Everyone knows that vegans are mellow, peaceable, anaemic, skinny and limp whispering incense waving meditators. Right? Anyone else remember the Comedy Company's Vegan Cooking skit? (Please post it if you can find it.)
In real life, we're a violently opinionated lot. More like Monty Python's "I'd like to have an argument please..."
And when we can't get enough arguments and abuse from animal exploiters, we energetically seek them from each other.
Ten Steps to VMAD (Vegan Mutually Assured Destruction)
Step right up and choose your side.
10. Vegan cats
It's unethical to support the meat industry, even when feeding cats.
Cats are obligate carnivores; it is animal abuse to feed them vegan food; don't impose your own vegan values on your cat.
9. Non-vegan partners
How can any vegan live with a partner who refuses to accept their fundamental values? If your partner won't go vegan, you're enabling their meat-eating by staying together.
How do you expect everyone to find a vegan partner when most vegans are women? If you have a supportive partner, you may be able to make a big impact even if the partner does not go vegan.
Vegans believe in quality of life for animals and humans. It would be better for an animal never to be born than to live and die as a farm product, and sometimes it is better for a human not to be born either.
Any compassionate vegan will be pro-life - vegans value the lives of animals, so it's hypocritical to allow a helpless human baby to be murdered.
7. Having children
How can a vegan decide to breed more children into this high-consuming culture in an overpopulated world?
Having children is an important part of being a human animal, and children can be taught by the good example of vegan parents and carry this lesson into the future.
Vegans teach and reach best by being a great example while delivering positive messages.
Unless we're in their face all the time, we won't make any progress. People want to ignore the facts about animal products - don't let them!
5. Vegan diet vs vegan lifestyle
You can't just have a vegan diet - vegan means against animal exploitation so you have to avoid using all animal products, not just avoid eating them.
If you're not eating any animal products, then surely that's a vegan diet and we should support that as a great effort?
4. Health vegans
Giving up eating almost all meat and dairy products for whatever reason is a very strong and admirable commitment.
Being vegan for your own health is selfish when the real issue is how badly humans treat animals. It's not really vegan anyway - they only worry about their diet (see #5) and some of them still eat honey and animal byproducts.
3. Vegan meats
Fake meats are a great stepping stone in a transition from meat-eating to veganism and an enjoyable ethical treat.
Fake meats glorify meat and are not very healthy or environmentally friendly.
Vegetarians are still on a journey and doing a lot of good already.
Vegetarians are just as guilty as meat-eaters of animal cruelty because they eat eggs and dairy. We need to remind them of that every chance we get.
1. What Vegan Really Means
I give up. Google returns more than 4 million hits for "vegan definition". One for each vegan?
And everything in between
Go on, admit it. I bet you are burning to give me the Right Answers. I'm sure I haven't managed to hide entirely which "side" of each argument I favour.
Making a real difference
All of these are compelling ethical dilemmas. But as you spiral into a quagmire with an equally argumentative vegan, ask yourself:
Even if I won, what difference would it make?If you have strength, a power, some wisdom and logic, a biting wit, charm and persuasion - should you concentrate it on those who already agree with you on 99% of this stuff?
If we agree to disagree on the 1% amongst ourselves, then all of us might have the energy to turn on the light for our own vegan vision to the meat-eating majority.