There are lots of things I’m learning as a relatively new vegan. One of them, sadly, is that you can’t show people what they don’t want to see.
In my innocent youth, I always thought of the dairy and egg industries as being pretty benign, just a bunch of happy cows and chickens roaming around on the picturesque farms shown on the milk cartons. When I found out the truth – which I won’t go into here, but feel free to Google “egg industry” or “dairy industry” if you never want to sleep again – I was pretty horrified. “Appalled” would be a good word to describe it, in fact. And I thought, “Do people know about this? People can’t possibly know about this or they’d be as horrified and appalled as I am!”
So, naive newbie vegan that I am, I sat before my computer and spent an hour or so composing a careful Facebook post on the subject, trying to put my friends in the position of these animals and perhaps evoke some sympathy at the miserable, painful lives they have to endure.
People Who Already Knew: “I know; it’s horrible! :(”
People Who Didn’t Know: “Wow, I had no idea this was going on! This is awful!”
People Who Already Knew: “How dare you!”
People Who Didn’t Know: “How dare you!”
See, my intention was to educate, but apparently the mere fact of sharing this information was interpreted as an active attack against those who consume eggs and dairy. I was told, “But here is a single farm in Western PA that does not do that!” which is essentially the “not all men” of this argument. I was also told that seeing posts like this caused one of my friends to “roll [her] eyes,” which just floored me. How was it possible to read about horrible things happening to living creatures and not care at all? I just didn’t get it.
An argument ensued, and while it was finally, peacefully resolved, I felt like my entire world had been popped into my mini-blender and turned into a terrible, horrible, awful, no-good smoothie of disillusionment of sadness. I’ve dealt with feeling judged before – it’s hard to be LGBTQ in a tiny Pennsylvania town without feeling that way; let’s be honest – but my friends were always hella supportive, and sharing info about gay-related stuff never resulted in angry replies from people who thought I was trying to convert them.
Now, was I hoping that sharing info about the awful conditions of the egg and dairy industries might cause someone to think twice about consuming those products? Yeah, of course. But was my intention to say, “THOSE WHO CONSUME THESE PRODUCTS ARE EVIL AND MUST BE CAST INTO THE FIERY PITS OF HELLLLLLLLLLL”…?
In fact, no.
So, yes, I’m learning. I’ve been very fortunate to have people in my life who support me on other issues, and it was a hard lesson to learn that this is one issue where I can’t count on that support, not because the aforementioned friends don’t care about me, but because saying, “I am vegan and this is why,” is generally interpreted as, “I think you are a horrible person and should be ashamed of your life choices.”
I was actually pretty torn up about the whole thing yesterday (and last night, and this morning – keepin ‘it 100), but I’m slowly gaining some perspective and learning to let go of my anger and sadness. You can’t force people to see what they don’t want to look at, and not everyone is ready to accept information that might change the way they view the whole world. Or maybe there are some people who see this information, accept it, and just don’t care. And that, somehow, is the hardest thing to deal with, because I can handle my friends being misinformed, but I find it much harder to accept that they could look suffering in the face and just not be troubled by it.
Well! This was quite a serious post, so here are two bunnies in paper cups: