The Angry Vegan

Who is the angry vegan?

The angry vegan is always furious and shocked
that people are not making the same decisions
as the angry vegan.

The angry vegan has forgotten
that the angry vegan used to make
many of the same decisions.

The angry vegan has no patience
or understanding of cultural norms
or the time it takes people to transition
to a more thoughtful lifestyle.

The angry vegan makes statements like
“Nobody listens.”
“Nobody cares.”
“Nobody ever changes.”
“People suck.”

The angry vegan has unrealistic expectations
and shows constant disappointment and contempt
when those expectations are not met.
The angry vegan is more focused on
cursing, name-calling, and wishing ill upon people
than listening, inspiring, supporting, and resolving.

The angry vegan dismisses anyone who disagrees
and only talks to the choir.
The angry vegan makes statements such as
“I wish all meat-eaters would die”
even if most of them have never learned the truth
about animal agriculture
or been given the opportunity to process it and change.

The angry vegan doesn’t know how
to channel energy to impact reforms
so the angry vegan spends countless hours
venting disgust in public forums.
The angry vegan fails to understand
the difference between activism that alienates
and strategic advocacy that motivates.

The angry vegan is combative and sad
and looks to engage in wild rants
where there are no winners.

The angry vegan rarely ever celebrates small victories for animals
or congratulates people for making incremental progress.
For the angry vegan, it is an all or nothing proposition
often presented in all capital letters:

The angry vegan scoffs at heroes for the cause
like Paul McCartney,
and rather than commending them for using their fame and money
to promote kindness to animals to their millions of fans
and cheer them on to do more
seeks to find fault with their imperfections
and demonizes them as traitors and impostures.

The angry vegan agitates prospective vegans
and fuels them to make comments such as
“I’m going to eat more meat because of you.”

Conversely, the thoughtful vegan does not get goaded
because the thoughtful vegan understands
the importance of rising above the fray
when the opposition’s sole purpose is argument.

The angry vegan becomes irate and critical
when other vegans do not attend a protest
or donate to a cause
whereas the thoughtful vegan
expresses gratitude to everyone
who attends an event or makes a donation.

The thoughtful vegan knows when to engage
when to disengage
when to smile
when to ignore an inflammatory comment
when to move on
and when to offer praise.

The angry vegan is dismissive.
The thoughtful vegan is considerate.
The angry vegan demands.
The thoughtful vegan listens and helps.
The angry vegan has enemies.
The thoughtful vegan has followers.
The angry vegan tells people to love while hating.
The thoughtful vegan shows compassion to breed compassion.

The angry vegan posts comments such as
“Go vegan or go fu*k yourself.”
“Go vegan or kill yourself.”
“Wishing all humans death in the New Year.”
“Kids killed at an elementary school means fewer people eating animals.”
The angry vegan feels satisfied and justified
making these comments
but does not consider
how the public receives these messages.

The thoughtful vegan has no less
anger, frustration, or determination
but the thoughtful vegan understands
the importance of channeling it in a positive way
that appeals to the masses
to achieve measurable performance outcomes
to benefit animals, people’s health, and the environment.

The angry vegan finds fault with
most everything the thoughtful vegan does
because it’s never enough
and pits one vegan against another
rather than working together for a common cause.

The angry vegan will read this commentary
and get angry and defensive.
The angry vegan will lash out with comments
that dismiss diplomacy, legislation, and reason
and insist on immediate change
without a prescription to make it happen.

The angry vegan will make comments such as
“You’re damn right I’m angry”
without realizing that the angry vegan can be angry
while advocating thoughtfully.
The angry vegan will demand a vegan world now
and continue being an angry vegan
until one day perhaps the angry vegan recognizes
the wisdom of the thoughtful vegan.

77 thoughts on “The Angry Vegan

  1. Thank you Marian. I applaud your desire to think critically about the issue.

    I read a comment in a public forum that expressed happiness that the children were killed at the Newtown Elementary School because it would mean fewer people eating animals. As we speak out against cruelty to animals, we must also speak out against such outrageous and offensive comments.

  2. Andrew, this is a great piece. I consider myself a kind vegan and write about that on my blog. I cannot be mean to people who are the same as I was before I became vegan. I would hate to think the people who are my friends today would have thought I was a bad person just 4 years ago.

    I also write about having patience with people and their questions. Not every question is a challenge or an attack. I’m sure a few are but most aren’t. Before I learned about food, nutrition and what happens to animals, I would have asked the same questions; in fact, I’m sure I did.

    Anger, sarcasm and defensiveness will only close people’s ears and perpetuate negative ideas about vegans. We each represent Veganism to the world. We should choose to represent it with the kindness and compassion we say we want to see in the world. Thank you.

    1. Hi Rhea,

      I appreciate your note. I will check out your blog.

      You make a lot of salient points, chief among them the fact that we “each represent veganism to the world.” People are looking for excuses to dismiss us as radical and crazy so they can continue their ways. I write more extensively about this topic in “An Open Letter to the Vegan Community.” We must not give them such a reason. We need to be models of courtesy and the compassion we seek in others. Hate is not a recipe for compassion.

      Thank you for modeling effective activism and for everything you do for the cause.


    1. Thank you very much Bethany. I wasn’t sure if this article would be too heavy-handed. I’m glad it has been met with approval. I believe angry vegans are well-intentioned but misguided in their approach. I expect some people will argue that their approach is effective. I will respectfully disagree.

  3. Excellent, excellent piece, Andrew. We will circulate it on our page. Best,

    On 30 December 2012 06:38, Kirschner’s Korner

  4. With all we know, it can be easy to fall into anger and despair. Thanks for reminding me of the importance of staying positive and patient in order to stay effective.

    1. Hi Jo,

      Thank you for sharing your thoughts. Yes, feelings of anger and despair are normal conditions given the circumstances but we must put these emotions to good use. You express yourself thoughtfully and effectively through your words and artwork. I applaud you for thinking about ways to further enhance the power of actions to benefit animals.


  5. Hi Andrew, very interesting piece. I consider myself an abolitionist in the sense that i don’t believe welfarism help animals in any way. How do you regulate exploitation? However, you will never catch me do the things described above like yelling and name calling or wishing harm to other humans. Veganism is ahimsa, non violence. Wishing people dead is as far from Veganism as it can be. I do however will make animal organization and some people accountable if I feel they do a disservice to the animals like promoting so-called “happy meat” and such nonsense which keep on perpetuating animal exploitation and comodification. I strive to be as compassionate as possible but I stay aware of what is wrong with the movement when it get co-opted by people who get “in bed” with animal abusers. I took on nutrition education in order to help people transition to Veganism from a health and ethical perspective. I have no higher calling.

    1. Hi Veronique,

      Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I appreciate your advocacy. I will be glad to respond to your questions.

      Being a welfarist or abolitionist does not make someone an angry vegan. There are people in both camps who do and do not use the approaches I described.

      Where we may disagree is that I believe all animal rights activists are abolitionists. Some of them simply accept welfare reforms as a means to the end. Unfortunately, the issue becomes divisive when some abolitionists argue that people who accept welfare reforms are satisfied with animals killed under these conditions. I don’t know any animal rights activists who accept welfare reforms who do not also want to end the confinement, abuse, exploitation, and killing of animals. It is unfortunate when abolitionists suggest otherwise. It implies that somehow they are fully satisfied if hens are not in battery cages or pigs are not in gestation crates when nothing could be further fom the truth. Agree or disagree, it shows a failure to understand the strategy behind the welfare movement. It is possible to advocate for abolition while respectfully disagreeing with people who support welfare reforms along the way.

      I would never say that Compassion Over Killing, FARM, Farm Sanctuary, HSUS, PETA, or Mercy for Animals — all of whom have supported welfare reforms — get “in bed” with animal abusers as you stated. It is a hurtful comment. These are people who dedicate their lives to ending the worst forms of abuse to animals. Imagine how it must feel when people who risk their lives to go undercover to save animals hear statements of this nature. It is divisive. It is possible to respectfully disagree without rhetoric, personal attacks, and hyperbole. Of course, you are free to advocate as you see fit but these are my observations.

      I would like to recommend the following books for anyone who might be interested:

      The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey
      How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie
      The Animal Activist’s Handbook by Bruce Friedrich and Matt Ball

      Thank you again for sharing your views. I wish you continued success in your advocacy and I am grateful for everything you do that advances the cause of animal rights, environmental protection, and human health.

      1. Thank you, Andrew. Too many of my fellow vegans believe and actively spread the dark propaganda put out by shills for the animal use industries to harm groups like PETA and the HSUS. I cannot fathom why animal activists would spread the lies about PETA and the HSUS put forth on behalf of the corporate interests who make a living abusing animals. I’ve heard countless vegans and animal activists repeat the lie about PETA slaughtering innocent shelter animals or the HSUS selling out farm animals. Again, my thanks.

        1. Thank you Susan. Unfortunately, many animal rights activists do not realize that Rick Berman’s Center for Consumer Freedom/Humane Watch starts many of the falsehoods about these organizations and then relies on the animal rights community to spread them. Berman is a paid lobbyist for the industries that abuse animals. Their strategy has been very effective at damaging reputations, outcomes, and contributions.

      2. To be honest, I do understand what Veronique is saying. My view of veganism is the abolitionist view, although I don’t like putting labels on things (neither veganism nor abolitionism/welfarism). I deeply think that we, as human animals, do not have any right of using any other beings, in any way. To me, ending exploitation of animal beings and human animals, as well as the destruction of our only habitat, goes not only through veganism, but also through abolitionism.

        Said that, I do realize that changes do not happen overnight (I wish!). Even if I decided, a few years ago, to spend my time and energy building an “abolitionist” world (I don’t even like the terminology used, but just so that we understand each other), I am really thankful to all those people who decide to spend their time and energy to build a “welfarist” world. To me, welfare reforms might not be the end of the road nor the main goal of veganism, but to all those beings who are allowed to live a better life, even if it is still within the limits of exploitation, those reforms DO make a difference! As it does breaking into a barn and freeing a few exploited hens. All this might not make a difference in the “big picture”, it might be a half-way measure to what we want to achieve, but to the individuals freed from that barn who have the chance to live a decent live… it means the world.

        So thank you, you who work for welfare reforms and you who risk your freedom and well-being to make a difference for the individuals. Thank you for spending your time and energies for making the lives of those beings a little better.

        I will go on with my task, helping the rest of our fellow humans understand (as it happened to me) that there is no right nor reason to believe ourselves superior and hence exploit, in whatever way, other living creatures.

        And thank you, Andrew, for this writing.

  6. For years, I have been hearing about “angry vegans.” There are certainly people out there who fit that description. But in my 30 years of being a vegan and being involved in the issue of animal ethics, the sort of person I encounter far more often is the person who is not a vegan, or is a “flexible” vegan, which means that the person is not a consistent vegan, claiming that being a consistent vegan–taking one’s fundamental moral principles seriously all of the time–is “fanatical,” “purist,” etc. Although I certainly agree that we should never attack anyone or be unkind and that we should always educate in creative and nonviolent ways, the idea that we cannot point out that certain celebrities have a financial interest in promoting animal products, or that we should not criticize the notion of “compassionate” exploitation, which is, in various ways, promoted by almost every large animal organization, or that we should not be crystal clear that there is no morally coherent distinction between meat and other animal products, is, in my view, a statement that we don’t take a serious moral principles seriously.

    My best wishes to all for a more just 2013,

    Gary L. Francione
    Professor, Rutgers University

    1. Hello Professor Francione,

      Thank you for your comments. You will be glad to learn I agree with them. While I believe sometimes the criticism of celebrities is harsh (i.e. 269’s attack on Paul McCartney for promoting a “vegetarian” Thanksgiving as a strategic way to attract mainstream meat eaters), I fully support activists providing people feedback to increase their compassion in “creative and nonviolent” ways. I’m afraid sometimes people fail to realize that many meat eaters make a transition from vegetarianism to veganism and that expecting them all to go straight to veganism isn’t always realistic.

      What if everyone was a “flexible” vegan who only ate meat once a week? Factory farms probably wouldn’t exist. While any consumption of animals isn’t the ideal, I’m not sure it’s the best use of our time to attack someone like President Clinton who says he occasionally eats fish when he is doing so much to spread awareness about the benefits of plant-based foods. I would prefer to encourage him to make the full transition in a supportive way than to demonize someone who has already come so far. That is the mistake I often see, most commonly presented in social media public forums where perhaps you don’t frequent. I’m suggesting that we stop making enemies out of our allies and that we present more encouragement than criticism to aspiring vegans.

      The purpose of this article was not to stymie debate but rather to promote a more civil discourse. I appreciate your support of that approach and for modeling it in your comments. I also appreciate everything you have done in the past 30 years to advance the cause of animal rights.

      1. Thank you for putting it so perfectly, Andrew! I recently attended a Lobby Day with the HSUS, where we were lobbying for some local animal rights legislation. The Congressmen had already been sent propaganda from those animal exploiting industries, we were lobbying against. The propaganda was a warning to legislators, to be weary of the organizations, MFA, PETA, COK, and PCRM. I find it interesting to note, that those are the same organizations that the Fancione camp tell many of my AR friends to avoid.

    2. Dear Gary (or Professor Francione if you prefer 🙂 ), I am a close follower of your blog and FB page, and I also admire your advocacy work.
      I agree on your views of how our society works, on the intricacies of the system within such big organizations as PETA, I do not belong to any of them as I think activism is done on a one-on-one basis.
      Now comes the but. You are a professor at Rutgers, someone who is listened to and rarely challenged. You have a knowledge uncommon to most of us and the capacity and literacy to communicate this knowledge to others, that is also uncommon to most. Dialectically, you can crush whoever comes close to you and disagree with your views, not only because they make sense (and they do, as said, they are also my views!), but also because of you ARE a professor of law at Rudgers (and this is your merit).
      In the world outside Rutgers, we are not so articulate and well-informed as you are, we do not hold such a respectable position. People do not look at me as they look at you. This is, basically, the difference.
      Would I communicate as you do with the people I encounter, I surely would not obtain the same responses. And to be honest, I think that the only responses that come to your ears are those who agree with you, the rest… just shut up and leave… No point in arguing with you, you will always have the upper hand.
      It is wonderful having you as a standard of how veganism should be, only today I shared one of your interviews subtitled in Spanish and the Spanish version of your blog. I really hope you will continue being completely coherent with what veganism.
      My situation, as mentioned, is different. To EFFICIENTY get to people from my standpoint I need to compromise. I need to speak not only of righteousness and ethics, but also of health, environment, and need to accept that some people will spend time before they get the principle… And I must say that I’m quite good at that :-)! And plan to get even better, using YOUR words too… And I’ll be forever grateful for those.

  7. Thank you for this wonderful blog, and in particular for this great post! I have recently returned to being vegan (again) and it will be for the rest of my life. Your post made me realize that although I am angry, it is misdirected anger. I am angry about other things. While I am angry over the treatment of factory-farmed animals, it is the people abusing the animals that anger me.

    I have to respect that everyone is on their own path as I am on mine. I may take the fork in the road to the left, while others might turn right. The best I can do right now is to surround myself with people who foster the positive in me and support my choices. Thank you.

    1. Hi Mary,

      Thank you for your beautiful note and commitment to animals.

      You understand my point precisely. We’re all angry over the treatment of animals. As I stated in the article, the thoughtful vegan is no less angry, sad, or determined than any other vegan. This is not a call for less anger; it is a suggestion to harness it in a useful manner. Some people will not care to see the difference, adopt a defensive stand, and erroneously conclude I am telling vegans to smile while discussing the most egregious abuse of animals. Such is not the case.

      You’re wise to channel your anger in a constructive way and to surround yourself with positive people. I wish you all the best in your advocacy. I’m proud to walk down the road less travelled with you.

  8. If I was an angry vegan, I’d be a single vegan because my boyfriend is a huge fan of meat (but still a little less since we knows, no matter what he says… 😉 )

    1. Thank you for sharing your comments Jafleur. After I wrote this article, I heard from a lot of people who have meat-eating family members and they all told me the same thing, namely, forcing their beliefs on their family only exacerbates the divide.

      One of the best ways to introduce future vegans to plant-based food is to prepare it for them. I cook for neighbors, friends, relatives, children at the Boys and Girls club where I volunteer, co-workers, and even the employees where I live. To disarm them, I explain if they don’t like one food, try another — the same way they would approach animal-based food. They always love it and ask where they can buy it or get a recipe. My vegan cooking classes have paid dividends. There are also a lot of great prepared options for the grill. In addition, I invite meat eaters to dine with me at restaurants that serve vegan fare, another effective way to introduce them to the joys of a more compassionate menu.

      People often state we need a vegan world now and they’re not waiting any longer. My response is always the same: “I agree. Please provide the roadmap to stop 7 billion people in 196 countries from eating animals if not gradually through education and legislation.” What we want and what is realistic are two very different things and the failure to realize that reality may result in a failure to advocate effectively.

  9. I very much enjoyed reading this blog. May I repost it on my website? When I read this the only types of vegans I am thinking about were the new breed of 269 vegans. The 269 vegans I find…well most of them are very angry. If there was a post I could sum up about how they treat outsiders, vegans, vegetarians, meat eaters, humanitarians or environmentalist it would be this one right here….

    “There is no hope for some human animals, he feels entitled to consume the flesh of a brutalized animal is because he is selfish, evil & animal flesh is like or should say a DRUG, so he is hooked. He also has no respect for our non human animals, let alone having no respect for himself. He probably has a very small brain, you almost want to feel sorry for him but he’s sick in the head, heart, but doesn’t sound like he has a heart. He’s addicted, like I said, animal flesh is like a drug. Yuck to Ben, mercy on your evil/selfish/heartless soul. Remember Ben, you are what you eat. Go vegan for the animals, your health & our home we call planet earth. Wake up Ben, It’s a Matrix! Instead of your blah, blah, blah, do everyone,every animal including human animals a favor. It’s not about perspective, & you Ben are morally F–ked UP in the head if you think animal slaughter, but call it by its real name MURDER,has nothing to do with rape, murder ect. you Ben deserve to be banned, you nasty!!!! GGRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR! People like you make me SICK! ANGRY, you have no respect or are worthy of life just because you want to be selfish. You stink Ben, I can smell you all the way over here. Go eat yourself Ben you nasty VIRUS of a so called HUMAN!!!” —Anonymous Vegan

    Note the name of the victim has been changed to protect his identity. I find a lot of the 269 responses are exactly like this. It’s basically turns out to be a competition not to see who can educate the best…but who can put down the person the best. Who can give the best insult. It’s very disturbing. They are also taught to not mingle with speciest vegans. These vegans are anyone who is for human rights to any extent or are even for educating “the enemy.” This new breed of vegan can be very threatening to the movement. Most 269 vegans I find share the personality of what you describe in this post. Sasha the leader behind this new vegan army of anger fuels their anger….purposely.

    Thank you SOOOOO much for this post. I appreciate it!

    1. Thank you very much for taking the time to express your thoughts. Yes, you may repost the article on your website. You’re always welcome to share my work.

      Thank you for providing us with an example of the type of commentary we sadly see all too often. Hopefully activists can learn how not to advocate from these non-examples.

  10. This is a great Write up Andrew !!! I am a working on being vegan ! I am vegitarian and in fact only recent gave up fish . I do find that when vegans talk to me like , “How can you not just be 100% vegan?””” it makes me angry . So, I become the angry vegitarian who is not so sure I ever want to CALL myself vegan alltho I do keep moving in the vegan direction. For some it is an instant all or nothing change. For others it takes time , especially when you start in your 50’s and have been eating animal products all your life ! Why is it so all or nothing for some and why do they jump all over you for not being all or nothing?? I belong to a couple veggie and vegan groups and will tell you that there are a few angry vegans in them. Not a LOT but a few. I recentely read an article on a vegan blog in that the vegans where bashing Kathy Freston for not being vegan enough . But, look at at all the people she has taught !! and influenced !! How can you put her down??? That sort of thing does make me angry .

    1. Hi Susan,

      Thank you for taking the time to share your comments. Your feedback is so important for vegans to hear. The type of advocacy you endured is counterproductive. I apologize you were subjected to it.

      Please allow me to tell you what I think of you making the decision to become a vegetarian. I hope by modeling it in a public forum, others will follow suit. This is the same reply I made to my family, friends, co-workers, neighbors, etc. when they made the switch from full-time meat-eater to vegetarian or pescetarian.

      By become a vegetarian, you will save the lives of thousands of animals and set a wonderful example for countless others. You will be showing more compassion for animals than 95% of the world in your daily decisions. I also started out as a vegetarian before I became a vegan. Perhaps you will find replacements for eggs, cheese, or milk once you learn about those industries and become adjusted to life as a vegetarian. It’s very easy. In the meantime, thank you for making this decision. It says a lot about you and how much you care about animals, your health, and our environment. People may criticize you for still eating animal byproducts. I applaud you for the changes you’ve made and I’m confident you will likely make even more in the months and years ahead on your own timetable if provided the support you need. Please let me know if there is anything I can do to help you. Thank you!

      That’s the message I share with vegetarians and I’m thrilled for the opportunity to share it with you. Attacking people who are not yet perfect is a failure to realize that none of us are perfect. Animals are displaced and killed in the production of plant-based foods, forests are cleared to make wood furniture, and the list goes on and on. We all have a negative impact on our environment and animals. There is no such thing as a cruelty-free lifestyle unless you live on an island eating coconuts. It’s a matter of degrees of cruelty and I applaud anyone who is taking steps to increase their compassionate choices. Attacking people making the transition is self-righteous and myopic and most importantly, it does not help people or animals.

      You may find this guide useful and you may find my story reassuring.

      Thanks again and keep up the good work! I’m very proud of you.

      1. Thank you for the reply. I have actually given up most dairy long ago but find that when I go out to eat sometimes I slip up in that I eat something with cheese in it. As long as I consume anything with any animal product in it , I will NOT call myself vegan as I have to many vegan friends who will jump on me for that ! But, I have made many changes and am by most accounts eating vegan.

  11. what a brilliant piece. i was the angry vegan but am always realizing the thoughtful approach is the only effective one. this really made me laugh at myself and strive even more to become the thoughtful vegan.

    1. That’s very kind of you to say Alicia. I appreciate your feedback.

      Yes, you said it right: “The thoughtful approach is the only effective one.” Degrading and patronizing people we want to inspire is not a recipe for success.

      I’m glad it provided you an opportunity to reflect. Thank you for being a thoughtful vegan.

  12. Hi Andrew,

    I love all your blogs. I used to be an angry vegan and have alienated quite some people. I should apologize the animals. However, now I present people with factual/scientific information in an inspiring/inviting way and let them decide for themselves what’s good for them. I am now planning to diversify my activism and to reach out to larger and varied audiences, than to the same group of people on facebook.

    Although you may not like it, I will never donate to PETA, HSUS, or such groups which promote the idea of ‘happy meat’. I would rather focus on MFA, VO, Animal Equality, and other groups which truly promote animal rights, veganism, and are doing meaningful work.

    Thank you for your inspiring posts and Happy New Year !

    Best Regards,
    Madhur Patel

    1. Hi Madhur,

      Thank you for your kind note and support. I’m glad to hear you made the transition to more effective activism. John Adams once said, “Facts are stubborn things.” They will serve you well.

      There is so much misinformation about PETA that I don’t think it will ever be corrected. Their undercover investigators are literally risking their lives to shine a light on and end the cruelest forms of abuse. Their opponents have done well to smear their reputation. PETA does not promote happy meat. Everyone who works at PETA is a vegan, including the founder of the modern animal rights movement, Ingrid Newkirk. Please consider watching this video and let me know if you think this is an organization promoting happy meat. Thank you for keeping an open mind.

  13. Hey Andrew,
    Thank you for posting this. It came just at the right time for me to read it. I always try and be nice to the public when on a demonstration. As Dale Carney said “You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar”. However, I was at a wedding at the weekend and I’d not seen so much fur in a long time, the bride, her bridesmaids and lots of the guests. I bit my tongue but came home angry and kept it to myself. I knew a wedding wasn’t the time or place to start any activism or even arguments. Instead, I emailed a friend to bitch and complain to her.

  14. Thanks for writing this blog. Its valuable to be reminded, and I do battle with this. I don’t fall into the “If you don’t go vegan, you should die” camp, but I do have some extremely strong positions that I am fairly inflexible on (my reply to a comment above is an example of that :-), and I am aware that can be perceived as being angry by those who do not hold those same positions. I try to balance it by pointing out good works that groups have done even as I am pointing out why I can not support them, but in the heat of things, often the other person does not read that part, or – probably just as often – I forget to include it.

    Managing the anger is not easy. There are some angers that need to be let go once, and they are done. But this one, I find trickier because we are confronted with the results of horror on a daily basis. Letting go of the same anger every day is hard. I try to do it. But the days I miss, invariably someone, somewhere calls me “another angry vegan”. I think its especially hard because if we falter even once, its lumped together in with the “angry mob”, even if that person is not generally a representative of that kind of approach or thinking.

    Its a difficult and complex thing to grapple with. Good reminder to keep grappling with it, though. Thanks.

  15. Hi Susie,

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I’m glad you found it helpful. In the end, you must decide when it is and isn’t the right time. I understand it can often be a difficult situation. We learn through experience. Perhaps you might consider channeling the sadness you felt over seeing those fur coats into action (i.e. organizing a protest or boycott, calling or letter writing campaign, leafletting, etc.).

    1. Hi Andrew,
      I do go on anti fur protests and carry anti fur postcards which I leave on the subway. I also left some in the diner where we had breakfast last weekend.

  16. I would have to say that, some people need to learn how to think critically when it comes to judging and trying to manipulate others.

    1. Thank you Ryan. Yes, it is very easy to be the angry vegan. It is much more challenging to be the thoughtful vegan because it requires thinking about which strategies will work best in different situations. Judging has never been hailed as an effective form of activism for any cause.

  17. Andrew,
    You have hit the nail on the head with this article. I have been vegan for 5+ years and have came across many, many angry vegans. I am appalled at the thought of others wishing death upon humans, yet praising themselves for not eating animals. I personally have influenced 3 complete conversions from meat eating to plant based..without insulting or chastising, Have we somehow lost compassion and empathy for our fellow brethren? It is time to step off of the soapbox.

    1. Hello Ashley,

      Thank you for your message. I commend you for teaching people about the many benefits of plant-based foods.

      Unfortunately, I see people wish others death too often. One of my inspirations for this article came after I saw people in a public forum write that they were happy the children were killed at the Newtown Elementary School because it would mean fewer people eating animals. It was such a grotesque statement that I felt compelled to address the issue.

      1. Yes, we should extend our compassion to fellow humans.
        That is horrible that some AR activists were happy that innocent children were killed.
        Unfortunately that attitude can give the AR movement a bad name amongst the general public. When we want to try and reach out to them and get most of them on our side.
        This only alienates them.

  18. Really great article, Andrew! I am a thoughtful vegan by nature and practice, but this week I’m going through the experience of feeling angry after a friend initiated a conversation gently challenging vegan diet as inadequate. The info I sent was too much, and his comments that casually supported slavery and killing left me feeling, well…angry. My responses were as factual and non-judgmental as I could make them, but I came off sounding defensive. I’m not an angry vegan in the way you describes here, not bitter or hostile, but from time to time I am caught off guard, or get in over my head, I dysregulate, and there I am…(sort of) The Angry Vegan. I need to work on my distress tolerance with direct challenges from people I know personally. I find I’m more vulnerable to reactivity with people I know with whom I share a sense of loving community and environmental ethics. I’ll get better at this. I want to be effective, and kind and supportive. It’s hard work, and it’s worth it. I agree that thoughtfulness and being culturally sensitive and adept is an important part of being an effective agent of social change. Thanks for your beautiful work! Keep it comin’!

    1. Hi Barbara,

      Thank you for sharing your thoughts. Your feelings are natural. Your mistakes are common. You are wise to think critically about how others perceive you. It doesn’t matter how we think we’re perceived — only how others perceive us. Our reality may not be their reality. I agree it is frustrating when people we know learn the truth and don’t change, however, we must not give up on them. I have friends who have listened to me discuss animal rights issues for years and finally made the decision to live a more compassionate life years later. We must accept that our thought process differs and short of legislating our way out of current conditions, we must remain patient and persistent and continue to provide information and inspiration for people to change.

  19. Thanks for this very honest and informative article Andrew. Although I often feel intense anger, sadness and frustration, I always try hard not to let this show in discussions with others. Over the years I have found that people are far more receptive to my views if I take the gentle friendly approach. I’ll only put my view forward if animal exploitation/cruelty topics are raised by others first and as a result have had some wonderful chats with work colleagues and friends that have resulted in them becoming more inquisitive and even shifting toward vegetarianism/veganism. It has also helped to show them through the amazing array of delicious vegan meal options that I take to work for lunch most days. I love the spices used in Thai and Indian foods in particular, and often get comments like “that smells/looks delicious, what is it”. This opens up discussion about the myths of a vegan diet and an opportunity to lend people some of my best vegan/vegetarian recipe books and pass on info about the great range of commercial products available. As you say Andrew, everyone is on their own journey. My journey toward veganism started at the age of 31 when I turned vegetarian after years of social conditioning and ignorance. I shifted to vegan 5 years later and have never looked back, however, I understand that everyone is on their own journey and will respond more positively to the friendly supportive approach from others. One of my favourite quotes is ….
    “Very little of the great cruelty shown by men can really be attributed to cruel instinct. Most of it comes from thoughtlessness or inherited habit. The roots of cruelty, therefore, are not so much strong as widespread. But the time must come when inhumanity protected by custom and thoughtlessness will succumb before humanity championed by thought. Let us work that this time may come.” ~Albert Schweitzer

    1. Very well said Sharon. We are very fortunate to have people like you advocating for the cause. I applaud you for making the transition and for recognizing the importance of advocating thoughtfully.

  20. Great article! Every time I think as the angry vegan I remember why I have choosen a non violence way of living, after having being a meat eater for 36 years, and realize violence cnnot fight with more violence but with love education information and motivation. Thanks for your inspiration

  21. Something in that for all vegans to consider, easy to forget that we ate meat and dairy products once. Can I recommend Nick Cooney ‘s book “Change of Heart …”, a great source of info for activists. I also like the cows socks and hankies here 🙂

  22. I realize that this is not a new article (but I just saw it) and it is timeless anyway. Thank you for writing it – I have found many “Angry Vegans” in social media… and me, as a pescatarian looking for recipes/blogs and alternatives to my current diet (becoming vegan) have been so turned off by the “talk” of compassion and “lack” of it by Angry Vegans. I was so surprised to find so much unkindness, impatience and downright meanness. Looking for a better crowd of Vegans… glad to have found your insight!

  23. I have to say I find it rather rich that Gary Francione claims not to know any angry vegans. I actually found this very page because me and a few friends have had very negative experiences with his followers, and we were googling “Francione, angry, vegan”. Francione produces many angry vegans. He sends them out to troll other Facebook pages and scream at people who do not bow down to their moral superiority. Try going to this FB page and asking a question or voicing the slightest disagreement. You will be shouted at, told you are not rational, need to read X, Y or Z written by Francione. His are the angriest vegans I have ever encountered in my 15 years of veganism.

    1. What shocked me about Francione is that he doesn’t support the March to Close Down Slaughterhouses. Every abolitionist should support that. BTW, I’m not an abolitionist as I support the Canadian Coalition for Farm Animals and I attended both marches here in Toronto. Harold Brown came to speak at the last march.
      And as for angry vegans; I’ll say a quote from Dale Carnegy’s book How to Win Friends and Influence People “You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar”.

  24. Brilliant article. Thank you very much. I certainly agree and have come to learn these lessons myself. I shared with my vegan community and wrote this: I think this is brilliant, please read. Now I post this recognising that most if not all of us probably have been the ‘angry vegan’ at one point or another. For me it was especially in the early stages when I made ‘the connection’. Seeing all the injustice going on in the world for what it really was, was hard, so freaking hard. But I learnt as the years have gone by many of these lessons mentioned here. And I too didn’t want to live a hate filled bitter life. I didn’t want to be angry. You can recognise all these injustices and still work towards a more compassionate life for all creatures whilst being a ‘thoughtful’ vegan over an angry one. I completely understand why vegans can be angry, but I don’t think its helpful or healthy for anyone.

  25. I understand your points. I agree with some and I disagree with some. It feels like the masses are asleep in a zombie-like trance just following social norms. Taking the road most traveled with only their comfort in mind. How to make life easy and get the most bang for your ego buck as possible without thinking individually, authentically and consciously. I am upset that it took me so long to snap out of the zombie state that thinks eating tortured animals and animal products is ok. I think the vegans I encountered through my life rather than teaching and getting the word out were so afraid of being labeled “angry” or odd or anything that would damage their ego that they rarely taught me anything. It wasn’t until netflix. But why couldn’t it have been word of mouth friend to friend? Why so meek, quiet and scared of what people think? If people knew what really goes on in factory farms and slaughter houses. (Houses, what a ridiculous use of the word) they would be nauseated and outraged. If anyone saw a dog, cat or human being treated even 1/10 as cruelly as animals are treated right now today over and over in factory farms it would be seen as a crime. Intolerable, yet it continues because we have to be slow and quiet and not make anyone uncomfortable.
    It is happening now and will keep happening until people wake up and realize they can stop this insanity.

  26. It’s seems like being an angry vegan is a phase. It’s tough dealing with all these new feelings. Especially depression and hopelessness. The general population is converting very slowly. Meat eaters can be mean and cruel while just joking around. If a vegan jokes back at all, they get portrayed as being angry. If they don’t stand up for themselves then they’re a pushover with no backbone. Who’s passive aggressivly preaching to people. It’s a catch 22…. Also at the current rate of vegan conversion we are all screwed and the animals are too. I went vegan after watching vegan gains and Gary yourofsky. 2 super angry vegans. Their passion and willingness to confront people is what stood out to me. I think it’s ok to be angry. It can still help the vegan movement. For example I’m angry that I live in a rural area and I’m the only vegan for thousands of miles. Meanwhile everyone around can eat wherever, date whoever, go to friends barbecues without wanting to go on a tirade the whole time, while your overweight friend feeds his fat kids chicken. Friends and family who you’ve told your vegan, but haven’t done any research on it after years. The author probably has a really good support system and lots of vegan friends. Probably even a mate. It’s probably really easy for him to be a nice vegan.

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