Looking for tips on how to deal with aggressive vegans? Some vegans are incredibly passionate about their beliefs, but it doesn’t mean you have to be. The trick is to listen, remain calm, not judge, and to know how to disengage with them.
In this article, I’m looking at why (some) vegans are aggressive or angry, whether being vegan makes someone more irritable, and what you should do to deal with angry or annoying vegans:
Why Are Vegan People So Aggressive?
I have to start this by saying that not all vegans are aggressive, of course.
In fact, there are no reliable statistics to say that vegans are more aggressive than meat-eaters, but it’s certainly a perception a lot of people have.
This perception comes from the fact that a lot of vegans are very outspoken about their beliefs.
This often causes a reaction from non-vegans in defense of whatever their beliefs are and this can easily escalate into an argument.
The thing is, food and what we eat is something a lot of people identify with – it’s a big part of who they are.
I can totally understand this. I try to eat well – for the most part – and to be told by someone else that eating animal products is wrong in their eyes doesn’t feel great.
I’m 100% fine with anyone eating whatever they like. I’m happy to hear what they believe in and not judge them.
I would never get into a heated debate about whether or not being a vegan or a meat-eater is better for me/them or the planet though.
I have met a couple of passionate vegans, which was interesting. I’ve never been at a pro-vegan rally or witnessed an animal rights protest in person, however, that’s very different.
If you’ve witnessed angry vegans at a protest or a rally, it’s never a good idea to engage in a debate with them at that moment.
They’re out to have their opinions heard and made public. Anyone who challenges them is going to serve as a way for them to get their point across – they are not simply going to agree with you.
Does Being Vegan Make You Irritable?
Being vegan can make someone more irritable, yes.
There is nothing wrong with a vegan diet and it is perfectly healthy when done right, but our bodies do rely on many of the nutrients found in animal products.
When you eat a vegan diet, if you’re not careful about the foods you’re eating to ensure you’re giving your body all the nutrients it needs, your physical and mental health can suffer.
Switching to veganism isn’t easy, it’s something you need to put time and planning into and you need to listen to how your body is reacting to your diet.
A lot of people will be more irritable if they’re not eating a well-balanced diet and are lacking key nutrients.
Not to mention the toll having cravings for certain foods has, as well as the frustration of not having lots of food options readily available.
The button line is; if you’re eating a well-balanced diet and living a healthy lifestyle – vegan or not – you’re going to be happier and less irritable.
If you or someone else is still irritable, you can’t blame that on being vegan!
5 Ways To Deal With Aggressive Vegans
How you deal with aggressive vegans is very similar to how you would deal with an aggressive vegetarian, religious person, or anyone trying to push their beliefs on you and tell you that you’re in the wrong.
Here are the 5 main things to keep in mind when facing someone who is angry and confrontational:
There is a famous quote by Margaret J Wheatly;
“Aggression only breeds more aggression. It only creates more fear and anger.”
This is certainly true when dealing with people who are aggressive for any reason. If you get angry back at them, the situation is going to escalate.
The best thing you can do is stay calm and listen to what they have to say. You don’t have to agree with them, but you also shouldn’t be confrontational in disagreeing.
Angry or aggressive people often calm down a notch when they feel like they’re being listened to and respected.
Walk Away if You’re in Danger
I hope you never find yourself in a situation where you’re in physical danger, but if you think there is the slightest hint of physical harm you need to walk away.
When someone is getting so wound up that they are willing to have a physical fight, they usually need some additional provocation.
This might be you disagreeing with them, squaring up to them, or something as simple as looking at them in the wrong way.
It’s hard to say what’s going to set them off. The best thing you can do to neutralize or stop the situation from escalating is to simply back away and leave them alone.
Related – Here’s why people confide in others.
Respectfully Agree to Disagree
You’re not going to become a vegan on the spot based on what a vegan is telling you. Just as a vegan is not going to start eating meat just because you put up a compelling argument.
What’s the best solution? To agree to disagree on the matter.
Agreeing to disagree basically means the two people agree that they will not see things the same way and there’s really no point in debating the topic further.
Not everyone is able to accept this, but they really have no choice if you’re not going to budge on your views.
Understand Where They’re Coming From
It’s easy to be annoyed and emotionally affected by an aggressive person. Both during and after dealing with them.
It’s easier said than done, but you can’t let what they say or do bother you. It’s just going to take up valuable time and thought space you could be better using.
I always find that trying to put myself in their shoes and understand their position helps me come to terms with their behavior.
It’s hard to excuse aggressive or rude behavior, of course, but if the person is simply passionate about being vegan, especially if it’s new to them, cut them some slack.
Don’t Hold a Grudge
It’s important that you don’t hold a grudge against this person who has been aggressive towards you.
Holding a grudge just means you’re holding on to negative emotions, and this has a negative impact on you.
You shouldn’t let their behavior taint your view of all vegans, either. Most vegans are perfectly polite. If this happens to be the first vegan you’ve interacted with, that was just bad luck.
In fact, some of my good friends are vegans. You’d never know they were vegan unless you sat down to have something to eat with them.
How To Make a Vegan Shut Up?
Let’s not pull our punches here, if being polite and tactful isn’t working – you may just want to shut a vegan up and not listen to what they have to say on the matter any longer.
You’re perfectly entitled to tell someone to stop bothering you or talking about a particular topic you don’t want to hear, so don’t feel bad about not wanting to hear it.
It’s just that some ways of doing this are going to be more effective than others.
How you ‘politely’ tell a vegan to ‘shut up’ and stop talking to you about veganism depends on the person and your situation – but you have to be very clear.
Next time you’re faced with an over-enthusiastic vegan, try saying something along the lines of:
- “Sorry, I’m going to have to cut in and ask you not to talk about veganism, it’s not of interest to me.”
- “Apologies, I have to be upfront with you; I’m a meat-eater and proud of it.”
- “I’ve heard all the arguments for being vegan, it’s just not something that resonates with me.”
- “You’re being a bit too aggressive for my liking, we should change the subject.”
- “How would you like it if I was talking about eating meat like you’re talking to me about veganism?”
- “I respect your views, but I just can’t support veganism so we should talk about something else.”
There are some things you could say that will be a lot more offensive, of course. I never advise people to take it that far though, even if you’re faced with a particularly annoying person.
It’s always best to be the bigger person and walk away than it is to say something you may regret, or that may cause the situation to escalate.
Image credits – Photo by Charl Folscher on Unsplash
Phil lives in England, UK, and has around 20 years experience as a professional life, career and executive coach. He started this blog to help others find and define their own self development journey. Blogging about a wide range of topics to help facilitate a better future.