#8. Am I a 'Preachy Vegan'?
"It's hard to argue when you won't stop making sense. But my tongue still misbehaves, and it keeps digging my own grave with my... hands open, and my eyes open. I just keep hoping... that your heart opens" - Snow Patrol, Hands Open.
Having or showing a tendency to give moral advice in a tedious or self-righteous way.
Synonyms include: moralistic, sanctimonious, holier-than-thou, priggish, sententious, didactic, dogmatic.
Before we begin today's post I have a question for you, is being labelled a 'preachy vegan' a good thing or bad thing? You can answer that question in the comments below if you like but I've put it there for you to reflect on.
Personally I always looked at it like the latter. I'm writing this post because I've recently been engaging in conversations on twitter where I've been called a 'Preachy Vegan' and to be honest I was quite offended. Due to that I lost my patience slightly which only gave the other people more power to call me preachy or angry. So in their minds I was really living up to this stereotype. I mean of course you want other people to go vegan because you want other people to make the connection but in order for you to do that you have to say something.
But why was I so offended? In the moment I noticed I felt angry, not at the other insults they were throwing my way, but at the fact I was arguing against being preachy. That day I noticed I kept thinking back to their comments and it prompted me to reflect on my thoughts and feelings about the label and the conversation itself. I originally thought it must stem from my beliefs about vegans way before I become vegan myself. But I didn't know any vegans before I went vegan and I didn't know what they were like so that can't be the right answer. I kept thinking back to a conversation I had at work many years ago where people appeared to view vegans negatively but that didn't seem to fit either. Is it because I don't like being preached at? Possibly. I'm not religious but I have felt threatened if people have knocked on my door or started up a conversation with me on the train and I've sat there and thought "well I have my own beliefs and you have yours..." and that's exactly what they were saying to me.
Or is it because I feel that being labelled 'preachy' reflects on me as a person? I'd like to think I'm not a bad person and of course I want to be liked by others but I do worry that coming across as 'irritating' doesn't do me or the animals any favours. I tried the whole 'but I was like you once and ate so much meat...' but that flopped and I was then labelled as self-righteous and believing that I now think I'm better than non-vegans. That's a very tough question to ask yourself and I don't think I'm better than anyone else, but I do believe that there is a disconnection between the animal in the field and the one that ends up on the plate in the shape of a hamburger.
I can empathise with people about not wanting to give up meat or dairy, but there's also a part of me that wants to shout about veganism from the rooftops "DO YOU KNOW WHAT GOES ON? I'VE SEEN IT AND ITS AWFUL... IF YOU JUST LISTEN THEN YOU WILL KNOW" but again in my experience that doesn't get a good reception from non-vegans either. There goes that preachy vegan again...
Reflecting on this twitter debate also got me thinking about my behaviour. I don't see myself as preachy, but I went on twitter to see what people were saying about a particular subject involving animals, and replied to some of those tweets. In a way you could say that's basically preaching... Or worse... Trolling.
I guess in some people's eyes I will be labelled as a 'preachy vegan' depending on what they believe a preachy vegan to be like. I feel like I take the softly softly approach and try to get people interested by showing them all the glorious food they can eat. There are vegans out there who probably think that's pointless and I should do more to advocate for the animals. However, by documenting the food I eat and the products I buy means I am being preachy but in a way people don't find annoying. I mean, who doesn't like looking at pictures of food? It's not as threatening as a video of a slaughterhouse scene that auto-plays on your Instagram or Facebook. Of course people don't wasn't to see this because it's upsetting and makes people feel uncomfortable about their actions (hello cognitive dissonance) and find ways to justify this or just avoid thinking about it at all. I can say this because I've been there. I watched 10 minutes of Earthlings and felt awful for days. Then avoided thinking about it and carried on scoffing burgers and sausages.
With all that in mind then, I'll take you back to the question I asked at the top of this post... is being preachy a bad thing? I guess this depends on your views and your experiences. I asked my friends and they said "no one likes to be preached at - it's annoying" and on one hand I totally agree with this. But on the other hand, if people didn't stand up for what they believe in where would we be today in terms of women's rights to vote and bringing an end to slavery etc (yes, I went there). In order for us to make a change we need to be speaking up whichever way feel most comfortable. Whether that's protesting, attending slaughterhouse vigils, posting videos of cruelty, speaking at events or posting photos of what you eat, buy and wear. There's a place for all of us preachy vegans and I'm sure the animals will thank us for speaking up on their behalf. I guess I just need to learn to deal with this backlash.
I've also been listening to some interesting podcasts from The Bearded Vegans (thanks to a recommendation from my babe @thezestylime) and I'll put the links down below to some that talk about this subject:
- Episode 78- Is Guilt An Effective Tactic For Making New Vegans?
- Episode 96 - How do we combat the backfire effect?
I think I'm probably rambling and will come back to this another day but I just wanted to thanks if you've managed to get to the end of this post! I'd love to hear your opinions on this so feel free to comment below, send me an email or hit me up on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter - whichever one takes your fancy!
Now I was torn between the lyrics to use to describe how I was feeling, so I've decided to add our Liam's words at the end of this post.
Lots of love,
"In my defence, all my intentions were good
And heaven knows a place somewhere for the misunderstood
You know I'd give you blood if it'd be enough
Devil's on my doorstep since the day I was born
It's hard to find a sunset in the eye of a storm
But I'm a dreamer by design and I know in time we'll put this behind
For what it's worth, I'm sorry for the hurt
I'll be the first to say, "I made my own mistakes"
For what it's worth, I know it's just a word and words betray
Sometimes we lose our way
For what it's worth"
Liam Gallagher, For What it's Worth.