As the vegan lifestyle has gained popularity in recent years, there have been arguments and debates from both sides, but a perspective that has not often been heard is that of people whose food allergies make them follow a similarly restricting diet without choosing to do so. As a student at Sleepy Hollow High School with several severe allergies that already restrict my dietary options, I would like to share my opinions on this topic.
My food allergies include dairy, eggs, all nuts (peanuts and tree nuts), crab, sesame seeds, and since I have Celiac Disease, I also cannot eat gluten. I have lived with these allergies for my whole life.
While I don’t necessarily have a problem with those who choose a vegan lifestyle for themselves, I do have a problem with the whole vegan-conversion frenzy, in which overenthusiastic vegans attempt to “convert” others to being vegan through a combination of shaming tactics and promises of a healthier life after making the transition. The reason this irks me is that, for one thing, there are many people for which the vegan diet simply isn’t possible, whether due to health reasons or financial reasons. Personally, I hate when people try to shame me for eating meat, because what they don’t realize is that meat is a staple of my diet, and if I tried to forgo eating it, I would suffer severe malnutrition because I cannot eat things like nuts, which many vegans eat to compensate for their meat-free diet. There are lots of other people in similar situations, a fact often overlooked by vegan “conversionists.” While I understand that avoiding meat has significant environmental benefits, it should be up to individuals to educate themselves and decide on the right lifestyle for themselves, not up to aggressive vegans to shame others for their current dietary habits.
What this really boils down to is simply one thing: don’t try to convince others to make the same life choices as you and then shame them for not doing so, because sometimes, they really can’t make those choices! In cases like mine, that would result in severe malnutrition or even death. It can be quite exhausting to have to explain this over and over again to many different people who preach their own vegan lifestyle onto others.