Respecting people who have different beliefs is you? That’s hard, but it’s a part of life. Many people are kind enough to “agree to disagree,” but then there are those few who just can’t leave well enough alone. That is what happened to this woman who went on a camping trip with two acquaintances. In the end, she almost wished she had declined their offer altogether. This turned into a nightmare!
When I was in college, I went with a couple of girl friends of mine on a short camping trip, just the three of us. They were nice girls from several of my classes, and we all got along pretty well. The only thing that ever stuck thorns in our sides were our differences when it came to lifestyle choices.
Specifically, these two particular girls were vegan, and they seemed to think it was their mission in life to make me vegan too.
Part of the reason for our going on this trip was for them to cook me some vegan campfire treats and show me the awesomeness of nature. I love camping anyway, and I figured I could deal with their preaching in exchange for sleeping for a couple nights under the stars and hiking in the woods of Appalachia with two people who were on the whole pretty nice people.
Cut to the first night, and we’re making dinner. These two are grilling up portabello mushroom steaks, along with marshmallows and tofu weenies.
The food was tasty, and I didn’t complain, which made them look as smug as my cat looks when she’s “conned” me out of a couple of cat treats.
As we’re watching the stars come out overhead in the clearing where we’ve set up camp, they start in on me about veganism and how I should adopt the lifestyle too.
Having been prepared for this, I calmly explained to them that while I think it’s great that they’ve found a way to exist that leaves them satisfied with their places in the world, I just don’t need the same levels of restriction that they do. I don’t look at things in the same way, etc., etc.
Long story short, we get into a lengthy debate about the harm humans inflict upon the world and its wildlife, as well as the deplorable conditions of livestock and neglected or abandoned pets, and before long I’m finding that we’ve argued the same points several times already, and there is no way we’re going to see eye to eye on things.
I don’t like having drama between me and my friends, so I try everything I can to convince them that we’ll just have to agree to disagree, and at first, I think I’ve succeeded. We all retire to our tents for the night, and we go to sleep.
The next morning, I wake up and find that somebody (we’ll name no names) has written “murderer”, and “sadist”, and “racist” all over the outside of my tent in big, bold letters with what appears to be lipstick.
Now, naturally, I know who did it.
We’re on the order of ten miles away from the nearest human-built objects, and I’m pretty sure that a raccoon didn’t amble into camp, rifle through my friends’ purses, retrieve the animal-safe lipstick, uncap it, and write in clear, neat letters all over my tent what he thought of my stance on veganism. I may be wrong, of course, and if I am, I’d dearly love to meet this savant raccoon and give him a chance to plead his case.
As it was, I decided that the best thing for me to do was ignore it, and let my friends bring up the matter first. We sit down to breakfast, and as I expected, they didn’t want to let me get away with just keeping mum about the elephant in the room, as it were.
“What do you think about your role in the world?” one of them asked me. “Are you really so happy murdering living creatures, taking advantage of their suffering, and passing judgment on which life forms are more important than others?”
At this point, I finally begin to lose patience.
These two aren’t the only vegans in my circle of friends, but until I had met them, I’d had absolutely no issues, as most of them are perfectly friendly, non-intrusive individuals who just want to live their lives like the rest of us. These two were recent converts, and I guessed that they wanted to overcompensate for their previous shortcomings by being extra-zealous now. I decided that if they were going to be obnoxious, I was going to mess with their heads a little.
“At least I’m not faking it like you two are,”
I said in my most affable, friendly tone. “You two aren’t even real vegans. What do you care if I am or not?”
They looked at me like I’d just told them they were from outer space. “Well, it’s true,” I continued. “You both ate marshmallows with me last night.”
“There’s nothing wrong with marshmallows,” one of them retorted angrily. “There’s no meat, milk, or eggs in those!”
“Oh, to be sure, there’s none of that,” I agreed. “Of course, as long as you’re willing to overlook the ground-up horse hooves they use to make the gelatin in them, I guess you could say they’re vegan-safe. You’ve got me there. Oh, but there’s more than just that. Samantha, you’re using birth control, right?”
“Of course I am,” she replied indignantly. “I see no reason to bring another human into the world when we’re so overpopulated as it is.”
“Fine, fine.” I had her…
“That’s definitely your choice to make, and I have no problem with it. But I thought maybe you might, since those pills you’re taking are made with hormones extracted from pregnant mare’s urine, after all. I mean, hey, if you guys say veganism only applies to non-equine animals, then that’s your thing and I won’t hold it against you.
Just be aware that other vegans might not take it so kindly that you’re exploiting horses while sitting on such high ones.”
The looks of horror on their faces were absolutely priceless. After that, they both made excuses about having to go back early suddenly, and we cut our trip short.
We were never very close friends after that, but I did get the impression that they hadn’t realized how difficult it really was to go animal-free, and they didn’t appreciate an unenlightened omnivore’s being the one to point it out to them.
Oh well. I did feel bad about not seeing them as often after that, but part of me always secretly celebrates blowing their minds like that.
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