My penchant for debate is fueled by obstinate idealism and compulsive passion. I have an opinion on nearly everything… indifference doesn’t seem to mesh well with my hyperactive, insatiable brain. If you aren’t rolling your eyes yet- or shuddering at the thought- I’ll happily pour you a beer and make you a sandwich while I rant fanatically about societal standards and the progress (or lack thereof) made. I often feel like Frank from OldSchool when he slumps over on the podium after his speech on the politics of biotechnology- in that I have no idea when I wrote a dissertation on this subject but I seem to have memorized a lot of statistics for a person with math anxiety.
There is one topic, however, that I approach with uncharacteristic shrewdness and meticulous diplomacy. I’m vegan. You still want that sandwich?
When an inevitable luncheon reveals I don’t eat bacon (gasp!) or any other animal products (WHAT?!), the reaction is almost exclusively met with the emotional intensity of a charged political altercation. I’m frequently insulted, mocked, interrogated, or condemned as a crazy human-hater. Perhaps the universe felt guilty for my innate emotional insanity, and its apology is that i value facts -rather than my usual servitude to emotion- in a debate environment. Bonus: my obsessive quest for information has given me a fairly extensive database to pull from. With the weight of a cause I wish desperately to advance, and a negative stereotype I wish desperately to eradicate, I respond with the respect I hope to have reciprocated. Nine times out of ten, it is. Food is never the real conversation. Cultural identification, emotional triggers, propaganda, masculinity-these are the things on the table. (10 points to Gryffindor for wordplay).
Understanding the other person, or at least trying to, is essential to qualify any discussion as a legitimate conversation. Even if I’m being criticized, I know it’s not really personal. Responding with patience becomes easier and the big picture keeps me in check- I’m representing a movement, and I want to make the best impression I can despite preconceived notions that I’m about to freak out on you, am probably malnourished and/or anorexic, and am generally a punk-ass b****. But I’m going to be friendly, because I don’t want to be the chairman of Club Vegan… I want to encourage consciousness, because consciousness is freaking awesome. I want to do everything I can with the one chance I have to make any impact I can on reducing suffering in the world. This is not because my moral code is superior to yours- trust me, I have a running bucket list of ways I’ve royally f’d something up. I accidentally discovered the well-funded deception surrounding industrial animal agriculture, the cruelty it perpetuates, the consumers it exploits, etc. etc… and it sucks. The importance of being informed, of questioning the world, of demanding its evolution and constant improvement- applies to politics. feminism. environmentalism. capitalism. Every ‘ism’ you could think of. Knowledge IS power- and power is responsibility. To be EMpowered, make yourself responsible.
Oh god, I blacked out… thanks Will Ferrell.
By Callie Ray
This post originally appeared on Quoth The Raven