In the months before I went vegan on July 26, 2010, I flirted with veganism. My earnest investigations (Are all vegans weak and sickly? What really happens to momma cows?) led me to one of the largest vegan/vegetarian websites on the internet at the time. Among the other earnest seekers, warm souled activists, and few veteran vegetarians, I stumbled upon the most dreaded, repulsive, arrogant, pathetic, officious breed of people ever to disgrace our tiny planet, a person I have now come to brand as the Thought Police Vegan.
In George Orwell's futuristic novel 1984, the world exists under the rule of Big Brother, an oppressive tyrannical force who watches all citizens via their state-mandated television screens. In the oppressed superstate of Oceania, government is God and individualism is a "thoughtcrime" prosecutable by death. For Big Brother, the mysterious supreme leader, is not just out to control the products and the capital of his ultimately homogenous society; he is out to control their very thoughts and he does a damn good job of doing it. As the saying goes in another fictional collective of terrifying hive-mind zombie worker drones, "resistance is futile".
One would think that vegans as a whole would be especially aware of thought-policing as undesirable, considering that vegans are (for now) a fringe of people on the outer edges of society being marginalized for going against the status quo. For most vegans, the idea of controlling and homogenizing what others think never occurs to them as a good use of their time. For others, the idea of asserting a quasi-dictatorship via any means at their disposal is an obsessive calling, even when it comes at the expense of real activism for the animals. Enter the Thought Police Vegan.
A Thought Police Vegan is characterized by one universal trait: fear. The Thought Police Vegan is very lonely and frightened of people in general and has already lumped any person who still eats animals or their secretions as hopeless, even though she herself probably once ate animals and their secretions. Fear breeds negativity. Once she has segregated the "hopeless" from the "hopeful" (this is the only act of discrimination she will ever make, as you will see below) it is off to the races. Now it is time to call down the hammer of judgement upon her fellow vegans. Because judging them morally is much harder to do as they are not eating animals, the Thought Police Vegan must come up with a set of criteria as to why other vegans are nowhere near vegan enough. Just as fundamentalist Christians relish the thought of determining who is going to burn in the eternal Lake of Fire and who is going to be Raptured to a mystical land of golden castles and firm-cheeked, glitter-farting angels, the Thought Police Vegan slavers over finding new ways for other vegans to be damned.
One of the best ways to enforce unilateral conformity of thought is to make others ashamed for their ability to discriminate. In her efforts to make every person equal, the Thought Police Vegan chucks the entire notion of separating a person, place, or thing by its distinguishing traits. Sometimes this lack of discrimination is at the Thought Police Vegan's own expense: she cannot possibly patronize a Chipotle restaurant, even in an emergency, because Chipotle serves meat and has put out an array of confusing ads that make it unclear whose side they are on. More often, the complete refusal to admit one thing is not the same as the other is used as a tactic of oppression against other vegans.
I think we can all agree that fat-shaming is a shitty thing to do. If I were to make beeping noises when an obese person walked backwards or if I were to accuse her of being the prime suspect in a Twinkie heist, we could safely call that fat shaming. However, if I simply observe a person weighs more than I do or note that what she eats on a daily basis contains a great deal of fat-dense animal products, it is a little harder to automatically condemn me as a fat-shamer. Or at least it's harder to condemn me if you are able to complete a rational thought. No worries, rational thought isn't a problem for Thought Police Vegans. For a Thought Police Vegan, fat-shaming occurs whenever an observation -- any observation at all! -- is made about BMI or weight. In this sense, every single person who has ever talked to a nutritionist in order to lose weight is being fat-shamed simply based upon the mention of the subject of weight. To the Thought Police Vegan, this is a perfectly rational way of thinking because their entire process is the logical fallacy of the slippery slope. If X happens, then X, XY, and XYZ to the power of infinity will happen. This is the same wonderful "logic" of Duck Dynasty's Phil Robertson, who believes a man who tongue-locks another man is headed down an inevitable road to participating in a donkey show:
"Start with homosexual behavior and just morph out from there. Bestiality, sleeping around with this woman and that woman and that woman and those men."
It's not easy to figure out a Thought Police Vegan's motives beyond mind control, but we are forced to assume her dystopian ideal is based on political correctness. Thought Police Vegans are of the school "if you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all" taken to its utmost totalitarian extreme. If one were to call Lindsey Lohan a whore, it would be considered an inflammatory thoughtcrime because calling a prostitute by a derogatory name by default is a blow to the entire women's rights movement. Use of such ouchie words is to be avoided at the cost of independent thought or a sense of humor. If I were to say, "my skin is darker than yours," I am automatically branded a racist because any observation of skin color in general is oppressive. I find it especially funny when a Thought Police Vegan assumes I am white, which I am not, because it reveals their chronic, crippling self-consciousness about race and gender.
If she is not lucky enough to be an unemployed heiress, I imagine the Thought Police Vegan stealing time away from her shitty job on various social networks, going through each post with a fine-tooth comb trying to find vegans to troll. She types away furiously, her adrenaline pumping as she quickly looks around for the big boss, acting as a one-woman cavalry to round up any and all who would depart from the uniform code of groupthink that gives her divine authority to crack down on people who use the word "bitch". In her world, no vegan could ever possibly be good enough and therefore ought to be destroyed -- if destruction is impossible, then wasting that vegan's time will be a more than adequate substitute. She'll do anything to avoid nasty hardworking activism that involves cooperating with others in a productive way!