I’ll start by commenting on the title of this post: I don’t hate vegans. The title comes from a headline over a letter posted on another web site. We’ll come back to that.
I don’t even dislike most vegans. I suspect most of them are nice people who choose that lifestyle for whatever reason and don’t concern themselves with what other people decide to eat. Some years ago, Chareva and I went out for breakfast and ran into an actress I knew and her live-in boyfriend. We decided to get a table for four. I knew from previous conversations that the actress was a vegan … so imagine my surprise when her boyfriend ordered bacon and eggs.
“Uh … you eat meat?” I asked.
“Yeah, I eat meat. Why?”
“Oh, I see what you’re asking,” the actress chimed in. “I’m a vegan. He’s not.”
Since these two had lived together for a long time and owned a house together, I’m pretty sure she didn’t follow him around accusing him of being a murderer or predicting his demise from all kinds of meat-induced health disasters. She was a vegan, but clearly not a zealot. It’s the zealots I can’t stand.
Vegan zealots are the dietary equivalent of religious zealots who show up at your door uninvited and try to convert you, warning you of hell to come if you don’t listen. They can’t just happily keep to themselves, because they’re convinced the heathens must be saved. I posted the follow-up section of Fat Head on YouTube last week, and sure enough (as I would have predicted), we’ve now got what the Older Brother refers to as a vegetrollian showing up to preach.
I believe low-carb and/or paleo diets can help people overcome all kinds of health problems. That’s why I produced Fat Head. That’s why I write blog posts. I’m happy to provide as much information as I can for anyone who comes here looking for answers – and lots of people have found answers here, judging by the comments and emails I receive.
But in spite of their successes (not to mention mine), I don’t believe everyone has to go on a low-carb diet, I don’t deny that people can become lean and healthy on other kinds of diets, and I sure as heck don’t go trolling vegetarian blogs and web sites trying to convert them and predicting their physical demise if they don’t listen to me. I’m an advocate, not a zealot.
After some vegan zealots physically attacked Lierre Keith a few years ago, I wrote an essay on my other blog (which I’ve been ignoring lately) comparing them to what philosopher and author Eric Hoffer labeled The True Believer in his book by the same name. Here’s part of what I wrote:
Hoffer labeled these people the True Believers. The need to believe in something — completely, and without question — defines their lives, because fanaticism makes them feel special and important.
Not surprisingly, then, the biggest threat to their identities is doubt. All contrary evidence must be stifled or rationalized out of existence. All logical inconsistencies in their beliefs must be ignored. Anyone who doesn’t share their beliefs is an enemy, and anyone who raises questions about their beliefs must be silenced. (But enough about Al Gore.)
Now, doesn’t that description sound just a wee bit like a militant vegan? Ego boost? Heck yes … I’m now a morally superior human being because I don’t eat animal products. Sense of identity? Gee, do you think?
I once asked a waitress in a restaurant if the pork chops were any good. Turning up her nose just a bit, she replied, “I wouldn’t know. I’m a vegan.” I’m mildly hard of hearing, so at first I thought she said, “I wouldn’t know. I’m a virgin.” After some momentary confusion, mentally rifling through my old catechism lessons looking for a prohibition against virgins eating pork, I figured it out. Either way, it was more than I cared to know about her. “I’ve never tried them” would’ve sufficed.
And here are some quotes from Hoffer’s book:
A man is likely to mind his own business when it is worth minding. When it is not, he takes his mind off his own meaningless affairs by minding other people’s business.
In order to be effective a doctrine must not be understood, but has to be believed in. We can be absolutely certain only about things we do not understand.
The uncompromising attitude is more indicative of an inner uncertainty than a deep conviction. The implacable stand is directed more against the doubt within than the assailant without.
In short, True Believers like to stick their noses in other people’s business and never let little annoyances like logic or observable facts shake their beliefs. As Hoffer wrote, True Believers are impervious to facts.
The True Believer currently trolling the comments section on the video desperately needs to believe that eating animal protein makes people fat and sick. He also desperately needs to believe that nobody ever got fat or sick on a vegetarian diet. So he (could be a she, but I’m going with he) simply ignores the actual video, which clearly shows how much leaner I am now than I was in my 30s – when I was a vegetarian. He also ignores the before-and-after pictures I put in the video.
One of those before-and-after shots is of a reader and occasional commenter named Rae. Here’s part of what Rae wrote when she sent me those pictures.
I wanted you to know now I’ve lost nearly 80 lbs since Fat Head made me re-think everything I had ever learned about food and nutrition. I wish it had been around 10 years ago so I wouldn’t have wasted my 20s being an obese depressed vegetarian.
An obese vegetarian? Eighty pounds lighter now after going low-carb? No, no, no, that doesn’t happen. Just ask the True Believer.
Other people have left comments like these on the video:
Fat Head the documentary and Gary Taubes changed my life. I went onto a ketogenic diet (Very strict in Carbohydrates, sub 20g a day) and lost over 40 pounds (210 to 170) in three months. The contradictory part is, I did the entire thing from June to September meaning I was not in school, had no work, and literally sat on my ass playing video games 12-13 hours a day.
I’ve lost 80 pounds after watching Fat Head (still trying to lose another 50) and I’m healthier than I’ve ever been. I can’t thank you enough Tom for making Fat Head.
Watched Fat Head on November 12th. Went low carb November 13th. Thank you — 60lbs lost / 70 to go.
Naturally, the vegan True Believer can see these testimonials right there in front of his face and still insist that low-carb diets make people fat and sick. Tell a vegan True Believer that I was a fat vegetarian and have personally known vegans who had major health problems, and he’ll simply deny that I was ever really a vegetarian. Same goes for anyone else who claimed to health problems on a vegan or vegetarian diet. They weren’t really vegetarians or vegans, you see, because if they were, they’d be lean and healthy. (I guess that explains why Linda McCartney and Davey Jones both lived to a ripe old age.)
I compare vegan zealots to religious zealots because I’m convinced the thought process is basically the same: Everyone who eats a high-meat diet is committing a sin and must suffer – and all vegans must be lean and healthy as a reward for their virtuousness. No one gets healthy on a meat-based diet, and no one gets fat or sick from a meat-free diet. We know this because our vegan bible tells us so. Scientific evidence to the contrary must be ignored.
Now, back to where I got the title for this post. When I was logging articles and studies into my new database over the holidays, I came across a post titled See, this is why people hate vegans on a site called PassiveAgressiveNotes.com. This particular note was written by a recently-converted vegan and left on her roommate’s beside table. It’s a bit difficult to read on the site, so I’ve reproduced it below with my comments interspersed.
I have to say, I thought you were a lot smarter and considerate than you have proven yourself to be. You are very well aware that I’ve been getting more and more serious about my veganism, and over the past few weeks I’ve insinuated several times that I feel uncomfortable having animal products in our house.
You became a vegan, so now your roommate has to stop bringing meat into the house? Couldn’t you have just become an orthodox Jew and demanded she stop buying bacon?
The reason I’ve settled with merely implying these feelings is to avoid an argument, awkward conversation, or irritated note such as this one.
Notes don’t get irritated, tofu-brain. People do … like when they receive preachy notes from their roommates.
But after seeing your latest haul from the supermarket, I have to be blunt with you.
Oh boy, here comes the sermon …
Yes, I know that we live in a world where we’re all supposed to be “tolerant.” However, I believe we have to stick up for our beliefs and draw the line somewhere.
Is this where you announce that you’re moving out to stand up for your beliefs?
If you knew that a neighbor of yours was abusing their child, would you turn a blind eye and be “tolerant” of it? Would you say that your neighbor simply has a different world view than your own? I doubt it. Same with me.
Please, feel free to call 911 and report the slaughter of pigs and cows at the nearest slaughterhouse.
I can no longer tolerate seeing meat, eggs, dairy, honey, or any other products from animals in our kitchen or anywhere else in our apartment. Do you understand?
When you try to impose your beliefs on your roommate, you come across like a member of some vegan Hezbollah, even if you underline your sentences to emphasize how important they are. Do you understand?
I’m truly disappointed by your lack of respect for my feelings and morals. You could at the very least eat these things away from me, like when you’re out of the house. You could have done it in your room. That second suggestion isn’t an option anymore, though, since I told you I will not allow these foods anywhere in the house.
Way to demonstrate respect for your roommate’s feelings, tofu-brain. Sure, I’ll allow you to eat meat – as long as you don’t do it in the house.
Why do you buy so much meat?
Uh … because it’s awesome?
You buy chicken, steaks, ground beef, and tasty “snacks” like Slim Jims, beef jerky, spam, and sardine cans.
Say, is your roommate single by any chance? Oh, wait … I’m already married.
This is a waste. I can guarantee that you will not eat even half of these things.
That’s because you won’t let her eat them in the house.
Please think about changing your diet. I realize that you will probably continue being a meat eater outside of our apartment, but let that small grain of doubt lead you to a better path. You can still have great-tasting food as a vegan. You’ll probably want to start slow as a vegetarian and take it from there.
Nice of you to ease her into it gently when you’re demanding she switch to your belief system.
It was a long, passionate letter, but I think the appropriate reply would only require two words. You can probably guess what they are.
And that’s why people hate vegans.