According to this study, our deeply-held values can predict whether we take action to protect the environment or not. These values align with our political leanings, whether we are liberal or conservative. It said that because we have different values, we must tailor the message inspiring the need to protect our planet in different ways. Our cultural values are how we process information and how we view the world.
Hierarchical vs Egalitarian
The article went over people with hierarchical values vs people with egalitarian values. People with hierarchical values prize authority, tradition, and influence. People who were more egalitarian want equal rights and opportunities for everyone. People with hierarchical values view one group of people being better than the other, while people who were more egalitarian see people as equal. For example, someone with hierarchical views would be more conservative and be in a position of authority, such as a manager, police chief, doctor, main patriarch or matriarch of the family, Catholic priest, etc. Someone with egalitarian views would be a civil rights leader such as Martin Luther King Jr., Mahatma Gandhi, or Bernie Sanders. Most Republicans are hierarchical while most Democrats are egalitarian.
Individualistic vs Communitarian
The article further explored the difference between individualism and communitarianism. People who were more individualistic value the self over others. They believe in individual freedom over collective or state control. In contrast, people who were more communitarian value responsibility to the community and the social importance of family. For example, an individualistic society would be the United States, Germany, and Australia. A communitarian society would be in China, Brazil, India, and the Philippines. Communitarian cultures are more likely traditional and value order, while individualistic cultures value freedom and independence.
Caring For The Environment
According to the study, people who are more individualistic and egalitarian care more about the environment than people who are communitarian and hierarchical. They care more about recycling and volunteering for an environmental cause. They have a unity for nature and care about our planet. It is no wonder that Democrats are most likely to be vegan and Republicans are most likely not, as most Democrats are individualistic and egalitarian and most Republicans care about authority, hierarchy and order. However, someone with a hierarchical and communitarian view would care for the environment based on the message you give them. Such person will not believe you if you say that an environmental policy will benefit everyone equally. However, if you say that an environmental policy will achieve this result and the freedoms won by everyone in the community, they might actually become more open to discussion about our environment. Maybe tailoring this type of message to most people in the Republican Party might get them to change their minds about the environment.
So Are Vegans Individualistic and Egalitarian?
If people who are individualistic and egalitarian care more about the environment compared to people who are hierarchical and communitarian, then those people are most likely vegans. Vegans care a lot about the environment, which is why they exclude all animal products. Animal agriculture emits as much greenhouse gases as trucks, trains, jet planes, factories, fossil fuels, etc. Factory farms use more land, even clearing a lot of forests to raise cattle for beef or grow crops for those livestock. A pound of meat requires more water compared to a pound of beans. This could mean that most vegans would be individualistic and egalitarian. Of course, someone with hierarchical and communitarian views could be vegan. One of my mother’s former coworkers who I viewed is hierarchical is a vegan. Also, despite the strict hierarchy in medicine, a lot of doctors are vegan. Doctors are most likely hierarchical and a lot of them are vegan. Still, a lot of vegans are mostly individualistic and egalitarian. It is no wonder that a lot of vegans join animal rights marches and climate change marches, and that a lot of them are climate activists and animal rights activist.
My Own Personal Experience
As a Filipino American, I can attest that I grew up in a mostly communitarian culture. Filipino culture is all about family and how you fit in the community. Social harmony is important in the Filipino family and in the Filipino community. Being accepted in the group is one of the biggest desires of most Filipinos and Filipino Americans. Social approval and pleasing others is crucial to being respected in the Filipino family and community.
Now as much as I respect my Filipino culture, there are some downsides to it. If someone is different in the family and community, that person is considered “weird” or “strange” and most of the family and/or community will distance themselves from that person or will goad the person to give up their individuality and become one of them, especially using peer pressure and guilt-tripping them. There is also a phenomenon called the crab mentality in which it is named for the crabs in the bucket. If one crab tries to escape, the other crab or crabs will pull it back in. But in Filipino culture, the best way to describe the mentality is “if I can’t have it, neither can you.” Anyone with a crab mentality will be envious and resentful of a person who has succeeded beyond the others and will try to undermine their success or destroy their confidence.
So as a Filipino American who runs and swims on a vegan diet, I have faced a lot of hateful remarks from my own relatives and family friends in the community. Some of my uncles would tell me, “You need to eat more meat.” or “Why aren’t you eating meat?” or “How do you get your protein?” The photographer in my Filipino organization would eat meat in front of me and put it in front of my face to try to get me to eat it. Later at one of the club’s events, he told me that I’ve offended every single Filipino on this planet. A lot of my cousins gradually stopped inviting me to food runs and eating out with them, especially when their favorite restaurants are boba places and Korean BBQ restaurants. A lot of my relatives stopped inviting me to family parties, especially when they know I cannot eat the food they serve there. Even if there is salad at their parties, it may have chicken or cream in it. Sadly, at the same time, a lot of people in my family and in the local Filipino community have passed away from chronic diseases that could have been preventable by exercise and a vegan diet. Being a vegan Filipino American who would be characterized as individualistic and egalitarian, the only hardest part about sticking to my diet is dealing with prejudice from my relatives, family friends, and members of my Filipino organization.
The article provided some insight into some of the personality traits of people who care about the environment. It could be safe to say that most vegans are individualistic and egalitarian. Of course, some of them are hierarchical and communitarian depending on that person’s individual personality. This provided insight into why becoming vegan resulted in a lot of teasing and hateful remarks from relatives, family friends, and people in my community. Nevertheless, I will continue to stick to a vegan diet and continue running and swimming on the diet. I will continue to reduce my carbon footprint and not support animal agriculture. I will continue to take care of my health and stay physically active. I will continue to not contribute to the brutal killing my farm animals at factory farms. I am proud to be a vegan Filipino American.