I’ve decided to revise my preliminary taxonomy for vegans, both in the interests of completeness (I didn’t mention the fifth kind of vegan the first time around but now I’m ready).
Also I have a better mnemonic device now MOUTH.
With no further ado, the five kinds of vegans are:
Missionaries – In an earlier age these people would be traveling to remote parts in order to spread their ‘true’ faith to the heathens. They use veganism the way people use religion – to give their lives a sense of meaning and themselves a mission. They’re constantly involved in outreach and obsess about what other people eat (missionaries worry less about their own behavior than they do yours). They tend to be much healthier than the other groups and strive to maintain a semblance of human nutrition to give their message credibility (missionaries who are literally consumed by their faith tend to not get many converts).
Orthorexics – Use veganism (usually a weird unsustainable form like only eating raw fruit) as cover for an eating disorder. They can starve themselves under cover of ethics. These people are mentally unwell and make themselves ill and if they have kids are liable to criminally under-nourish them. They tend to look like Death warmed over but try to convince themselves that they’re ‘detoxing’. If they’re female they try to convince themselves that loosing their hair and periods are signs of their bodies ‘healing’.
Uber-neurotics – I added the ‘uber’ partly for the sake of the mnemonic and partly because… yeah, they’re really, really neurotic. I mean this in the Big 5 sense to refer to those who tend to experience significantly more negative emotions than do most other people. Ordinary facts of human existence (we kill animals and eat them) are unbearable for them. They tend to focus to an unhealthy degree on slaughterhouse footage some of which is distressing and some of which they just don’t understand and they find or invent reasons to replay this over and over both for themselves and for other people. There’s probably an element of self-punishment going on but I don’t want to dwell on them.
Trendies – Get into veganism because they think the idea is cool or fashionable. Usually choose a weird and faddy and completely unsustainable diet like liquified kale and raspberry leaves (or six pounds of mangoes a day) and are then surprised when they get sick. Since they’re not orthorexic they finally give it up when they get sick enough and/or fail to receive enough attention or positive reinforcement. They then make teary eyed videos about how devastated they are about leaving veganism in a last ditch attempt to get some attention on the basis of their diet.
Hucksters – This is the fifth kind and I left it off before because I wasn’t able to clearly identify any particular high profile vegans as being first and foremost hucksters though it’s clearly a secondary feature of several. There are three kinds of hucksters (maybe more). One kind simply uses veganism as a significant source of income (through videos and merchandise and/or business activities). Another uses their diet to peddle dubious diet ideas (a massive pile of chopped up raw vegetables as a thanksgiving dinner!) or ‘alternative’ medicine some of which is probably dangerous. The other kind I haven’t definitively identified, though I have very strong suspicions about a few, is someone whose public image is vegan but is only able to maintain that by periodically cheating and consuming animal products (ex-vegan videos often refer to this practice). I strongly suspect that some eat a relatively normal omnivore diet privately while conspicuously veganizing in public).
A lot of individual vegans seem to have features of more than one group. The Faddists and Orthorexics heavily overlap as do the Uber-neurotics and Missionaries (and Uber-neurotics and Orthorexics). Hucksters can be found among all the four other types.
To mention a few youtube vegans and my diagnosis:
Mic the Vegan: Missionary
Unnatural Vegan: Missionary (the term Vicar’s wife comes to mind)
Vegan gains: Uber-neurotic (very uber)
That vegan couple: Uber-neurotic missionary hucksters
Those annoying vegans: Uber-neurotic missionaries
Joey Carbstrong: Missionary
Earthling Ed: Missionary huckster
Fully Raw Kristina: Orthorexic huckster
Generally orthorexics can be found on youtube with the labels ‘raw vegan’ and trendies can most easily be found after the fact by using the label ‘no longer vegan’.