Anger is a topic that arises a lot in some vegan groups online. Sometimes you see this anger when someone just needs to rant. Maybe their local coffee shop put reglaur milk in their latte rather than soy or their omni-boyfriend made one too many bacon jokes but clearly they have had a rough day and the angry vegan rears its head. Another time you see this anger is anecdotal anger. People complaining about all the angry vegans they have met and how off putting they have found them. Sometimes you encounter anger mixed with grief. Someone who has just driven past a lorryful of lambs in their way to slaughter or who has just watched a perticulaly nasty video inside an abattoir.
Now I’m no compassionate-hippy-huggy type but are vegans really so angry? If so what do we do about it? It can’t be a happy way to live.
There is certainly anger out there. Much of it justified. If you have realised just how cruel and barbarous the meat and dairy industry is and you see these injustices every time you step outside your front door or turn on your computer then anger is completely natural. If every time your beliefs come up they are put under fire and derision than anger is completely natural. However despite this most vegans I encounter (and I was in a room with 10 000 of them at VegFest Brighton last week) are calm, funny, happy individuals. What do we do with our anger? Well – a few things.
- Channel it. Sometimes that anger is useful if it drives you to action. It is worth a passionate argument if it counters some misinformation. You might not convert a person but maybe they will stop telling everyone they meet that you need dairy for strong bones or that vegans can’t run if someone has stood toe to toe with them. That anger could help you become an activist, man (woman) a stall, start a campaign or start hunt sabbing.
- Avoid it. Spend at least some time around other vegans either in the real world or online. You can remind yourself that you are not alone in how you see the world and that you do have allies out there. Read some vegan blogs (hi there!) or news articles about the growth in veganism. Go shopping for some of the new suitable for vegan products out there to see just how far we have come already.
- Think back. Chances are you weren’t born a vegan. Something must have changed for you that clearly hasn’t changed for the idiot who is getting under your skin. Try to remember that you were once that idiot. I spent years as a vegetarian believing and spouting the “you need dairy to be healthy” “I’ve never met a healthy vegan” nonsense. I don’t believe that eating meat should be a “personal choice” but nor do I believe that we can expect everyone we meet to suddenly have realised this. It took me time. It probably took you time. It will take them time.
I don’t believe that vegans are angrier as a group than any other people but perhaps we are confronted by things that will make us angry on a more regular basis. Things like child abuse and modern slavery are hidden from view most of the time but animal cruelty is embedded in the system and supporting it is society’s default.
Do you feel angry when confronted by needless suffering or what looks like the stupidity of those that support it? How do you cope? Please share your stories and strategies.