With the growing popularity of veganism in recent years, the narrative of the ‘angry vegan’ is a familiar one to most millennials and Gen Z’s. From 2014 to 2017 the number of vegans in the United States grew 600%.
We have grown up surrounded by more talk of veganism than any generation yet. However, just the word is a scary thing to some people. This fear could be due to the idea of giving up certain foods. For others, it is the reaction they have encountered for not doing so, or the one they are afraid they might get.
While some might have personal experience with a so-called ‘angry vegan,’ much of the stereotype can be attributed to a few people on social media and the portrayal of vegans in popular television.
Maya Banyacski, a junior at UO, has been a vegan since the sixth grade. She said the main reasons that she went vegan were for the environment and animal rights.
“People talk about the vegan agenda, and in a lot of sitcoms and stuff I’ve noticed they make jokes..it’s portrayed in a really negative way,” Banyacski said. She emphasized that the ‘angry vegan’ stereotype is an example of taking the extreme of a group of people and using them to represent the whole.
Though this stereotype may not be justified for all vegans, it is understandable how non-vegans can get spooked when encountering an instance of ‘angry-veganism.’ No one likes to feel guilty for something as essential as eating.
On why she thought many people found it so hard to go vegan, Banyacski said, “I hear this a lot from all my friends that are vegetarian, ‘Oh I would go vegan but I couldn't give up cheese.’” She added that it’s common because cheese has a chemical in it that makes it addictive.
Giving up certain foods is the main deterrent for some people when it comes to veganism. There are other people, however, who may want to go vegan but find it difficult because of dietary restrictions such as allergies, or GI problems that cause them to have to avoid certain foods.
One such diet is the low fodmap diet which is common for people with Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Among the foods on the ‘no list’ are beans, lentils, wheat and most variations of soy. These foods also happen to be accessible proteins for those on a vegan diet, making the low fodmap diet a hard one to mix with the vegan diet.
Not everyone has equal access to becoming vegan. “Eugene is a place that is more accommodating to different types of lifestyles like gluten free or vegan,” Banyacski said. A lot of other cities do not have quite as many options and this could be another barrier. A study on the number of vegan restaurants per 100,000 residents in U.S. cities, places Eugene at third, with Portland and Bend also in the top five. Nearer to the bottom were mostly cities in the Midwest and East Coast.
Access and health requirements are certainly understandable reasons for not adopting a vegan lifestyle. That being said, reducing animal products in your diet is one of the most impactful ways to decrease your carbon footprint and help the environment. Even switching out your milk for an alternative, such as almond or soy, has an impact.
“Whatever one is able to do, even if they’re not able to achieve full veganism or even if that’s not their goal, is a good step,” Banyacski said.
Though many do not have the option to go vegan, it is still an important option to be open-minded about due to its environmental impact alone. But whether vegan or not, the most important thing to remember is to respect people’s choices and do your best.