Tag Archives: confirmation bias

Let Them Eat Cake… and Also Whatever Else They Want


You are what you eat...

Well, it’s finally happened. I’ve finally realized that the world doesn’t want vegetarians to exist. I’ve fought this fact for a while. I didn’t want it to be true. After all, I live in Southern California, the land of vegetarian restaurants (mostly hipster-vegan). Food chains all over the country are adding their cute little “grain patties” to menus. It just seemed like progress was slow, though constant.

But then, of course, there’s always the internet, isn’t there?

I don’t understand people very well. I like people, sure. Where would I be without them? Doesn’t change the fact that I just. Don’t. Get. It.

A friend of mine linked to a video (http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/news-video/video-famous-vegan-alex-jamieson-eating-meat-after-12-years/article11708573) on Facebook. It’s about a famous vegan who’s deciding to eat meat again for her health’s sake. That’s fair. I’ve written a lot myself on how dangerous vegetarianism can be. I thought, wow… cool for her. I couldn’t force myself to eat meat even if I really tried. In fact, I’m terribly afraid of ever being stranded in a life or death situation for just this reason. Well, for a lot of reasons I suppose, but it should still say something that this is one of them. My point is, I still don’t care what other people eat. I’m happy when people make decisions for themselves based on what they know is best. Live and let eat and all that.

Then this comment happened: “Vegan-ism is a cult (or an eating disorder). Hence the massive negative backlash EVERY TIME someone leaves the fold. Vegans are a viscous[sic] lot; but I guess I would be too if my brain was starved for essential animal-based saturated fats.”

I mean… Come on.

What is that? Is that someone just messing around? Because it’s certainly not an informed opinion. People take what they hear from different media outlets, I think, and regurgitate it in what I like to call “Band Wagon Rhetoric.” It’s popular to make fun of vegans, and unfortunately this has progressed to the point of a weird unfounded kind of hatred. Why, oh why, would someone be so upset about something that, by all appearances at least, has nothing to do with him?

I can only tell you what I think about this. What I think, is that people love to be a part of something. They love to think that they stand for something… And if they can’t stand for something, if it’s not part of their personal dogma, they have to stand against it. I commented politely to this man and, among some other things, I pointed out that a broad generalization of any group of people is wrong and backwards. Things are not black and white, and as my favorite Jedi once said: “Only the Sith deal in absolutes.” Except for that absolute. That one’s okay.

To be honest, though, if it had just been a generalization, I probably would have passed over it. I’ve learned to pick my fights over the years, and in any case, I can entertain another person’s opinion without necessarily holding it true myself. What really baffles me here, is the outright anger this man displayed. I feel, in this case, that anger is just a way to mask a fundamental lack of knowledge on the subject. After all, if he is so up in arms about it, he must have good reason, right? This is our cultural hive mind at its best… and it’s ridiculous.

When you get right down to it, this person has probably met several vegans who never came out and said they were vegans. Maybe he got on with them, maybe he didn’t, but in the end it had nothing to do with whether or not they ate meat. Why? Because he didn’t know it about them. Just as your gay friend Charlie shouldn’t be referred to as your “gay friend Charlie”, because maybe Charlie has something far more interesting and relevant to his personality to be described as, vegans shouldn’t be defined by their diet. Their diet of all things. That someone could possibly get so heated over what someone is putting in their mouths during snack time, is bordering on comical.

Having said that, since I am a fairly reasonable person, I do understand that vegans can be preachy and annoying. I understand that PETA has done almost everything it can to ruin the face of veganism for most people… But honestly, it’s just like any other stereotype. There will be those among us who fit the bill of any stereotype you can name, and when you’re looking for it you’re going to find it. Confirmation bias is a real thing, and a big problem. If you are already inclined to believe something (say, for instance, that vegansim is a cult just because it’s something you don’t happen to understand for yourself), then any source of proof you get that can serve to solidify your opinion will serve to solidify your opinion. Never mind the quiet vegan who just wants to have a damn salad for lunch, and be done with it. That person can be easily ignored. Just like every time it doesn’t rain after you’ve just washed your car can be ignored in favor of lamenting over the one or two days it does, just so that you can cry, “Why does this always happen to me?!”

But… it doesn’t always happen to you. It sometimes happens to everyone.

Most everyone has enough on their plate to worry about without also worrying about… well, what’s on someone’s plate. Do we really need one more reason to divide people? With such heated topics as religion, politics, and musical preferences, there are plenty of things already seeing to it that no one will ever settle down and see eye to eye on anything. If you really stop to think about it, though, I think any intelligent person can see that a difference in opinion is no reason to vilify a person or group of people.

I mean, unless you think coffee is better than tea. In that case you are evil and contributing largely to the downfall of society.

I’m mostly kidding about that last part.