Internet Discourse: Vegans and Vegetarians

Throughout my time on the Internet, no amount of trolls or haters or SJWs can make my blood boil and eyes roll harder than the vegetarian and vegan warriors.

They find every single possible way to call you out on “murdering” innocent creatures when you are just another innocent creature yourself, eating to survive just like the rest of the animal kingdom. They spew and preach and all but demand that you conform to their beliefs without trying to appeal said beliefs to you. All this does is turn me away from vegetarianism/veganism. It makes me detest the idea. It makes me weary of anyone who says they are vegetarian/vegan.

As I have mentioned before, hiding behind a false sense of anonymity and losing the ability to see the human behind the accounts that you are interacting with can cause people to behave in extreme and, oftentimes, socially unacceptable ways.

I have not met a vegetarian or vegan in real life until I went to University in England. Out of the handful that I know and constantly interact with, only one of them gave me the stink eye for sharing photos of food that contained meat. However, even though she gave me an attitude about it, she didn’t try to convert me, nor did she continue to shame me for eating what I liked to eat.

I spent my final year of University living with two vegetarians. Neither of them bothered me about my eating meat, nor did they try to convince me that I was ruining the planet or murdering innocent lives just so I can have a full belly for the evening. I respected them also. I used separate sponges at their request as to “minimize cross-contamination of meat bits,” as she said it, and I double-checked every single food item that I wanted to share with them. I even tried some of their plant-based meat foods at their request.

We lived in harmony.

However, this is not the same on the Internet.

Social media makes you play up your part because you need to belong to a group that shares the same ideals as you, and you need to push away those who do not. That’s human nature. This loud and emotional language works on the Internet because it blocks us from seeing social cues from other people, the displeased expressions and signals to stop when what we say isn’t really landing well with others.

That’s the problem with social media. We become surrounded by yes-men and our ideals are reinforced and reassured, and thus, we think it’s okay because it’s reassured to us to push away and make those who do not agree with us the bad guys.

There was an incident a couple of years ago where a vegetarian man made an offending remark towards hot pot, a cultural dish that I grew up eating, as it is my culture. The tweet wasn’t even based in any fact as not a single person I know has ever dissed vegetarian food for being “disgusting.” I, personally, love veggie foods. I’ve had plenty vegetarian-safe meals and they were delicious. All the tweet did was create unnecessary conflict and rile up the entirely wrong crowd of people.

Hot pot isn’t even exclusively for meat eaters. You can always have the option to not boil meat in your hot pot. You can easily boil vegetables, mushrooms, corn, and noodles. The man wasn’t remorseful and claimed in a reply that his tweet was not offensive to anyone. I kindly pointed out that his tweet was offensive to me, an East Asian who grew up eating hot pot, and I was bombarded with messages by hateful vegetarians and vegans telling me that I should be ashamed and that I am a murderer.

None of their messages made sense, but they all had one thing in common: shame me for eating meat. Some try to convert me and are thwarted (or pleasantly surprised?) when they realize they are talking to someone who actually do eat vegetarian meals and not a lot of beef. They also try to convince me that I do not need fish (I do) and tell me to try other food items that can help my heart beat better, which were not recommended by my doctor.

Still, their common messages often come with “info graphics” of how inhumane the meat industry is, and how it’s unsustainable. I usually fire back that plants are lives too, and they’re just replacing animal lives with plant lives, and that’s not really fair. Though those arguments usually fall on deaf ears because “animals feel pain,” as if plants don’t.

I understand that “plants also feel pain” is a heavily debated argument and a lot of these vegetarian keyboard warriors like to mock meat eaters for mentioning it, but I suppose it’s just denial at that point as there are evidence of plant life recognizing their own kin and helping each other survive.

All lives matter, according to them, but not plant life. Those don’t matter.

They also never take into account that, perhaps due to health issues, not everyone can sustain a vegetarian diet. I am intolerant to oats, so a purely vegetarian or vegan diet would put me through a lot of pain and diarrhea. I also need the fatty meat of fish to help keep a regular heartbeat, as I have been struggling with heart issues that have caused me to black out multiple times before (as my heart is unable to pump blood fast enough, causing my brain to lose oxygen and thus begin to shut down).

I would very much prefer to be conscious instead of on the floor. But they don’t really care about that, do they?

I am not defending the meat industry. Everyone and their mother should know that the meat industry is very inhumane and not sustainable. It really isn’t. Animals are kept in extremely unhygienic and cramped enclosures and they are force-fed medicine to make sure diseases don’t spread. They are also genetically engineered to produce more meat so that they can feed more mouths. Many of these animals may very well have never seen the sun in their entire lifespan.

There’s not enough space in the world to fit all the animals necessary to meet the demand for meat. When animals are getting slaughtered, they usually aren’t killed in one blow and are left to suffer and bleed to death because it’s cheaper to use one bullet on one pig. The greenhouse gasses caused by the excessive population of farm animals and the process to turn them into consumer-friendly packages of meat is damaging the environment.

Other than the horrible conditions that these animals have to go through, a lot of issues that directly affect us also spring forth from the meat industry, such as – but are not limited to – illnesses like E. coli, salmonella, mad cow disease, bird flu, and swine flu.

But the demand for eating meat is never going to go away.

Although the earliest humans ate berries and fruits and plants, they evolved to eat meat over time because there are proteins that are just easier to absorb into our bodies via animal products than plants. Animal products help us grow stronger, live longer, and run faster.

Eating meat, even if it wasn’t originally human nature, became natural and a big part of our lives. We aren’t going to just suddenly drop it all at once just because a couple of people shouted profanities and insulted you personally on the Internet about it.

The only way for people to wane off meat is to provide an alternative that looks, feels, and tastes like actual meat. On top of that, those lab-grown meat needs to be sustainable and affordable. A lot of meat options are cheap, which is why many people choose to remain on a omnivorous diet. Moreover, a lot of the alternate meats are not sustainable at all. They take a lot of time, energy, and materials to grow, which isn’t enough to satisfy the ever-growing demand for meat.

If vegetarians/vegans really did care about the environment, they wouldn’t eat a plant-based diet at all. They would eat locally farmed items, whether or not it is meat or vegetables, as that would reduce the carbon footprint. A lot of vegetarian/vegan food options are imported from other countries. If they don’t care about that, then I suppose they’re just hypocrites.

Also, it’s not healthy to just eat a plant-based diet. A lot of people have to take vitamins as their body struggle after the dynamic shift from an omnivorous diet to a vegetarian one. Humans have evolved to eat meat and just cutting it out completely isn’t going to help anyone.

The best way for vegetarians/vegans to advocate is not to insult others in an attempt to, what, offend them into turning vegetarian/vegan. The best way is to offer advice and alternatives. Have one day where you don’t eat meat, then maybe add it up to three days, then six days. Wane off beef, as cows are one of the biggest contributes to greenhouse gases. Only eat white meat. Try other types of milk. Do everything step by step.

Vegans and vegetarians think it’s so important that they win a fight that they forget the most important part of being vegan/vegetarian. Rome wasn’t built in a day, but it burnt down in one. You can’t expect people to convert instantly after you insulted them. People don’t work like that. Even if they did convert, it would only take them one meal to go back to being omnivores. I have met vegetarians that caved and ate meat, and then abandoned their vegetarian diet altogether.

Yelling at people over the Internet won’t help the animals and the environment that you are so desperately trying to save. Go out there and do something, rather than complain to strangers that they are killing the Earth for enjoying that burger they just ordered.

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