ForumTouchy Subjects ► Why do people hate vegans so much?
BBC: The hidden biases that drive anti-vegan hatred
People love to moan that vegans are annoying: research has shown that only drug addicts inspire the same degree of loathing. Now psychologists are starting to understand why – and it’s becoming clear that the reasons aren’t entirely rational.

There's been several occasions lately where I've been in an online chat, and even though no vegans have said anything, meat-eaters have started bashing vegans out of nowhere. Apparently vegans talk about being vegan too much. These same people then go on to describe how much they love being meat-eaters seemingly without any sense of hypocrisy. I've never been offended by a vegan, so I threw out into the Q & A this question, and I wanted to share the answers for discussion. I'll reply to a few later.

Why do people hate vegans so much?

* Because they're worried vegans are actually right.
* The handful of vegans who try to convert everyone to veganism and look down on others for not being vegan give them a bad reputation
* They are completely pretentious assholes
* There's a minority of vegans who are preachy and obnoxious. But the anti-vegan minority is quickly becoming just as much so.
* They've been typecast by the self righteous type who posture their morality to others. If someone is vegan because that diet works for their weight loss, some medical reason, or personal preference, that's cool. Even if it is a moral reason but they don't try and push that on others, that's fine. But, it is funny when people think they don't like killing animals, and don't realize, they just don't like killing certain animals.
* they feel condescended to. i understand why it happens but the majority of vegans really do just be chillin
* Because some vegans are hateful towards non-vegans. Though they may be a minority within the vegan community, they are the loudest, and people come to the conclusion that most vegans are like that.
there are a lot of annoying ones
* I think it's the arrogance of claiming to be "cruelty free" when most of your food is produced by migrant labor working for slave wages.
* because they bring up the fact that they're vegan at every possible opportunity and force you to deal think about their veganism more than anyone would ever to
* Want to know how to spot a vegan? They'll tell you about it. Extensively. In great detail. Even if you were talking about something else, like chainsaws. And then when you finally get tired of them shoehorning their veganism into every conversation possible and you bring up that their vegan ideology is actually nothing more than happy feelings because industrial farming kills small animals and birds through the use of machinery and pest control while also having a major impact on ecosystems both local, and through the migration of birds, across thousands of miles, they go into a childish tantrum.
* People hate pretentious people. Veganism is seen as the penultimate in pretense.
* They know that vegans have the moral high ground, and they resent it.
* Lots of new age vegans, they aren't like the old-school vegans. The old timey vegans were very much hippie-dippie-don't-vaccinate-my-child types.
* People don't like it when we interrupt their cognitive dissonance.
  
I think it’s because veganism is very much treated like a miracle diet with extra moral goodness, to the preachers.
And because preachers preach it, it’ll get on some people’s nerves and they’ll preach back the opposite way.
Both sides have gotten loud enough that for the other side, the preachers represent the group as a whole; meat-eaters look at vegan preachers, and vegans look at meat-eating preachers, allowing them to demonize the other and digging them into their own rut in which migrating to the other side is unfathomable.
And those that are actually sensible on both sides or forced to be vegan for medical reasons are caught in the crossfire.

Being a proper vegan with all nutritional needs met is hard. And I think it’s being simplified to the point of not being that way anymore. As for why it’s the same as drug addicts, I’d say it’s a mix of oversimplification/lack of research(who would lop off all animal-related foods and how would they not die?) and preaching.
  
Moralizing is unpopular, and veganism is uncompromising. In my experience, vegans are not inviting about veganism. Many vegans are quiet and agreeable, some are loud and preachy, but very rarely is somebody inviting others to join veganism without judgment.

Vegan sales pitches are things like saying meat it murder or discussing animal welfare conditions while you eat.

How often have you heard of a vegan instead saying, "My food is so delicious, being a vegan is so great, I feel so fortunate to have this lifestyle. I feel really great, I'm healthier and fitter than I've ever been, and it's super easy I can show you how to do it." I've never heard a vegan discuss veganism without heavy focus on morality components.

Also in my experience, I've known lots of vegans and never heard, "It's totally fine if you're not ready to be a vegan, but you're open to reducing your meat intake. Every little bit helps!" There's always an immediate upsell for why you should be doing more.

I think that's the primary reason why, bad sales tactics.

Secondary reason is they make it really hard to plan a mixed-company gathering like dinner, or even to get snacks for a party.
  
In my very possibly incorrect and very possibly uninformedopinion, it's because people online have no respect for anyone else. People have found it popular and easy to hate groups like PETA (which again, in my very possibly incorrect and very possibly uninformedopinion PETA deserves for allegedly being very bad to animals some of the time and people associate Vegans with PETA and being pretentious) and it's more of a meme than it is a genuine hatred (other than said alleged pretentiousness). They have no reason to hate the Vegan population, and if anything, those who abstain from animal/animal product consuming are doing a massive service to everyone else on Earth. Meat and animals simply aren't sustainable for a human population expanding at this rate.

Sorry I'm just so afraid of offending anyone.

also tl;dr everything else here, i'm a hypocritical pr***, i know and i'm sorry.
  
In my [very possibly incorrect and very possibly uninformed] opinion, it's because people online have no respect for anyone else. People have found it popular and easy to hate groups like PETA (which again, in my [very possibly incorrect and very possibly uninformed] opinion PETA deserves for allegedly being very bad to animals some of the time and people associate Vegans with PETA and being pretentious) and it's more of a meme than it is a genuine hatred (other than said alleged pretentiousness). They have no reason to hate the Vegan population, and if anything, those who abstain from animal/animal product consuming are doing a massive service to everyone else on Earth. Meat and animals simply aren't sustainable for a human population expanding at this rate.

Sorry I'm just so afraid of offending anyone.

also tl;dr everything else here, i'm a hypocritical pr***, i know and i'm sorry.

Translation.
Also, you are very much not a prick. This is good information, and an opinion. And if pissy people were to be in the Touchy Subjects sector, they would quite quickly be kicked out by the rest of the people here.
Also, 21 layers is very impressive. I certainly wouldn’t have the patience to do that many layers. Counting is easier.
1</sub>2</sub>3</sub>4</sub>5</sub>6</sub>7</sub>8</sub>9</sub>10</sub>11</sub>12</sub>13</sub>14</sub>15</sub>16</sub>17</sub>18</sub>19</sub>20</sub>21</sub>
  
I believe that veganism is often a genuine attempt to live a more ethical and/or healthy life but in general, the loudest voices supporting it do a great job of driving people away from it.

Unless veganism is practiced right, it's not ethical nor is it practical for everyone to adopt it. By practicing it right, I mean not buying fresh produce that requires loads of jet fuel to send out to the world.
  
Edit for tone: Groceries are typically shipped by sea freighter or trucks, not planes. Using planes would be cost prohibitive.
  
E7 said:
I believe that veganism is often a genuine attempt to live a more ethical and/or healthy life but in general, the loudest voices supporting it do a great job of driving people away from it.

Unless veganism is practiced right, it's not ethical nor is it practical for everyone to adopt it. By practicing it right, I mean not buying fresh produce that requires loads of jet fuel to send out to the world.
What do you mean by "practiced right"? I have noticed non-vegans straw-man vegans a lot. They come up with their own idea of what veganism should be, and then "catch out" vegans for not being it.

It's the same as this response in the OP:
* I think it's the arrogance of claiming to be "cruelty free" when most of your food is produced by migrant labor working for slave wages.

Veganism is not claiming to solve the problem of low wages. This is a non sequitur argument, and surely low wages applies equally to meat/dairy production. It's like saying "gun control is stupid because it doesn't stop climate change".
  
Edit for tone: Groceries are typically shipped by sea freighter or trucks, not planes. Using planes would be cost prohibitive.

Depends on the specific produce, but yes, most are shipped by sea or land.

Millpond said:
What do you mean by "practiced right"?
Certain vegan foods are not ethically sourced or good for the climate.
  
You have to eat something. The damage done by an avocado grove or almond crop is much less than the damage done by a herd of cattle producing equivalent food. Just because they aren't perfect doesn't mean they're equivalent to meat.

A serving of beef emits more carbon than a service of cheese, pork, poultry, eggs, rice, beans/nuts, and potatoes combined. One chicken strips dinner, no sides, is equal to ~18 dinners made of plants. No amount of shipping kale is going to make vegetables as bad as meat.

Increased use of water and pesticides, specifically for things like California almonds, are obviously not great for the environment, but they're nowhere near as damaging as the carbon and land use of cows, lamb and dairy. The carbon footprint for just the beef a n American meat-eater consumes can be about equivalent to the entire carbon footprint of a vegan.

The world is complicated. There's no perfect solutions. I don't think it's hypocritical for a vegan to eat almonds if their goal is to eat healthier, not engage in animal cruelty and/or reduce carbon emissions. Switching from almond milk to rice milk certainly wouldn't hurt.
  
I think we can agree that veganism is generally more ethical than alternatives along with most plant-based diets and that there's no perfect solution to the problem. However, if one is practicing veganism for ethical reasons then it's good to be aware that it does not necessarily grant one the moral high ground. Other great diets Mediterranean with ethically sourced seafood, Nordic, Paleo (with seasonal crops) and vegetarianism.

Almost every major dietary trend has the extreme outliers that get the media spotlight from those who are unwilling to change their dietary habits. It's a difficult change to make that won't happen overnight.
  
E7 said:
Certain vegan foods are not ethically sourced or good for the climate.
What do you mean by "ethically sourced" in this context, and which foods are you talking about? Veganism isn't claiming to prevent cruelty to humans, it's claiming to prevent cruelty to animals. And whatever impact on the environment these certain vegan foods may have, I bet it pales in comparison to the environmental impact of meat/dairy.
Just because they aren't perfect doesn't mean they're equivalent to meat.
Yes, this is the crux. Just because it's not perfect doesn't mean it's not better.
  
E7 said:
I think we can agree that veganism is generally more ethical than alternatives


I wouldn't take that for granted.

Coming back to the title question, that sort of smug assumption of moral superiority is a significant factor.
  
Gorgon, generally agree except for the minor point that farming sheep can be done on land unsuitable for vegetable production and also provides textiles.
  
Sure, TBH the thing I mostly look at here is carbon output, and sheep output a lot of carbon.
  
What is the carbon footprint of grazing sheep on otherwise useless land vs. cultivating a calorie-equivalent amount of new farmland for crops?
  
Yup, sure the carbon footprint is higher, but they also produce (yet again) wool, are we sure they release more CO2 than the equivalent of both textiles and protein right food? And even if they do, grazing ruminating animals on otherwise inaccessible land has flow on effects for reducing environmental pressure on other ecosystems. CO2 emissions are not the only metric for pollution.

Edit: and as a cheeky aside, sheep also provide sexual gratification for South Islanders and the Welsh, a truly incredible service.
  
DIAV said:
E7 said:
I think we can agree that veganism is generally more ethical than alternatives


I wouldn't take that for granted.

Coming back to the title question, that sort of smug assumption of moral superiority is a significant factor.

Well, if you look at the thread thus far, I'm not exactly a smug moral superior vegan supporter. Did you notice I was just arguing that veganism doesn't grant the moral high ground?

However, I will argue that evidence supports the idea that veganism is the morally superior position in general. I would like to specify that in general a vegan diet will reduce carbon emissions and is better for factory farmed animals.

Again, there are alternative diets that are also helpful if you're not able to make a massive change to your dietary habits overnight. I don't intend to morally guilt people into changing.
  
I didn't say you were. I said that the assumption was often a source of resentment.
  
Moralizing is unpopular, and veganism is uncompromising. In my experience, vegans are not inviting about veganism. Many vegans are quiet and agreeable, some are loud and preachy, but very rarely is somebody inviting others to join veganism without judgment.

Vegan sales pitches are things like saying meat it murder or discussing animal welfare conditions while you eat.

How often have you heard of a vegan instead saying, "My food is so delicious, being a vegan is so great, I feel so fortunate to have this lifestyle. I feel really great, I'm healthier and fitter than I've ever been, and it's super easy I can show you how to do it." I've never heard a vegan discuss veganism without heavy focus on morality components.

Also in my experience, I've known lots of vegans and never heard, "It's totally fine if you're not ready to be a vegan, but you're open to reducing your meat intake. Every little bit helps!" There's always an immediate upsell for why you should be doing more.

I think that's the primary reason why, bad sales tactics.


My experience has been quite the opposite from yours. Any vegans I've talked to (before I transitioned fully) have been very understanding, and happy that I'm making an effort to reduce meat consumption.

As far as I'm concerned, veganism is an implicitly altruistic behavior and I don't feel that I'm able to - or have any right to - convince strangers to start acting against their own best interest. To that end, if I see someone commenting on a delicious turkey sandwich I'll happily engage and discuss turkey-cooking techniques. And if that person then shows an interest in the fried veggies I'm making, I'll answer their questions and use that chance to explain my reasoning.
I don't try to convert anyone unless they initiate it, because it's a frustrating waste of time. And when they do engage me, I'm happy to encourage them to take things slow and just reduce meat consumption until they feel they can push further.

So maybe that's why your experience with vegans has always been negative. It's certainly possible you've not met people who think like I do. But it's also possible you have, but you haven't shown any inclination to change - and they didn't press you for it.

> Secondary reason is they make it really hard to plan a mixed-company gathering like dinner, or even to get snacks for a party.


There are people with gluten/lactose intolerance, nut allergies, religious restrictions, and plain-old dislikes for certain foods. When a host prepares food, it's expected they'll take these things into account. I honestly don't feel like this argument is something that would bother anyone who isn't already predisposed to disliking vegans.
  
amras0000 said:
My experience has been quite the opposite from yours. Any vegans I've talked to (before I transitioned fully)
I assume this means before you transitioned to veganism. Did you speak to many vegans before showing any interest in veganism or vegetarianism or meat reduction? Most people who interact with vegans aren't doing so while actively sharing an interest in meat-restricted diets. So most people will not have an experience similar to somebody who IS interested.
amras0000 said:
I don't try to convert anyone unless they initiate it, because it's a frustrating waste of time.
Right, which plays to my original post. People like you are by nature quiet about veganism. People who are preachy are by their nature loud. That means the average person is only being exposed to the loud, preachy people and not to the quiet, agreeable people. The part of the veganism people remember are the "meat is murder" crowd. Even though they're probably not the majority of vegans, they are by far the majority of the noise vegans make to the wider population.

amras0000 said:
So maybe that's why your experience with vegans has always been negative.
To be clear, my experience with vegans has not always been negative. But I was also vegetarian for a long time (I still consumed small amounts of dairy). I'm not a representative sample of the population.

amras0000 said:
but you haven't shown any inclination to change - and they didn't press you for it.
I think we're saying the same thing here. As I said, "Many vegans are quiet and agreeable, some are loud and preachy, but very rarely is somebody inviting others to join veganism without judgment." Many more vegans would need to be clearly visible, but also extremely inviting and not at all pushy for the average person to have better overall interactions with vegans.

amras0000 said:
There are people with gluten/lactose intolerance, nut allergies, religious restrictions, and plain-old dislikes for certain foods.
And none of these things are all that popular at a party, either. The more optional something seems to be, the more likely it is to be annoying to cater to.

amras0000 said:
When a host prepares food, it's expected they'll take these things into account. I honestly don't feel like this argument is something that would bother anyone who isn't already predisposed to disliking vegans.
Average people don't want to make a different snack for every person coming to a game night. Making bunches of homemade food is hard, buying bunches of store-bought food is expensive, and meat/dairy are in the vast majority of the types of foods lots of cultures would provide as snacks. I wouldn't hold it against anybody to find that as an annoyance.

It can feel equivalent to having a friend you invite to the movies who hates comedies and dramas. A lot of people won't invite that person to the movies as often.
  
Many more vegans would need to be clearly visible, but also extremely inviting and not at all pushy for the average person to have better overall interactions with vegans.


I wonder about the distinction between talking about a vegan diet, and hoping to convince someone to switch to it. I have had many conversations about veganism, but my intention is typically to express something about my life and not to convince people to change their diet.

I'm not sure if you're suggesting that there aren't enough vegans who talk about their diet without making a big deal out if it, or if you're asking for "preachers" who publically try to convince people to change without pressuring them.

If it's the former, then I should mention that there's a stigma for vegans attached to talking about your diet. And this discourages people from bringing it up in the first place. So it's a bit of a chicken-and-egg problem; if a vegan tries to speak candidly they get shut down and mocked, so you get more quiet vegans. Make the dinner table a more tolerant place and you'll get more friendly vegans.

If you're looking for preachers, then I don't see there being any shortage of such people. Go to any city and step into a vegan restaurant. Grab a vegan-recipe pamphlet from your local activist. Getting into a vegan lifestyle or learning what it's about has never been easier or more friendly.
But I still don't see the point of walking up to someone who isn't interested and trying to tell them they should change their diet. No matter how polite, inviting, or how friendly you are, what people eat is extremely personal and imho there is no way to be inviting enough to overcome that.
  
I'm not making prescriptions, just observations. When a minority group is known mostly for moralizing, they're not typically well-liked. Vegans are generally known for moralizing by non-vegans. Thus, it's pretty easy to see why they may not be well-liked based on stereotypes or limited exposure.

When I didn't eat meat, I had no problem discussing not eating meat without moralizing, and I never asked people to make special dishes for hosting me -- I would just bring my own food and share with everybody there. As far as I know, nobody had a problem with me or my diet. As another example, I don't nor have I ever consumed alcohol or recreational drugs. But I spent years of my life working in bars, going to parties, hanging out with stoners. I don't moralize it and never have. When I was young enough to know people who threw ragers, I was invited to them very regularly.

Compare to several vegans I've known who send out bulk messages to people reminding them not to bring anything with dairy because they won't eat it. Based on the negative public perception of veganism, I'm guessing more people experience that kind of vegan if they experience veganism at all.
  
My neighbour's fence is plastered with aggressive signs calling farming and meat consumption rape and murder interspersed with scientifically illiterate signs about 1080 and vaccines. Most people associate vegans with the aggressive cohort, much like crossfitters or introverts.
  
One of my coworkers is vegan. We typically just make sure she has a main dish option at potlucks, and she'll chime in with good recipes every now and then. I actually don't think I've ever encountered a vegan who was antagonistic in person before. Most of the time, they're just normal people who prefer to avoid animal products.
  
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