feature image via Shutterstock.
Q: “Is it reasonable to break up with someone/end a friendship because the other person is not vegan? I’ve been broken up with AND dumped by my best friend (of 7 years) because of my choice to continue eating animal products. I am respectful of THEIR choice and have my own reasons for my diet. Am I completely unreasonable for being really fucking hurt?”
A: Hello friend! Firstly, I’ve written an entire You Need Help about cunnilingus and this still might be the gayest question I’ve ever answered. I think you’ve won, friend. Regardless of what I say going forward, I think you’ve won.
I’m sorry that you’re hurting. It sucks to get dumped, regardless of the kind of relationship it is. And it sounds like you’ve gotten double-whammied! You’ve been dumped by a best friend AND person you were dating, and all for a very personal choice to continue eating animal products. I notice you didn’t say meat—you might even be a vegetarian and this is all going down.
There is a question in here, though, that deserves detaching from your particular scenario for further examination: what is a reasonable reason to dump someone. Friend, I’m not sure you’re going to like this bit of what I have to say, but any reason is a reasonable reason to dump someone. When a person wants to not see another person anymore for any reason, that person has enough of a reason to dump. If there is something so important to that person that they will dump someone for it, well then. To paraphrase the great Taylor Swift, Dumper’s gonna dump dump dump.
The other side of the dumper’s right to dump at will is the dumpee’s right to be, as you say “really fucking hurt.” Even if you perceived the reason for the end of the relationship as a valid reason, one that didn’t sound silly at all, you would still have the right to be really fucking hurt. It’s the feeling you’re feeling. You should totally breathe into that feeling, accept that it’s there, and FEEL IT. Furthermore, the dumper has the right to feel really negative feelings about it too! Everyone gets to be sad for a while when a relationship ends. It’s sad. Endings often are.
So. That said. This sounds like kind of a stupid reason to end a seven year friendship. When you put all of that back in the context of getting dumped because you eat cheese or honey, it sounds…almost laughable? See, I barely want to say it, because everyone’s allowed to have things that are really important to them. I’ve dumped someone before because they don’t read. Reading and writing are the corner stones of my life, so it’s really important to me that my friends and partner can engage with me in that space. But I’m sure to another person, a person for whom that’s not true, that sounds really dumb. These people who only want to be around other vegans, to connect with their friends in that space, are allowed to want that. And I’m allowed to laugh at them a little, I suppose, and you are too. The same way I’m sure the person I dumped because they don’t read is laughing at me.
I have a sneaking suspicion, though, that veganism isn’t really what came between you. I say this from experience—when the reason for the fight sounds silly, that’s not the reason for the fight. It’s the excuse for something much deeper, and the dumper doesn’t want to deal with confrontation. Veganism might be the stand-in for other ways you’ve grown apart or valid critiques of the way you two are together. But if the dumper doesn’t want to go there, they will pick veganism. It is easy to explain. In this case, you should take comfort in the fact that someone who’s really bad at communicating with you has weeded themselves out of your life. Or that someone with whom you have nothing in common anymore has removed themselves, hopefully with as little drama as possible.
But let’s take the dumper at face value for a second—let’s say it is actually because you’re not vegan. Well then. You are still well shot of this person. Who wants to move through an entire seven year friendship carefully respecting someone else’s very personal choices only to have that care, concern and respect go entirely unreciprocated? No one, that’s who. Especially since diet is SO personal. All sorts of things go into one’s dietary choices or restrictions—affordability of food in your neighborhood, medical conditions, allergies, ethics. Even though there are many really great and smart reasons to be a vegan, it’s not a viable option for everyone. Most vegans know that. So feel your very sad feelings on this one, but when you’re ready to pick yourself up and keep walking, you may want to reframe this breakup. Because in either case, whether they were being honest with you or not, good riddance. You should feel no shame about prancing off into the sunset, free of what sounds like a really burdensome relationship.
Ali you give the best advice.
Awww, thanks Beth! <3 <3 <3
Prance, human. Prance into the sunset.
At least you weren’t dumped for being a Vagatarian. -_-
Oh, it definitely hurts to be on the receiving end of some of those reasons. I had one girlfriend dump because she thought I had had “too many” partners, and another because she thought I wasn’t “worldly enough” for her. And when I think about it, Ali’s words are seriously true both of those of situations and the letter writer’s: Good riddance! =)
What is “worldly enough”?
She said that to me after we had talked about traveling. She had traveled to lots of difference places. But I’ve never traveled much outside of where I live; I’ve never really had the means, time, or opportunities to travel much. As such, to be honest, I haven’t had too much desire to travel much since that takes, ya know, time and money (and then it turns into a bit of a feedback loop, I guess, lol). When she asked if I wanted to travel, I said it was kind of a moot point, since it was pretty unlikely to happen. And then it just degenerated from there, with her telling me that I wasn’t really worldly enough for her. I don’t really think it’s a bad thing that she wanted or what I wanted (or didn’t really want), just we weren’t suited because of that. Just like the Asker in the post, you know?
Sorry, that was probably TMI. :p
My god the unchecked class privilege !
Yeah, this is not a “oh well, any reason to dump is valid” situation. It’s just crappy. Slut shaming and class shaming… Mmm, nice.
Yikes, I didn’t mean that so harshly as it might have come across, and of course, you’re only hearing my side of the story.
I mean, people have different interests, right? She wanted someone who was into traveling and had done it. I didn’t meet either of those qualifications. Like Ali said, people have things that are really important to them. I said “good riddance” since it makes me feel better, but really, we just weren’t suited, like I said. And that’s probably for the best in the end, right?
With the first one, I mean, I can’t really change my past (and there are some things I’d probably change if I could), but I guess that’s a deal-breaker for some people, it makes them too uncomfortable or something (and she did say that it made her uncomfortable). I don’t know? Again, not suited, I suppose. Shrug.
eat some cheese and write a long letter to urself about all the things that annoyed you about your ex. delicious AND cathartic.
This sounds like good life advice for anyone, at any time.
^ comment award
Ali your advice is great. Asker, you deserve more than to be reduced to your dietary choices, which are your choices and deserve no judgement from anyone, ever.
All choices are “your” choices though. And I reserve the right to break up with someone because of their choices, especially if it touches on core values of mine.
That said, it is very true that not anyone can be a vegan, so this might just have been a shitty-ass breakup.
On the bright side, in getting over this breakup, you’re the one who has the traditional comfort of a pint of ice cream available to you.
^ yes. This is very, very true.
lol I’m guessing you’ve never actually had vegan ice cream, it’s delicious!
Actually, some of my fave frozen treats are vegan! But it is more of a nontraditional comfort in the narrative of the breakup, yes? Though I know Ben and Jerry’s is doing a bunch of new vegan flavors, so perhaps not!
I think as long as it’s a pint and yummy it’s traditional enough! haha
Yeah I don’t think the ice-cream being vegan takes anything away from the post break-up picture. :P
Read the whole article with Ali’s voice echoing in my head. Yup it definitely amplifies this experience.
Sorry you got dumped but theres always the prancing into the sunset with the ice cream.
This is unbelievably timely, as my ex-bf has decided to end our 11 year friendship after I got into an argument with his vegan girlfriend about the moral implications of veganism and I refused to apologize for challenging her superiority complex.
OP, it sucks, but consider it a blessing in disguise because someone who can hold your dietary choices against you can’t respect your agency and beliefs as a person. They don’t deserve your friendship if they can’t recognize that.
And by unbelievably timely, I mean this literally happened 1w hours ago
Maybe they just disagree with your beliefs? I don’t have right wing friends, I wouldn’t date someone who worked with creating weapons… Etc. I wouldn’t say I’m being disrespectful, I’m just firm in my beliefs and they don’t match with everyone elses.
Though personal diet is a bit different. Some people eat meat because they don’t have enough empathy – others because they don’t have the resources/energy/luck of being born without allergies, or something else.
No, he specifically demanded an apology to his girlfriend or else our friendship was over. It was about me challenging her and defending my POC friends when she was using racially insensitive language, not about the fact that I’m not vegan as well.
Yeah I’m going to need whoooite vegans to stop comparing animal cruelty to US slavery.
I got you, boo.
Ugh, yes. Also the Holocaust.
Yes, using the Holocaust is popular too, -_-‘
Holy Hera, this is a thing? An actual thing that actual people do?
Oh, that’s just offensive and definitely not showing a lot of empathy. She should have listened, and he should have stood up for you. Good riddance I guess? Though losing an old friendship probably hurts either way.
I’m not actually a vegan or vegetarian, but don’t most of them think that killing animals for meat or holding them captive to get regular supplies of animal products is a pretty terrible thing to do? Don’t some of them think that this is morally equivalent to murder/human captivity, or at least somewhere nearby?
Because if that’s how you feel, then other people’s diets aren’t a personal choice, and it’s a perfectly good reason to stop being friends with someone. If we’re friends and you’re a serial killer and you aren’t willing to engage with me at all about how maybe you should stop killing people so much, and you think you’re already being an extraordinarily kind and understanding person for respecting my choice not to be a serial killer, I am well within my rights to stop being friends with you.
It seems like a lot of people are in favor of everyone having their own values and following their own moral compass, until said values actually matter.
Yes this exactly. Diet isn’t a personal choice when it actively harms others.
I agree with some of what you said, because I have several values that, if I didn’t share them with a partner or close friend, would be deal breakers.
But also: food is complicated. It is affected by culture and medical conditions and class and a LOT of people have trauma around what they eat and how they eat it. Which is a little different than like, murdering people, which is just about always taboo no matter where you go. And I think that difference is understandable on a large scale.
I think I can understand why someone who is vegan would not want to date a non-vegan cause if you eat most of your meals together and maybe live together down the line, that could become a real issue. From a friendship stand-point I’m less sure.
I agree with that – I’m vegan and will not date a non-vegan, but I have non-vegan friends and wouldn’t end a friendship because of that UNLESS they were a jerk about it (which has happened).
“food is complicated. It is affected by culture and medical conditions and class and a LOT of people have trauma around what they eat and how they eat it.”
Yep, this is my thinking. I have to make an exception when it comes to eating meat because I love so many people who do (for good or bad reasons), but there are a lot of other areas where I CAN’T compromise. I totally get it if veganism is one of those things for others.
Hey, thank you for posting this. Veganism usually isn’t a dietary choice, it’s a moral/ethical choice. And a super unpopular one.
Racism is also a moral choice and I don’t think many people here would fault someone for breaking up with a racist. And I don’t think anyone would be saying “it’s her fault for not respecting your choice to be racist…you’re better off without her.”
Morality is so personal. Can we support the person who asked the question without belittling the morality of her ex by painting it as a “personal choice?”
It is a dietary choice (a choice about food consumption)– but one that can be based on ethics. In some cases, those are animal rights/animal welfare; others are more based in environmentalism. These two frames are not identical and have different implications for morality. Others follow a vegan diet for health reasons, or political reasons, or even social reasons (i.e. a vegetarian who married a vegan and now lives in a vegan household). Some religions have aspects that support vegan or nearly vegan diets part or all of the time. Assuming vegans are all vegan due to an ethical animal rights perspective is a bit simplistic. Perhaps those in your social circle are, though.
1) Racism is not only a moral choice, it’s a system of regulating white bodies (Speaking from a USA viewpoint) as the superior and with whiteness the concept of morality fits within that structure.
Mortality is based on one’s character that’s is usually innate to racialized bodies. So I am not interested or believe that veganism can function as a “moral choice.” Ehtical? Yes, being a vegan has a different set of ethics between human and animal.
2) Veganism can be a dietary choice but people use that into their lifestyle of animal product consumption. Some vegans consider honey not vegan others don’t. I love honey so…
When dating vegans I consider all of these facets and I welcome them. You do you, but be respectful.
I agree with what you’re saying, but please don’t compare racism to things that aren’t racism, especially if you don’t experience racism yourself (I don’t know if you do or not, I’m just saying ‘if’). For one thing… yes, people would say “it’s her fault for not respecting your choice to be racist.” They probably wouldn’t say it in those words, but they would absolutely say something similar. “It’s her fault for not respecting your heritage” or “it’s her fault for trying to force you to be politically correct” are 100% things that people would say.
For another thing, using racism as an obvious example of a bad thing that everyone knows is bad kind of goes against how racism works in real life. One way racism works is that white people get to control the conversation about what racism is, and so “racism” is defined in a way where only cartoonishly awful racism gets to count as “racism”, and more subtle racism isn’t counted as racism at all. Someone who’s opposed to people yelling slurs at children gets to feel good about being “against racism”, even if they are also opposed to fixing the justice system. It really isn’t obviously bad.
You’re already talking about animal mistreatment, so why not compare apples to apples? Nearly everyone thinks that abusing domestic pets is obviously bad, and very, very few people would say, “It’s her fault for not respecting your choice to kick puppies.”
On one hand, yes, but on the other hand, if that was truly the case why wait SEVEN YEARS to end a friendship over it? Unless you’re a new convert to veganism why the heck would you wait until year 7 to go “I just cant tolerate your animal murdering tendencies anymore!!”
And if you ARE a new convert, it seems shitty to cut ties with a bestie over morals you’ve only recently come into.
Some people aren’t very good at drawing their boundaries where they want to, and become better at it with time. Also, if she became vegan at some point during the friendship, it doesn’t mean she’s necessarily a brand new convert. You could have something like LW’s bestie becoming vegan two years ago, trying not to be an annoying vegan, and then taking a little while to realize she didn’t want to be around people who did things she considered incredibly immoral.
I mean, she could’ve done this frivolously or somehow waited seven years, but the timeline doesn’t mean anything either way.
“…said values actually matter.” To them. Not to everyone in the same way. The person who is not vegan or vegetarian may also be sad and upset by the killing of animals and still choose to eat meat and animal products. NO ONE but that person can say what matters to them.
So, yeah no matter how you feel, people’s diets are, unarguably, their own personal choice. You can choose to separate yourself from them, but you have no right to judge them as you do so.
They have their own morals, they don’t need yours piled up on top of them. *Do note I’m using the collective you.*
a lot of my friends who are vegan won’t date other vegans, but like… to me it’s just a really nice bonus if you can find someone who shares your ethics. compassion for animals is hot (and ahem, vegans taste better, just throwing that out there).
but really the best thing you can find in a relationship i think is mutual respect, and if that’s missing then there’s no real point in being friends.
exactly! Compassion is hot, being a corpse-eater is a big turn-off. If people do not like that, well it’s pretty dammn easy to fix. And vegans DO taste better, that’s just a given:
A vegan calling a meat-eater a “corpse eater” reminds me of pro-lifers calling abortion advocates “baby killers.” Like, can we dial back the rhetoric a little bit and respect each other’s choices?
Eh, I’d rather be called a corpse-eater if people think I’m a corpse-eater than be part of an environment where people need to pretend to respect choices that they really fucking don’t.
Except, if you’re pro-choice or even an abortion doctor, you’re not killing babies. If you’re a carnist, well you’re literally eating dead animal parts and corpses. If you’re draping yourself in fur and leather, then you’re wearing dead animal parts. #SorryNotSorry
Do you think animals respect your choice to have them exploited and murdered for your own convenience?
Ok I think we should dial it down right here. I’m a vegan, and I don’t think veganism should come from a place of scaring people into being disgusted of dead things. Don’t scare or insult people into being vegan, that’s unethical.
Death is natural and so is hunting for survival. What is disgusting is the animal torture we have had happen in the last few centuries with industrialization.
It IS disgusting, and as a vegan, you should realize that it’s important to educate carnists on the torture, murder, and exploitation of animals. So yeah, we’re going to “scare” people into acknowledging that, because it’s pretty fucking scary.
Ah, I just saw your photo (for those who don’t want to click, it’s comparing different kinds of ‘pussies’ to staircases, from disrepair to holiness).
So, you’re part of the body-shame vegan cult? Fun. It looks suspiciously like christian fundamentalist abstinence education.
You should be ashamed of yourself if you think the ends justifies the means like this! You’re ready to use crass misogyny if that means scaring insecure people into being vegan to make their private parts smell better.
Except, the purpose of “christian fundamentalist abstinence education” is to control women’s sexuality. Veganism is to promote health and welfare for animals and the eradication of the exploitation and murder of animals for people’s convenience. Additionally, being vegan is healthier than being a carnist. Stef said it herself: vegans taste better. That’s no coincidence.
And hey, I’m just telling the truth. If carnists can’t handle it, maybe they should stop eating and wearing dead animal flesh. Revolutions aren’t always pretty, and well-behaved women rarely make history.
On a side note, it’s great to see that Autostraddle’s editors are pro-vegan (since it’s an integral part of feminism and social justice), and I hope there’s even more content that’s more pro-vegan in the future.
Misogyny, “telling it like it is”, were you doing a Trump impression on purpose or like… ?
This is a terrible decision.
I know I should just let this go and anything I respond with is just gunna at fuel to the flaming, advance nothing because people get rigid about stuff and any attempt to not fall in line with their beliefs just hardens them, but slow your roll Colonel Jessup.
What truth are you talking about?
I’ve never hunted but I’ve fished, baited my own hook, cleaned my catch and cooked it. So I can handle the consuming a dead animal part.
I’ve cleaned bones and made jewelry out of them so I can handle the wearing part dead animal parts.
I can also handle that too much red meat and too much fat isn’t healthy. Oh and that people who aren’t hypotensive, anemic, allergic to soy or whey and don’t live in a food desert can afford and live healthily on a vegan diet.
So please tell me what truth this poor dumb evil carnist can’t handle?
Okay, but. If you are a woman, or if you are perceived as a woman, the way your body and your health are treated is much, much different than if neither of those things apply to you. Bodies marked as belonging to women are supposed to meet certain standards of attractiveness not because of health (though when it comes to policing bigger bodies*, sometimes health is used as a smokescreen) but because it’s a woman’s duty to be consumably attractive, and a failure to meet that standard is absolutely treated as a moral failing. This is especially the case with genitals. Genitals belonging to men are considered acceptable or unacceptable depending on (unfair and stupid) standards for the genitals a man should want to have. Genitals belonging to women are considered acceptable or unacceptable based almost solely on how other people react to them. ‘Pussy’ isn’t just a body part, it’s treated as a product, and if your feminism involves telling women that their genitals are an inferior product, then something’s seriously wrong with it. If your politics are based in that thinking, feeling creatures shouldn’t have their body parts treated as products, do not do that to women. When you say those things, you’re not just saying that meat-eating women’s genitalia are inferior products. You’re saying that vegan women’s genitalia are objects, too – better objects, but still objects – and you’re contributing to a culture where the most important thing about a woman’s genitals is how they’re perceived by others.
Trying to alter people’s behavior by telling them their bodies are disgusting is also not going to be effective. Veganism is a pretty big commitment, and insulting someone’s genitals isn’t going to make them more or less likely to take on a big commitment. If you want to post an offensive image, post a relevant offensive image. I’m sure nobody wants to see a slaughterhouse, but it would at least have something to do with why you think they should change their behavior. Insulting their bodies is like saying, “I think you should stop robbing orphanages because running from the police stresses you out, and that means frown lines!” Who cares about frown lines? Frown lines are really not the problem here!
If you just want to be a dick or feel like your own genitals are better, I don’t care, but don’t say you’re trying to educate people and then just lob misogynistic insults at them that have nothing to do with anything.
*And despite the saying, there are bigger vegans! Goodness and having a body that meets beauty standards have nothing to do with each other.
first of all i said taste
second of all i said mutual respect
Hey Stef :) The thread makes it looks like I’m answering you, but I’m answering Katie.
Even the best of intentions do nothing when the message is being conveyed like a fart. (Because the content stinks and it’s being delivered by an asshole.)
I can understand not wanting to date a non-vegan if you’re a vegan. From a purely practical standpoint, if the relationship progresses, and you move in together, one person having major dietary restrictions (of any kind!) while the other doesn’t can breed resentment and complications. It would be like someone who strictly keeps kosher (like, multiple sets of dishes, hechshers on everything, et cetera, not just refraining from pork and shellfish) trying to share a kitchen with someone who adores bacon. Can you do it? Sure, but it can be difficult, it’s asking a lot of the non-kosher person, and it can end in resentment on both sides. And then if kids enter the picture, that introduces a whole other set of issues.
Dumping a friend for not sharing your dietary restrictions, however, seems really extreme to me, unless they’ve been actively dismissive of them/impatient about them or otherwise disrespectful. I’m Jewish and abstain from pork and shellfish. I really, truly don’t care if other people choose to eat those things, including in front of me, because hey, this is my bag, not theirs. I might balk at keeping bacon and stuff in my kitchen, but even then, that could probably be worked out. I can’t imagine telling someone that I could no longer be their friend because they eat bacon-wrapped shrimp unless they had been a complete asshole to me about it.
Veganism may be valid and great and all that jazz but a superiority complex totally is not! Who doesn’t want to closely surround themselves with those that think and feel as they do? But I just can’t believe that only ever associating with people who never challenge you or have different life outlooks is a healthy way to live. Allowing moral superiority in you brain is just not okay because, well, it’s completely subjective. Even if you have all the best reasons in the world it’s still completely subjective.
Well, I say moral is not subjective. That person who broke up with someone because she’s not a vegan probably feels that way too… :P
“when the reason for the fight sounds silly, that’s not the reason for the fight.”
I want to embroider this on a pillow and give it to everyone I know under 25.
Or just everyone! I feel like everyone forgets this, including me.
Hah. This was the quote I was going to highlight.
I’m over 40 and I still need the reminder some days.
I think in this case it’s helpful to understand that veganism is a political and ethical belief. And these are common stressors on relationships. It’s really difficult for many people to have very intimate relationships with people who hold fundamentally different political beliefs from them. Yes, there are people who can do it, but it’s not such a silly argument after all.
If you are able to understand veganism as not diet, but politics, it’s like saying, “I respected that they were liberal, but they didn’t respect that I’m conservative.” And that’s a relationship that more people might understand why it didn’t work out.
I want to speak up for the OP here. As someone who comes from a cultural background where food is tremendously important, I often feel alienated within the queer community for being an omnivore. Food isn’t just about my political point of view with respect to factory farming practices, it’s about bringing people together at a table, sharing and bonding. It’s about connecting with others and showing love. As the daughter of someone who immigrant not once, but twice (once as a young teen and once again, to the US, as an adult), I have never had the opportunity to travel to the country where she was born. Beyond a few phrases, I don’t speak the language. Food is how I connect.
I was a vegetarian for several years before going back to eating meat. I had many reasons for doing so, but the social and cultural cost was too high. Food is not just personal or political – it’s also communal and cultural, and it’s about maintaining community bonds. Being a vegetarian had in some crucial ways cut me off from my community and my culture. When you make the individual(ist) decision to adopt a highly restrictive diet such as veganism, that makes it very difficult to fully participate in your own culture. Ultimately, I choose community and forging connections through shared meals.
I wouldn’t date a vegan precisely because I want to be able to share my heritage with my partner. I want to be able to say, here, try this. These are the “comfort tastes” I grew up with. These are the sensations that contributed to who I am today, as an American who feels culturally ambivalent and disconnected from America. Like everyone, I want to be understood.
Unfortunately, this makes me a pariah in the queer community where I live. I’ve drawn my line in the sand, but I wish it didn’t have to be so.
My veganism is one of my most important values, but this comment really touched me. Thank you for this perspective.
Beautifully said. Food can be so culturally important. I’m a 3rd generation American on my father’s side and it was still important to me to make my partner some of my grandmother’s recipes when we started getting serious. Because sharing food is sharing love.
Weighing in on this Gay Question: being a vegan, as of right now I have to say I would break up with a non-vegetarian. For me, it just means such a different way of seeing the world that it would be like dating someone who ascribes to an orthodox religion: we could be good friends, but we could never be partners.
I’m a bit confused about the ‘not everyone can be vegan’ part: it sounds like we’re talking about medical issues (and, except for things like severe EDs or digestive diseases where changing to any diet is impossible, I thought there were no contra-indications for veganism?). Isn’t it rather that, for the most part, veganism is a deep life change that not everyone can invest in? (For example, I don’t expect elderly people to suddenly become vegan).
RE: “not everyone can be vegan” – refers to everything people have referenced above, including
*people’s cultural heritage
*health conditions like celiac disease
*complex and/or disordered relationships with food, for which restrictive diets can be triggering
*lack of financial resources/living in food deserts/unable to access the foods they would need to stay healthy on such a diet
Weighing in on another reason why health can make it hard to be vegan: you often need to have either the means to buy pre made vegan food, which is expensive, or be able to prepare your own food. I ate a largely vegan diet for quite some time, and when my health is good most of my meals don’t have any animal products. But when I’m too sick to put any energy into food prep and live off microwave meals, or rely on other people preparing food for me, I have to eat anything. When I was sick enough that getting up to pee was a significant struggle, and acquaintances delivered food to my door, turning it down would have been foolhardy. My choices while sick were to be an omnivore or to starve.
Regarding the breakup issue, well, sure everyone gets to choose who they date. But I have been frustrated that some vegans assume that eating animal products makes me less morally sound than they are – and I hate that this could be a wedge that damages a relationship.
I’m epileptic and I can’t take anti-seizure meds. The only thing that’s helped lower the number of seizures I have to a manageable level has been a (doctor recommended) ketogenic diet. Oh, and I have IBS and most vegetable sources of protein make me sick if I eat too much of them.
So yeah, veganism isn’t possible for me. I also don’t feel like sharing my medical history with everyone who sees me eat animal products– that’s private. But when I tell some of them “medical reasons” without elaborating, they want to interrogate me.
I should add that most vegans haven’t done that; and it hasn’t been a problem. I just want to point out that there’s definitely people like me who can’t be vegan.
Just to pick a random, non-health example, there’s a huge debate within the Orthodox Jewish community about whether someone can be vegetarian (or vegan by extension, I suppose), because there are rabbinical rulings that say that in order for a meal to count as a “festive meal” (a requirement for fulfilling the Sabbath and various holidays), it must include meat. The other position’s argument is that there is room to say that while eating meat is strongly encouraged, it is not required, particularly if eating meat would diminish the person’s enjoyment in celebrating Shabbat or the holiday.
Personally, I’m not Orthodox, but for someone who is, particularly if they’re coming out of certain communities, this could be a huge issue. Even if their partner wasn’t pressuring them to go vegan, it has all kinds of implications for being able to share food, which is a huge part of Jewish culture even in families that aren’t religious.
Belittling people for their dietary choices is never going to be an effective way to change anyone’s mind.
I get being vegan as a ‘moral’ choice rather then only a ‘dietary’ one, but believing that everyone should be vegan – come on! Does believing everyone should [insert anything] ever end up being helpful? No. I’ve often found that folks holding that view are Americans with year-round access to all foods/food groups who haven’t considered how people in different regions and cultures access food (and actually it’s about even more than access, but i’m not about to write a novella).
Ali, this was kick. ass.
I have a lot of feelings about this that I’m trying to process in a productive non-petty way bc I’m trying to be a good omnivore.
I mean I don’t believe all humans on the whole planet should be vegan! I do wish for a future in which the large majority of people living in Western industrialized circumstances is vegan, though. Both to cease animal torture and because it would significantly lessen the strain our lifestyle causes to the planet.
So I’ve processed some of my feelings and here we go…
1) I’ve realized my resistance to vegans and vegetarians comes from a place where this moral choice of being vegan is often racialized in the spaces I occupy. As a racialized person, me being an omnivore there is a stink of “white savior complex” from white vegans bc I just don’t know better. Nah, I fucking love burgers. When I eat meat which is not often, I make sure it’s cruelty free.
These same people who show incredible and sometimes inspiring compassion towards animals and “other sentient beings” grow quiet in the violence of Black and brown bodies. I cannot sit still and smile eating a delicious vegan cookie when I hear #AllAnimalsLivesMatter and pigs go through the same brutality as Black people during the lynching, slavery. I have seen meme and posters constantly comparing animal welfare (with greater sympathy and empathy) to Black and brown lives.
This is what I call white veganism and I will have none of it.
2) A lot of the popular ingredients and cuisines in vegan eating comes from the Global South and the economical and environmental impact affects the staple foods of those who have a harder time affording foods bc it makes the centralized food produce industry richer. Basically everything is terrible and vegan eating is not consequence free.
Access to vegan diets are often based In the physical environment of local culture and economies around the world. It makes sense that places where vegetarian diets are the main stay is bc animals provide a service when alive not eaten. Meat is a luxury as a dietary food choice and in our western industrialized economy of animal produce. We over produce animal product bc of money.
I remember those commercials in the 90s where pork produce industry wanted to compete with beef and chicken. I remember the slogan, “Pork the other white meat,” culutrally the lives of pigs are just property something to be consumed. Thess are the institutions we all should challenge in having more ethical practices of meat produce. Don’t come for me when I’m eating a burger mid drip of ketchup sauce staining my shirt.
3) Not everyone can become a vegan, seriously.
4) The reckless moral superiority of any choice and in this case dietary is something I personally do not have time for. (Basically I don’t see dietary choices as moral ones bc of conolization bc the decked is stacked against those whose mortality is based on who they are from the get go) I do think that we can as omnivores should eat less meat and think about where our animal products comes from. We should seek to understand each other and I really can sympathize people who just want compatibility but please no condemning.
5) You do you.
Just to clarify: There is no cruelty-free meat. <- This is the perspective of most ethically motivated vegans and vegetarians. So it's not that strange if we occasionally go into judging territory.
You do make great points through, and this is definitely one of those cases where judging someone without knowing their back-story and context is a bad idea. So is white vegans using POC and a country's racist history in the ways you describe. :S I'm not perfect or anything myself, but I would never do that.
There is actually no cruelty-free way to exist on this earth as a human being, though. The best any ethically-minded person can do is to educate themselves and decide where they can personally comfortably draw the line. That line will be different for absolutely everybody, even those who identify under the same general categories.
<3 <3 <3 to everything here.
Which is better: that a person becomes vegan because their friend demands it, or because that person examined their own beliefs and comes to adopt veganism for themselves?
In my experience, if someone imposes their ethics on others, such as OP’s friend is doing with veganism, that is no bueno and grounds for dumping, otherwise ppl will make each other miserable. So for OP, I think it’s the healthier result, even though it’s a painful outcome. :/
I think Buddhism recommends that each person question interpretation of dogma (such as ‘do no harm’) on their own terms and not passively accept it, as OP’s friend is demanding they do. According to this view, any ‘moral authority’ argument should include respect for each person to follow their own journey to whatever they think is right for themselves.
I’m vegan, but I don’t dig on other vegans judging omnivores because they are on a different journey than we are and we should respect that. So, I could totally date an omnivore, but I couldn’t date OP’s vegan friend unless they became someone who respected others’ right to self-determination.
This YNH letter bums me out because I’m also in the process of ending a long-lasting friendship (8 years). In my case too, my friend is enforcing their values on me in a way I can’t deal with any more, so I’m dumping them. :(
Eight years! My Best Friend! I’m so lonely you guys, but it’s better to have my life back and be lonely, than compromise in this way in order to keep the friendship. I think that was advice in a previous YNH column, hah! About how compromise in relationships shouldn’t include compromising who you are as a person.
I hope that for OP and I, our friends will find a way to embrace their beliefs without imposing them on us, and we can be friends again sometime in the future.
Ppl imposing ethics on others: Dump.
Ppl practicing different ethics but not imposing on others: co-existence, however challenging, is possible.
I want to hear what other people think too! <3
First – thank you for being the kind of vegan that doesn’t make the rest of us vegetarians/vegans look bad.
Second – I recently had to walk away from my very closest friend after six years too, so I am feeling all of those same feels re. loneliness but also having my life back. I sympathize and am sorry you’re going through that. It is a big loss.
Thanks Chandra! Sorry to hear your friendship is ending too. It is tough. At least we make room in our lives for new friends, so that’s something to look forward to.
It’s just sad that two people don’t get hit by the anti-Cupid arrow at the same time. The relationship arrives at an end and yet one person typically gets that sense before the other, and the second person becomes the dumped and is hurt. Wouldn’t it be great if at the same moment she decided she couldn’t handle your non-veganism, you decided you couldn’t handle her veganism. Poof. The feeling is mutual and you both move on to greener pastures. Wouldn’t that just be a perfect world.
I got broken up with for going to see Horrible Bosses 2 in theater once
I’m reading a lot of these comments and one thing people don’t seem to be taking into account is that it seems like she wasn’t a vegan when they started dating and being friends? Like I get veganism being something someone cares about from the beginning so they don’t start dating, but seven years? SEVEN? That’s a long time to be potentially thinking they can change someone and it seems strange (if the person was respectful of their dietary choices/moral choices) if they all of a sudden decided this was too important to them. It’s not about starting a relationship with someone with different morals, it’s about dumping someone for being the way they’ve been (openly) for the whole time
I’d break up with someone for being a vegan the first time they gave me that special evil vegan/vegetarian side eye for eating a tasty cheeseburger. However, I’d only break up with someone I’m dating (it’s probably our first or second date anyway, most of them can’t help their side eye). I’d never break up with a friend. I’d just tell the friend we can never eat together, and hopefully they’d see the logic in that and not have any messy emotions or think about me eating bacon whenever we get together.
HOWEVER, if my partner of seven years (and I have one of about that amount of years) decided to go vegan today and started giving me that side eye, I’d really have to consider if we were growing apart. It’s a petty reason to break up on the surface, but maybe our values have shifted since we first got together. Seven year itch is a real thing because people grow and grow differently a lot over the course of seven years.
(rape tw) I was kind of at the other end of something a little like this. My girlfriend repeatedly sexually assaulted me, and it took me a few weeks and a breakdown before I realised the significance of what she had done. I knew I had to end the relationship immediately, the thought of seeing her again was actively terrifying. But here’s the thing: I don’t think she fully realised what she did. I say this with some distance, and no longer wanting to defend her other abusive behaviour: I honestly don’t think she raped me on purpose. I do, however, think she has a problematic and harmful view of what constitutes consent. That doesn’t make her behaviour less damaging to me, but I still (foolishly) didn’t want to hurt her more than I had to, and spent two days trying to find a “good enough” reason to break up with her without having to mention the abuse. In the end, I went with the “It’s nothing you did wrong – I want to prioritise my studies” line.
She did not considerer this a good enough reason to break off our almost year-long relationship, and spent the next month contacting me through multiple twitter accounts, Facebook and instagram, as well as through her friends and by contacting friends from my childhood who she had never met. It was intense, terrifying, and made me hate myself for not breaking up for a “better” reason.
I think the point I’m trying to make here, is that the reason given for a breakup isn’t always all there is to it. I realise that contextually these situations are very different (and I am not in any way trying to compare the OP’s actions/feelings etc to my ex – just that, as others have suggested, there may be other reasons than dietary preferences at play here), but I just want to really highlight that there can be a lot more to a situation than that which is immediately apparent. Even if a relationship is broken up with what is perceived as a bad/strange/irrelevant reason, it is still so, so important that this reason is respected. It’s okay to be hurt, angry, sad etc., but the decision of the other needs to be accepted.