Romesh Ranganathan is a comedian. The star of BBC2’s The Ranganation is also a committed vegan.
On 16th May he put out a short video on BBC2’s twitter feed about why people hate vegans. It was deliberately provocative, straight-talking and (in this writer’s humble option) very funny.
But in a piece written by the comedian in last weekend’s Guardian he reveals the “level of vitriol” that he’s received as a result of his earlier video.
His social media has been overtaken by “vegans telling me how great I was and meat-eaters telling me that I was the worst scum of the Earth and that my time to pay would come soon”.
The lesson he has learnt? That there is no place for nuance on social media. So from now on, he will “express provocative views only on comedy shows, on stage and in [the Guardian]. And probably another video, who am I kidding? Vegans are the future, and if you eat dairy and meat you don’t care about the planet.” As provocative as ever!
It sounds as though Mr Ramganathan is planning to carry on speaking his mind. It should be fun to observe, but it does show up in so many ways the absolute gulf between the two sides of the argument.
The original video about why people hate vegans touched a nerve. It perfectly demonstrates the cognitive dissonance that the issue of veganism provokes in people.
“People have vegans because they know it’s the right choice,” said Romesh. In one simple sentence, he cut straight to the chase.
In his typically humorous way with words he added:
“People hate vegans and the reason they hate vegans is because they think we’re humourless, they think we think we’re better than non-vegans, they think we’re always banging on about it, and all of those things are true”.
But then the real provocation came out in a disarmingly frank way:
“I am better than you if you’re not vegan. In terms of my ethical decisions, I am so much better than you. I’m better for the planet, I’m better for the animals. There’s nothing worse about me apart from I’m slightly irritating to have round for dinner.”
So Mr Ramganathan is by his own admission just slightly irritating to have round for dinner. Is that sufficient reason to throw abuse at him all over social media?
The comedian says far more provocative things in stand up comedy. That is what comedians often do. It is after all perfectly fine to laugh at something you may not agree with. But as Romesh says “there is no such understanding when @Carnivore12 pops up on your timeline, saying “Look at what this grass-munching twat is saying”.
Bizarrely the comedian has now developed a slight admiration for Piers Morgan and Katie Hopkins who are professional trolls who love to antagonise and upset people. As Romesh comments: “They must be inundated with abuse all day, every day, but I imagine they feed off it like hated vampires, using the fire of the abuse to forge another made-up opinion for the masses”.
"Veganism has been shown to be, like, one of the two best things you can do to save the planet. So why are you annoyed at me?"@RomeshRanga asks, why do people hate vegans? ??#TheRanganation pic.twitter.com/gCylmGA5Tr— BBC Two (@BBCTwo) May 16, 2019