Every once in a while, it’s good to get confirmation that the folks whose philosophies on life and lifestyle seem a little “off,” really are out there. And that it’s not us — it’s them.
Case in point: A website titled “The Internet Gutter,” which, as the name suggests, is devoted to “the strange subcultures and weird worlds lurking in the dark pockets of the World Wide Web,” as the curators of the site describe it.
I don’t really have a huge interest in exploring some of those “dark pockets,” but a relevant post about what the site calls “YouTube Vegans” was eye-opening.
In describing the bizarre behavior of this subset of the vegan cult, the site referenced the movie “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World,” a 2010 made-for-Millennials fantasy in which a musician-slacker must defeat his new girlfriend’s “evil ex-boyfriends,” one of whom is a vegan.
But this character is not just any vegan — he has telekinetic powers as a result of his cruelty-free diet.
Here is the relevant story line, from the Wikipedia summary of the original series of Scott Pilgrim graphic novels (which the rest of us know as comic books), created by Canadian cartoonist Bryan Lee O’Malley:
“Envy was a mousy girl who gradually bloomed into a confident musical talent. Scott blames Todd for changing her and tries to attack him, but is stopped by Todd’s psychic vegan powers. Todd and Scott have a battle, which Todd almost wins until the Vegan Police show up and strip him of his powers for violating his vegan diet (by eating gelato and a chicken parmesan). Scott head-butts the powerless Todd, who is reduced to a pile of coins.”
To be kind, I’m guessing that it probably reads a lot better if you’re also looking at the illustrations.
Enter the Activists
A group that the website calls The YouTube Vegans, considers the movie not to be a fantasy, but a documentary.
“They honestly believe that vegans are advanced life forms,” the post continued. “And if there’s one thing these [advanced] vegans love more than feeling superior over their diets, it’s getting in fights with each other.”
As the website phrases it, “The YouTube Vegan World is a seething pit of jealousy, envy, and all-out hatred, with whip-thin maniacs issuing terrifying rants at each other over the tiniest slights.”
That’s easily verified by checking out any random responses from hardcore animal rights or vegan activists to any news — good, bad, or otherwise — related to livestock, meat-eating or animal activity of any sort.
But what’s equally bizarre is the plethora of self-indulgent posts about dietary practices or the vegan world view. Don’t take it from me, though. Judge for yourself.
› Exhibit A: Australian self-styled fitness “guru” Leanne “Freelee” Ratcliffe is famously known for (allegedly) consuming 51 bananas in one day. Freelee’s video “vlog” starts with her eating one banana “au naturel” after a morning jog. Then, breakfast: 20 bananas in a smoothie. Yes, 20 bananas blended with coconut water. The mega-blender she used looks like it holds a gallon of the slushy “liquid,” which she pours into a cartoonishly oversized plastic bottle and chugs it all down in a garish time-lapse video segment.
That segment is followed by a close-up — I kid you not — of her bloated, distended belly (like it’s a good thing to have just force-fed yourself 2,000 calories worth of mushed-up fruit). The rest of the video, if you can stomach it (pun intended), captures lunch — a 10-banana smoothie — and dinner, another 20-banana smoothie.
Her conclusion? “That’s how you do it.”
Which leads to the inescapable follow-up: “Do what??”
› Exhibit B: Sorsha Morava, whose circular arguments against racism are utterly nonsensical. “If you’re not against discrimination, you’re a racist,” she proclaims in a speech to the webcam on her computer. “But if you consume animal products, then you’re not against discrimination; you’re only against discrimination against beings within your own species, which is discrimination right there. So if you’re not vegan, you can’t be against discrimination.”
Illogical, but relatively benign, right? Oh, no. Listen to what comes next, as Sorsha takes on someone who tweeted that she and her bizarre analyses should “Stfu.” Her response: “Owning a cow and drinking its milk is exactly the same as owning black slaves and hanging them.”
There’s plenty more where those two came from, including some incredibly catty name-calling between Freelee, Sorsha and their many online detractors. It’s an endless video she-said, she-said that only dedicated vegan extremists could love.
Which they are.
And which they do.
The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Dan Murphy, a veteran food-industry journalist and commentator.