The Toxic Conflict Around Veganism
Is the diet you follow ethical? Is it okay to consume animal products in moderate amounts or should we all be vegans? This debate along with the rise of social media has developed a new type of conflict. A toxic kind.
As the vegan community continues to grow in today’s world, there is a broad spectrum of opinions on the ethics behind consuming meat. Through platforms like Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and Reddit, thousands of people are expressing their opinions on their lifestyles. There is a trilemma to this passionate debate with three perspectives: toxic veganism, toxic anti-veganism, and a neutral stance.
While there are some vegans who are indifferent to all beliefs, there are others who adamantly target non-vegans, accusing them of having an unethical lifestyle.
Myths spread by vegan accounts on social media display their way of life in a superior light compared to other diets, criticizing non-vegans for being “unhealthy” and “immoral”. According to the article “A Definitive List of all the Problems with Toxic Veganism,” some vegans believe that they are healthier than people who follow meat and vegetarian diets. This misconception is also shown in the following Instagram post:
This post uses ingenuine information to target and insult meat-eaters by saying that vegans are better because they “don’t eat death”. However, the health of a person is dependent on factors such as the quality of their food and their fitness regime.
Another example of toxic-veganism in social media can be seen below:
This post argues that numerous diseases around the world were caused by the consumption of different animals, wrongfully placing the blame on meat-eaters.
However, non-vegans aren’t the only victims of toxic veganism. Some vegans themselves have experienced the abusive nature of the vegan community. In the opinion piece, “Vegan Culture is Harmful and Toxic, That’s Why I Left” written by Kayla Henrikson, she discusses the reason why she left the vegan community. Revealing the negative connotations associated with the judgmental nature of some of the vegans, she explains that the most difficult part of veganism was not the diet itself, but the community. If she ever deviated from her diet, Henrikson was chastised by online vegans and even stated that:
“There is more forgiveness in religion than in that community.”
As toxicity lies on both sides of the spectrum, many meat-eaters are expressing their hate for
the vegan community. Some strongly disagree with the concept of veganism, attempting to justify the consumption of animals while also completely disregarding vegans’ personal choices.
One such statement where anti-vegans create excuses for their meat-eating habits is: Being carnivorous is in our blood since our ancestors evolved by eating meat; the consumption of it, therefore, satisfies a primal need. Anti-vegans argue that vegans are over-dramatizing the environmental effects of consuming animals, when, in the past, it had no significant impact.
These arguments are not supported by scientific data and do not account for the modernization of humankind. The population is growing exponentially, and the number of animals killed and the effect on the environment is prominent. It is simply not valid to compare such different time periods.
Numerous social media anti-vegan accounts, including ones in Reddit and Instagram, argue that the killing of animals is ethically okay, and in some cases beneficial; if we don’t continue to consume them, they will eventually overpopulate the planet and starve themselves. However, the methods that we use in the production of meat and animal products depend on supply and demand. Therefore lowering meat consumption can help reduce the number of animals who are bred for this purpose.
An individual on Reddit brought up the popular argument that “the diet makes most people horrendously ill.” This argument highlights that veganism has the potential to ruin an individual’s health as they would not be deriving the essential nutrients that are usually found in meat. These claims stem from a lack of knowledge about the vegan diet. There are multiple scientific studies that prove the positive effects of a vegan diet on one’s health as opposed to one consisting of animal products.
The neutral perspective:
Vegan or non-vegan. Regardless of your choice, the only thing you need to note is that you should respect the decisions the other side makes. You should not, however, try to push your beliefs onto a person with an opposing perspective. Even though there are a large number of toxic vegan and anti-vegan accounts on social media, there are still some that promote both lifestyles without any bias.
Why do some people choose to be vegan?
Many people who choose to be vegan are animal lovers who believe that animals should live freely. Additionally, there are some benefits to following a vegan diet, it can decrease the chance of contracting heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and some types of cancer. It is also proved to be a more environmentally friendly way of living as it reduces carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere (greenhouse gas production from mass meat and dairy production is harmful to the environment).
Why do some people choose to be non-vegan?
A large number of people choose to not be vegan because they savor animal-related foods. Meat contains a large amount of protein and is the only source of heme-iron. Heme-iron is crucial for obtaining oxygen, producing energy, and maintaining a healthy immune system. In addition, some vegan foods tend to be more pricey than non-vegan foods and are not a sustainable option in third world countries.
It is important to not judge and respect the diet a person chooses to follow. Even though there is an abundance of toxicity and hate on social media platforms, the positivity outweighs the negativity. We should support one another based on our beliefs, rather than tearing each other down by our differences.