A joke taken too far...on a diet? Lauren Wasserman

“Oh sorry, did I offend you by stepping on this grass?”... A joke vegans are sick of hearing.

One of the many jokes vegans find online, and are tired of hearing

Veganism is a lifestyle in which one is “cruelty free”. Vegans do not eat or drink animal products, use or wear items that are animal based, buy animal tested products, or support animal entertainment. Vegans are overall plant based. One usually goes vegan for animal protection, environmental purposes, or health reasons. However, regardless of their good intentions, hatred seems to be targeted at them for their personal lifestyle decision.

When five vegans were asked, all five of them declared they had felt targeted for their personal decision. Avery Powers, 15 year old, from Williamstown Massachusetts states, “ I've felt disrespected as a vegan...some people I don't know as well don't see any reason to be a vegan. They can make very obnoxious comments and try to question me to the point where I give up attempting to explain why I made the choice I made.”

Avery enjoying vegan cookie dough; "I have saved thousands of gallons of water, hundreds of pounds of food for livestock and hundreds of animals."

Powers declares she feels as if people are so persistent in their questioning and criticism, it is not worth sharing her beliefs. Living in a society, in which one can not openly respond or state what they wish to, without being shut down, is the opposite of what this country stands for. Even if the conversation is simply about diet, we have the right to say what we wish to, without being attacked.

“I don't think others should care about my dietary and lifestyle choices. What I eat doesn't impact them in any way and frankly, I think it's ridiculous for other people to think so much about something that doesn't concern them.” Powers said.

And quite frankly, she brings up a good point.

It is one thing to simply ask a vegan “why?” But when you continue questioning a vegan, and turn towards criticism, the situation shifts.

As a vegan myself, I have received a lot of hatred and cruel jokes for my personal decision. Recently, when I told someone I was vegan, they asked why. I responded that I felt it was ethically incorrect to eat animals. The person who questioned me got very angry, and back fired with vegan jokes and insults. “Oh sorry, I stepped on this piece of grass, did it offend you?” “Don’t hurt the plants. They have feelings too.”

Although this commentary could have been intended for entertainment purpose, it was very hurtful to hear.

“When people criticize my decision, it can really be a let down. They think it doesn't get to you. But after hearing the same jokes and insults so many times, there is a stopping point, it all becomes too personal.” A source who has asked to remain anonymous said.

The vegan hatred needs to stop, it needs to come to an end. It is not fair to criticize a personal decision, and it is essential to becoming a more successful, accepting society.

On the contrary, meat eater Larry Wasserman, says,

“Veganism is too much, I don’t see a point. My daughter (me) is vegan, and I am convinced it is just a phase. This vegan thing is a bit much.”

Larry Wasserman pictured above

However, vegans find meat eating to be “crazy”, the idea of eating an animal is absurd to most vegans. The conflicting point of views can lead to great arguments and disagreements.

The previous mentioned anonymous source states, “Honestly, I have shut people out of my life for criticizing my veganism. It is important to me, and I would rather me accepted for who I am.”

A diet ending friendships? Apparently.

However, not all meat eaters are judgemental of the vegan lifestyle. When asked again, Wasserman disagrees with his first statement, “Although for my daughter (me) I still do think it could be a phase, it is not pointless, and it is a person's personal choice.”

This a more rational view point. To “Live and Let Live.”

Additionally, Jennifer Winthrop ’19 of Staples High school states, “ People set certain expectations about what you can eat and what you should be like without even knowing what it's like to be vegan”

Jennifer Winthrop above.

The stereotypes that come along with somebody who is vegan have spiraled out of control. Whether it be the restrictive eating stereotype or the classic vegan hippie, these assumptions are often found to be extremely false.

Winthrop recognizes the assumptions individuals make about the vegan diet. On the contrary to these assumptions Emma Mickenney says, "People will say all the time that it’s not healthy and that I shouldn’t be doing it because it's a restrictive or starvation diet and I won’t get any nutrients. All of this is totally not true and in fact, being vegan means you get to eat even greater quantities of food without ever having to worry about consuming too much fat or calories." Here are some meals she has eaten recently, clearly not restrictive

It can be very irritating for vegans when people set an expectation for them, and Winthrop realizes this, although she has not experienced it herself.

In addition to all this, the media has an influence on views of veganism. Popular TV show Gossip Girl insults the life style.

In the show the protagonist, Serena Van Der Woodsen, played by Blake Lively says, “I can’t imagine anything better . . . or grosser.” This remark is made when she is questioned about if she will go vegan or not due to previous events in the show.

Serena Van Der Woodson (Blake Lively) Center female, yellow dress.

Additionally, the show makes remarks on how veganism is associated with hippies. This is a generalization and a stereotype. The vegan community blew up after this was said...

Gossip girl watcher, the already noted anonymous source states, “This episode definitely offended me, I continued watching the show, but I didn't like the comment.”

Similarly, most meat eaters agreed when asked,

“I don’t think that's nice, why would they call it gross.” Wasserman said.

However, if when asked directly, meat eaters don't seem to have an issue with veganism, where do the insults come from?

Vegan Emma Mckinney ’19 says, “I’ve defiantly been criticized a lot as a vegan, and I think it’s just because of a lack of knowledge of what it actually means to be vegan.”

Emma Mickenny, Vegan of 4 months now
A typical example of one of the many forms of hatred vegans receive

Meat eater Electra Szmukler ’19 believes it comes from the pleasure of disagreeing on a light topic,

“People like making fun of not serious things because people are easily offended by serious topics. To them, making fun of people being vegan is not serious and they feel that they can do it freely.”

Szmukler pictured above, although not vegan herself, a supporter in those who are

However, vegans don’t seem to take these jokes lightly. “I think it's ridiculous for other people to think so much about something that doesn't concern them.” Powers says.

“People will constantly say things like ‘Don’t plants have feelings too?’ or ‘You drink water which is a fish’s home.’ which is kind of annoying.” Mckinney says.

Vegans are constantly feeling disrespected, and irritated by these jokes. Society seems to trend in a disrespect toward vegans. Vegans feel targeted for a decision they have made, that really only affects them. In order to respect each other in this society, we must start with little aspects.

Afterall, vegans seem to enjoy this lifestyle choice for themselves, so why must we rain on their parade?

“I'm so happy I went vegan a year and a half ago. I feel amazing physically and wonderful about the good I'm doing for the animals and the planet.” Powers said. If cutting out animal products can make someone this happy, it is time we support them, and let people live their lives to their fullest.

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