We know you're busy. You probably didn't have time to read every article we published on VICE.com this year. So we've compiled a list of some of our favorites and will be re-featuring them through the end of 2014. This one originally published on July 23rd.
A couple of days ago, I received a very angry email from someone in reference to an article I wrote about a restaurant. In the article, I mentioned that I wasn't a huge fan of eating in pretentious restaurants. I also mentioned that I am a vegan. This did not sit well with the young man who emailed me. "You're going to make fun of people for being pretentious when you're a fucking vegan?" he wrote. "Fuck off."
I went back and looked at the comments on the post in question. He was not alone in his sentiment.
One commenter, a man named Dante Thompson, told me that I was a "dick" for ordering vegan food. He also called me a "fucking hipster."
Another guy named Riley Ulrich wrote, "You are a fucking piece if [sic] shit and you should be fired. Everybody hates you."
The implication that I am a pretentious eater is odd to me. Above is an image of what I had for lunch today. A slightly miserable-looking faux-meatball sub. For breakfast, I had Doritos. For dinner, I intend to go to Taco Bell. Animal products aside, I eat like a particularly fussy child (or, at the very least, an adult skateboarder).
When I hit my 20s, I started trying to eat a salad or some other such healthy bullshit for at least one meal a day, because that feels like something a grown-up should do. But my heart isn't in it. In an ideal world, I would eat pretty much nothing but meat and cheese served in or on some kind of gray carbohydrate.
But we don't live in an ideal world. We live in a world where the best-tasting kind of foods are literally made from death and suffering.
This is why I don't eat meat or animal products. Because meat and animal products are a giant fucking bummer. I don't need to tell you where your meat and dairy come from, because you've already seen it. And you know it looks like a fucking miserable nightmare of seared-off beaks, bolts through brains, and twitching corpses on dirty floors.
And we can all agree it's miserable, right? Regardless of whether or not you consume the end products of the meat and dairy industries, surely we can all admit that mass, industrialized death is not all that nice? There's a bunch of other stuff I could go into here about greenhouse gases caused by the meat industry, or contaminated water run-off, or meat causing colon cancer. But that would be dishonest, because I didn't consider any of that stuff when deciding to become a vegan.
I'm not saying that, because I try to avoid hurting animals, I'm somehow more ethical than you. Nobody is ethical. Humans are cancer. Everything would be better off if we were all dead. I'm typing this on a fossil-fuel-powered laptop that contains conflict minerals and was, I assume, manufactured in conditions that look vastly different from the conditions that I am working in right now.
I'm also wearing a shirt that cost $6. I'm not totally sure how it was manufactured, shipped to the US, and sold to me, but I'd imagine someone is getting shit on pretty heavily somewhere along the chain if the whole thing cost $6. And how awful is that? I'm wearing a shirt that probably made multiple humans miserable as it was being created, and almost certainly harmed the planet in a fairly major way, and I don't even know where it came from or how it was made. There is no way of living in the modern world without doing morally reprehensible things on a daily basis.
What I'm trying to say is that I am a piece of shit. And so are you. And I don't care what you eat. You can eat whatever, whenever, and however the fuck you want. As previously discussed, beyond the whole murder thing, I barely even give a shit what I eat. I definitely don't have time to worry about what you put in your mouth.
I think that very few people are totally OK with the fact that an animal died in order for them to eat. I can't imagine there are many people reading this that would be able to eat a McRib if they had to go through the process of raising the cow, slaughtering it, disemboweling it, clearing its remains up off the floor with a pressurized hose, then forming that gore into a rib-shaped treat themselves. A few of you probably could, I'm sure. And that's fine.
When people take a moral stance against something that we don't feel super great about ourselves, it makes us feel like they're judging us. This is why we hate hippies, or freegans, or Gwyneth Paltrow, or people who drive electric cars. Because they make us feel like we're being judged. And when people feel judged, they act like dicks. Like when Heather Graham stomped that guy's face off in Boogie Nights.
There's also the stereotype of the preachy vegan. The one who exists in the oft-repeated "how do you find a vegan at a dinner party?" joke. I'm not sure if this is just a side effect of me trying my hardest to avoid hanging out with assholes, but I have never, at any point, encountered a preachy vegan. I've encountered a lot of preachy meat eaters, though. The kind of people who quote Ron Swanson and think bacon, as a concept, is funny.
The kind of people who have endless questions about my nutrition, especially protein. So, so many questions about protein. I'm not sure why my nutrition is such a big concern for people I don't know. With the exception of vegans, Live Aid, or those people who eat couches on My Strange Addiction, I don't remember ever seeing someone show concern for another person's nourishment.
There are many, many things that I do that are bad for my health, but nobody ever gives me shit for them. The fact that I live within one mile of a freeway, drink beer at least once a week, and consume diet drinks on a semi-regular basis slips by unnoticed. But suddenly every single fucking person I meet is an expert on nutrition and wants to know where I'm getting my protein and my vitamin D and my iron. I have no idea if/where I'm getting that stuff from. And I'm sure you don't know where you're getting it from, either. Just because you got a chicken burger with your BK meal instead of a veggie burger doesn't suddenly mean your body is in perfect nutritional harmony.
The most confusing part of the animosity toward vegans is the glee that people get from seeing them fail. In the article I mentioned earlier, I posted a picture of some food I'd eaten. Though I didn't realize at the time, the food I'd eaten contained eggs. Accidentally eating animal products is something that happens from time to time. NBD. However, there were multiple people who smugly and gleefully pointed out to me that I had accidentally eaten an animal product.
If I saw someone trying to do something nice for an animal and they fucked up, I don't think my immediate reaction would be to get all smug and laugh at them about it. I didn't read that "I Died Today" blog post about the dog dying and think "LOL! They tried to cure that dog's tumor but they failed!" But then maybe you would, IDK.
Now if you'll excuse me, I'm off to Taco Bell. Beans instead of meat and no cheese, please.
Follow Jamie Lee Curtis Taete on Twitter.