Ever since I turned vegan 8 years ago, I’ve experienced negativity from others whenever the topic of veganism came up. And why is that, exactly? I’m a good person, I’m nice to others and I try to do what’s best for the world. I even try to avoid the topic of veganism as much as possible. Then why the hate?
One simple explanation is that people love to hate vegans. In fact, people love to write about how much people love to hate vegans.
If that sentence made your head spin, the following introduction from a BBC article (published in 2020) will help you understand:
People love to moan that vegans are annoying: research has shown that only drug addicts inspire the same degree of loathing.
There are numerous studies talking about this, but what are they actually based on?
The study that the BBC used as a source is called ‘It ain’t easy eating greens’. The study surveyed 278 people asking how positively (or negatively) they felt about 8 groups of people. But not just any group of people. The survey focused on specific groups that were often the target of prejudice.
Of course, vegans made the list! But there were also immigrants, homosexuals, blacks and drug addicts. The results of this study are here:
And the authors of this particular study wrote about their observations:
Strikingly, only drug addicts were evaluated more negatively than vegetarians and vegans.
And there’s your headline. 😑
There are four things that really bother me about this:
- This citation from the authors makes it seem as if they looked at all these different groups of people, while in fact they only considered 8.
- What they’re saying is a bit weird, as they state that both “vegetarians and vegans” are evaluated more negatively than drug addicts. However, their own data shows that vegetarians are actually at the top, just below “Blacks” but above all the other groups.
- This statement is extremely sensational, as the gap in attitude score between vegans and drug addicts is very large at 2.71 (6.38 versus 3.67). The distance between vegans and atheists is just 0.14 (6.38 vs 6.52). If they took the time to include some more prejudiced groups, the headline of their study would have likely been completely different.
- But above all, the authors of the study are cited all over the internet.
I want to expand some more on this last issue.
If you google the authors’ citation about drug addicts and vegans, you’ll find thousands of results that just copy & pasted this misleading headline and ran with it.
No wonder why I’ve been facing negativity as a vegan for the last 8 years. The negative stereotype of a vegan has been imprinted in the minds of thousands of people by the media.
Times are changing
I read a new study yesterday that was shared by PETA’s Twitter account, which shows how wrong these negative prejudices have been all along.
The study – called ‘Eat Green, Be Happy’ – surveyed 11,537 respondents and asked them about their mood and how they felt towards vegans. The results of this study paint a completely different picture:
- Vegans are happier than omnivores.
- Meat-eaters aren’t nearly as negative about vegans as all these different headlines will have you believe. In fact, they are remarkably neutral and positive about veganism.
- Happier people are more likely to turn vegan in the future.
- Younger people are more likely to turn vegan in the future.
- In other words, the number of happy vegan people in the world is increasing due to young and happy people making the switch to a vegan diet!
The study includes commentary from prominent thought leaders in the plant-based movement.
Here’s what PETA commented on this study:
It’s no wonder vegans are happier – by sparing animals atrocious suffering, helping to save the planet, and improving their own health, vegans can enjoy peace of mind and a clean conscience. If you want to join the happy v-gang, you’re in luck: going vegan has never been easier or tastier.
And here’s a comment from Carleigh Bodrug (founder of Plant You)
The perception of vegans has definitely shifted to a more positive light in the last five years, in my experience. I personally believe this is because of education on the impact animal agriculture has on our precious earth, being one of the leading sources of greenhouse gas emissions and global warming.
Is the world becoming happier and more sustainable?
The most important message from this new study was that both happier and younger people are more likely to turn vegan in the future. It means that the world will slowly become more sustainable and happier.
And that’s exactly the kind of world I want to live in:
- A world in which sustainable living (like veganism) is encouraged.
- A world where I don’t have to feel bad for defending my veganism.
- A place where all living beings – including cows, chickens, turkeys and pigs – are happier.