Tolerate! Or, at least, alienate!

Within the context of the current culture wars, a topic that occasionally comes up is how to interact socially with people whose views you find morally wrong, unacceptable, repugnant. And how to square your opinion of those views with your opinion of that person in another context: as a family member, friend, artist, etc.

As a vegan, I’ve always found this to mostly be a non-issue, due to a quite unacknowledged effect of veganism, though — to me — a much more significant and troublesome one than not being able to eat out at some places or whatever. And that is that being a vegan causes you to view as cruel almost everyone you interact with, including some people you may admire, or feel close to1, or love1. Either actively or indifferently cruel, but at least knowingly cruel. These people, daily, multiple times a day, participate or contribute to the suffering and death of animals, often in front of you, and will continue to do so. And it’s a part of their lives, all this cruelty and suffering and death, one they enjoy and want to have more of; sometimes they’ll have some quickly on the way to work, or they’ll dedicate a Sunday to prepare a lot of it for a family event and post pictures of it on social networks, or they’ll choose their travel destination according to how much they enjoy the local variety of it.

These are the people you live among, sometimes with, and this is what they choose to do: the cruelty, suffering, death. And you have to live with this cognitive dissonance, and over time get used to it, build a certain tolerance for it. So this dissonance and this tolerance are, I think, totally natural to someone who’s been at least a vegetarian at least for a while. The rest of society should learn from us on this as well: if we can do it, so can everyone else. (No, wait, probably not, we’re better.)

[1] Not in my case.

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