By Leslie Goldberg
Even the beautiful and rich daughter of Sir Paul McCartney of the Beatles’ fame has known the isolation of being vegetarian. Mary McCartney told the Daily Mail.com, “In a way (being a vegetarian) made me feel a little bit of an outsider. When I was at home it was perfect… but when we would go out, it would be a bit of a different story.”
She told the English online publication that meals out with friends when she was in school in the ‘80s used to turn into interrogations: “It would feel like I was being grilled about being a vegetarian. It was quite difficult. I came away feeling like, ‘Leave me alone.’ ”
God knows what it would have been like for her back then if she’d been vegan.
Mary McCartney said she doesn’t feel so bad anymore and she’s glad there are many more vegetarian foods available now.
Yes, yes, yes, there are more meatless and vegan foods available, but for many, that stereotype of the “lonely vegan” isn’t a stereotype. It’s real.
I remember one day a few years ago – I was tired and hungry, but mostly lonely. My friend and I went to grab something to eat at the Museum of Modern Art Café in San Francisco.
Since she was a long-time vegetarian and I was a relatively new vegan we’d talked about factory farming and about some of the health problems associated with eating animal foods. I tried to talk about the atrocities rampant in the egg and dairy industries. She was sort of non-committal. She wouldn’t really say where she stood on the issue of veganism but my impression was she wasn’t going to give up eggs or dairy any time soon. While there was no animosity, there was a wall between us that hadn’t been there before.
Standing in front of the café pastry counter, I guessed that nothing was vegan. I didn’t want to ask. I was sick of being the picky vegan, always focused on food, always pleading my case. I didn’t like the wall. Somehow I wanted to show her that vegans are like everybody else. I was the same person I’d been before. Fuck it. I ordered a bran muffin and a cup of coffee.
When we finally sat down, I took a bite of the thing. The taste of butter almost made me gag. I set the fork down. “Does it have butter in it?” she asked me.
I couldn’t say anything. I just nodded yes. Later, still hoping to dissolve the wall, I told her she could have the muffin if she wanted it.
Personal isolation weakens the Animal Rights Movement and maybe even our resolve to stay vegan.
My sense is, getting out of vegan solitary confinement is super important.
It can be tough because a lot of vegans are kind of loners to start with. We’re willing to stand apart from the crowd if the crowd violates our convictions. Maybe some vegans feel closer to non-human animals than human animals.
But it can get to be too much.
A lot of us need somebody to mirror back to us that we’re not crazy, strange and/or deluded. We need to know we’re not the only people horrified by the animal cruelty implicit in animal agriculture and we’re not the only people worried sick about what animal agriculture and the public’s eating habits are doing to the environment. We need to know we’re not the only people pissed off by the whole thing.
Living in the Bay Area, I go to a lot of vegan functions – veg fests, lectures, seminars, vegan group dinners. And I’m a member of some online vegan groups.
Still, the most important thing is not only having a vegan partner, but belonging to some vegan face-to-face groups (not to be confused with Facebook groups.) For two years now, we’ve gone to a wonderful twice-a- month vegan book meetup, the Marin Vegan Book Group and we belong to the local DxE chapter which gets together every week.
DxE is the first vegan group I’ve encountered which takes the problem of vegan isolation seriously. In his recent lecture titled “Why DxE?” organizer Brian Burns cited “animal rights activism of the past” as “vegan consumerism.”
He described it: “We want people (usually people we know) to change their diets,” he said. “That approach is lacking in community and has focused on incremental changes like ‘Meatless Monday’ and California’s ‘Prop 2.’ It’s ‘welfarism.’”
He talked about this activism as being nice to everybody, getting your friends to change, making sure nobody gets upset. “That leads to isolation,” he said.
That kind of activism has also done nothing to stop the number of animals killed for food from increasing. He noted that today vegetarians are 5 percent of the population compared to 6 percent in 1999.
If you’ve been following this blog, you know that DxE is hoping to buck that trend by causing non-violent animal rights disruptions or protests. It’s kind of a “Forget changing your friends and your siblings who seem to have made it their life’s mission to disregard any and all of your suggestions. Don’t try to change friends. Change society. Change the system.
OK, that, and get together for vegan potlucks and farm sanctuary work days once in while.
And never forget “animal food” is NOT food, it’s VIOLENCE.
– A Vicious Vegan blog post –
3 thoughts on “THE LONELY VEGAN”
I am vegan but I don’t want to name myself vegan. Naming myself vegan makes me think I am an anomaly , that I deviate from what is expected and normal. I have not eaten any animals my entire life. Animals have been my friends as long as I have known myself. My lamb friends Bella, Marlie, Mary my chickens Didi, Poky, Dundy, my rooster Mr. Charming. Each of them had their own distinct personalities. Yet each of them was killed to get eaten by my family. Killing them to eat them was murder. Murder is abnormal. Eating who you murdered is abnormal and evil Eating someone murdered by someone else is abnormal and EVIL. Eating the eggs of a chicken! Drinking the milk of a cow are abnormal. So all those of you who say you feel lonely and abnormal , wake up! You are how humans are supposed to be like. Our gastrointestinal system is for a herbivore not for a flesh eating serial killer. I never ate any animal products but I am healthier than everyone around me. I don’t hang out with a flesh eater just so that I am not lonely . I would never form friendships with serial killers. So I don’t seek the friendship of flesh eating humans. I raised my children vegan, they are my best friends and I have a few vegan friends. That’s enough for me.
“Welfarism” is the best thing that ever happened to animals, along with celebrity focus on health.
The amount of vegetarians in the US has remained constant at about 3% for many decades, until just the last few years. I don’t think there’s any recent reliable data yet, but it’s likely a bit more than 3%. More importantly, the concept of eating meals without meat has become “normal” within mainstream society. Drinking almond milk is perfectly “normal.” The average American is eating far less animal products than ever before, and that has a far bigger impact than the 3% of us.
The world won’t go vegan overnight, and it may never. But these are critical first steps, and we’re making more progress than ever before.
Now if we can just stop arguing with each other…
Wow, Mary , I didn’t even think for a seconed you were vegan, as I agree with the lonely, that hate the labels, strange thing is that you have a sweet family, paul showed my ex , around his new school, as he was going on to new school that , think it’s Arthur .. Was attending .. And he sounded such a gracious guy, I have isolated my self, but as I’m finding ethical trades , so simple, I feel relived about that, my days to eat out, are improving , as I call it the Da Vinci , diet .. Also I chatted at , party to alister .. And didn’t find him, talking about food, and he seemed attracted to my pretty ex, strange after some 25 years , I could final see , that beauty , need to shine out from, the eyes .. That all we have, I when vegan, over night, and can’t understand why, people, arnt human, and mock me , anyway , of to China, to make soul skins for cars .. Your great humans .. And you have the real gift of a non fake journey , enjoy .. Love and respect .. Anyway i away though I had a reason , and this just confirms