.........being human beings! :)

  • I find that people who do not share vegan ideals have a confrontational attitude. When anyone I am speaking with finds out I am vegan, they immediately go into attack mode! I do nothing to provoke this other than to state I am vegan! :(



    I know what you mean. As soon as you say you're veg*n, the other person, who isn't, thinks you are saying you're better than them, and start defending their non-veg position. So you defend yours, and you get the blame for being self-righteous.

    When i first became vegetarian, i told my friends, and THEY asked why, so i told them. And they came back with arguments (and the "what about plants, do they not matter" argument.... that was a classic, especially coming from someone who didn't care about anything).

    But i do think there a quite a few self-righteous veg*ns out there.

  • I am vegitarian gradualy becoming vegan . While a lot of vegans I know are very supportive I have found others who tend to look down on me as a lesser mortal ! I cant help but think that educating and supporting people has to be a better way of getting the message across than being all millitant about it .

  • I can't say I've really met a self-righteous vegan.. as in a vegan who thinks they're better than other people?
    i have met and am friends with vegans who are extremely passionate about animals and get quite upset that few people share that passion with them (altho most of the vegans i know have found vegan/veggie partners)... and sometimes jokingly say things which might be seen as condescending, hell i do that i'm sure sometimes, but i don't think people think they're better than anyone else (i can only talk from experiance, i am sure that there are some that do) just they care so much about something that it upsets them and people turn sadness into all sorts of weird things, like anger and being irritating etc.
    but we all do what we feel, and everything we buy causes some shit in some form or another so if you eat meat but only buy from certain sellers and only buy freerange and organic and fairtrade perhaps you are more ethical than the vegan who eats pringles and does all their shopping in Asda, who knows :(

    i've been buying meat recently, for the kitten i can't find a home for - let him starve, chuck him out, give him a diet that won't sustain him, i don't know what to do..
    this makes me crap apparently... and that's upsetting to be told because this is a CAT which is a carnivore, do we starve all carnivores, i mean wtf.. the dog is vegan the hamster n gerbil r vegan, but the cat cannot be!!!! aagh

    i just contradicted myself.. i see what people mean, people don't mean harm, they only care, but i guess they often go the wrong way about expressing it and alienate themselves

    (tho if one more person asks me why i don't care about the carrots feelings, i may shove a carrot somewhere the sun doesn't shine)

    we reenact Noah's ancient drama, but in reverse, like a film running backwards, the animals exiting

  • I think you should respect everyone.
    I .... feel strongly about a lot of veggie issues so I appreciate how difficult it can be not to get angry at times.



    Hmm. I think Atomik is right to refer to semantics and I really do think that although we very probably understand well enough why we are where we are on the veggie-vegan field, we perhaps almost automatically talk about (showing) respect for people whose position is, much more often than not, somewhere way, way off in the distance.

    I do find it very much easier not to respect / show respect for people, institutions including religious institutions, governments, etc., which behave in ways which quite simply do not in my considered opinion entitle them to respectful behaviour.

    There is often a very, very fine line between


    • fear, and
    • fear of confrontation, and
    • respect.

    Any human activity which needlessly causes fear, or fear of confrontation, is highly unlikely to be worthy of respect. They might well be worthy of tolerance, empathy, perhaps even sympathy, but respect is a postive thing. How can it be respect, if it's not positive? How can I possibly, possibly, possibly feel positive about people who avoidably and unnecessarily, directly or indirectly, harm animals? (And the environment in the process?).

    If you feel you might've arrived at a situation where you think, or you habitually say, that other people's practices should be respected or tolerated, perhaps you'd do better to ask yourself how acceptable in this one world we share, is female genital mutilation, how acceptable was (is?) sati (widow burning), the kosher slaughter method, stoning of adulterers, faking reasons for attacking non-christian oil-producing nations, (etc., etc?).

    For me the very most positive (and pc?) solution is not to show my disrespect - that generally is about as far as I can take it. It might mean that at times I (might ;) ) appear to be argumentative, etc., but mixed into the process is bullshit avoidance which I do think is a very, very important part of progressing towards valuable values.

    Regards ad inf.,

    Pedantic B.

  • I do find vegans tend to be a bit elitist (superior) but then they kind of have a right to be as, well, they are aren't they.


    Assuming one is a veggie from an animal rights / suffering perspective then drinking milk and eating eggs is really no better than eating meat (in my opinion). The slavery and suffering is still there only for longer until they are killed for the meat industry


    I let myself off by saying that every little helps but I still know that it is wrong. Luckily for me until about 2 years ago I'd lived with vegans for about the previous 8 years so our kitchen is vegan 99% of the time out of habit so I don't give myself too harder time. I guess I just can't be bothered with the hassle outside the home. A vegan friend (who refers to me as a dirty om :) ) did remark the other day that me and my housemate are about the most vegan veggies he has ever known.


    Anyway ... there I go again, justifying my weakness :)


    Andy

  • This is what I find difficult. As a vegetarian, I don't see myself as superior to meat-eaters, and when I was vegan I did not identify as superior to vegetarians. I believe I am doing the 'right' thing... but I don't feel there is a universal 'right' thing, and even if I did... I'm not sure that would equate to being a superior human being. Because we are complex, the universe is complex and personally I just can't reconcile that with such a basic 'better than vs worse than' worldview.


    Quote from encarta[size=10

    ]Elitism Definition: 1. belief in concept of superiority: the belief that some people or things are inherently superior to others and deserve preeminence, preferential treatment, or higher rewards because of their superiority


    2. belief in control by small group: the belief that government or control should be in the hands of a small group of privileged, wealthy, or intelligent people, or the active promotion of such a system


    3. control by small group: government or control by a small, specially qualified, or privileged group

  • I believe I am doing the 'right' thing... but I don't feel there is a universal 'right' thing, and even if I did... I'm not sure that would equate to being a superior human being. Because we are complex, the universe is complex and personally I just can't reconcile that with such a basic 'better than vs worse than' worldview.




    (Putting aside history and traditions because this is now), I do honestly think that there is an almost universal right diet, perhaps call it a regional right diet, because we can't quite expect yak herds or Esquimaux (love the spelling!) to maintain an animal-free diet.

  • Milo - its about choice. Those people have to do what they do to survive.

    As a vegan I have chosen to live my life in the most environmentally friendly, healthy and compassionate way possible. therefore I feel I have made a superior choice to those that choose not to be vegan, for whatever reason/excuse.