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Mainstream news outlet Newsweek has published an in-depth article asking why do hipsters mock vegans?
In it, author (and vegan) Neil H Buchanan, talks about how he writes an annual ‘veganniversary’ column to celebrate his lifestyle – but also to analyze the way ‘vegans are treated and portrayed in popular culture’.
According to Buchanan, and based on information he gleaned from Happy Cow – a database of vegan and vegan-friendly eateries globally – there are many vegan hipsters.
He describes it as a ‘nearly perfect correlation between vegan-friendly neighborhoods and hipsters’ – something he finds to be an international phenomenon.
Buchanan claims that when vegans are slighted, the purpose of the mockery is to often to ‘mock vegans for being self-important, whining, annoying prigs’.
He lists some of these situations – TV host Stephen Colbert (who recently said he would undertake a short-term plant-based diet) often makes fun of vegans on his show – and, as Buchanan points out, his audience seems to love it.
Another example is when he went to eat in a burger bar in Sydney, and was greeted by a menu that said: “Veggie Burger. For all you whining hippies, here it is. Homemade black bean and sweet potato patty served with lettuce, tomato, red onion and sauce. Sorry, not vegan-friendly!”
The big question
So to get to the root of the issue – why do they do it?
Buchanan writes: “One answer is easy and obvious: Because hipsters mock everything . The whole hipster ethos is built around suspicion of sincerity and fear of being caught caring too much about anything.”
But is it that simple? He thinks not, saying: “I suspect that the anti-vegan hipster attitude ultimately derives from a combination of two things.”
Buchanan says the first of these two things is that veganism is ‘now common enough among hipsters that it is worth ridiculing and no longer so fragile that ridicule will do it real damage’.
He adds: “The second part of the explanation arises from the fact that this crowd tends to be more highly educated than average, which means that they know bad arguments when they see them.
“Because they are exposed to veganism much more than most other groups, this means that non-vegan hipsters are much more likely to have been put in a position where they have had to think about veganism, and they have come to the uncomfortable realization that they do not have a good reason not to be vegan.”
He argues that this exposure means hipsters are not going to use arguments like ‘God gave man dominion over all the animals’, or question the protein issue, as they are familiar with all these arguments and their answers.
So what can someone who is uncomfortable with their moral position do?
Buchanan says they will ‘mock the people who have followed their consciences, suggesting that it is all too precious and a mere attempt to be cool. Vegans notice this attitude, of course. But it frankly does not matter, because this is a transitional period’.
He concludes: “It is not as if the world is going vegan anytime soon, unfortunately, but the familiarity of veganism among hipsters is changing how non-vegan hipsters think.
“Nine years in, what I am seeing is a group of young people who are more open to veganism than their predecessors, and their mockery is merely part of the process of normalizing that which had been abnormal.”