Why Vegan Facts Fall on Deaf Ears

We all love our friends and family members immensely. For this very reason we try and educate them about the numerous benefits of a vegan lifestyle; health, environmental and ethical considerations. And sometimes it is extremely hard to fathom how our ‘facts’ backed by good intentions continuously fall on deaf ears.

There is a science behind this termed, the ‘sociology of denial’, which explores the processes by which individuals and societies condition themselves to ‘not see’ the experiences of terror and pain by others; man or animal.

Denial  “Refers to the maintenance of social worlds in which an undesirable situation is unrecognised, ignored or made to seem normal”. (Cohen, 2001)

This process can be performed by whole cultures and societies. With no overt control, collective and unwritten agreement is reached on what can be known, remembered or spoken about.

From this agreement comes ‘normalisation’, which is established through routinisation, tolerance, accommodation, collusion and cover up to the point that suffering is not acknowledged and is then seen as normal.

The important thing to remember is that these cultural denial phenomena rely on a shared vocabulary to aid in its supposed credibility to support and collude others denial. In the case of meat and slaughter houses where denial is playing out before our very eyes it is very common to hear a plethora of comments like:

“These animals were born and raised so we can eat them”

“You need meat for protein”

“But Hitler was a vegetarian”

“God told us to eat animals/ we have dominion over them so we can eat them”

“Fish and chicken don’t feel pain”

“Those animal cruelty videos don’t represent what is really happening/that doesn’t happen where I live”

“I only eat grass-fed beef, it’s better looked after”

“But plants feel pain too”

“I couldn’t do it, I love bacon too much”

I am sure there are a few nods coming from readers at this stage. We have heard it all. These comments are part of the vocabulary to support the denial of suffering that is occurring and it is incredibly difficult to overcome with ‘facts’.

Many readers will also find that these comments come out without ever making reference to slaughterhouses or animal rights at a BBQ or dinner party where meat is on the menu. Just the mere presence of a vegan will make people uncomfortable.

The reason? A vegan or vegetarian presence raises all the ideas and images that are so carefully covered and repressed into consciousness. This discomfort can often lead to aggressive or self justifying behaviour directed at the vegan.

And sadly, although there is an unconscious agreement that reference to slaughterhouses at dinner would be in poor taste, this behaviour is not seen as breach of manners. The vegan is an outsider with opposing views that threaten status quo and the specifically constructed social cohesion.

The presence of a self-declared vegan acts to puncture the carefully fabricated edifice of the suffering of animals on a personal and cultural level; all necessary for the continued production and consumption of meat. It is hard not to lose hope in the face of such pervasive denial in our society.

Don’t lose hope!

More people than ever are turning to a vegan and vegetarian lifestyle.

Efforts made by you, communities, animal rights activists and other social movements have slowly increased awareness to the otherwise hidden forms of cruelty and suffering of animals which were ‘normalised’.

So keep it up! Be that vegan at dinner parties that, with your very presence, punctures through the suffocating blanket of denial to change the status quo. Be the person that lives such an emboldened life that others dare to dream to follow you.

What is my reason for continued persistence on this topic? I know, for every time I speak the truth, as unwelcome as it may be… I am speaking the truth for those who cannot.

 

 

Resources.

Books.
Cohen, S. (2001). States of Denial. Knowing About Atrocities and Suffering. Political Press: Cambridge.

Germov, J., Williams, L. (2008). A Sociology of Food and Nutrition (3rd e.d.). Oxford University Press: Australia.

 

4 thoughts on “Why Vegan Facts Fall on Deaf Ears

  1. While most of the time I find your posts interesting and educational, this post, however, was a disappointment. There’s nothing educational in it at all, and instead serves purely as propaganda. You state that the world is deaf to a person’s reasoning for being vegan, and yet this post poses the notion that vegans are choosing to be deaf to people who choose to be omnivores, or carnivores. And lets not mention the fact that many vegans are forcing their pets, such as cats – which have evolved to be obligate carnivores and nothing more – to partake on a vegan diet. This, right here, are vegans choosing to be deaf to an animal’s true nature. I’m all for people choosing their own particular diets, whether it be for health or ethical reasoning, or whatever. But I do NOT support the practice of forcing your ideals onto someone or something else. So you’re vegan? Great! That’s your choice! Educate people, by all means, but don’t make it your life’s mission to force your agenda on someone or something else. Even while being vegan can cause suffering to other living things, creatures that people are not aware of, or simply choose to ignore because it’s not cute and fluffy. A holier-than-thou attitude for this blog, is a poor flavour indeed.

    1. First of all, thank you for being a valued reader of my blog, I really appreciate it.

      I am sorry to hear that you did not find this particular post educational but rather propaganda.

      This was not my intention at all. The post explains the science behind the denial of animal suffering in regard to the meat industry specifically.
      This concept, ‘sociology of denial’, has also been used to explain how domestic violence against women was hidden, normalised, contained and covered up.

      I agree with you on the fact that many vegans force their pets, particularly cats who are obligate carnivores, on a vegan diet.
      This upsets me greatly; as you said, this is against the animals true nature and can harm and kill the pet.

      However on this same note, please consider that the animals that are eaten for meat; pigs, chickens, cows, sheep, veal, fish from farms etc are in many cases not eating diets or living lives in their true nature either.

      We agree on another point. I also don’t support the practice of forcing my ideals onto someone or something. This is why I choose not to eat meat as this would entail forcing an animal to live and die for my ideal; that it should die so I can eat it.

      These animals are by no-means cute and fluffy, yet I and many others choose to give them the same considerations that would be extended to a favoured pet.

      Thank you for the feedback and your concerns. In the upcoming weeks I will put research into the diets of cats and dogs and post the findings to prevent possible harm to these animals that we both love.

      1. You can argue that farming animals for meat, whether them being caged, or raised in spacious, humane facilities as unnatural but where do you draw the line? It’s also classed as unnatural and unethical clearing kilometres of natural forests, bush or shrub lands for the purpose of growing plants for human or domestic animal consumption. Just imagine all the living creatures whose lives were destroyed, if not by the initial clearing, but afterwards if they survived, by not being able to find suitable habitat to live in, provided it’s not going to come into direct competition with resident species. There’s no easy fix unfortunately. As I said, it’s your choice in which diet you choose to partake in, but don’t act as though it’s doing the world a favour. There are other ways to reduce suffering, but there’s no way to completely avoid it. And while being vegan may save a cow, chicken, or pig’s life, it may just be destroying something else’s life.

        But then we go back to the question; what’s natural? Is it man’s nature to be a herbivore, omnivore, or carnivore? Again, you simply cannot answer that. Biologically people are omnivores, there’s no doubt about it, but people can yet survive on an entirely vegetarian or carnivorous diet. Individual people have different natures and needs. You can’t simply make a blanket statement that being vegan is the “right” choice for everyone.

        I’ll stop now before I go on a tangent and veer off topic. I enjoy reading your posts, but I don’t necessarily agree with you. You may not agree with me either. But do keep posting informative content.

  2. The concept of the line in the sand is a hard one. You have touched on a conundrum that many vegans who care for pets face.

    I agree with you in regard to the clearing of land for food for human consumption and livestock. I choose to atone for the actions of the past by acting now to create a better future.

    Animal agriculture is responsible for 18% of greenhouse gas emissions, more than the combined exhaust from all transportation.

    Animal agriculture is also the leading cause of species extinction, ocean dead zones, water pollution and habitat destruction.

    These are all topics that I wish to discuss further in my post about veganism and the environment.

    You have raised an interesting question for me. How many animal lives does a vegetarian/vegan save a year? I had a poke around the internet and the general consensus seems to be 180. This is a really nifty calculator to check out http://vegetariancalculator.com/

    Thank you for the discussion. It is invigorating and refreshing! Informative discourse, the sharing of ideas and opinion is the only way to expand our knowledge and understanding.

    I now wish to veer off topic. As a consistent reader, what informative content would be most valuable to you? Please let me know!

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