I can’t remember my first time. It’s lost somewhere in a blizzard of cranks, dingbats and fools ever since I first took tentative steps on a dial-up connection to the Internets. You? Perhaps it was Frank Tufano dazzling you with his pearly whites, greazy talk and made-up facts. It might have been Sv3rige eating raw pig’s head at a vegan festival. Maybe it was Piers Morgan puking up a Greggs sausage roll on breakfast TV. Whenever you cashed in your anti-vegan edgelord v-card you likely knew it wouldn’t be your last encounter with this subspecies. You will have wondered how best to deal with these errant banter merchants who insist on being left alone to enjoy their freedoms while simultaneously demanding everyone’s undivided attention.
“Ignore them and they’ll go away!” comes the cry, sounding very much like your mom when she gave her spectacularly inaccurate prediction about the kids at kindergarten calling you Shitface Pissmouth. The advice was wrong then and it’s wrong now. Obviously cocking a deaf ‘un is an attractive option, particularly as most of these dudes could bore for the solar system. Check this out though: Australian “comedian” Isaac Butterfield has made his bones with a
depressingly predictable totally unique take on woke culture in general, the plant-based massive in particular. Looking remarkably like many of the soy boy vegans he claims to despise, Butterfield has 1.35 million YouTube followers which makes him a person of consequence in the culture even if you and I might not be crazy about that idea.
The template of his work is a crude one. See something mildly ridiculous and amusing a vegan said, respond to it by saying something completely disproportionate to the crime, double down and wait for the outrage to flow. “Oh my God, I am going to be upsetting a few people with this it seems! Whatever will I do next? Plz like and subscribe.” It’s a perpetual motion machine fuelled by human shit. Rage against the machine? Nah, man. Strategically place spanners in its pressure points and watch it blow itself up.
1. Remember you’re not talking to them 🗣
Back in the first century Holy Land, your boy Saul of Tarsus was a Pharisee who loved nothing more than rounding up a bunch of Christians and giving them a good old persecuting. Chinese burns, titty twisters, wedgies – nothing was beyond this degenerate. All that changed one day though down the road to Damascus when the White Jesus appeared to him all “what’s with the persecuting, bro?”, struck him blind and a literal Damascene conversion took place. In a flash, his world turned upside down. Saul became Saint Paul, the early church’s most important missionary. It was a beautiful miracle.
And that’s kind of my point. Despite what Insane Clown Posse would have you believe, miracles are miracles because they are rare. It is technically possible that the bozo opposite you will rise out of his wheelchair, regain his sight, walk on water but I wouldn’t be banking on that. He’s going to continue arguing in bad faith because that’s his thing – there will be no blinding flash or Damascene conversion. You are not addressing him. Your audience is everyone watching, every potential convert and everyone curious to see how this thing goes. Your opponent is merely a tool, in so many ways. Remember that.
2. Concede points where necessary 🙌🏻
In the heat of battle, it’s all too easy to wrap yourself in the flag and bat back every point with staunch denial. Before you know it, you’re denying that an unhealthy vegan has ever existed knowing full well that your friend Stacey once lived off spaghetti hoops, blowjobs and Smirnoff for six months. It’s particularly tempting to give no ground when under the assault of the relentless snark of an infinitely tedious edgelord but you’re the grown-up in the room. Remember that a debate is a dance, not a to-the-death turd joust. Your argument’s only as strong as its weakest point. Heed the words of Sun Tzu: “He will win who knows when to fight and when not to fight.”
3. Be funnier than them 🙆🏻♂️
This shouldn’t be hard. You can be less funny than a Brendan Schaub-Lee Hurst double-header and still sound like a prime Richard Pryor next to these nutsacks. A couple of things are worth bearing in mind. First, these people genuinely believe they are hilarious and it’s a big part of their identity. Besting them in humour swordplay will rattle them to their core. Secondly, the humourless vegan stereotype still exists. The floating voter is looking for something to connect with. Give them it.
4. Use condescension like a mensch, son 🚬
Your mother told you it was never OK to talk down to people but remember this is the same woman who told you that ALL bullies were cowards and that if you stood up to them they will leave you alone. That shit-tier piece of advice got your arse kicked up and down the school corridor for the next semester. Thanks for nothing, “mom”.
That said, she kind of had a point. You don’t get all snotty with the kind of Gwyneth Paltrow’s Goop refugee who says “I’d like to go vegan but I’m fairly certain my vagina will explode if I try” – they can be educated. But the audience watching Isaac Butterface won’t mind you figuratively ruffling his hair and grabbing his cheeks – they may even appreciate it. Sometimes people only respect you when you’re on that rah-rah shit.
5. Gore – what is it good for? 🔪
Heroin screws you up. Smoking causes cancer. Think once, think twice, think bike. All thunderous ad campaigns that took an unflinching look at an ugly problem and spectacularly failed to improve it in any way. No one’s saying there’s no place for hard-hitting material just that in the delicate art of converting the curious it’s a turn-off. If you doubt the average meat eater’s ability to compartmentalise and live with cognitive dissonance then I can only assume you’ve never witnessed family Christmas with pampered pets side-by-side by with a genetically modified freak of a slaughtered bird. Keep it pre-watershed and leave the slashed throats and spilt-out guts to Joey Carbstrong and his Pube Of Truth.
6. Nothing is gained by Vegan Gains 🏋🏻♂️
The temptation will always be to fight fire with fire. Never mind that fighting-fire-with-fire in real-life firefighting has a failure rate of 100%, it is still regarded as a pretty solid tactic. Getting a troll to kill a troll may sound attractive but in the unforgiving world of hand-to-hand combat, styles make fights. The Internet calamity known as Vegan Gains is definitely one of the more entertaining content creators out there. If you’re just in it for the lulz then have at it – there are many worse ways to spend 20 minutes than watching him get into it with Frank Tufano on his laughable vegan Valentine’s date.
But emulating him when engaging with anti-vegan trolls? Probably pass on that one. Coming across as a child-hating, cancer-baiting, OnlyFans-creating loon is seldom a good look for the community and the best result you can hope for is a no-score draw where football is the loser.
7. Cite credible sources 📖
OK fam but what constitutes a credible source? A solid example is The American Dietetic Association, the largest dietetic organisation in the world, and you should be able to recite by heart how (deep breath) “appropriately planned vegetarian diets, including total vegetarian or vegan diets, are healthful, nutritionally adequate, and may provide health benefits in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases. Well-planned vegetarian diets are appropriate for individuals during all stages of the life cycle, including pregnancy, lactation, infancy, childhood, and adolescence, and for athletes.)”
Otherwise, focus on peer-reviewed studies, randomised controlled trials and metastudies. A good starting place is Plant Based Research, which includes a free layperson’s guide to understanding scientific research. The tryhard sigma wannabe may have half-understood bro science from Eddie Bravo’s crankcast but under even the slightest scrutiny it will fall apart like Cody “Take care of your underwears” Garbrandt against a top-10 opponent.
8. Netflix? Chill 📺
We all dig those popular Netflix vegan docs, have recommended them, praised them and applauded as they were shared far and wide. Popularising the movement is a good thing but remember that as the message spreads some dilution is inevitable. Always bear in mind that the documentary maker is a storyteller, not a scientist. He is under no obligation to offer a balanced or even fair view. Facts get fudged in polemics. So if you’re thinking of treating What the Health as scripture after your boy The Savage has pointed out it’s got more holes than Swiss cheese I would urge you to think again. The edgelord has almost certainly read the multiple debunkings. Know that you need to be aware of them so you don’t go in there with your arse hanging out. Don’t load the opposition’s guns for them.
9. Greed is good 🧇
I’ve had my differences with your mom but let’s give the old bird some credit. When she told you that the way to a man’s heart was through his stomach she wasn’t entirely wrong. Don’t think you’re above blatant manipulation. Because you may think you’re absolutely acing forest plots when debating Chris “Cornhole” Kresser on Joe Rogan but flashing up an image of seitan chick’n satay, deep-fried tofu and rice noodles will gain more converts than the Mahdi himself showing up in Leicester Square with £50 notes tied to his Johnson.
10. Don’t quote the China study
Look, no judgement here – we’ve all done it. It was great for a while. It said a bunch of things that made us feel warm inside and tickled our confirmation bias in all the right places. But if you start citing a study that has been debunked more often than Jameela Jamil’s sicknote then your credibility will be shot worse than Tupac on the Vegas strip after a Tyson fight. Think of the China study as the Tide Pod challenge, Google Buzz and the left shark at the Super Bowl, one of those regrettable trends from your youth that seemed a good idea at the time but really wasn’t.
11. Do have your facts straight 📝
No one is expecting you to be Doctor Michael Greger but you’re gonna want to have a solid grounding in the basics. Know your B12, omega-3s, protein, calcium and iron. Do the knowledge on bone fractures. Aware yourself on crop deaths. Get comfortable with soy sustainability. Colin Controversial will be testing you for weak spots. Don’t give him any open goals.
12. Wait – that’s bait 🎣
When you get thrown some obvious bait it’s often a sign you’re doing well. The usual gambits haven’t worked so he’s breaking out the big guns, turning the outrage up to 11. So if the nause begins telling you how much they enjoy the screams of male chicks being crushed in a grinder or some other such attempt at Trenchcoat Mafia-style horrorcore, take it as a compliment even if it’s about as welcome as being accosted in traffic by human shitpile Lames Cordung dressed as a rat as he and his mates run through a couple of numbers from the musical Cinderella.
13. Be aware that some vegans ask for it 🤼♂️
“Vegan shaming? How could you Savage!” Chill with that, son. No one is vegan shaming in the strict sense of the phrase. I would merely remind you that there are multiple vegans, current and former, of whom it can reasonably be said they are an embarrassment to humanity in general and the movement in particular. Do I really need to list Jon Venus, Tim Shieff, Fully Raw Kristina, Freelee The Banana Girl, That Vegan Teacher? Don’t let some narcissist fool be the hill you die on. We need to run a tight ship. Going in to bat for them is a terrible idea. Spare the snark, spoil the movement.
14. Don’t commit the ‘no true Scotsman’ fallacy 🏴
You will see this a lot on vegan forums. No true vegan would ever pat a racehorse, date a carnivore, call someone honey. Beyond the fact that the logic doesn’t add up, it tends to have the effect of disallowing the title vegan to a large number (where we need it to be) and constricting it to a small number (you and your dipshit mates). It is perfectly fine to question the commitment of, say, Anne Hathaway who was quite open about only being on a vegan diet to lose weight but as a general rule of thumb if your definition restricts veganism to a number of people you could fit in an elevator then you’ll probably want to widen that a bit.
15. Blame it on the bougie 💎
Class matters when discussing veganism and there’s no getting around it. Don’t get it twisted. Anybody who thinks that Piers Morgan, Mikhaila Peterson or Frank Tufano gives a rat’s ass about the working class is as deluded as Prince Andrew as he high-fived his publicist saying “nailed it!” after that Emily Maitlis interview. Not the point, meine freunde. The salient question is: ‘can the edgelord convincingly portray veganism as a middle-class luxury?’ and the answer is very often yes. The Savage grew up poorer than a learning-disabled church mouse and he knows all too well that being hard-up is hard work and that any time-starved, energy-sapped human will opt for convenience over conscience most of the time.
Acknowledging this isn’t a weakness. Anticipate the attack and accept the issue exists while gently pointing out that the staples of a vegan diet work out a lot cheaper than a meat eater’s diet. Maybe best to leave your hilarious wholefood stores anecdotes out of this one, though.
16. Humans are human too 👩👩👧
Separate but related to the class issue is the need to focus on the human angle. The troll is dying for you to make some sweeping statements about humans being some malevolent force in the history of the planet. He’s done his homework. The misanthropic elements in the community have been with us for some time. Nazi-style references to humans as viruses or vermin only serve to confirm the worst prejudices about us. Kind of a buzzkill too when you’ve got the grandkids round and they look at you like you’re about to snuff them for the good of the planet.
So when That Vegan Teacher explains her decision to stop carrying a donor card with “I realised how despicable society is, how many evil people are out there… I’ve decided there’s no way on earth I want any of you to ever get my organs if I die,” she’s essentially writing the Daily Mail’s next hate piece for them. So it behoves us to have a sincere concern about the mental health of slaughterhouse workers, for example. Keep informed on these issues and show that you’re not just a one-trick pony. Always make time to give it up for the workers.
17. No compare 🔕
Every liberation struggle has a story to tell and you can rest assured that the troll is hostile to every single one of them. Will that stop him co-opting any or all of them to further his shit-eating existence? Not even for a second. Much as he’ll happily watch white Christian homophobia with a guffaw then the moment there’s a Muslim anti-gay protest he’s gyrating on a float at Pride, he will gladly feign affiliation with some other oppressed group to goad you into an injudicious remark or unsustainable position. So make it your business to avoid any comparisons of animal agriculture to the slave trade or coming out as vegan to coming out as LGBT. And if you need to be told why not to compare carnism to the Holocaust then you’ll probably never know. There are no winners in the oppression Olympics.
18. Forswear swearing 🔞
File this one very much under “do as I say, not as I do”. The Savage swears like a docker that’s just had a lump hammer dropped on his bare toe that was already *quite sore* from a flareup of gout. He swears for percussion, pleasure and point-scoring.
And yet the wise ones teach us that swearing merely inflames a situation and is much more likely to short-circuit a debate than clarify it. You want to call the troll a c*nt. It’s perfectly understandable. He almost certainly is a c*nt and several other profanities aside. But by deploying that particular flamethrower you also risk burning the nimbly constructed planks of your argument. Temperate language sweetens the pot. Kill him with kindness – it’ll really wind the c*nt up.
19. Going in studs-up ✂
This is all very nicey-nicey so far and of course, that’s by design. Just occasionally though it’s OK to dip into the dark arts of debate and let the punk know that you will straight up cut a bitch if they talk greazy. Every now and then remind them that Goodfellas-style their killers come with smiles.
Let’s say that you happen to be debating Sv3rige in his YouTube comments and he brings up his well-documented concern for conservation and humanity. You are entirely within your rights to bring up him stabbing four of his classmates and his emotionally abusive relationships with women. You do this to shatter his credibility and to let the audience know that he is arguing in bad faith and that every sentence coming out of his mouth has an asterisk next to it.
Do not mistake this with an ad hominem attack which, strictly speaking, states that some flaw in the character of the debater means that the argument itself is suspect. Hitler was bad, Hitler was vegetarian, vegetarianism is bad. Substitute Stalin and carnivore and the argument is equally fallacious. Going personal to demonstrate that your opponent is not who he says he is or even just to rattle him is entirely acceptable, though. Mark that motherf*cker’s card every once in a while.
20. Don’t take it personally 💞
This may be the hardest one of all, particularly when you’re in the trenches and the buckshot is flying. It’ll never stop being legit though. This isn’t about you any more than it’s about that grifting fraud sat opposite you. Without wanting to get all Martin Luther King it’s about the effective communication of truth and the rhetorical ju-jitsu required to achieve that when the gaping void trolling you wants it to be the other way. Follow these guidelines and leave the chump stuttering and drooling like a six-year-old Mickey Mouse fan who spent the summer at Action Park by mistake.