The Tiny Cult of Veganism


There are many jokes about vegans, and you have probably heard them all. But, just in case, here’s one of the best:

Question: How do you find out if someone you have just met is a vegan?

Answer: Don’t worry mate, they’ll tell you within their first sentence.

I may sound cynical, but I am convinced about the efficacy of veganism. It is highly effective at turning its adherents into skinny, pasty-faced, flatulent and self-righteous prats.

At the last count there were 600,000 vegans in the UK constituting 1.21% of the population. Luckily you only have roughly a one in a hundred chance of bumping into one. But they would like to give you the impression that they are more numerous.

I can’t do a Parkrun without being joined on the frontline by a ‘Vegan Runner’. How do I know? It’s on his running top.

There seem to be vegan restaurants everywhere these days. My hometown of Hull, which I always took to be full of sensible down to earth types, has a growing number and they seem to thrive. I suppose the annual influx of students keeps them going but it is likely that there will soon be more vegan restaurants here than vegans. There is even a vegan take away in a one-horse town in rural Lincolnshire, although I guess that ought to be called a ‘no-horse’ town in case reference to the exploitation of horses offends the vegan customers, if they even get any. There are probably more Vulcans than vegans in rural Lincolnshire.

Possibly the growth of vegan restaurants caters for the ‘vegan curious.’ Alternatively, when any large group of mainly healthy meat eaters goes out for dinner, even if only one vegan is present, they must visit a vegan restaurant lest the vegan is offended by the sight of a sizzling sausage. Anyone used to eating a normal diet who has been to a vegan restaurant—I have the misfortune to have done so—will attest to the fact that some dishes are OK-ish. After all there’s not much you can do wrong with a salad, provided you don’t want proper mayonnaise. The main dishes seem to be an effort to recreate meat dishes that are not composed of meat such as vegan sausages, vegan burgers and even vegan steaks.

Are these people’s cognitive faculties so damaged that they cannot see the irony? If they think that this is going to attract meat eaters to become vegans, then they are much mistaken. The reaction of a meat eater to vegan fakery usually goes from “Mmm that looks nice” to “WTF have I just put in my mouth”. If you are still not convinced about the self-imposed misery in which vegans exist, just try vegan ice cream. It’s like a cross between frozen cotton wool and semi-solidified moisturiser.

Vegans don’t seem to be imbued with much sense of humour. Possibly the part of your brain that makes you laugh is one of the first to atrophy when you stop eating meat and eschew all animal products. I thought I’d raise a smile from a vegan relative when I asked her about the use of honey and where vegans stood on that issue.

I wish I hadn’t.

They don’t have an agreed view on the use of bees to harvest honey, but it is a ‘point of debate’ within the vegan community. There is so much to ‘unpack’ in that sentence. First the indication of how vacuous the life of the average vegan must be that they would have to time to debate whether scraping honey from the beehive of some buzzy bees is a crime against the animal kingdom. The other aspect of the sentence is that they consider themselves a ‘community’ and that is something that always rings alarm bells in my mind. Those who consider themselves to be part of a community (e.g. gays, transsexuals, queers, Mumsnet) often turn nasty when their community is offended.

Vegans have even demanded that their veganism is considered a protected characteristic, like a religion. This tells me a lot about them. But who knew that ‘being a twat’ can be considered a protected characteristic?

Roger Watson is a Registered Nurse and Editor-in-Chief of Nurse Education in Practice.