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‘Convert’ you? You should be so lucky

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.

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Everyday food jokes disguise the dark side

When I became vegan, there was a certain type of joke I started making less and less. And not the one I expected.

I assumed that I would no longer partake of the casual vegetarian and vegan shaming that ritually goes on.

Because I had, of course, come to know better. I have often wondered how involved I was with it in the first place; it seems so obviously prejudiced, mean-spirited, immature, ignorant, arrogant and downright asinine now, I’d like to think I was never that person.

But what I have noticed is that I make fewer jokes about food dependency. These jokes are incredibly common, to the extent of going unnoticed; they blend into the fabric of everyday life, like the walls and floor.

They usually revolve around eating in preference to activities that eating cannot really replace, such as dates, sex or social activities.

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Tiny penis? You are inferior in ALL WAYS

There are lots of things we could say about Donald Trump. We could say he has orange skin, stupid hair, tiny hands and probably, a tiny dick.

When we talk about how ugly he is, others join in with gusto, more so than when the conversation gets political. It’s filler with subtext.

He’s an individual we don’t like because of what he thinks and does, and as a result we get a savage pleasure out of attacking his appearance.

What is lacking from this process is any consideration of why we do this, or if we should. We may rationalise that he deserves it, for being so unpleasant. Perhaps it’s because we know a cheap shot at someone’s looks often hurts, and we wish to hurt him in exchange for the harm he’s doing.

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You’re not like those other vegans!

I have thus far managed to escape the dubious compliment of “You’re not like the other vegans.” 

It’s probably the most back-handed compliment there is.

What the meat-eater means is:

“I like the fact that you don’t challenge me and just let me keep doing what I’m doing.”

There could be no greater knife to twist in the ribs of such a vegan. All that means is that they have been too cowed to make a stand, and have consequently allowed immoral behaviour to pass unchallenged.

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Don’t want to do a Jenni Murray? Don’t say “real” women

The BBC Radio 4 presenter of Woman’s Hour, Jenni Murray, has landed herself in hot water after stating that trans women are not “real” women. Lo, the internet blew up like a mushroom cloud.

The unfortunate thing is, she could almost certainly have avoided the whole sorry affair if she had just refrained from that one, simple term, “real”. Trans people know they will never be “real” women or men, in the sense that she means. But if we could choose, we would be, so pointing it out is like rubbing Pinocchio’s long nose in the fact that he’s made of wood.

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Why don’t vegans accept your choice not to be?

Non-vegans will often wonder why vegans can’t accept their free choice to eat differently. They reason, “I accept their choice to be different. It’s unfair for them not to return the courtesy.” But the two concepts are not comparable.

Imagine that you went to a high security prison and spoke to an inmate, incarcerated for killing multiple people. You ask him how he feels about non-murderers, and he says:

Urgh, I hate non-murderers. I think they should all convert to murdering. It’s the right thing to do.”

You’d be astonished, because that would be insane. In real life, your inmate friend would be highly unlikely to do this, because assuming he is unrepentant about the whole affair, he is an amoral agent in this scenario.

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What’s so toxic about a “daddy date”?

The other day, a friend shared a link to an article deriding “daddy dates”, whereby a father takes his daughter(?) on a “date”. The article and its agreers felt that the concept was poisonously patriarchal, bordering on creepy.

“Spending time with your children is normal,” called one such person. Their point was that we shouldn’t make special terms for it. More broadly, the point was two-fold: one, that we shouldn’t raise girls to think that dates are these things where a man takes you out and treats you like a princess; two, we shouldn’t subscribe to the notion that fathers are absent by default, and therefore have to make special dates to spend time with their children.

I know where this idea comes from. It’s a feminist concept called “toxic masculinity” – concepts of masculinity, usually devised and propagated by men, which are harmful to the male psyche and an individual man’s wellbeing. In some applications, the theory can explain a lot of male issues. I don’t believe this is one.

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