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‘Convert’ you? You should be so lucky

April 28, 2017

Recently, I discussed how it felt to be told that I am “not like one of those” vegans. What I didn’t discuss is how the speaker should have felt about their own experience of being prodded into veganism.

A friend of mine recently said that he likes me because, of all the vegans he knows, I am least likely to shove it in his face. As I discussed before, I am ambivalent about this. There is a difference between respecting the beliefs of others and standing by while atrocious things happen, because you don’t want to rock the boat.

But it also occurred to me: shouldn’t he be flattered if I did?

However uncomfortable it may be for he, a meat-eater, to hear my views on his consumption of animal products, the fact is that if I am not true to my strongly held beliefs, I am doing him a disservice and showing him a great disrespect.

I should assume that, as an intelligent, rational, ethical man, he is not only capable of hearing my point of view without throwing a hissy fit, but that he may actually be affected by it; not necessarily today or tomorrow, but someday.

If I do not discuss it with him, it suggests that I think him incapable of the level of rational thought and sensitivity I consider a strong feature of myself.

There is no worse insult I can pay to someone than to refuse to discuss my veganism with them. It means that I doubt they have the brains or the heart to understand where I’m coming from.

So by the same token, it is downright flattery if I should attempt to “convert” someone – that is to say, to talk rationally to them. It means that their opinion really matters, not just to me personally (which would be praise enough, in any relationship) but in general.

If I think they are a good, intelligent person, then they are my benchmark for the best that humanity can be. If I explore my veganism with someone, knowing that they have the chance to see things from my point of view, I am saying to them that I deem them to be the symbol of humanity at its best.

It matters what they think, because if they are resistant and irrational, that means that the state of the world is resistant and irrational. If they are thoughtful and open, it means that the world may be more open and thoughtful than I fear it is.

If I’m talking to you about veganism, you are my litmus test for the state of the world, my sample of humanity at its collective best at this point in time. There could be no higher compliment.


From → Animal Rights

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