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Do Vegetarians and Vegans Think They Are Better Than Everyone Else?

Great article on NPR (it’s from last month, I’m a little late to the party) that I wanted to share. Loved the two quotes below, in particular!

“Everyone knows that there are saintly meat-eaters and cruel vegetarians. Also, almost all current vegetarians (in Western countries at least) spent much or most of our lives eating meat. So no, vegetarians don’t think we’re better than everyone else.”

“However, we do think that people who care about animals shouldn’t be paying other people to slice animals’ throats open so that we can eat their corpses. On this issue specifically, vegetarians do think we’re more consistent than meat-eaters, most of whom claim to care about animals, and yet routinely pay others to abuse and kill them for a product (meat) that isn’t necessary. But of course, diet is just one from among many ethical issues.” – Bruce Friedrich, Farm Sanctuary

And from the fabulous Colleen Patrick-Goudreau:

“I think most people agree that not committing violence against another – human or nonhuman – is an ethically superior position to hurting someone. For me, I reflect this ethic by being vegan. Contrary to what some people think, being vegan is not an end in itself; it’s the means to an end. It’s the means through which we can – in our daily lives – reflect our value of not causing harm.”

“The truth is I feel humbled being vegan rather than superior to those who aren’t. I have no cause to be self-righteous. There was a time when I ate animals and made excuses, and I feel grateful to be armed with knowledge and awareness and to be able to act on my values of compassion and kindness. Rather than feel morally superior to people who eat animals, I feel great sorrow for the animals who suffer and for the humans who inflict that suffering. If we keep this big picture in mind, we can create the compassionate world we all envision.” – Colleen Patrick-Goudreau, Author

Words to think about, my friends, and to pass on!

I hope you all have a great weekend 🙂

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{ 20 comments… add one }
  • An Unrefined Vegan September 14, 2012, 7:35 am

    Great quotes, Barb! Thanks for sharing them.

    • Barb September 14, 2012, 11:56 am

      You’re welcome. I saw this and knew you guys would appreciate it 🙂

  • Joni Borchert September 14, 2012, 7:59 am

    Well put!

    • Barb September 14, 2012, 11:55 am

      We’re lucky to have those two speaking on behalf of the cause!

  • Food and Loathing in the Steel City September 14, 2012, 10:24 am

    This is really nice. I get kind of upset that so many people seem to take MY being vegan as some sort of personal affront or judgment of them. It’s truly not about them.

    • Barb September 14, 2012, 11:55 am

      Agreed! I’ve never verbally attacked anyone for eating animals but I have been insulted, etc by omnivores when all I was doing was minding my own business, eating my veggie burger. I think our choices force them to take a closer look at their own. They don’t necessarily like what they see and they get defensive.

  • Somer September 14, 2012, 11:48 am

    Love this!

    • Barb September 14, 2012, 11:56 am

      Me too. Wish I was that eloquent!

      • Somer September 14, 2012, 11:56 am

        I can only thing of sarcastic things to say, if I tried to be eloquent I’d fail miserably!

        • Barb September 14, 2012, 11:57 am

          Sarcasm is probably better than my usual tactic: Bursting into tears 😉

          • Somer September 14, 2012, 11:59 am

            yes, I would have to agree that tactic wouldn’t be very effective…. Hehe!

            • Barb September 14, 2012, 12:06 pm


  • narf77 September 14, 2012, 2:52 pm

    I have to say, that as a vegetarian (23 years) and vegan (15 of the 23) that rather than just “get on with it” and eat what I want to eat (which is all I want to do!) I am constantly faced with peoples guilt OR anger about my own personal choices. I don’t actively tell people that I am vegan. I just eat what I eat. I am sure that this situation wouldn’t happen if the vego confraturnity wasn’t heavily populated by puritanical pointy people who love nothing more than to tell the rest of the world how awful they are because of their choices. You get more bees with honey than vinegar and thats what we vego’s should be doing to entice our fellow meat eaters over to the veggie side. I cringe whenever I see online comments from militant evangelical vegans about how frigging fantastic they are and how wanting the rest of humanity is. That’s not going to work folks, that puts peoples backs up! It puts MY back up and I am vegan! Being vegan is now becoming a mainstream choice and as science backs it up, there are less naysayers out there and hopefully the radicals that need to feel superior to everyone else are all moving on to being “raw”; “airtarians” or “paleo” or whatever it is that is “NOW” out there and are lecturing from their new standpoint so we humble vegans can just get on with our lives! You are doing us NO FAVOURS you guys!

    • AccioVegans September 14, 2012, 10:26 pm


    • Ellie September 20, 2012, 1:40 pm

      I agree with you–the ‘vegan police’ are not helping, and give us all a bad name. Making people defensive is not the way to get through to them. Vegan cookies, however, are excellent for this.

  • thecrueltyfreereview September 14, 2012, 8:14 pm

    While there are certainly vegetarians and vegans (and those who eat high raw, and all those other highly specific plant-based diets) who carry a holier-than-thou attitude, I think that the majority of them still feel a bit odd and uncomfortable about expressing their choices. I know that for me personally it’s far easier to tell a stranger that I’ll probably never meet again that I’m veg, but I found it much harder to explain it to my family. There is still a very strong opinion from ominovores, especially those who don’t know a lot about choosing a plant-based diet, that not eating meat or any animal product is somehow inherently wrong.
    I don’t think I’m better than those who eat meat. In fact, there are days I’m still surprised I became vegetarian (and progress towards veganism) considering how picky I am about the foods I eat 🙂 But I try very hard to not come off as elietist and condescending when telling others about being vegetarian. I won’t avoid the questions that are inevitably asked (“Where do you get your protein?” Gah!) but I try to link my answers to what I think the person will be best able to associate with. People seem to be very surprised when I tell them how many sources of protein I can tick off that don’t come from animals. I’ve had co-workers try some of my vegan dishes (mainly my habanero key-lime cheesecake) and they were stunned at how good it was. They were also very curious in learning about the substitutions that were made and I think that alone goes a long way towards bridging the gap between omnis and plant-based dieters.

  • AccioVegans September 14, 2012, 10:22 pm

    I’m doing a research project for my cultural anthropology class about vegan subculture and how they see themselves vs how others see vegans. I am really interested in this article. Thanks for posting!

  • Richa September 15, 2012, 4:28 pm

    very well put. i always identify with Colleen’s thought process..

  • mrsnikkiv September 18, 2012, 12:44 pm

    I love that last quote.

    I agree that our decisions make a lot of people uncomfortable because it forces them to consider making changes. Many of my acquaintances seem to feel like I owe them an explanation for why I chose to become vegan.

  • Ellie September 20, 2012, 1:38 pm

    Thanks for continuing this discussion. I think many vegans and vegetarians get very excited when they open their eyes and start living their lives in line with their values. Once your eyes are opened, it can be hard to remember what the world looked like before that. This enthusiasm and temporary blindness can be understandably misunderstood as a ‘holier than thou’ attitude, but in many cases it is unintentional and innocent.

    The way I have found to best handle it is to let others bring it up–and they always do. Then answer their questions openly and honestly. And feed them yummy vegan foods! There will always be those who get defensive, but it helps to remember that that defensiveness likely arises from the fact that they are on some level uneasy with living their lives out of sync with their values. It is not a judgement on us. Remember that you likely rationalized meat eating just like them.

    Sorry for the long post, but I think most people, vegan and omni, want to treat people well, and have the best intentions.

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