Vegan should not be a dirty word. But I’d rather tell people I have a Whitman’s Sampler of STDs than reveal I’m a vegan.
Global warming? Meh. El Niño? Please. The reason for unseasonably hot and cold weather around the globe at the moment is the excessive smugness induced by arguably the most self-indulgent month of the year, November – World Vegan Month. Yep, while moms, dads and military veterans are relegated to just a single day of recognition annually, the increasingly entitled vegan community deem an entire month necessary to celebrate their decision to oppose evolution and history, and endure an entirely non-animal-based diet.
OK, we’re poking a bit of fun. Each to her own. But it’s not entirely wide of the mark – at least for the loudest sector of the vegan community, the self-promoters. Like feminism, no more is veganism a movement led by informed students with genuine intentions, inspired by at least some semblance of research. It’s an epidemic. A scourge, if you will, perpetuated by social media and a desperate longing by insecure people for fame, recognition and to be held in higher esteem than the average peasant by a phantom social jury of contemporary intellectual midgets.
But before you keyboard social justice warriors jump the gun and start posting hateful diatribe in the comments section prior to having read the entire story, take these two names for the ultimate example – Essena O’Neill and Belle Gibson, two professional social media scam artists giving the word vegan a bad name. And they’re just the tip of the iceberg lettuce. If you’re not familiar with Belle Gibson, she’s the blogger who lied about having terminal cancer and made millions selling vegan recipes. And Essena O’Neill is the 19-year-old professional manipulator who continues to use social media to tell people she’s quitting social media and is the poster child for a participation trophy generation gone wrong.
And this, my former friends, is the reason that “vegan” has become a dirty word. Vegan-ism however, remains a worthy way of living deserved of our attention and respect. Yet like the terms “journalist”, “actor” and “photographer”, vegan has become devoid of all meaning and only conjures of up images of narcissism and opportunism. It’s easy to point the finger at social media but that’s merely the express vessel to publicising one’s dick-headedness as opposed to going through the traditional channels – logo t-shirts, coffee shop beat poetry and letters to the editor. Social media isn’t to blame. Society is.
Philosopher Bertrand Russell, if remembered for nothing else, should be forever adored for coining the perpetually truest of all quotes – “The trouble with the world is that the stupid are so cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt.” I guess this hack falls somewhere in between. So profound is the 20th Century genius’s criticism that it inspired a psychological study known today as the Dunning-Kruger Effect effect. It effectively states that the less people know about a subject the more confident they are, while the more they know, the less confident they are in their own expertise. Self-promoting vegans are the former. We live in the most PC of all times, with outrage culture sweeping the first world like a hurricane, while the third wonders what (if they’re lucky enough) or who they’ll have to kill next to survive. They don’t care for popularity on the internet and are only concerned with providing nutrition from their nipples rather than a social platform from which to display them from.
My best friend—yep, I’ve got one —has been a vegan for 18 years. His entire family is. We eat at myriad vegan restaurants and I’m the first to recommend many said restaurants to my carnivore counterparts. But when he nervously whispers in the server’s ear “do you have any vegan options?” so as not to earn the collective eye-roll of the restaurant, you know there’s a problem. Not with veganism. Not with genuine vegans. But with a generation of narcissistic say-and-do-anythings desperate to be different but more singular than ever, who are giving the real vegans a bad name.
So as we stare down the barrel of another three weeks of vegan pride, let’s raise a glass of almond milk to the true believers, who are living their lifestyle because they like it and not for likes.