What — or who — is a Meat Defender? A Meat Defender is someone who dismisses, diminishes or demeans the vegan position or characterizes the use of animals as a uniquely personal choice while ignoring or disregarding credible evidence that is contrary to this claim. Meat Defense is the process through which one arrives at a position that is antagonistic to vegans and veganism.
Meat Defenders are everywhere: Your office, your gym, your home, maybe even your bed. You will see that I have identified 52 types of Meat Defenders — handily, one for each week of the year — and many of the varieties have characteristics that overlap; also, very often Meat Defenders possess or will cycle through multiple defensive identities, especially when one approach is determined to be less effective. Until we identify and name it, we can’t dismantle it, so sit down, grab a cup of tea and relax. This will take a while.
Without further ado, here are the Meat Defenders.
1. The Squinty Concerned Parties — These are the people who, upon learning you are vegan, will squint at you with a vaguely clinical demeanor and generally treat you like a medical miracle/ticking-time-bomb/walking case study. They would scribble in a notepad or poke at you with a surgical instrument if they could or at least peer at you through a monocle. They can also offer a completely unprofessional and unsolicited physical and/or psychological evaluation for free.
2. The Can’t-Take-a-Jokers — These guys are the veritable life of every party if every party is one where they get to crack every unoriginal anti-vegan joke possible. (How can you tell if someone is a Can’t-Take-a-Joker? Don’t worry: they’ll tell you that one joke.) We’re always supposed to laugh, even if we’ve heard it a million times (and we have, trust this), or we’ll prove to the world that we are, in fact, joyless militants and scolds. Ha. Ha. Are we good now? (Can’t-Take-a-Jokers, it’s not that we’re humorless, it’s that your “jokes” are as stale as they are bad.)
3. The Devil’s Advocates — They start most sentences with “Yes, but what about…” They want you to know that there are other things to consider with regard to your vegan lifestyle, which, they, veritable factories for mental reroutings that masquerade as Deep Thoughts, will gladly share with you. “Yes, but what about the Inuit?” “Yes, but what about soy?” “Yes, but what about the homeless?” Yes, but what about representing a less abhorrent client, Devil’s Advocates?
4. The Jet-Setting Food Adventurers — These wannabe culinary rebels have Anthony Bourdain’s own stamp of approval (it looks like an superior, world weary smirk) as they pursue their self-identity as globetrotters and ambassadors of fostering Global Understanding through the slurping up of organ meat hot pot with a chaser of yak blood. They post these pictures on Instagram from their base camp in Cambodia or favorite cyber café in Myanmar. At home, they express their adventurous spirit by ordering from the super-double secret authentic menus that ONLY the natives know about in ethnic restaurants. They believe that masticating, digesting and excreting “exotic” animal parts/products is a conduit to world peace and a lens into their own worldliness. Their culinary jet-setting will show vegans how unsophisticated and myopic we are!
5. Locavorians — According to Locavorian reasoning, it’s not about what you eat, it’s about your relative proximity to where what you eat was grown and killed. It’s all about the food miles, they insist, because food miles is what is matters. Last I checked, local pork production is still soiling and depleting local waterways, local cows are still releasing local methane gas (which is causing worldwide climate change), and local egg production is still causing local air pollution. But their eggs/dairy/meat comes from a local small, sweet and adorable farm! Guess what all these local novelty farms so treasured by Locavorians add up to becoming? A big, fat, global problem.
6. The Hit-and-Runners — Familiar to activists of all stripe, the hit-and-runners have the perfect insult except it is so hard to hear because they usually just mutter it while accelerating past us. The thing with The Hit-and-Runners is they want to make their point and just keep on with their day, feeling like big toughies as they whiz by, fleeing from any possible riposte. You know what immediately blows out the tires on a Hit-and-Runner? Start a conversation about the verbal grenade they tried to toss at you even if you have to jog to keep up with them. (You will.) Hit-and-Runners, despite their facades of toughness, will skid into reverse before your eyes in the event of an actual two-way conversation. It’s a thing of beauty.
7. The Just-Askings — We’ve been told since childhood that there are no stupid questions. The Just-Askings are here to test that notion. Sometimes they have decent questions but sometimes you have to wonder if they really are curious if you can eat apples or if you’re allowed to still eat chicken and fish as a vegan. Or they are Just-Asking if you can buy food at the grocery store. Or they are Just-Asking if air is vegan. Or they are Just-Asking if you have cheat days. Is it Just-Asking or is it passive-aggression? Just asking.
8. The Gotchas — The Gotchas think that they combine the unflinching investigative finesse of Mike Wallace-era 60 Minutes along with maybe a dash of Lenny Bruce in their endless pursuit of exposing a vegan’s hypocrisies. “Oh, well, what about your shoes? Hmm? I thought you were vegan.” “My shoes are actually vegan.” “Well, what about your wallet?” “Um, that, too.” “What about the fact that you drive on the street and I read somewhere there are animal products in cement. What about that?” “Actually, veganism is about avoiding inflicting needless harm whenever –” “A HA!!!! You hurt animals, too! Gotcha, you’re a hypocrite!” Yup. I may as well give up any attempts to create less harm because I do not sit on a hovering cloud of perfection, which I never claimed to sit on anyway. You got me, Gotchas.
9. I-Could-Nevers — They want you to know that they could never, ever give up cheese. Or their nana’s brisket. Or the 9-egg soufflé their family expects them to make every New Year’s Day. Bound by tradition and their belief in their highly individualized needs, the I-Could-Nevers collectively want to impress upon us that, well, they could never. I wonder what would happen if somehow they were denied their cheese, brisket or 9-egg soufflés? Would they simply dematerialize?
10. The Bigger Problemers — Until homelessness, cancer, Syria, unemployment, capitalism and varicose veins are solved, nope, this person does not want to hear about cruelty to other animals. Presumably, on the day when the last varicose vein has been treated, the clouds will part, the angels will strum on their harps and climate change might actually start to slow its progression toward imminent planetary doom because The Bigger Problemer folks will have finally deigned that the needless brutalities we inflict on billions of animals each year is at last — literally — worthy of consideration. Apparently they believe that they are the impartial human arbiters who get to decide what is worthy of our time and that we can only fight injustice one category at a time, ticking items off a list like Santa Claus. Get to know a Bigger Problemer and you will likely meet someone who doesn’t do much to solve any of the world’s ills but they’ve got some strong opinions about how you should spend your time.
11. The Life Assessors — Oh, the Life Assessors; they are very concerned about whether or not vegans are in possession of what they deem to be a worthwhile existence. They are here to remind us, especially if we are activists, that we may be dangerously close to life deprived. Sometimes, Life Assessors will switch it up and tell us instead that we need to get a job. Lives and jobs appear to be interchangeable. Sometimes we need to get both a life and a job, which takes a real panache to pull off because if we are essentially inanimate — you know, being bereft of a life — where could we even get a job? Maybe a haunted house or something? Even if we are in possession of both life-having properties and gainful employment, our interest in creating a less violent, more just world somehow nullifies those assets. Ask The Life Assessors. Like The Bigger Problemers, they will let us know when and if our efforts are worthwhile.
12. The Rare Breeds — The Rare Breeds cannot digest produce. The Rare Breeds have to eat 2,000 grams of protein a day just to live. The Rare Breeds have an uncommon blood type, an artisan-crafted U for Unique that disallows anything but omnivorism. The Rare Breeds also may want to let you know that they are 45% Cherokee, 25% Inuit, 30% Scotch-Irish-Welsh and 150% rare, which is why other people might be able to consider going vegan but even one herbivorous meal would cause their very particular arteries to immediately fizzle so, yeah, they get a lifelong hall pass to eating animals. Every one of these types has a Rare Breed within them to lesser and greater extents.
13. The Cross-Fit Paleo-Ketos — The Cross-Fit Paleo-Ketos are willing to take a break from their grass-fed-beef-and-ostrich-egg scramble before their intense box-jump session to let you know that your veganism is destroying your health. You’re welcome. Who cares if they’re in the first stage of kidney failure and their hands are tingling? They look great. Hey, speaking of, do you mind taking a video of them while they do some ring dips?
14. The Bad Experiencers– The Bad Experiencers had, you guessed it, bad experiences with their cousin’s vegan boyfriend once or a really awful vegan roommate who tried to kill them in their sleep and stole their car or a vegan neighbor who was just such a jerk and they want you to know all about it because this fuels their wholesale rejection of veganism today. Because that is perfectly rational and sane and everything.
15. The Soyanoids — The Soyanoids don’t want to hear anything a vegan has to say because they believe that tofu causes man-boobs, gout, depression, spontaneous combustion, leprosy, dipsomania, planetary misalignment, homicidal thoughts, homelessness, karmic issues and foot fungus. Read more about Soyanoidic thought here and here.
16. The Lighten Uppers — Not to be confused with The Can’t-Take-a-Jokers, The Lighten Uppers don’t really tell jokes, they just believe that, jeez, vegans take that whole billions-slaughtered-needlessly-as-our-planet-is-being-destroyed thing, like, way too seriously. The Lighten Uppers are the Jeff Spicolis of the world who think we all just need some tasty waves and a cool buzz to get by in the world. No matter what, though, do not harsh their mellow: The Lighten Ups are famously un-chill about being exposed to reality. Hey, though, anyone got some munchies?
17. Plants Rights Activists — These folks wonder what you think about all the plants that suffer and die for you to live. They will all link to that same tired three-minute YouTube video that they insist once and for all proves plant sentience when, in fact, it simply demonstrates that plants respond to favorable and unfavorable conditions and stimuli, which is what all organic matter does in order to optimize the likelihood of the continuation of their species. Plants Rights Activists, kin to Gotchas, have suddenly developed something akin to compassion but they don’t apply it to the beings with an actual central nervous system and a demonstrable capacity to suffer but to carrots and cucumbers — not that it will stop them from eating produce, mind you, but they just wanted to point out that you’re probably a hypocrite. As soon as you tell Plants Rights Activists that they actually consume more plants through second-hand consumption — it takes many pounds of grain or grass to produce one pound of cow’s flesh — their argument sputters and zips around the room like a popped balloon. This can be fun to watch.
18. The You’re-Not-So-Perfects — The You’re-Not-So-Perfects always remind me of the drunk guy slumped on his stool at the corner bar who is dangerously close to knocking over the pickle jar and on his sixth shot of whiskey, slur-yelling at the world just what he thinks of them. “You think you’re so great,” he will loudly mumble at whoever is nearby without provocation before he finally passes out in a heap on the sticky floor. These are The You’re-Not-So-Perfects: they are convinced that if you’re vegan, you must think you’re oh-so perfect and they are eager to knock you off the pedestal they imagine you to be on. The You’re-Not-So-Perfects will point out that vegans aren’t perfect even if this was never a claim you made. If you point out to the You’re-Not-So-Perfects that you never made this claim, though, it will just be more proof that you think you’re so much better than everyone else. Ooookay.
19. The Hitler Reminders — The Hitler Reminders would like to point out that Hitler was a vegetarian, ergo, apparently, vegans must have a tiny seed of a ruthless führer dwelling within us. (Hitler actually wasn’t a vegetarian and vegans are not vegetarians and, using this logic, what does that say about the practice of eating meat when nearly every sadistic killer throughout history has done the same?) Reductio ad Hitlerum is a common form of association fallacy used to discredit and smear with an irrational affiliation rather than genuinely engage; it will also appear whenever a dispute grows long and contentious, invoking Godwin’s Law of Nazi Analogies, which predicts that the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler increases as the disagreement continues.
20. The Geneticists — The Geneticists chalk everything up to their genes: their biological need to eat pastrami, churros, Greek yogurt, bacon and so on is innate, congenital, primal and driven by the spirits of apparently very demanding forebears who ate pastrami, churros, yogurt, bacon and so on. They have no control over it. They are all but inhabited by spectral ancestors who dictate their every dietary urge. Containing a good measure of The Rare Breed in their remarkably unique DNA, The Geneticists also seem to really love to rhapsodize on their exact ethnic components.
21. The Skeptics — As with The Squinty Concerned Parties, The Skeptics will regard you with the cold, discerning mien of a true scientist as if they are the undisputed arbiters of what is Unarguable Fact and what is Sentimental Fiction. The interesting thing about self-appointed Skeptics is they are often just as unswervingly dogmatic and unwilling to critically examine their beliefs as the ones they characterize as hysterical slingers of woo. The Skeptics have, of course, the final word on what is and what is not rational and factual.
22. The All-Naturals — The All-Naturals like to fancy themselves as existing on a paradisiacal plane where they only consume natural and unprocessed foods, implying that vegans eat only unnatural and processed foods and conveniently ignoring the fact that they a) probably are not eating animals and dairy in their “natural state” and b) that even by their cherry-picked, arbitrary rules, vegans eat plenty of food that would qualify as “natural” and “unprocessed” and c) that they enjoy many amenities that are far from natural: electricity, indoor plumbing, heat, waterproof clothing, filtered water, refrigeration and so on. In their mind’s eye, every day they star in a vintage Clairol Herbal Essences commercial. It turns out that The All-Naturals just like to be natural enough to reinforce the image they have of themselves as pure, wholesome entities whose bodies are pristine protected areas, unsullied by “unnatural” vegan foods.
23. The Perfect-or-Nothings — The Perfect-or-Nothings believe that if someone can’t be 100% perfect in their pursuit of living as a vegan — for example, knowing that there are animal by-products in virtually everything — they should simply not try or they are inevitably phonies. The Perfect-or-Nothings are eager to point out that it’s impossible to be a pure vegan given how pervasive animal products are in the world around us. Rejecting the adage about not letting the perfect be the enemy of the good, The Perfect-or-Nothings would like for vegans to quit doing our best because, frankly, we’re bumming them out. A good dose of The Gotchas and The Bigger Problemers is part of their psychological makeup.
24. The Lions Club — The Lions Club members would like to remind us that lions eat other animals and lions hunt…so…I guess that means that lions have given them some kind of special permission to do the same? Did they get a card in the mail that they carry around in their wallets or something? Lions are also known to kill the cubs of rival prides and even their own sickly young: do members of The Lions Club justify infanticide now because of lions? Do we normally base our ethical decisions on the actions of others, especially those who do not have a choice? If my neighbor is a mugger, does this give me an exception to do that same? I remain unclear on how the actions of obligate carnivores excuses my actions but, then again, I am not a card-carrying member of The Lions Club.
25. The Sitting Bullshitters — The Sitting Bullshitters like to cherry-pick platitudes about “honoring the animals” they eat as if a) it’s not offensive to riffle through a treasure chest of vaguely Native American-sounding clichés until they find one that fits their purposes and b) they really believe that an animal that has been brutally killed so they can have a meal that they won’t even remember two days from now would be fine and dandy with it all if they are retroactively “honored” or “thanked.” Sitting Bullshitters also like to wax rhapsodic on how they don’t waste anything, as if Big Ag weren’t far more cool and calculated with their efficiency at using every last remnant of an animal’s corpse as a small hunter-gatherer. Ultimately, Sitting Bullshitters are all about taking what isn’t theirs, whether it’s dipping into quasi-Native American traditions like it’s an option on a buffet line or animals’ lives.
26. The Pollanators — Named for their hero Michael Pollan, author of The Omnivore’s Dilemma, Pollanators like to think that there is no dilemma about eating animals as long as it is done “the right way,” which also happens to be the expensive and exclusive way. You see, if you are affluent enough, you get to be an omnivore without any troubling ethical considerations and environmental consequences. These proponents of “humane meat” believe that that they can have their heritage turkey and eat it, too. Pollanators tend to interact with the world with an air of the noblesse oblige, believing that if they could just expose the brutish masses to the true sensual and spiritual delight of slow-cooked Angus hind quarters and wild-caught, Vermont acorn-fed boar belly confit (“Ooooo, you can still taste the acorns…”), the food system would be radically transformed. If only everyone ate like The Pollanators, they believe, then we would change the food system into one that is truly elitist. Oops, I mean, humane.
27. The Magical Egg People — Similar to The Pollanators, with a dash of The Rare Breed (man, The Rare Breed is in sooooo many of these) and a generous sprinkling of The All-Naturals, The Magical Egg People want you to know that while the egg industry may be brutal to 99.9% of layer hens and the billions of male chicks killed at birth, they have access to eggs that are so pristine that they practically levitate because they were grown on the most bucolic, unspoiled farm where the “chickens are treated like pets” and fresh-faced, wholesome farm children gather them ever-so-lovingly every day in wicker baskets hand-woven by their great-great-grandfather, who was ⅛ Cherokee. These astonishing ovum may just be the answer to world peace. Everyone should consider giving up eating eggs, eggscluding, of course, The Magical Egg People.
28. The Anti-Elitist Socialists — Opposite of The Pollanators, The Anti-Elitist Socialists fancy themselves men and women of the people, unlike we snooty vegans with our fancy rice and our exorbitant beans. By supporting industries with egregious worker violations, harsh union-busting tactics and ecological destruction that disproportionately hurts the poorest of the poor, The Anti-Elitist Socialists will expose vegans for the out-of-touch snobs that we are. Because that makes sense.
29. The Dietary Faddists — The Dietary Faddists think it’s fine and all that you’re vegan but what really matters is if your diet is alkaline enough, or what your blood type is, or getting the correct ratio of protein to carbs, or whether your ancestors were primarily hunters or primarily gatherers or this amazing thing that they heard about on Dr. Oz last week. The Dietary Faddists don’t care about your reasons for being vegan; they care that you read this 6,000-word article on Natural News about the hidden truth about oxalic acid.
30. The Dalai Lama Strategists — No kidding, once I met someone at a New Age shop — I like incense, so sue me — and somehow or another the subject of Buddhism and vegetarianism came up and the dude straight up said that while he was a Buddhist, he was not a vegetarian and the fact that the Dalai Lama eats meat gave him permission to do the same. He wasn’t even a Tibetan Buddhist, but, still, he got his permission. Asked about the First and Second Precepts in Buddhism (“I undertake to abstain from causing harm and taking life” and “I undertake to abstain from taking what is not given”), he actually said that when someone as spiritually evolved as the Dalai Lama eats animals, his body helps to act as a vehicle for helping them along with their karmic journey. Wha’? The Dalai Lama Strategists would like for you to think that a) it’s actually part of a spiritual practice to eat animals, all of whom were killed violently, b) it’s okay for us to steal their milk, eggs and young from them even if these two points are in direct contradiction of the first two Buddhist Precepts and c) The Dalai Lama does it, so na na na na na. (Is this kind of the opposite of the The Hitler Reminders but one that points a spiritual halo back at themselves?)
31. The God Said So — The God Said Sos think that no matter the contradictory messages within, such as Genesis 1:29 (“And God said, ‘Behold, I have given you every herb yielding seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for food’”), what they interpret from the Bible basically gives them a hall pass for remaining untroubled by their habit of eating God’s creation, made with sentient bodies, and in doing so, destroying the home that they believe God built for us. Essentially, God gave these folks the keys to the house for the weekend and they proceeded to have a giant kegger, puke everywhere, break all the windows, set fire to the kitchen and pee in the houseplants — you don’t want to know what they did in the backyard — as their way of saying thanks. Except their gross bacchanal isn’t confined to one house and it spills out to infect the whole planet. With houseguests like these, you’d think God might demand the keys back.
32. The Food Pushers — The Food Pushers want to know why we can’t just take a little bite. The Food Pushers, natural cousins to The Just-Eat-Around-Its below, want to know why we can’t just take one little bite of cheese. It’s not like the cow had to die. (Yes, it is.) Or your Grandma’s chicken soup (“There’s no actual chicken in it!”) because that would make The Food Pusher so happy. Or this thing that just has a little egg in it. Just a little egg! It’s, like, the last ingredient. You don’t want to be an extremist. You don’t want to catch that orthorexia thing they heard about on The Today Show, do you? The Food Pushers are in your family, in your office, among your friends. (They are especially in your family, though.) The Food Pushers are also The Squinty Concerned Parties but less clinical, more smothering, and if you just took a tiny bite, you could allay their fears. Why can’t you do that for them?
33. The Hypothetical Islanders — The Hypothetical Islanders really want to know what you would do if you were a vegan on a hypothetical island with a hypothetical chicken. This doesn’t have to be a chicken: it could be a hypothetical pig, too, or another hypothetical animal on this imaginary island. It’s really, really important that they know what you would do in this scenario, rather than the one we currently inhabit, in which there are myriad opportunities to make herbivorous choices, because somehow, their ability to grasp your commitment is predicated on them understanding what you would do on that hypothetical island rather than, you know, your real life. Just hypothetically, they want to know. What would Hypothetical Islanders do without this imaginary island? Actually consider the real ethical arguments for veganism? Just asking. Hypothetically.
34. The Awfulists — The Awfulists want you to know that they would try to be vegan but they had vegan cheese ten years ago and it made them almost puke. The Awfulists may have had a bad vegan cake once or a bad vegan meal somewhere and that was it. The Awfulists remember that time their roommate made them try their vegan food and it was so bad, they almost died. The Awfulists know that vegan food is awful. Nothing can convince them otherwise but they admire your fortitude at putting terrifying vegan food into your mouth, the implication being that you must be really brave or have strong will power or have broken taste buds or be impervious to bad smells or something.
35. The Fabulists — There is a touch of The Fabulist in many of the folks on this list but they want you to know that the following story is 100% true and this is why they’re not vegan: They tried once but they almost died and on their way to almost dying they saw a shaman who took some peyote and told them that he saw a vision of a buffalo that gave them permission to eat meat but The Fabulist still didn’t want to so they tried-and-tried-and-tried but their skin turned green and their teeth became pulverized into little bits of sand and their hair fell out in giant, parched clumps and that was when they almost died again. On their deathbed, surrounded by flakes of green skin and ground teeth and clumps of sad hair, they finally agreed that, at a great personal sacrifice, they simply could not be vegan. Raconteurs rivaled only by The Geneticists and cousins to The Awfulists, often with a more generous the usual sprinkling of The Rare Breed and the category directly following this, The Fabulists want you to remember that these things can happen.
36. The Catastrophizers — Did you know that a family in Italy starved their vegan baby?! Did you know that scientists discovered that rice is worse for you than nuclear waste?! Did you know that vegans tend to be low in vitamin whatever according to a study of 18 non-vegans in Romania?! Did you know that it’s been scientifically proven that plants feel pain?! Well, The Catastrophizers know it and they are going to forward you every news story from a dubious source that misinterprets news and/or data with a subject line like, “Did you see this???” The Catastrophizers just want you to know.
37. The Circle of Lifers — Pausing here to say oy vey, do you see what we put up with??? Okay, deep inhalation. The Circle of Lifers want us to consider that the flesh that they picked up at the grocery store or chowed down on at Arby’s or even hunted out in nature (as opposed to a Hunger Games-like dome) represents some kind of Lion King-y circle of life thing that we should respect because one day, they will be worm food themselves. The jungle, between these guys, The Lions Club and the jokers directly below, factors heavily in the collective mind-space of defensive omnivores, apparently. Like the The All-Naturals, the Circle of Lifers conveniently ignore the myriad ways in which they a) are “unnatural,” b) take precautions to ensure their safety (I guess they should do away with hospitals, clean water and seat belts or it will no longer be a tidy little circle) and c) the fact that the industries they support in no way, shape or form mimics an actual “circle of life”. They use a nauseatingly pseudo-spiritual infection reminiscent of the Sitting Bullshitters and, like all the profiles described, truly believe that they are offering a unique justification — oops, I mean, perspective — on eating animals.
38. The Top-o’-the-Food-Chain-to-Ya! — These folks, with their feeble excuses and grease-stained fingers, want you to believe that they have reached the pinnacle of human evolution and personally pulled the rest of us slackers up to enjoy our position on the top of the veritable mountain of animals they outwitted and slayed for our survival. Yeah, dude, you did that. Did you do that with your GrubHub app? The Top-o’-the-Food-Chain-to-Ya! folks are basically The Circle of Lifers and The Lions Club who are less kumbaya, more Ayn Rand.
39. The Just-Eat-Around-Its — These folks tend to show up more in the infancy of one’s veg*nism (asterisk because I dealt with them as a teenaged vegetarian) and it’s usually a family member (Hi, Mom!) but, boy, are they ever annoying because they act like our not eating flesh, dairy or eggs is some personal peccadillo (see: The Food Pushers) that we’re imposing on the world to make things difficult for everyone with our bizarre vegan ways as well as single-handedly ruin every Christmas, Thanksgiving, birthday, Groundhog’s Day, Sunday, you name it. The Just-Eat-Around-Its think that not wanting to eat around, under and between pieces of carcass, ovum and coagulated dairy is proof that we are melodramatic attention seekers. Everything was just fine and normal until we stopped eating like fine and normal people. The Just-Eat-Around-Its want to know, eyes skyward and sighing, why can’t we just eat around it?
40. The Baconists — Ah, The Baconists. Before message boards and social media, who knew that there was a latent but forceful gene within so much of the population that compelled them, when arguing with a vegan, to say, “Mmm…bacon” or “Bacon makes everything better,” or “bacon-bacon-bacon,” or “YOLO-blah-blah-blah-bacon-YOLO!” regardless of whether or not it makes sense in that context, which it almost always does not. The Homer Simpsons/Bluto Blutarskis of the Meat Defenders, The Baconists want to remind us of bacon. Just that: Bacon. It is a thing in the world. No matter what you are saying: Bacon. Don’t like animal suffering? Well, bacon, tho. Don’t like planetary destruction, world hunger and clogged arteries? Bacon, bacon, bacon. Bacon. Everything hinges on the fact that salted pork product exists and is pleasurable to them. They’re not even pretending to have a point, other than that. Bacon. These are simple, simple folks. Do not overthink them or the point they are trying to make.
41. The Carnal Carnies — The Carnal Carnies try to attach their hot-blooded sensuality to the fact that they eat meat and seem to think that it confers a very sexy status to them — one that is shared by roughly 96% of the population — in opposition to the apparent neurotic frigidity of us uptight vegans. Sharing some DNA with the Jet-Setting Food Adventurers, they believe that nothing says red-blooded sexy times better than chowing down on a rotting, tortured carcass.
42. The Bad-Ass Butchers — Copious tattoos. Check. Sneering demeanor. Check. “Farm-to-table,” “recovered vegetarian,” and “snout-to-tail,” references in their interviews and bios? Check, check, check. These guys are the darlings of the affluent Pollanator set and it’s no wonder. Black-and-white photos showcase The Bad-Ass Butchers in their professional kitchens or meat lockers with their aprons on, arms folded across their chests with a cleaver in one hand and satisfied smirks like they have single-handedly Saved Food. When the most insufferable poseur you dated in college quit his band and gave up trying to be an artist, he probably became a Bad-Ass Butcher.
43. The Weston A. Pricers (WAPpers) — The WAPpers want you to know that if you feed your child tofu, you are committing an act of child abuse because they are raging Soyanoids among other things. The WAPpers want you to know that if you are a vegan and you are planning to breastfeed your baby, your milk will be so deficient and toxic that you should just give your baby FORMULA and you know what Mothering Magazine thinks about formula. (Basically formula = child abuse, too.) Well, you might not know, but the WAPpers do because they have every issue of Mothering from August, 1994 — November, 2010 and editor Peggy O’Mara was very clear on the rules about formula and co-sleeping and baby-wearing. Anyway, the WAPpers are all about the “perfect, ideal, natural” diet and believe that feeding a baby raw liver is the bomb but soy should come with a warning label. You can get them off your back by asking them what they think about vaccines and running out of the room before their heads explode.
44. The Lady Killers — The Lady Killers like to dress up 1940s/1950s pin-up style and stage photos of themselves eviscerating chickens for vintage-y calendars and I am not even kidding, this is a real thing but I am not linking to it or my fingers would burst into flames and we do not want that. Female versions of the Bad-Ass Butchers, they somehow have linked feminism to disemboweling animals. Again, don’t ask questions. Just keep moving.
45. The B-12ers — The B-12ers will argue that B-12 is primarily available in animal products, it is incontrovertible proof that a vegan diet is fatally flawed. The fact that with one little supplement, we can help to prevent heart disease, reverse climate change, prevent billions of animals from being born into suffering, free up land-mass for our growing population, save the rainforests and protect our waterways doesn’t matter. The B-12ers have their story and they’re sticking with it.
46. The Field Mouseketeers — Did you know that vegans are actually responsible for more animal deaths than meat-eaters? Yes, it’s convoluted and doesn’t stand up to critical analysis, but even supposedly science-driven websites accept this drivel with abandon because, well, they are run by Meat Defenders. Part You’re-Not-So-Perfects, part Perfect-or-Nothings, part Catastrophizers and served with a fat dollop of The Skeptics, The Field Mouseketeers want to remind us that many mice, voles, rabbits and other small field animals are killed in the harvesting equipment that it takes to grow our grains. What The Field Mouseketeers conveniently leave out is that it takes far more grain to produce their “food” so if they really do care about the small animals, they would also go vegan for that reason alone. This is where you will really get Field Mouseketeers in a bind because, in reality, they don’t give a flying fig about the animals killed and displaced to get their meat, dairy and eggs to market any more than the Plants Rights Activists care about the suffering of a carrot. (Debunked thoroughly here, by the way.)
47. The-I-Grew-Up-on-a-Farmers– The-I-Grew-Up-on-a-Farm-ers believe that because they didn’t see the conditions of cruelty and abuse on the farm they grew up on or farming community, undercover investigations are vegan hysteria, propaganda and maybe even CGI or something. Apparently a few bad farms bear the responsibility for a few (billion) bad eggs in the U.S. The-I-Grew-Up-on-a-Farm-ers may also vouch for the farms of their friends as if their confirmation bias a) wasn’t actually a bias and b) their interpretation of “reality,” one that runs counter to every single farm (large or small) and every slaughterhouse (backyard or industrial) that undercover investigators have been able to document, is more legitimate because, well, they grew up on a farm. They may even have many generations before them of farmers. Why this matters, I don’t know. How do we account for all the undercover videos? The-I-Grew-Up-on-a-Farm-ers shrug their heads. It must be a conspiracy, special effects and vegan propaganda.
48. The Personal Choicers — The Personal Choicers want to remind vegans that what we do is fine for us and all but they draw the line at when we act like big, mean bossy-pantsed nannies and try to dictate what they eat (???) because it is, wait for it, their Personal Choice is what matters here. These folks fancy themselves as defiant Patrick Henrys, defending until the bitter end their noble and brave Personal Choice to eat and drink whatever the hell they want against an angry mob of liberty-hating herbivores grabbing at their bacon and mocha lattes. “Dude, you be vegan, fine, but let me do what I want to do,” is what they say, “because it’s my personal choice.” (Sometimes they say “personal right.”) Okay, yes, we get that you hold the truth of unencumbered access to meats to be self-evident but when your personal choices harm others — the animals you are consume and those who are harmed by our increasingly polluted and resource-strapped world — it no longer is a personal matter. It harms others. Remember that quote by Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., “The right to swing my fist ends where the other man’s nose begins”? This is the overriding right: To not be harmed by the actions of others.
49. The Nihilists — Nothing matters. We’re all going to die anyway. A meteor is going to wipe us all out anyway. If The Nihilists cared enough to do it, they’d just tell us to shut up. But they don’t care. We’re all going to die. G’night. (The Nihilists are actually The Lighten Uppers without the buzz.)
50. The Canids — The Canids want you to look in their mouths and behold the terrifying, razor-sharp canine teeth that are the irrefutable proof that they were born CARNIVORES. Go ahead, look at those chompers, sharp enough to take down a zebra on the Serengeti plains — see them? Aren’t they scary, imposing and pointy as hell? And…I really have to wonder if the attachment to thinking of one’s teeth as big and powerful is actually revealing an insecurity about something else not sizing up. What do you think, guys? Honorary members of The Lions Club.
51. The General Trolls — Every army needs a commander and while it’s a stretch to call these individuals leaders, they are at least the good, honest foot soldiers of the Meat Defenders, putting in a day’s work (and then some) by reminding vegans that for every animal-free meal they consume, The General Trolls will eat half a cow, for every persuasive vegan argument, they will be here to represent The Baconist point-of-view (???), remind us of plants feeling pain, that vegans kill more animals than meat-eaters, about Hitler and on and on and on. Basically, the General Trolls are a whole bunch of Meat Defenders in one human form.
52. The Meatsplainers — The Meatsplainers can explain to you what the problem really is with eating animals. It’s the food miles (The Locavorians); it’s the fact that it’s industrially produced (The Pollanators); it’s that most people don’t know who produces their food (The Bad-Ass Butchers); it’s that the eggs are not exactly magical (The Magical Egg People). If you vegans would stop spewing your dogma and rhetoric everywhere, maybe you could have a Meatsplainer spell everything out for you and finally understand. Never mind that they are largely driven by opinion and myths, it is still good to have it all ‘splained out, even though you are likely much better informed. Let them Meatsplain.
So there you have it, the Meat Defenders. Yes, there are more but I need a nap now.