Believing strongly about the welfare of other creatures is great. Being so annoying that you isolate yourself from an entire country — or just your friends at dinner — is not so great.
Case in point: A vegan and animal rights activist in New Zealand, Nancy Holden, has been denied citizenship to Switzerland twice because her neighbors find her to be an annoying vegan. She’s complained about cow bells, hunting, and piglet racing, as well as the church bells being too noisy.
In Switzerland, local residents of the community you’re trying to live in have a say in whether they’ll accept you into the country. That’s a wild concept to Americans, who simply put up with whatever bananas neighbors they’re given.
Holten told The Local:
“I think I was too strident and spoke my mind too often. Many people think that I am attacking their traditions. But that was not what it was about, it was never about that. What primarily motivated me about the cowbells was the animals’ welfare.”
Complaining to your new Swiss neighbors about their traditions isn’t the only way vegans can be annoying — and we’re all pretty annoying when we take ourselves too seriously. Here are a few more ways the vegan in your party might piss off the rest of the gang, and what to say next.
No: Unprompted debate challenges in general
If someone’s going to the effort to mindfully change their lifestyle, they’ve probably done a lot of homework on it before even reaching the table. Everyone should be so well informed — but it’s not an excuse to take any opening to educate your dinner dates on the ills of factory farming and the food industrial complex. Maybe talk about the really adorable goat who dresses up like a duck, instead?
No: Commentary on how gross other people’s food looks
This is super rude for anyone, vegan or not, but if you find yourself at a burger joint surrounded by ground beef done rare, it’s tempting to gag a little when images of happy cows dance through your head. Either excuse yourself from the meal if it’s too overwhelming, or focus on your black bean burger or faux bloody meat.
No: Damning everyone to foodie hell
Veganism is a choice, and a pretty admirable one in willpower and commitment to one’s beliefs. But everyone makes their own choices for personal reasons, and your own health and wellbeing should come first. When food and morals get tied up together, things get heated. Being judgmental on either side won’t help anyone change minds — instead, vegans and non-vegans should try to lower their defenses and learn from one another.
No: Bragging when you’ve pull off a trick
If you bring amazing brownies to a potluck and everyone’s oblivious to their vegan-ness, don’t take the temptation to shout “Surprise! They’re vegan!” By the same token, try to be aware of what other people’s food preferences might be when you’re an omnivore. Not everyone can eat your three-meat four-cheese lasagna creation. A trick we don’t want to see pulled off: Putting animal fat in cash. Ew.
No: Saying anything at all about eggs
Don’t take the time at brunch to inform everyone that “eggs are chicken periods.” Just, no.
They somehow prompt other people to bitch about vegans
Thanks a lot!