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IT’S WAR: Why vegans and meat-eaters can’t stop attacking each other

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Today's food systems allow us to eat meat without thinking too much about the source. Advocating for veganism, can interrupt that blissful, carefully-cultivated ignorance.

GABBY LANDSVERK: The debate over whether to consume animal products, like meat and dairy, or go entirely plant-based (vegan) is a hot-button issue, often filled with vitriol and name-calling online and in real life… A Florida man was recently arrested for allegedly stabbing his cousin after a heated debate about whether whole cow’s milk or almond milk is superior…

Recently, the term “vegan” has itself been subject to controversy, as more people opting out of animal-products choose to identify as “plant-based” instead to avoid stigma and cultural baggage linked to veganism, said Nicole Civita, a sustainable food systems specialist at the University of Colorado Boulder.

But the conversation has as much to do with politics as it does with what’s on your plate. According to Civita and Ruby, food choices reflect deep divides in culture and ethics, but also shared anxieties about our collective future and identities…

Although vegans are often portrayed as overly sensitive, offended at the idea of eating meat, Civita says it swings both ways. Most people would prefer not to think too much about their consumption habits, Civita said, or at least have the choice about when, and how much, to consider them.

Veganism, though, forces people to confront not just their role in food systems but also in the food chain. “There’s this notion of implicit judgment that my choice to not eat animal products is implicit judgment of someone else’s choice to do so,” Civita said… Today’s food systems allow us the luxury of eating meat without thinking too much about the source. Opting out, or advocating for animal rights, can interrupt that blissful, carefully-cultivated ignorance…

To make matters worse, most people generally like animals, especially the cuddly kind. At some point, meat-eaters are forced to reconcile their affection for non-human species with their decision to eat some of them… and that cognitive dissonance can make people particularly defensive about their food choices…

Issues of food choice evoke social and environmental anxieties, about how our actions might influence things like climate change and economic justice, and more abstract notions of morality and social responsibility… Internet debates often amplify the most extreme versions of the conversation and the kernels of truth, somewhere in the middle, are lost in the heat of making a point or winning an argument. In that context, nuances are hard for people to digest. SOURCE…

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