Updated: Mar 15
Bullying is something that a lot of people have to deal with at some point in their lives. Some people think that bullying is a kids issue but many adults have become victims of bullying too.
Roughly 17% of young people aged 10 to 15 in England are bullied each year in a way that makes them feel frightened or upset. 60% of those who said they had been bullied had experienced some kind of physical bullying, 89% said they had suffered of verbal bullying and 18% said they had things stolen or damaged.
People can be bullied for any reason, the people that do the bullying will pick on anything that is different about a person and use that as a weapon, height, body shape, skin colour, religion, even a person's hobbies can be used against someone once they have become a target. Recently, with veganism becoming more popular, more people, kids and grown ups, are experiencing bullying in their daily lives and, quite often, it's coming from their friends and families.
"The abuse online is far worse than in person. People think they can hide behind a screen and scream about how much they hate vegans. My Twitter friends are great though and we all stick up for each other. Thankfully we can just block the trolls – my block list is huge. It's **** we have to put up with it, but animals go through much worse. I'll always fight for them even if it means people being mean to me."
Why Do People Bully Vegans?
People bully vegans for three main reasons:
They are bullies. It's hard to accept, but some people have problems of their own that make them feel bad, the only way that they can cope with this is to make other people feel bad; it makes them feel better about themselves. Because of this they will find something different about a person and use that to attack them, making comments and jokes at the other person's expense.
They don’t understand why anyone would want to stop eating animals, especially when the news and media are telling you that meat and dairy is good for you, and it’s easier to mock something you don’t understand than it is to face it.
They know that their choices add to someone’s suffering, and they’d rather be in denial. Some people react badly when they see someone else doing the right thing, they know that they're doing the wrong thing but they don't want, or can't be bothered to change. It creates an inner turmoil; if they didn't feel guilty they wouldn't be so bothered, right? #TruthHurts
What can You Do If You're Being Bullied?
If you're being bullied at school or college you should deal with it in the same way that you'd deal with any form of bullying, you tell teachers and staff, you let them step in and do their job. You tell your parents, make them aware of exactly what you're dealing with, let them help you. Your parents can talk to staff at your school or college and put pressure on them to deal with what's been going on.
If it's friends and family that are causing you problems tell them that just because you choose to live in a vegan way doesn’t mean you expect them to follow. People are less likely to get defensive and resort to bullying if they don’t feel threatened. Explain to them why living this way is so important to you, that you hope that they will respect that and, maybe in time, come to agree with you. One thing that is hugely important is to let them know that you feel bullied by their comments and jokes, it's not funny and it upsets you. People can genuinely think that they are being funny, not realising that they're making jokes about something that is massively important to you. If you joked about their dog being killed they wouldn't like it, but, in their mind, waving a piece of meat at you is a joke. I don't think so.
Don’t ever let anyone make you feel that what you believe in is stupid, pointless or a waste of time. You have the right to your own opinions, just like anyone else and there will always be someone who disagrees with you. If it’s not about being vegan, it’ll be about politics, religion, sport, whatever. People love to debate and argue, but that doesn’t mean that what you’re doing is wrong. You’re making a difference every day through your kind and thoughtful choices, and while you won't be able to meet the animals you help save, you’re sparing them unimaginable suffering. Lots of times, people don’t want to hear about animal suffering, so instead of telling people that what they're doing is wrong and making them feel bad, show them how happy you are as a vegan and kill them with kindness.
"In real life I don’t normally get a lot, because I have supportive friends who aren’t really bothered by how I live as long as I’m happy and healthy. When I first went vegan, I made a point of using people’s insults in my favour, so before people made comments I’d already have said them. I'd joke about it. I’ve found being relaxed and having this approach helps me have proper conversations with people about veganism and be able to even spread the message better."