“Let them eat fakes” (Vegan bashing)

Atheists and vegans have a commonality. Both are reviled minorities who are despised for what they do not do: Believe in any gods or consume animal products. While this would seem to be an avenue for atheists to feel rapport with vegans, or at least be neutral toward them, this is not always the case. The Facebook page Atheists Against Pseudoscientific Nonsense (AAPN) makes vegan-bashing at least a monthly occurrence.

This seems strange to me, for in the same way that someone not believing in a god has no impact on anyone else, a person favoring fake butter to the authentic version is harming no one. Of course, the maintainers of AAPN are far from alone in their vegan-loathing, which permeates those of all religious stripes. Why does 0.3 percent of the population, doing something that doesn’t affect anyone else, engender such venom?

BBC reporter Zaria Gorvett tried to get the root of this disdain. She wrote that one volley lobbed at vegans is an accusation of hypocrisy. For example, bugs or mice will be unintentionally killed when a farmer harvests corn or plants soybeans. But, first, as vegan law professor Gary Francioine noted, by being vegan, one is taking the most proactive stance and the one that will cause the least cumulative harm to animals. By contrast, if one eats meat or drink milks, the fatal impact on animals is unquestioned. (Male offspring of dairy cattle are often killed at birth, the same fate that awaits male chicks).

Moreover, appealing to hypocrisy is a logical fallacy and in this case, not a genuine reason for the loathing. Further, the hypocrisy charge is similar to the one lobbed at proponents of church/state separation for using money emblazoned with “In God We Trust.” But there is no inconsistency since those proponents would prefer the motto come off. Similarly, vegans would prefer that no living creatures be killed or harmed when their food is produced. AAPN could surely see the logic behind the former, so why not the latter?

A second accusation is that vegans are militant and adopt an in-your-face approach. Consider the lame joke, “How do you know if someone is vegan? They will tell you.” This is an instance of survivor bias, as people meet vegans all the time without knowing it since the person doesn’t mention it. To think that all vegans spout off about it because some of them do is like finishing a hearing test and, before being told the results, thinking you aced it because you heard all the beeps.

The militant accusation is also comical when considering such an approach is more frequent among meat eaters. Think about the Heart Attack Grill or the promotions which bestow a free dinner on the diner who finishes an outrageously-sized cheeseburger or T-bone in a certain timeframe. I have seen animal welfare videos given a retort video consisting entirely of the creator eating chicken nuggets. I have ever seen the equivalent, whereby a hunting video is answered by a vegan recording themselves chomping on a salad. Social media ads for veggie burgers yield derisive comments in the threads; those for hamburgers do not.

Again, this should be a case for common ground between the atheist and vegan. The punchline “They will tell you” has been directed at atheists, even though it is Christians who wear a religious symbol around their necks, who dress in unmistakable nun and priest garments, and who have multiple church options in any square mile nationwide. It is de rigueur for GOP presidential candidates to announce that the Christian god told them to run. By contrast, no Democratic candidate has cited atheism as their impetus.

So with hypocrisy or aggressiveness not the answer, Gorvett deduced that disgust of vegans has its roots in psychological discomfort. She writes, “If you bring your cod and chips home to eat in front of your beloved goldfish, or tuck into a rabbit stew mere moments after cooing over various #rabbitsofinstagram, you’re likely to encounter cognitive dissonance, which occurs when a person holds two incompatible views, and acts on one of them. In this case, your affection for animals might just start to clash with the idea that it’s OK to eat them. The tension that results can make us feel stressed, irritated, and unhappy. But instead of resolving it by changing our beliefs or behavior, it’s quite normal to blame these feelings on something else entirely.”

Encountering a vegan triggers this cognitive dissonance by serving as a reminder of one’s inconsistency so vegan-bashing often follows. As Gorvett explained, “Motivated reasoning might lead people to find explanations for why eating animals is the correct decision. And one of these is that vegans are bad.”

Once more, this should be where an atheist finds common ground with a vegan. After all, some religious types who detest nonbelievers do so as a way of trying to compensate for their faith’s abuses and to keep their lingering doubts repressed.

About the only justification I can find for AAPN’s spite is the vegan-friendly nature of the communion offerings of bread and wine.

2 thoughts on ““Let them eat fakes” (Vegan bashing)

  1. I could care less if someone declines to eat meat or their reasons for doing so. What gets me is the fake “burgers” & “chicken wings” & other fake meat-like food they consume, often packed with oodles of additives to give the non-meat-food the meat-like taste & consistency that they crave. How is this being vegetarian or vegan?

    There are ways to go meat-free without consuming these stupid fake foods. People have done it for thousands of years. Just like they’ve gone without any kind of deity for thousands of years, as well.

    As usual, what’s being packaged & sold to the American public is not what’s in our best interest … either for our diets or our spirituality.

  2. So I find this baffling – I am both an atheist and a vegan. I sometime feel the need to tell people because the majority assumes that you are like them and hence invites you to dinner or wants to proselytize. It is just easier if they know from the outset that I do not wish to consume animal products nor come to their church. I find the animosity toward vegans and atheist very real though. But I am a live and let live kind of person and if one wishes to chow on the flesh the deceased or pray to a sky daddy, go ahead. Just don’t force your life choices upon me.

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