The Trouble with Vegans

Last week, a van parked at the end of our rural road and a pack of men in jackets and ties and women in high-collared, long sleeve dresses and sensible shoes, all of them carrying small black, leather satchels, poured out and began a door-to-door campaign of our neighborhood. By the time they reached the first few front doors, the phone brigade had begun . . . pull down your shades, don’t answer your door . . . the Jehovah’s Witnesses are in the ‘hood clutching their Watchtower magazines with pictures of children surrounded by peaceful lions and lambs. Did they reach a single person with their proselytizing? Nope. Not one. Nobody talks to Jehovah’s Witnesses. As nice as they may be, their message falls on deaf ears. But they walk away from your locked door thinking about how God loves you despite your inability to understand His words. Such nice people, as brainwashed as they are, we think . . .

Now, imagine a similar van arriving in your own ‘hood. We’re going to go all stereotypical here, just for fun, but this time, the people pouring out are wearing T-shirts emblazoned with the phrase, “Meat is Murder,” green cargo shorts and Birkenstocks. They carry canvas messenger bags stuffed with trifold, color brochures decorated with pictures of lambs going to slaughter and pregnant sows bulging out of gestation crates. The phone brigade begins . . .

Now, in my neighborhood, I would guess 50 percent of the residents would lock their doors, and the other 50 percent would walk to the end of their driveway, open up a folding lawn chair, set themselves down and wait with a shotgun lying across their laps. The Vegans are in the ‘hood, and nobody, but nobody, likes an intolerant proselytizing Vegan. Will they reach a single person with their message? Not a prayer. In fact, many people will race to the Super Wal-Mart over in Naugatuck and buy themselves a stack of bloody Styrofoam packages packed with beef just to make a statement. Because word on the street is that Vegans, it turns out, are NOT NICE. Ask anyone . . . (anyone but a Vegan . . . of course . . .)

I remember the day I mentioned to a woman in town that I was vegan. Her response was, “Huh! Vegans have no sense of humor,” and she turned and walked away from me. I was crushed. I mean, I happen to think I’m pretty funny, and on top of that, I enjoy a good joke and a hearty laugh. I have been known to be an out-of-control giggler. How could anyone assume I have no sense of humor because I eat a plant-based diet?

Clearly, I do NOT get off our little rescue and farm animal sanctuary enough, because despite giving up all meat in 1982, I have no clue what’s happening out in the animal rights community.

Yesterday I was told I am not a real vegan. This went on for hours on a friend’s Facebook page, where people assumed from an accidentally incorrect event post that we were having an open house on our farm so people could meet the 140 or so animals we rescued from slaughterhouses and kill pens and, while they’re at it, eat themselves a bowl of pulled pork or whatever it is people eat at BBQs. They tossed around phrases like “cognitive dissonance” and accused us of raising money on the backs of dead animals and . . . my favorite part . . . enslaved ponies, who would be forced to perform tricks and give rides to raise money to support us (and presumably help pay our meat bills at the grocery store). Talk about no sense of humor!

First, there was no BBQ and I don’t know where that even came from. Second, our ponies are not exactly “enslaved” or forced to do “slave labor.” And if they entertain the crowd with tricks, it’s because if I don’t let them perform what they know, they will break a gate to get out and start shaking hands, counting and dancing, just for fun. Third, the event is less about raising money than getting people out to the farm to meet our rescued animals and learn that they are, indeed, sentient, cognizant, emotional beings who deserve to live long healthy lives far from the clutches of factory “farms,” kill pens, feed lots and slaughter houses. My husband and I support the entire operation ourselves with every nickel we earn at our regular jobs, to the tune of between $250,000 to $300,000 each year, depending on the vet bills and special needs issues. Any funds raised are a drop in an ocean, but still very much appreciated. 

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