Of all the people you might expect to get annoyed by vegan options on restaurant menus, vegetarians would not come high on the list. But the Vegetarian Society says it has been receiving complaints from members who are angry that veggie dishes containing dairy and eggs are disappearing from menus, in favour of entirely plant-based options.
The media has picked this up and run with it. The Times says “war” has broken out and it’s “vegans v vegetarians,” while the Daily Telegraph says vegetarians are “in danger of being cancelled” by vegans.
Outsiders might be surprised to think of vegetarians and vegans being at odds with one another. Writing as a vegan, I can say that although the media’s attempt to turn this into a culture war is contrived, the two communities do indeed sometimes judge each other: vegetarians often think vegans are too extreme, and we think that they are selective and hypocritical in their attitude to animal exploitation.
Take cows. A vegetarian wouldn’t dream of eating beef because they say they don’t want cows to be exploited and killed. But they will eat cheese, so let’s see what happens to cows on dairy farms. Female cows are artificially inseminated from the age of 15 months. When they give birth, their calf will often be stolen away within 36 hours so the dairy farmers can sell the milk that the mother made for her baby. The separation is traumatic: mother and baby will both cry out for each other.
If that stolen baby is male, he will be considered a by-product and either killed on the spot or sold to a veal farm, which will send him to slaughter within months. (Food standards company Red Tractor has committed to ending what it charmingly calls “the euthanasia” of male calves under its scheme by 2023 but I’ll believe it when I see it.)
Despite all this, vegetarians still eat cheese. So are they against cows being exploited and killed or not?
It’s the same with eggs: vegetarians won’t eat chicken because they say it’s cruel to kill chickens but they eat eggs, even though all male chicks in the egg industry are killed within hours of being born and hens endure hellishly exploitative lives, even on so-called free range farms, before they are sent to slaughter. Again, are vegetarians against chickens being exploited and killed or not?
As a vegan, it’s easy to judge vegetarians but we should also recognise that they are making a bigger dent in the profits of the meat industry than we are. There are an estimated 3.3 million vegetarians in the UK today, compared with an estimated 1.6 million who eat an entirely plant-based diet. Last year, 130,000 people became vegetarian, compared with just 52,000 who went vegan. In fact, meat bosses say it is flexitarians – those who have a primarily vegetarian diet but occasionally eat meat or fish – not vegans, who are making the biggest dent in their takings.
And while it’s true that vegetarians are still adding to the profits of the dairy and egg industries, how many vegans can say we went straight from eating meat, dairy and eggs to veganism overnight? Yes, some make moves in one step but for most, it was a gradual process. So in terms of self-awareness, let alone strategy, we should be kind to people who are on path to a cruelty-free lifestyle.
That said, vegetarians who actually complain that a restaurant doesn’t offer them a meat-free option alongside cheese or eggs don’t seem to be on a cruelty-free path. If they are genuinely upset by the thought of eating even a single meal that doesn’t include any animal cruelty, are they really concerned about animal suffering, or do they just want a compassionate identity tag without making sincere changes?
For this vegan, meat-eaters who haven’t really thought about the awful truths of animal suffering are far less baffling than vegetarians who complain that they might have to eat a meal that is free of the stolen milk of a traumatised, exploited dairy cow.
Source: Thanks https://inews.co.uk/opinion/vegan-vegetarians-reduced-dairy-options-animal-welfare-1632155