Why vegan restaurants are a bad idea

Have you ever wondered why people hate vegans so much? I have known quite a few over the years, and it is fair to say that some of them can be quite annoying. However, they would probably be no less annoying if they were born-again carnivores. For me, their dietary preference has nothing to do with it. Annoying people are exactly that, but the British media, for the most part, doesn’t see it that way. They love vegans. By that, I mean they love to hate them, frequently mocking or feigning outrage at their antics at every opportunity. Yet, where is the threat to the fabric of our society? What is it about this little band of do-gooders that is so dangerous, that the real news is pushed to one side, so we can all participate in a social media whinge about them?

I, on the other hand, do have issues with vegans; not because they want to help prevent animal suffering, but because of the way a vegan hardcore minority undermine a just cause. Some of their actions directly play into the hands of those who would turn the world into a giant slaughterhouse, if there was a big enough buck in it.

Some vegans have done things that make them look a bit silly, but who hasn’t? However, it seems to me that a vegan only needs to complain about ambiguous food labelling or their in-flight meal and this somehow becomes news. We should tweet our outrage and have a little rant on Facebook and whilst we are distracted, ignore the real stories that are taking place under our very nose. Please don’t give a second thought to the agenda of the offshore tax-haven politicians and lobbyists who, whilst totally not using Russian money, have managed to fund the biggest post-war disaster since the election of David Cameron. What about the UK’s continued UK and US support for the despot regime in Saudi Arabia? Jamal Khashoggi, a journalist and columnist for the Washington Post, was tortured and murdered in a Saudi embassy in Turkey. After weeks of denials, reports have emerged that his body was sawn up then dissolved in acid. These guys are real sweethearts, but there is no need to get too carried away reporting such matters, when there are vegans on the loose. As I write, some of them are probably causing all sorts of havoc, with their stubborn refusal to eat meat or unnecessary kindness to animals.

To diverge very slightly, let me first explain what I see as the real problem behind all the anti-vegan sentiment. I make this observation, not as a vegan, but as a vegetarian. Ahhh got you! You big fat migrant hypocrite? Surely if you love animals, you love ALL animals, including fluffy little chickens that lay eggs in horrible conditions and the beautiful sentient cows that are forced to produce milk in the cruellest of ways. What about fish? Please tell me you don’t eat fish! Did you know they are living things also? OK, I agree, but so are E.coli and mosquitos. My argument hangs on a question of degree. If it is wrong to enslave humans, then it has to be wrong to treat animals the same way. Yet modern-day human slavery is a thing: a thing that will only change when a just society becomes more effective at making the arguments and has the collective will to eradicate it completely.

It is the same argument for animal protection. As controversial as this may sound, I remain convinced that one vegetarian who does eat some dairy, will have a far wider and more positive impact on animal welfare and the planet, than ten vegans, and here is why:

Vegans choose a plant-based diet for a variety of reasons, but I would hazard a guess that most of them genuinely want to end animal suffering and make the world a better place. Others may just be attention-seeking, self-obsessed idiots, using food to control those around them. More on that in a minute. Many vegans are environmentalists, who rightly, in my opinion, see a good deal of the destruction of the rainforest and resulting climate change, as a product of industrial-scale farming. This has come about in order to feed a growing and unsustainable appetite for meat; meat which requires hectares of cleared land for pasture as well as millions of tons of water, soy and rapeseed for feed. I am not going to get into a debate about whether this is true or not. Go look it up, maybe watch Cowspiracy, a documentary that makes the case far more eloquently than I.  

People who are precious about what they eat, vegans and vegetarians, for the most part, can be difficult to get along with. I know I am. I have been called everything from a fussy eater, to an apologist for Hitler, because at one point in his life, he ate a few vegetables. We are all different and some of us may be despicable, but for the most part, we care about animals.

I suggest that if vegans want to save the world (I would love it if they did,) they must do so through example. I don’t mean by choosing a vegan cheese pizza over one smothered in mozzarella. First of all, they should understand that we are all potential role models and ambassadors for change. They should not appear to be elitists: people hate that. My problem with vegans is one of practicality. A study which analyzed a representative sample of 11,000 U.S. participants 17 and older, found that 84% of people who have adopted vegetarianism or veganism at some point in their lives have gone back to eating meat. That’s freaking terrible! NOTHING IS GOING TO CHANGE with all those lousy quitters out there! These statistics suggest, that when you become vegan, the only change you are going to make is annoying your spouse and friends who feel they can no longer invite you out to dinner. Oh, you are the ‘precious’ one. The one who thinks they are special and must have ‘special’ food. That’s right, you are an elitist and guess what? Nobody will like you except other veggies! No cows are going to be saved. Chickens will be consumed in almost the same quantities as they always were. This rather bleak survey, suggests that most of us are going to fail and therefore, shouldn’t be wasting everyone’s time with this nonsense.

Here is my advice to all those who are thinking of taking up the vegan sword. Don’t! Not until you have thought it through. If you want to form a new and positive habit, you do so one step at a time: the same as how you make a habit out of flossing your teeth, for example. Start with one tooth, then two and so on. Perhaps start with one day of the week i.e. vegan Monday. You are likely to be spending more time cooking and reading labels. I don’t recommend using your dietary preferences to try and control the people around you either. This brings me to the main point of this article: why vegan restaurants are a bad idea.

Humans as a species, tend to be social creatures. By that, I mean that we like to eat with our family and friends. However, vegan-only restaurants make the whole concept of veganism elitist. If I want to go out for a meal with friends and one of them is vegan, a vegan restaurant is the last place they will  ALL want to go. If you were able to force them to eat plant-based food from this special restaurant, they are probably not going to enjoy the experience and next time you invite them out, the answer will probably be ‘NO!’ A better way is to find a regular restaurant; one that has items on the menu that a vegan can eat but will also cater for your friends’ dietary preferences. That way, you will be a positive influence for veganism, because you will still have some friends!

I am going to give a couple of examples of how vegans, far from helping to promote a plant-based diet, are actually helping the meat industry:

On this evening’s news, there was an item about Greendale Farm, whose shop had been vandalised because the owner had invited purchasers to pick their own turkey and give them names. They could also visit and feed them, but were not encouraged to slaughter them. He had received death threats, the shop was covered in pro-vegan graffiti and even the pheasants hung on a rack outside, had been sprayed with blue paint. This provided a platform for the farmer to make the case that he was not a factory farmer, that he was the victim in all of this. His Twitter account received 300,000 views in only a few hours.  His family had farmed for generations and his beautiful idea was to allow the public to see where their food came from. He appeared to be a very reasonable guy, whose business had been harmed by extremist vegans. Sky provided some balance by inviting comment from a vegan spokesperson. She pointed out that she did not agree with breaking the law or causing criminal damage, but as you would expect, she also didn’t like the idea of turkeys being slaughtered for the Christmas table. It would seem that the vegan activists that carried out this vandalism, did more to promote the future sale and killing of turkeys from that farm, than anything the farmer could have done on his own volition.

I was also intrigued to read how the Waitrose Food magazine editor, William Sitwell responded to a writer’s request to submit a series of vegan-based recipes. This was completely consistent with Waitrose policy of increasing the number of vegan products on their shelves. The editor sent an email back suggesting that instead, they should run an article about killing and torturing vegans as well as forcing them to eat steak and drink red wine. There was the usual Twitter storm that followed and he ended up resigning his post. However, William Sitwell was an idiot to have so actively jumped on such a landmine. Most sensible vegans saw it for what it was. Those that wanted to vent their outrage, by hitting back with equally stupid comments, did little to end animal suffering.

Trilby Harrison

Trilby Harrison

Then there was the woman, according to the Manchester Evening News, who was ‘forced to eat just crisps and nuts’ on a flight to New York because the vegetarian meal was not put on the plane. You could sense the outrage. One tweet suggested that the words, ‘Manchester’ and ‘News’ be removed from the publication. Another mentioned that he too had not eaten for several hours also: ‘It was awful and I’m only just starting to get over it.’  We all know that there are children starving around the world. They live in war-torn countries where their mothers are unable to produce enough breast milk to feed them. How are we supposed to feel sorry for this creature? A vegan woman forced to eat nuts and freaking crisps. Forced? From my own perspective, the story was nothing less than pro-meat industry propaganda. The article was clearly intended to make well-balanced individuals hate vegans and vegetarians alike and regard them as elitist idiots. At the risk of repeating myself, some of them are, but this is NOT news. It is propaganda of the worst kind.

So you want to go around hugging trees and showing a little love to the animals. That’s great! So do I, but keep in mind: nothing is going to change while the world looks on and sees only a bunch of whingeing snowflakes that can’t take criticism. Vegans are not a protected species. Nothing will change if, after all that bitching, you then give up, because you lacked sufficient conviction to see it through or thought that random acts of vandalism accompanied by death threats would make a difference, and please in the name of everything that is holy, don’t complain about your in-flight meal.

Are you a vegan who thinks I am being too judgemental? Perhaps you are a Daily Express reader and know how to do joined-up writing. Perhaps, like myself, you would relish the prospect of being put on a flight to New York and forced to eat only nuts and crisps. Why not tell me about it and leave a comment below. I would love to know what you think.

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