Very recently I was on a social media site, procrastinating by scrolling through the comments/photos, and came across an interesting post. A vegan on my feed stated that they (1) harshly judge all people who are not vegan, (2) have no respect for them and (3) judge other vegans/vegetarian who do NOT judge meat/animal product eaters. They simply couldn't see the argument for how you could eat one way and not judge those that did not eat the same....so I gave my opinion.
My reason “I can’t help what you think." I expect them not to judge me for my decisions so I don’t judge them for theirs. It’s like religion. I respect those that have faith and don't condemn others who aren't religious. :) Hope this helps
Well it didn't. Soon the rest of their social media friends jumped in and I was suddenly being equated to supporting -and I quote- rapists and murders.
I was judged for not judging.....does this seem historically similar to anything else???
At a younger age this would have sent me into a tizzy asking questions like:
Is the bleach you use in your hair vegan? What about the bright blue eye shadow I see? Body wash? Conditioner? Clothes? Do you have any jewelry that you don't know where it came from/what had to be hurt to get it? Do you require your dog or cat to be vegan? If the answer to ANY of these is NO then YOU SUPPORT RAPISTS AND MURDERERS TOO!
But, I have grown/matured and learned not to -as a friend says- 'feed the trolls' but it did get me wondering.
Who judges and why?
As someone with dietary needs (I am gluten free, and cook a vegan...if not vegetarian...diet while i'm home) I do find myself judged when I go out and try to maintain the same standards. It's hard to ignore the look on a waiter/waitresses face when you say "do you have a gf menu" or "what on your menu is vegan?" As a matter of fact, this judgement influences my eating experience so much that tolerance/acceptance/knowledge at a restaurant has gotten me to look past mediocre food and have a truly great overall experience. While I expect this judgement from the wait staff (not that I think it's ok), have I missed being judged by my eating companions? Do they roll their eyes when I ask for a GF menu, or spend minutes of questions to the waiter/waitress trying to find out what I can eat? Do they dread going out with me knowing I will suggest a place with vegan/gf options - or as some say 'hippie/rabbit food? Do they dread eating at my house for fear of what gf/vegan food I will serve? Basically,
Do people judge me for what I eat?
Rather than drive myself crazy, I decided to ask the internet:
To all my vegan/vegatarian/pescetarian/<insert dietary needs here> friends:
Do you judge people who do not eat the way you do?
Here is what I got.
The number of people that admitted to judging others was actually quite small. I'll be the first to admit that it might be a sample bias on my part but the message is still the same (a.k.a., I only asked people I talk to or people who follow me). Regardless, judgement still was reported- by meat eaters AND veggie eaters- but it was mainly judgement they had experienced rather then them judging others.
Veggie-Eaters Judging Meat-Eaters
One group of people confided that they actually had lost vegan friends because the vegans loudly and continually proclaimed that their vegan children were superior in all ways to other non-vegan children. That's a way to keep cohesion at the park and teach tolerance to the next generation eh? :p
Another form of judgement was toward meat-eaters making a transition to vegetarian or vegan but hadn't yet 'taken the plung' (a.k.a., would still eat meat products periodically). I see this judgement equivalent to punishing a smoker that uses a nicotine patch to ween themselves off of smoking- rather than going cold turkey. The only thing you're punishing is the choice to change but more on that another day.
Meat-Eaters Judging Veggie-Eaters
Most confirmations of judgement toward veggies-eaters seemed to stem from...quite frankly...ignorance. A lack of understanding on WHY a person chooses to eat the way they eat seemed to feed comments like:
you're just following a fad diet/are you done doing that yet
why do you have a phobia of food/an eating disorder
vegans/vegetarians are stupid because meat has needed nutrients you can't get anywhere else
animals were made to be eaten
The list goes on and on causing people to say:
...it can be quite discouraging and exhausting constantly being talked down to
Even though the stories, and experience, of judgement were upsetting to me, it was encouraging and amazing to see the majority of people responding with 'absolutely not!' So many said things like:
live and let live
guide, don't dictate
In the end do whatever makes you happy...
If I judged and fought every person...about their choices that are different than the choices I'm passionate about-- I'd lose my effing mind.
There are pros and cons to almost everything in life and I only judge child molesters and oil men (<--vegan).
This support came from meat-eaters, vegetarians, pescetarians and vegans a-like. As the comments rolled in, it was like watching a group of people come together at a table with all types of food and say:
I don't care what you eat, i'd just love to eat a meal with you.
It warmed my heart and made me want to have a party. :)
THIS is what food and the eating experience is about!
From the conversations I had, I saw judgement break friendships, create awkward family gatherings, and even made some people completely terrified to go out to eat with others who don't eat like them. This is NOT a good way to have to live meat-eater OR veggie-eater.
Regardless if this, I heard from so many people that had walked many paths of life, had many different REASONS for their dietary decisions and did not judge others. I met many mixed households with one partner being vegan and the other a meat-eater...and no battles were waged. I met patient veggie-eaters that had influenced the diet of SOOO many of their friends without their knowledge just by sharing meals with them and answering any questions that came their way (I have S.B., M.L., M.B., and M.W-L to thanks for that for this myself) . I even met meat-eaters that were highly supportive of their partners/friends veggies diets and would -from time to time- eat the same way.
THIS is what a dinner table is for. All judgement dropped, you come with an open mind and an empty stomach. Judgement doesn't seem to do anything but label a group as mean (e.g., "Beware. There are some pretty mean vegans out there"), and put others off from understanding why anyone would choose that diet- let alone adopt it. If you truly want to change the dietary world don't punish people who interact with you. It's like over-zealous women that end up giving feminists a bad name. Be patient. Be understanding and share your table with them. You may be surprised at how much influence you would have by simply giving someone a great vegan/vegatarian/pescetarian/gluten-free/<insert diet here> eating experience.