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I was vegetarian for about eight years, closer to vegan for the last year, and I recently made the transition to complete veganism. I'm writing 'cause throughout my experience, I've had a lot of non-vegans and non-vegetarians talk to me about the supposed "superiority complex" that many vegans and vegetarians seem to have. They've told me that vegans and vegetarians think they're "better than others" since many in this demographic discuss the ethics surrounding meat consumption and vegetarianism and veganism. What I believe, however, is the exact opposite: I think that many people choose to become vegetarian and vegan because they do not feel superior to other living beings, including human and non-human animals. For some vegetarians and vegans, the choice to live this way is a direct expression of the sentiment that human and non-human animals are equal beings. Has anyone else had a similar experience? If so, how have you responded to this?
I'd love to hear people's thoughts on this :).
Yeah I definitely see what you're saying... One thing that I think is important is to not allow people's focus to shift onto us... any system of injustice can thrive so long as people look at anything other than the victims... People may try to criticize vegans in various ways, but it's always important to redirect them back to the death and suffering of animals. I think the most important thing for us to do is to affirm and reaffirm our care for animals... We aren't veg because we want to feel better, we are veg because we love animals... I think that's the message to get through and whenever people try to use our veganism against us we need to make it clear why it is that we are veg and keep the conversation on the unnecessary pain and death imposed on these creatures.. It's not about me in any way, shape, or form... it's about the animals!
Well stated, Jonathan. It is not about us - it is about the suffering of billions of souls, suffering that the meat-eating world ignores. Those who are complicit in the abuse of other animals either believe that they are superior to those they eat, or they just do not want to confront their personal responsibility for the horrors that their choices create. We live in a world that protects and encourages the culture of killing through government policy, corporate marketing and societal acceptance; a world that feels superior to other forms of life, a world that has no compunction about, and makes no apologies for, the murder of billions of innocents. And when their sense of self-entitlement is questioned by the simple act of not joining in their acts of torturing and killing, they slander those who question the status quo. It is not the vegan who feels superior; that is the realm of the meat-eater before facing the reality that he or she has no moral ground on which to stand. Once that illusion of superiority is shattered, the meat-eater resorts to ad hominem attacks as a self defense mechanism, for their arguments ring hollow.
I probably shouldn't have said "we aren't veg because we want to feel better" cause eating healthy and feeling better is a great thing... but at the same time I think it should also be a priority to realize how our eating choices influence others :)
actually when we tell vegans that we i follow a vegetarian diet i always feel that they kind of discriminate vegetarians, so i can't even be bored with it.
I get this a lot. When people find out I'm vegan - and I never thrust this on anyone - they often assume I believe that I'm better than they.
I don't think it's that we have a superiority complex but rather that they have an inferiority complex.
I'd bet loads of meat eating people wish they had the willpower to go vegan but they can't be bothered for whatever reason (because, let's face it, laziness is the ONLY reason not to go vegan, there's no health implications). So they deflect their anger at themselves towards the vegan. It's just a defense mechanism to help them deal with their guilt by pointing the finger at us for being 'smug' about what we do and that they'll never be as pretentious as us ridiculous vegans haha.
But finger pointing back at them will not help so I have to be careful to be as nice as possible when trying to educate people and help them by showing them how easy and fulfilling it is to be vegan. Some people can't be helped unfortunately so stay true on your path and don't let people bring you down. We are only trying our best :)