What I’m really interested in is the comments section, where "spaceshaper" writes:
When I first came across this coinage a few months back, I’ll admit I was annoyed. It was in a context where it was clearly intended to be insulting, demeaning and dismissive – the president of a biodiesel company defending his turf and his market, seeking to deflect yech-factor criticism of his CAFO chicken-fat feedstock sourcing.
The irritation resurfaced when I read the post above: "I’m not a vegangelical" says Balcavage, clearly wishing to dissociate herself from the strident, shrill etc. image which the word is intended to convey. And in the many emotional anti-veg diatribes we see whenever Gristmill examines the environmental ethics of meat-eating, such an image is constantly invoked. "I’d eat less meat myself if PETA just weren’t so strident" runs the complaint.
Then my thoughts went to the fact that despite living in a community where veg*ns are not at all rare, I’ve never actually encountered this trope myself. Just where are all these strident veggies?
And then I suddenly began to wonder if this absence was actually such a good thing. I’ve always been one of those "polite" veg*ns myself, always responding with a quiet deflection when someone asks at a party "why aren’t you eating the ham/beef/turkey – it’s delicious!" I hold back from mentioning the short unhappy life and nasty brutal death of the animal they’re eating. It seems so unfestive and awkward, so I say something nonconfrontational, like Oh I just don’t like to eat meat. The carnivore at my elbow usually backs off at this point and changes the subject.
But perhaps I’ll have the courage to take a more aggressive line, now I have a label to cling to. Instead of cringing defensively when this trendy coinage reappears, as surely it will, I’ll emulate the Impressionists who turned sneering insult to badge of honor. "Meat is disgusting", I’ll say, " you should be ashamed of yourself. I’m a vegangelical and you’re infringing my rights to a meat-free environment. Why are you insisting on eating that crap in front of me? Take it somewhere where I don’t have to see it."
The non-smokers did it. God, wouldn’t it be great if the hard-core carnivores at a dinner party were banished to the back deck in the rain to chew their slim jims away from polite company. Are we being just too nice? Fellow vegangelicals: rally to the banner. Our hour has come!
This got me thinking about yesterday’s post and self-monitoring. There’s got to be a balance, I’d imagine, where you have the ability to read a person and deliver your message in such a way as to maximize its reception, without diluting it. Meanwhile, I read "spaceshaper" and I say, "Yes! Let’s humiliate them to cease their nefarious practices, like we did to smokers!" Whether you’re killing yourself and harming me with your smoke, or killing a sentient being with your animal products, it’s all equally offensive to me. (Though I admit that’s a hard sell for most people involving a quantum leap.)
What are your thoughts? Do you like "vegangelical" and do you use it? And what about the tactic? Do you too secretly wish you could tell people what they do is disgusting and they should be ashamed?