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How close can you be to someone with radically different values?


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5 Signs of A Strong Friendship – ...
5 Signs of A Strong Friendship – Spotting A True Friend

Lately I befriended someone who I have a lot of fun hanging out with. I'm a 29 year old woman and he is a 35 year old male. We have some different moral values, however I am open to being friends with people whose values different from mine, at least to an extent. I don't think two people seeing an issue differently means one of them is a bad person, and I try and remain open-minded to understanding where other people are coming from.

We differ on a few different issues, and one of them in particular is eating meat. Now I have never pushed my beliefs onto this friend and I am well aware that he eats meat. While I don't agree with his decision, I am still willing to be his friend. This does not affect his treatment of me and I realize his diet is something he has to decide for himself. I have been a vegan for the past 6 years and feel strongly that its the ethical choice, but it's not like I refuse to associate with those who are not.

However, I recently found out that he hunts for fun several times throughout the year. I only know this because his social media profile popped up as a suggested add on instagram and he has pictures of him hunting etc as well as pictures of a few animals he has killed. That is something I find extremely messed up and disturbing, and to me is crossing a line that is much worse than just consuming meat. He does not seem like a violent person at all in conversation.

I know I cannot change him, but I am now re-thinking my friendship with him completely. The only mention of hunting he has made to me is that as a kid, his father took him a few times. He did not tell me it is still actively something he enjoys today. 

Please note that I am not posting this to debate the morals of hunting but rather to gain some insight as to at what point moral differences should end a friendship as well as how to end that friendship when they do. Do I tell him I find the hunting disturbing? Do I ask him his perspective on it and engage in a civil debate? Do I just tell him flat out that we can't be friends? Any insight is appreciated.

 

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11 minutes ago, somechick99 said:

Please note that I am not posting this to debate the morals of hunting but rather to gain some insight as to at what point moral differences should end a friendship as well as how to end that friendship when they do. Do I tell him I find the hunting disturbing? Do I ask him his perspective on it and engage in a civil debate? Do I just tell him flat out that we can't be friends?

I suppose the way I see it is that we hang best, and closest, with those whose differences we can respect, engage with, learn from, be curious about, and that don’t generally upset us so much as to trigger us to judge negatively and dehumanize.

As this pertains to him—well, you know your own threshold and ecosystem far more than we do. So: Are you curious to learn what hunting is all about for him? Do you need him to agree that it is disgusting, or just respect your view? Does debating this civilly appeal to you? And would you respect him if you learned it’s not really something he cares to debate?

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5 minutes ago, bluecastle said:

I suppose the way I see it is that we hang best, and closest, with those whose differences we can respect, engage with, learn from, be curious about, and that don’t generally upset us so much as to trigger us to judge negatively and dehumanize.

As this pertains to him—well, you know your own threshold and ecosystem far more than we do. So: Are you curious to learn what hunting is all about for him? Do you need him to agree that it is disgusting, or just respect your view? Does debating this civilly appeal to you? And would you respect him if you learned it’s not really something he cares to debate?

I am interested in hearing his perspective on it, particularly because I do respect him as a person and as my friend. He is intelligent so his viewpoint is worth hearing to me. I guess I just found it disturbing seeing the photos of some of the animals he has killed. But it's unfair of me to assume he did it for fun - for all I know he ate the deer.

Thanks for your reply.

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I think talking to him is a good idea, just to get his perspective. That said, I'd like to share mine. I'm a meat-eater and I hunt in a couple different seasons (deer, different kids of birds) throughout the year. I eat what I cook and I enjoy hunting. Venison is delicious - I certainly hope he ate the deer or at least gave it to a family who would enjoy it. I think it's wasteful (and wrong) to hunt for sport without eating it but that's me. 

When I say I "enjoy" it, as he may, I imagine he and I may view it in a similar way. I don't mean enjoy in a "oh boy I have a BLOOD LUST" way. It's more sporting and the ending for the animal is, ideally, quick and rather painless (I don't trap or use arrows). Most of hunting is walking or sitting in nature. You become one with nature and use many of your senses. Getting that animal, there is a sort of a "rush", like "whoa, I just conquered nature, apex predator!" and with that, I feeling of accomplishment...being able to handle a weapon, then be in nature, spot the prey, use the weapon effectively, and then BAM, that's it. And then you get a fresh, tasty meal (or more) out of it. 

I ask you to consider this: for the animal which is worse? Being raised on a farm its whole life, crammed in with other animals in poor, squalid conditions before being sent to the slaughter house and then to the grocey store? Or living in the wild, a natural lifespan with natural food and habitats, and then having its life ended very quickly, perhaps painlessly, before being processed? 

For me, and other hunters I know, hunting is about being part of nature and getting your meat in a way that is humane, inexpensive, healthy, and natural. There's also a lot of skill involved and it takes a LOT of patience too. 

I hope my perspective could shed some light on this. I do think you should talk to your friend and try to keep an open mind, knowing that you may not agree (and that's okay) but that doesn't make your friend a BAD person. 

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I would let it go. He probably knows you are vegan. Heck you probably told him first time you met him like in that old joke. He doesnt boast around you how he hunts animals, doesnt make fun of you for being vegan(probably) and respects your beliefs. Again, even to the point he doesnt mentions his affinity to hunting and eating meat. So, if you can get along nicely without butting heads over it, just let it go.

Trouble is, you are a vegan. No matter how you want to be open minded, there is still a part of you that its way too bothered with that. That needs to preach to him how what he is doing is bad and unethical. So you probably wont do it. And thus probably make a big thing about it.

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6 hours ago, somechick99 said:

That is something I find extremely messed up and disturbing, and to me is crossing a line

Then here is your answer. 

You can't be friends with someone you feel engages in disturbing and messed-up behaviour. Can you? 

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It's for you to decide where lines are crossed when it comes to your morals and personal beliefs. Personally I have dated guys who eat meat, but have drawn the line with anyone who chooses to hunt or fish. You need to make the choice that you feel comfortable with. 

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I don't think it's a general question but really specific.  For example, I stopped developing a friendship with a woman who lied to me about being an ex-con (white collar -and yes since she asked me for a specific favor her omitting this was not cool at all) and then committed the same type of crime as a mod for a parenting facebook group I am on a couple of years ago -I didn't unfriend her (she was removed as a mod) and she served time and is trying to better herself but I've decided to keep my distance. But other women have not as I see how they post to her and continue to be close with her.  So for me personally I can't be close friends with someone who committed the crimes she did and hurt people including me (luckily I wasn't a victim of her scam but could have been, easily) but apparently others can.  I don't judge them for their choices.

I've refrained from eating meat in front of vegan friends who are vegan for ethical reasons (I have a good friend who is vegan and it's for health reasons only-her personal health reasons). 

I would not be ok at all being judged by that person for my decision to eat meat or to serve my family meat.  Just like I would not be ok being judged for my decision -completely hypothetical - that I would have had an abortion under certain very narrow circumstances - it's analogous since that decision involves, to some, taking a life, right?  So with my example we can easily avoid discussing hot button issues and it's easier than the diet thing because many friends eat together, etc. 

Just saying from my end of things - I've been in situations where people try to give me unsolicited advice about food -might be about meat, or processed food, or the various keto/paleo/drink your calories diets (no I don't need to be on any diet at all - that does not stop a number of people from imposing their dietary beliefs on others-especially if they make a commission doing so). 

I never ever do that.  My mother is allowed to do that to me LOL, I'm allowed to do that to my minor child (and even that I limit as much as possible) - but to a friend - no, I don't judge, I don't comment about food choices -it's a sensitive area in my life over time and I think it is for many others. 

I get that you have ethical reasons for eating as you do.  I respect you completely for your choices but if you're going to feel that uncomfortable that your friend eats meat and hunts then I'm not sure you can be a real friend to him. Other people in your shoes might be able to -take a good hard look at the degree to which it bothers you -it's not an easy decision I know!!

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12 hours ago, somechick99 said:

I am open to being friends with people whose values different from mine

Actually you're not. You're quite set in your ways and so is he. If there is a romantic interest there's no point pursuing this since it seems you would rather radically change him.

 For millions of years and throughout many cultures people hunted and fished for food and still do.  If you don't like that fact, it's ok, but it's naïve to think the world has or does revolve around a greenwashed microcosm.

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I think you can only be 'so' close to someone you have such deep differences with.  At first, a friend or date is new and exciting.  As time marches on, we learn more about each other.  One of you may feel resentful, start to judge or just otherwise feel like the time together is not as enjoyable because what they do goes against what you think. 

I call people I know and am friends with like this, "good time friends". they are the friends I have some association with and I think they're good people. We just don't see eye to eye in our lifestyles and choices, which IMO does limit how close we are. I enjoy the occasional good time with them but I avoid a lot of topics. 

It's ok to have different groups and classifications of friends. You don't  tell them.  lol. You enjoy the time with them and since it's more limited you don't get into the deep discussion that might make one or both parties feel uncomfortable.

ETA I think in order to be close to someone I need to be seen, understood and accepted on a certain level and vice versa. When I'm limiting my topics, watching my words, or feeling triggered by their's, how can we close?

It's not very authentic and that is important to me.  

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I think it is possible to be friends with someone with different values but only if those different values don't offend us or make us feel uncomfortable. This is just an example but I want to be more environmentally conscious so most products I use are biodegradable. For example, I stopped using any plastic wrapping, I use biodegradable make-up wipes, bamboo toothbrush and so on. Although I don't care that much if other people don't use biodegradable products, as I know there aren't as many available to buy and they're also more expensive.

There are values and beliefs that do offend me and are personal to me. For example, we had a same sex marriage plebiscite here in Australia. I'm bisexual and many of my friends are GLBTIQ. I had a good friend and she voted "no" for same sex marriage, even though it actually wasn't compulsory to vote, it was optional. I think the stronger you hold the value, the more difficult it becomes to be OK with other people opposing your values.

Actually this might sound weird because I'm not even vegan or vegetarian. Though I did spend some time being vegetarian in the past. I also don't like meat much so I don't eat it often. I'm also against hunting and even fishing really. The way I guess I feel about it is that the animals who are in the wild and free should be left alone. There is so much meat in the shops you can buy so I think if you want to eat meat, you should just buy it because those animals have already been killed. The other animals are alive and because they're wild they have a chance to live longer. So why take their life away. I also just don't understand how killing animals can be enjoyed. But I guess I don't have a high moral ground to stand on because I do eat meat. So I guess you could say technically I'm fine with animals being killed because if I wasn't I'd be a vegetarian. 

Though the other thing is that people basically don't hunt here in Australia and don't really own guns. So I've literally never come across this dilemma where someone is my friend and I like them but they also hunt. I think maybe for that reason I've been able to separate people that hunt as "bad" because I've never actually met any. If that makes sense...

Personally I wouldn't confront your friend about his hunting because people don't change and this is obviously just who he is. People have all kinds of beliefs and values and yours just happen to be very different.

That's why there is that saying: "Birds of a feather flock together". Which means you become closest to people who are the same as you. For example, one of my friends is a vegan and he married and had a child with a woman who is also a vegan. Having that same mindset and beliefs is quite important for a friendship or relationship.

I don't actually think you have to be "open minded" about people eating meat. In the sense that if you prefer having friends who don't eat meat, I think that's fine. The only thing that might be bad is you pushing people to stop eating meat. But if you prefer to surround yourself with other vegans then why not? It's not like you're telling other people what to do, you're simply looking for friendship with like minded people who are already vegan.

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1 minute ago, Tinydance said:

I don't actually think you have to be "open minded" about people eating meat in the sense that if you prefer having friends who don't eat meat, I think that's fine. The only thing that might be bad is you pushing people to stop eating meat. But if you prefer to surround yourself with other vegans then why not? It's not like you're telling other people what to do, you're simply looking for friendship with like minded people who are already vegan.

Yes- it's not about being open minded just about being thoughtfully-minded.  For example I know people who are very focused on a certain breed of dog.  I most likely would not go to someone's home if they had that breed of dog and the dog would be in their home nor would I let my son be around that breed of dog in someone's home.  But I would never suggest that someone do as I do. And I would if possible avoid commenting on my issue with that breed of dog so as to remain polite. For example if the friend who owns the dog wanted to meet us outside of their home. 

 I had to limit my friendship with certain dog owners because we only could meet for a short amount of time if they would have to leave their dog alone at home or they would have to bring the dog which would mean being outdoors even in bad weather/only go to restaurants where we could eat outside.  I don't agree with that sort of prioritizing unless the dog is sick.  But I am able to accommodate their priorities to an extent.  Those are not values that offend me but they are values that impede our ability to see each other and perhaps our ability to be close.

It's a degree thing.  One time I went out of my way to research vegetarian restaurants in my city so my friend who agreed to come into the city to meet me (because my city was really fun and she grew up there) could enjoy a meal given her choice to be vegetarian.  She canceled last minute and didn't try to reschedule.  Cumulatively, it annoyed me even more because I'd gone out of my way to accommodate her values.  

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2 hours ago, Wiseman2 said:

Actually you're not. You're quite set in your ways and so is he. If there is a romantic interest there's no point pursuing this since it seems you would rather radically change him.

 For millions of years and throughout many cultures people hunted and fished for food and still do.  If you don't like that fact, it's ok, but it's naïve to think the world has or does revolve around a greenwashed microcosm.

Actually I think now in Western societies people don't hunt, only some people do. And usually it's because they actually do this as a job. For example, they work at an abattoir. The majority of people don't hunt so I think it's actually pretty easy to only have friends who don't hunt if you don't approve of hunting lol 

We don't live in a hunter gatherer society now so while eating meat is common, but hunting isn't. 

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14 hours ago, somechick99 said:

That is something I find extremely messed up and disturbing, and to me is crossing a line that is much worse than just consuming meat.

I don't understand your logic of why a person is a better human being to eat the meat of an animal that someone else killed versus one who has killed the animal himself/herself.

Anyway, in your shoes, if you're determined to build this friendship, don't become social media friends with him so you won't come across photos that are disturbing to you. And then you can ask him to avoid the subject of hunting with you.

In listing one of my own experiences, I once had to drive to different locations with a co-worker, so we'd naturally speak about things. Found out that because of her religion, she believed homosexuals were doomed to go to hell. I told her that she wasn't going to change my mind, and I couldn't change hers, so it was best we avoid that disturbing topic. Problem solved.

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In the US hunting and fishing is quite common, particularly in rural areas. What's less common is hunting for "trophies". Those people tend to be looked down upon by those who hunt for sport but  use the game for food and other supplies (like the hide for a rug or clothing, etc.) 

I don't hunt but I have fished. I like fishing. And I ate the fish I caught.

As far as being close with someone who has radically different views, my best friend and I have polar opposite views on politics. But we love each other so we just don't discuss politics. We respect one another enough to not try to change the other one's mind or to imply their views are "wrong".

If you feel you just can't tolerate being friends with someone who hunts, or if you don't think you'd be able to resist telling him he's "wrong", then it would be better to step away from the friendship.

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I suppose it depends on your level of tolerance.  People with different views can be friends as long as they don't impose those views on each other.  Others are intolerant to even the idea.   There's not a one size fits all answer here.

I have friends that have deeply opposing political views than myself.  We know not to discuss it amongst each other, and everything is fine.   My boyfriend hunts and it makes me uncomfortable.  We just don't discuss his hunting trips, outside of the antics with his friends.  Other than that, I don't need to know details.  

On the other hand, I know people who can't be in the same room as someone who isn't like minded. 

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If your friendship truly bothers you due to your friend's eating habits and recreational hunting, then distance yourself from him.  Over time, you will determine whether or not this friendship will lead to drifting apart and fading away.

 

If you wish to dissolve and exit this friendship, I would be completely honest while remaining peaceful.  There is no need to engage in a heated argument.  I would tell him in person or on phone this:  "Thank you, I appreciated your past friendship with me.  I'm uncomfortable with your recreational hunting and I feel uneasy about your meat eating habits.  It's NOT your fault and I respect your choices.  It's me.  (Give him the 'it's me and not you' scenario to deflect blame from him onto you.)  I don't want to fight with you.  I respect your choices and thank you for respecting mine.  It is time to go our separate ways.  I wish you all the best."  End with 'Sincerely, Your Name' if you wish to text him instead of an in person or phone call conversation. 

As for me,  I've always placed people in various categories.  I disagree with some of my friend's, in-laws', relatives',  political affiliations / views, religious, non-religious beliefs, unhealthy eating habits,  entertainment choices, clothing styles and it runs the endless gamut.  People are so different.

Foul language is easily spewed from my boorish BIL (brother-in-law).  The other BIL is extremely rude to his wife (my sister), everyone else and intolerable for decades.  They're pariahs. 

My husband's late grandmother said, "Find the good in everyone."  You may not agree with them but if they are good to you in other ways, there are times when you have to learn to ignore what you don't admire about that person and appreciate whatever good heart they unconditionally give you. 

I don't like a lot of people because I don't approve everything about them.  I would even go so far as to say they have a very obnoxious side to them which often times grates on my last nerve.  However, should our paths cross, I try my best to find some nugget of common ground and we focus on that in the relationship or friendship.  Sometimes, you have to treat them like a colleague.  You don't like everything about them but focus on what you do like about them and pounce on that always. 

I have a social media friend whose political views are extreme and he's very bitter and hateful towards nationalities who've 'murdered' his relative during the war.  I've voiced my disdain albeit in a respectful way and we discuss common interests instead of griping about our differences.  To my surprise, he remained very respectful after that.  It's not what you say, it's how you say it which gives you favorable results. 

It is possible to be mutually respectful and concentrate on what works.  Cast your differences aside and "love one another."  "Love thy neighbor."  Love meaning acceptance, remain peaceful and be kind to one another. 

If you're absolutely repulsed by your friend's carnivore eating habits and recreational hunting, then lower him from a friend to casual acquaintance status or less than that.  It's your comfort level and choice.

I have an example.  My next door neighbor has a unsavory side to him.  He has a habit of spewing random foul words, he's a slick salesman and a cheapskate.  However, he has a good side to him.  He waves 'hello' to me every morning from in front of our suburban houses or whenever my husband or I drive by.  Long ago,  he helped my husband during an emergency when our garage rafter was about to collapse onto our cars ! ☹️😯 Damage to our cars would've been very expensive to repair.  Without hesitation,  my neighbor immediately jumped into action by climbing a ladder to securely anchor very heavy lumber so bulky items did not come crashing down atop our cars.  He saved the day.  When his MIL (mother-in-law) passed away, I brought homemade dinner to his doorstep.  When I spoke to my neighbor at a recent 4th of July neighborhood picnic, he was kind, humorous and we engaged in friendly catching up type chit chat despite not having a conversation in years. 

I don't agree with my other neighbor's political views yet they give us huge bags of fruit from their backyard trees ever year and picked up our empty trash cans when it was accidentally knocked over due to wind or heavy rain.  We help each other without fanfare nor recognition.

I don't agree with my relatives, in-laws and friends yet when I brought my newborn sons home from the hospital, they brought homemade meals to my house for months.  They gave the baby and me a lot of expensive gifts.   I don't agree with them but their hearts were in the right place. 

Some people are 'diamonds in the rough.'

However, I do make exceptions.  There are some people in my life who were unkind and very cruel.  Some people have deceived, betrayed and lied to me.  My memories are quite vivid.  Those types of people were eliminated from my life and if avoiding them completely is impossible, I'm cool, polite and civil at best; no more, no less.   

 

 

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18 hours ago, somechick99 said:

I have been a vegan for the past 6 years and feel strongly that its the ethical choice. his social media profile popped up as a suggested add on instagram and he has pictures of him hunting etc. That is something I find extremely messed up and disturbing, and to me is crossing a line that is much worse than just consuming meat.

In order to be friends with people of all different sorts, you need to be open-minded and have a live-and-let live mindset. You have a morally superior attitude and view him as a murderous caveman and those who eat meet as "unethical". That will never work.

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4 hours ago, Wiseman2 said:

In order to be friends with people of all different sorts, you need to be open-minded and have a live-and-let live mindset. You have a morally superior attitude and view him as a murderous caveman and those who eat meet as "unethical". That will never work.

I don't think it's morally superior to think this, it's just a personal belief. We actually don't have to be friends with everyone. Nor do we have to become more "open minded" in the sense that in order to be friends with someone, we need to change how we feel and our beliefs and values. They don't have to change theirs either. 

For example, I'll give the being gay example. As I mentioned, I'm bisexual and I've met very religious people who said that being gay is a sin, etc. I didn't get into a fight with them or anything but I simply didn't associate with them.

If I think about it, all my friends share my core beliefs and I don't remember any of them saying anything that strongly offended me. A lot of my friends are GLBTIQ like myself and also politically left wing like myself. When I'd heard people say things that really don't agree with me, I didn't become close to them.

I have friends who are vegan, though they aren't very close friends. They actually never mention much about being vegan but simply  only eat vegan food when we're together. I don't discuss anything about meat or killing animals either. But also I guess my vegan friends are not more radical about their veganism and neither am I about eating meat. Like, my friends don't go to protests and I don't hunt or post about meat on social media.

I think though that we don't actually have to be friends with people who are just not "our cup of tea". It doesn't matter why they aren't but if for whatever reason we just feel uncomfortable with them then why should we be friends with them? We are free to choose our friends and it's no offence to other people if we don't want to choose them.

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10 hours ago, Tinydance said:

A lot of my friends are GLBTIQ like myself and also politically left wing like myself. 

He's just being who he is. He didn't ask her to stalk his social media and find "disturbing" posts.

Someone who calls themselves and their choices "ethical", when in fact they're merely personal preferences is in fact using a condescending stance.

This has absolutely nothing to do with LGBT.

I don't go to botanical gardens and think "those barbaric vegans murdering and eating innocent vegetation!"

Because frankly it's none of my business to decide how and what others should eat. It's also none of my business who sleeps with whom etc.

Why? because I do have a live and let live view and don't purport that my view or lifestyle is the "right" way or "ethical" way. Personally I simply stay away from zealots and extremists of any leaning or type

 

 

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I think a lot of what is ethical is subjective.  For example is it ethical to have dinner with someone in a restaurant that serves all sorts of food and imply that what the person is doing is unethical (by eating meat or non-vegan products) so that while the person is eating it's in a tense, stressful environment? I've seen people believe a lot more in causes than in treating individuals with respect -not just causes related to how animals are treated.  I tend to prefer people -and feel more comfortable around people -  who prioritize treating individuals with respect over being all about whatever cause it is. 

If being around this person when he is consuming meat or dairy products is going to repulse you I guess you can avoid being in situations like that and also avoid topics of hunting but on the other side of it I'd also avoid discussion of your food choices since for you they are not just about your personal preference but also about values you think this person doesn't share in. 

 

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What the OP actually wrote was: "I've been a vegan for six years and I strongly feel it's the ethical choice". She said SHE feels. She didn't say that she's going to protests holding up any signs or confronting people who eat meat.

I actually did have a friend who wasn't even vegan but was a vegetarian. I'm pretty sure she still are at least dairy products. Bit she became really full-on about the vegetarianism and kept always talking about it. If you ordered meat she either made comments about it or simply stared angrily at you and your food. She also said to me: "I'm going to give you a list of body care products that are vegan and/or don't test on animals and you should buy only those products". It's like yeah that's great but I didn't ask you for any advice what shampoo I'm allowed to use! Lol

The way I feel about it is people are allowed to think whatever they think is the "ethical choice", as long as they're not forcing others into it.

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