In a recent article on vice.com on why so many people hate on vegans, the author interviewed real live vegans to see what they thought the reasons for the vegan bashing might be.
They suggested issues like:
- People feel threatened or annoyed by vegans pushing their lifestyle.
- The morally superior attitudes of vegans who preach from the high ground without consideration of the situations of the people they are preaching to, leads to understandable backlash and disdain.
- And there were some excellent comments about “white veganism”. It’s worth the read, especially if you’re an upper-class, white vegan.
While all these reasons and others are likely true, I have a theory that there might be a deeper reason that’s the root cause of vegans being the butt of so many jokes.
I’ve been vegan since 1987, when I was 16 and there was only one vegan restaurant in all of Ontario and no vegan-specific products in the grocery stores. Way back then, it was still reasonably acceptable to hate on lots of groups. Racist, homophobic, religious, and anti-women humour was just part of the culture. Kids in the seventies grew up repeating the racist jokes they heard, without actually knowing what those words meant.
In the years to follow, the groups that people could get away with making fun of slowly dwindled and people who continued to use that kind of humour increasingly became ostracized. They lost all their outlets for that type of expression, and an entire style of humor became unacceptable.
Unless, it is directed at vegans.
It’s not that they have a hate on vegans. They simply can’t safely make fun of any other group!
My theory is that vegans are one of the last minorities that it is socially acceptable to make fun of. They are an easy group to have an “us vs. them” mentality about, and they are 100% safe to attack, because vegans cross all barriers of races, religious, sexes, and sexual orientations.
Of course, there is much more to the anti-vegan movement, but I think that this is a key part of why so many people, from nearly every late night talk show host to countless Facebook posters, frequently call vegans out. It’s not that they have a hate on for vegans. They simply can’t safely make fun of any other group! Some people find this negative style of humour funny, and there aren’t many acceptable targets left on which to use it.
After decades of being on the receiving end of these kinds of jokes and marginalization, the same thing is happening with vegans that has happened with every other group that had to endure this kind of constant energy. Many vegans are angry.
Unfortunately, this perpetuates and intensifies the angry vegan stereotype, and with it, the self-defence mechanisms of preaching, and coming across as morally superior. And this all delivers even more fodder for material to the jokesters, continuing a vicious cycle.
But I’m not worried about it. Veganism is growing faster than ever. In the last year, purchases of vegan products went up a whopping 20%. Venture backed companies like Beyond Meat and the Impossible Burger are unable to keep up with demand.
I think veganism has reached a tipping point. And perhaps that means that vegans will soon be too big a group and too economically powerful to be safe to make fun of anymore, and the cycle of vegan ridicule, defense, and anger will start to taper off. 🙂