Sunderland University academic and author speaks out against anti-vegan prejudice

A university lecturer has gone on the attack against the ‘aggression’ he says vegans have to endure on a daily basis.

Dr Alex Lockwood is a senior lecturer in journalism and PR at the University of Sunderland. He has been a vegan for 10 years and is also writing a book on animal suffering.

In a new article, he outlines the benefits to health and the environment of veganism. But he also mentions how difficult life can be for vegans.

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This is despite a landmark court case in January, which ruled that ethical veganism is a “philosophical belief” which must be protected by law.

Dr Alex Lockwood says: 'For some reason, people dislike vegans.'

When he first adopted veganism, Dr Lockwood says there were social consequences.

He said: “To begin with, what was hardest was saying no to social foods, like the tin of Celebrations handed around at Christmas, or a colleague’s birthday cake.

“It wasn’t the chocolate so much (okay, it was the chocolate!) but it was about being left out; being seen as not part of the group.

“This is hard and in my research interviewing vegan men, it is definitely one of the hardest things to overcome, when you choose to live aligned with your values as someone who cares for other nonhuman animals.”

Vegans say they eat delicious meals

Another aspect of vegan life Dr Lockwood finds unacceptable is the treatment they can receive at the hands of non-vegans.

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He continued: “For some reason, people dislike vegans. This discrimination comes in many forms. From wisecracking jokes, all the way up to chefs in restaurants secretly giving vegans animal products in their meals (and, thankfully, losing their jobs for it).

“The hardest moments are when you have to bite your tongue. Meeting a new partner’s parents, for example, and his or her father spouts some obviously wrong ideas about animals. What do you do? Correct him, or play along?”

But Dr Lockwood admits to not always biting his tongue. One recent incident during a workshop at a hotel made him particularly angry.

He had informed the organisers of his veganism and that it was hard for him at meal times to see people eating animals. He was told he would be looked after, but was left angry and disappointed.

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When he arrived, all the welcome breakfast snacks were non-vegan and there was only ordinary dairy milk.

Dr Lockwood said: “When the vegan alternatives arrived, the venue, mockingly labelled the fruit a ‘vegan treat’. Well, actually, it’s not a treat, it’s a right, under 2012 Workplace Legislation.

“Lunch was even worse. While everyone else had the immediate choice of four different hot meals, I waited 40 minutes for a tiny bowl of watery pasta – and still no one running the training did anything about it.

“This time I did not put up with it. I complained. And I left. And yet it is I who will be seen as the troublemaker, even though I provided three months advance notice.”

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He concludes: “In the end, even meat-eaters know that vegans are living healthy, ethical lives. Now what is stopping you from doing the same?”