Is it the pallid complexion and limpid motor function? Or the joyless, self-denying, palate-crucifying lifestyle? Or the fact that being a vegetarian - itself an utterly inexplicable form of deviancy in my view - simply wasn't enough, they had to go an get all sniffy about using products derived from living animals too?
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Nice Lady Doctor kindly sent me the following excerpt written by a vegan on (where else) the Guardian website:
"When I eat with one of my carnivore friends, I usually find myself helplessly distracted by their food ...
I stare because I'm fascinated by the fact that these intelligent, thinking people actually eat the flesh of dead animals. This seems to be the point at which their ethics vanish ... when it comes to the moral and environmental issue of meat consumption, their desire for food they enjoy the taste of, the sensual pleasure it gives them, overrides any ethical considerations ... I could never tell them that their lack of conscience about what they eat creates a barrier between us. Or that it means we will never be quite as close as we could be."
I know. Reading that made me want to gouge out my own eyeballs too. But where to start? OK, first up, your friends aren't carnivores, they are omnivores, dipshit. Like the omnivore, the vegan merely needs to open their own mouths and examine their dentition - their omnivore dentition - to understand that physiologically Mother Nature has stipulated that we do best when we eat flora and fauna.
The second point is closely tied to the prim preference for 'natural' foods, a disposition only permitted by complete ignorance about where your food actually comes from. Selective breeding is a form of genetic modification that we've practised for centuries, developing cereals, vegetables, fruit and animals that simply would not exist, but for the fact that we made them the way they are so we can eat them. It doesn't matter how bloody organic your meat and two veg are; evolution did not provide us with orange carrots, bonsai broccoli or Aberdeen Angus steak.
So, by milking a cow you are not stealing its milk. Dairy cows explode if you don't milk them because we made them that way. If you don't steal their milk, they die. Similarly, eggs laid by mother hens do not hatch into little chicks if nasty people don't half-inch the little blighters before they've had a chance. Eggs only hatch if they are fertilised, and producing hens don't get fertilised.
Finally, veganism is as pure an expression as can be imagined of the sort of Western liberal decadence that most vegans claim to despise. Poor people, generally speaking, aren't vegans (unless they've been got at by some equally wrong-headed faith system). They aren't vegans because they don't have the luxury of making arbitrary and frankly quite bonkers decisions about their diet. They eat what they can, and if that includes a bit of meat, egg and milk occasionally, all the better. And the reason that so many people around the world can actually enjoy these 'unethical' foodstuffs is down to the aforementioned selective breeding jiggery pokery that tiresome vegans presumably think shouldn't have happened in the first place.
Vegans, by and large, are protected from the consequences of self-inflicted injury that is veganism by adequate health provision, breadth of consumer choice and the wide availability of dietary supplements, all things created by people who didn't piss about picking the prawns out of their salad and sat down to a proper meal three times a day.
That's not to say that I don't acknowledge vegans have the right to make their own choices about the food they eat. But by the same token, I have every right to despise them for it.