The level of Cognitive Dissonance that emerges in discussions around veganism can be overwhelming, and the amount of Vegan trolls is constantly a surprise to observers of the plant-based movement. Nevertheless the story of the Robins family from Probus, Cornwall is disturbing.
In an usual display of vegan activism, the family of five has spoken of the friendships that they have lost and the bullying to which they have been subjected to as a result of their decision to go vegan.
The story has been picked up globally from British daily newspapers to Fox News to 7 News in Australia.
Jacqui and Ryan Robins, and their three children Skye, 15, Skipp, 14, and Cadan, 5, are all vegan.
“Passion is misunderstood to be aggression or hatred,” says Jacqui, a nutritionist. “There seems to be some kind of divide where people meet vegans with aggression and resistance when you are just trying to raise awareness about practices that people should know about.”
“I know there are so many good, kind people making choices that they wouldn’t make if they knew the reality,” she said.
The family says that being seen as “militant” and “crazy” is a common misconception. What they object to is not so much that other people choose to eat meat, but rather their unwillingness to look at the processes that lurk beneath the surface in the meat and dairy industries.
“A lot of people don’t realize, and I think we are manipulated by the industry to think everything is happy and everything is great,” says Jacqui. “I think that it is corrupt to sell a product without transparency. So when I started posting about it [on social media] and raising awareness, I lost a lot of my friendships – because they were telling me to be quiet about it”.
The mother of three explained that she would probably still have a lot more friends had she just “gone vegan and kept quiet about it”. But wanting to inform people about the realities of our food system has caused many friendships to be lost.
Skipp, 14, says he is targeted at school over his veganism and has regularly had meat waved in his face.
Additionally, the family has met with resistance from local farmers.
The family’s plight has hit a nerve amongst many readers. Vegans often find that they have mixed emotions about speaking out and staying quiet, and each has to find their own balance. The fate of the Cornish family is a disturbing tale of our times.