Maybe it’s because we remind you of the mental gymnastics required to say you care about animal welfare and the climate while you keep eating meat.

The vegans are at it again. 2019 – much like every year – has been a difficult one for us green-collared criminals. While supermarkets across Australia have seen overwhelming expansions in their plant-based offerings, public perceptions of our lifestyle remain as low as our feared B12 count.

What is it about us vegans that makes people just so damn uncomfortable?

The caution around our dietary requirements is arguably warranted. Many assert that veganism just isn’t an option to a large chunk of the population. The labour and cost of sifting through nutritional requirements, alongside inflated pricing for plant-based meat alternatives, is often too great. It’s additionally false to claim that food accessibility is in any way democratic. Many live in areas – popularly termed “food deserts” – where access to fresh produce or even supermarkets is difficult. Meat, dairy and other animal products are also staples to a variety of cultural and religious groups. In Australia, for example, our overtly masculine and sunburnt culture has a real appetite for red meat, namely beef, as per the annual promotional campaigns. The intersections of class, race, culture and veganism makes for a recipe that’s pretty damn hard to swallow.

Other arguments against veganism swerve to the climate crisis, mandating that individual choices (veganism) shouldn’t take priority over real structure “top-down” changes to how carbon emissions are managed.

All these arguments are fair and reasonable, but they’re just not good enough. Most of the people arguing about food deserts and cultural food artefacts live in urban centres with no real cultural connection to their beef souvlaki. Citing that my Lord of the Fries fix isn’t as important as government policies and priorities is understandable – if you’re also ready to forgo recycling and other eco-friendly measures.

No, I’d argue that most people find vegans annoying because it’s one of the only social justice causes whose point of entry is entirely negotiated by real, quantifiable, fundamental behaviour change.

Everyone thinks of themselves as a good person. But it’s much easier to slap “Feminist as Fuck” on your T-shirt and #BlackLivesMatter in your Twitter bio than it is to actively support animal welfare and the climate through an upheaval of your current lifestyle.

Everyone says they care about all these issues, but the mental gymnastics of saying you care about the Amazon burning while simultaneously ordering that beef souvlaki is perhaps just far too laboursome. Instead, it’s much easier to reroute your frustrations at those pesky vegans.

Next time you spot a vegan in the wild, don’t ask them why they’re a plant-muncher; maybe ask yourself – really truly ask yourself – why you’re not.

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