opinion

OPINION: "As much as I hate to admit it, the vegans are right. But there's more to it."

‘Farmers Fear Vegan ‘Terrorists’’.

That was the headline of our local paper yesterday. Where I live that’s the kind of headline that could start a war. The barista in my local café held the paper up this morning in outrage: “Can you believe this? They call us terrorists but they are the ones killing animals.” She had a point. And society should be mindful of just who they call terrorists. The vegans are rising. Their numbers are growing and they’re vocal.

While many don’t appreciate the vegan aggression that was experienced in Melbourne, you’d have to admit they’ve got the conversation on the front page of papers around the country. While the general public ignored their film Dominion last year, the film that vegans wanted everyone to watch, the vegan community have ensured that this time the conversation is centre stage.

Maybe that had to happen. Maybe it was the only way we’d look at our plate and realise the impact of our choices. Only problem is, I wonder whether the ‘vanger’ (that’s what I call vegan anger) has just further polarised the carnivores into bloody defiance. Some Australians have only just started eating salad, they’re a long way off living a plant-based diet.

I live in Mullumbimby, where every second person is not only vegan, their dog is too. We have pop up vegan restaurants that sell ‘pulled pork’ aka jackfruit on a bun. We even have a nail salon that boasts vegan-friendly products. We may have started out as a dairy region, but these days we probably run a bigger head of vegan than we do jerseys.

I am not a vegan, but two of my kids are. Lots of my friends are. I wish I could be a vegan but I find it hard to give up meat. Ethically I support veganism and ethical farming. But I still eat meat. As much as I hate to admit it, the vegans are right. Even ethical meat production is having a detrimental affect on our planet.

Vegans are not terrorists and calling all acts of social dissent ‘terrorism’ is in my opinion very dangerous. Doesn’t democracy enshrine a person’s right to express their view? Perhaps in the future these angry vegans will be seen as the front line activists who tried to save the world.

I am saying this as a meat eater. I buy organic, hormone-free happy meat. Well that’s what I tell myself. That my meat lived a happy life as a cow or a sheep until one day it fell asleep and never woke up. I actually don’t like to think about the process that delivers meat to my plate, it’s far too graphic. I’ve always found vegans a bit self-righteous, mainly because plant-based diet has been proven to be better for human and planetary health.

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I have been on the receiving end of some pretty intense ‘vanger’. Which surprised me. I guess I thought they’d be a little more warm and fuzzy in their response to my jokes about them having to go to bed early because they have to get up in the morning to milk the tumeric.

I mistook ‘vegan’ for ‘peace’ activist. Being a vegan isn’t just a food choice, it’s political, and even though I am not a vegan, I totally get it. As a meat eater, I support them, I believe in the underlying tenets of their cause. They’re into reducing animal cruelty, and sometimes in the process they get a little vicious towards humans.

But it’s understandable, the media, social commentators and people like me have been ridiculing and minimising their beliefs on public platforms for years, alleging that they’re kooky or have far out ideas. But they don’t. They just don’t believe in farming animals for human benefit.

This was never a threat to the farming industry, until now.

Animal agriculture and meat production is the biggest cause of global warming. People are turning vegan in droves. No wonder farmers are scared.

I guess we have to start with a serious rethink, particularly in how we view vegan activism and rage. If their recent outcry is ‘agricultural terrorism’ then isn’t contributing to the impacts of the meat industry also a form of ‘planetary terrorism’?

I think we’re stuck in an ideological and behavioural tug of war, but my lovely vegan friends – you need to get us over the line! Remember the saying – you catch more bees with honey. Vegan honey that is. Perhaps it’s time to evolved from rage to #vtoo.

Would you go, or are you, vegan? Tell us in the comments.

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