When I first went vegan, I experienced a type of bullying I'd never experienced before. It was beyond cruel, and it made my high school experience, one I'd like to forget. This year it will be 10 years since I went vegan, and my, how times have changed. I've grown to enjoy debating with bullies. If you can deconstruct a bully's argument, you'll see it's all based on fear tactics. Being a vegan represents a threat to an omnivore's lifestyle. Because I've chosen to cut all animal products out of my life, it brings out a deep rooted guilty conscience. I'm not calling omnivores bad people, (although chicks who glorify fur are another story.) It's those who choose to bash us as bad people, when we're fighting for a better world.
I've become more vocal about animal rights through my work with Fur Free LA. It gained a lot of praise, but standing up to the fur industry comes with its haters. I've heard it all. When it's online, it's even more vicious, as bullies have the safety of being behind a computer screen. However, their arguments are riddled with factual errors, and I enjoy reducing their most vile comments to that of a peanut. So when a bully says, "I love eating meat. Animals are for killing. Go eat a granola bar you idiot."You have to see through the hate and break down exactly what they're saying. There is a BIG difference between FACT and OPINION. "I love meat" is an opinion. "Animals were put here for humans" is an opinion, though that opinion is usually taken from the Bible. If you're going to quote the Bible literally, you can't just pick and choose what it says. The Bible also says homosexuality is a sin, slavery is okay, and you must kill your neighbor if he works on the Sabath. Just because something is a tradition, or has been going on throughout history, doesn't mean it's right. Look at slavery. In some parts of the world it still goes on today. Sexism, racism, and homophobia still exist today. That's because people like to view "others" as lesser beings. The same can be said for speciesism. As Jeremy Bentham said, "The question is not, Can they reason? nor, Can they talk? but, Can they suffer?"
If a bully ever calls you a derogatory term like an idiot, understand that this is just a fear tactic, and a slur. If you were in an actual debate, throwing in words like that completely negate a bully's argument to that of a kindergartner, and boom, you've won. I get the "go eat a granola bar, you hippie" quite often. Which I don't really see as an insult as granola is awesome, and so are hippies. They may win first prize in a DOUCHE contest, but keep that to yourself. By taking the high road, they accept that award without actually realizing it.
Morals and ethics are not the same thing. Ethics are a much larger law. Ethics will tell you, killing is wrong. Society then interprets those ethics. If killing is wrong, then war is wrong, but society creates its own morals, and excuses self defense and justifiable wars. So your own morals are how you choose to interpret the greater law of ethics. As a vegan, I agree that killing is wrong, so I chose to live my life as cruelty free as possible. There is no such thing as a perfect vegan. Accidents happen. The point being, I'm trying. There's a great quote from Shelley Williams that says:
"The difference between you and the vegan standing next to you is that while you’re both going to step on a bug tomorrow, they’ve decided to dedicate their lives to as little harm as possible, completely independent from what you do. So in no way does the protozoan life form they step on negate your responsibility for the lamb you’re paying a stranger to cut tomorrow. And falling 1% short of an unattainable goal is really good when you’re standing next to someone who won’t even try.”
If a bully is going to buy into his or her litany of misinformation, than there is a chance they'll continue to believe their own words and discredit and write you off as a "extremist hippie."Even if they choose not to listen, you've won. By standing up for yourself in a civilized, thoughtful, and factually sound argument, not only does it further validate your own vegan-ness, but in this online era of chat room arguments, you can win some new fans by taking the higher road. By relaying facts--and not "preaching"--you will gain respect from those who are not vegan, and those who are not bullies. Eloquently displayed passion can change hearts and minds.
"If you stand for nothing, you'll fall for anything." So don't let the bullies get to you. They come with being a vegan. They come with believing in a just cause. Passion and courage are rare in this day and age, and they're to be cherished, not discouraged. Rock on.