The Third Leader: Green giants

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The Independent Online

Vegans, we report, are on the increase. They also deserve the respect that is owed to those who pursue a belief, in this case the right of other creatures not to be bothered by us, whatever the hardships and sacrifices, such as being denied a hamburger, or tripe. Why, then, do they not always receive it?

If it's because such vigorous, rigorous conduct makes us feel uncomfortably inferior - a good test here is your reaction to either of the Ladies McCartney - then it's time we grew up. The envy of the weaker disguised by scorn or sneer is never attractive.

I suspect that it's principally one of those outdated image things, a matter of lentils and sandals and such. I can see, too, that attempts to improve the PR would be inconsistent with a philosophy based on a brave refusal to compromise, even though, on a lamentably trivial note, I, for one, would feel much happier if health-food shop assistants could manage a smile, occasionally.

No, we will have to work on ourselves. Some positive role models, therefore, who, at the very least, denied or deny themselves meat: Plato, Voltaire, Milton, Tolstoy, Doris Day and Bryan Adams. If you feel a bit more edge would help, there is always Pythagoras, Da Vinci, Shelley, Van Gogh, Uri Geller, Mick Jagger (imagine how much worse he could look!), Carl Lewis, and a couple of clinchers, I feel, in this area, Scars, the Sydney anarcho-punk bassist, and Masta Killa, the Wu-Tang Clan rapper.

So, a salute from the weaker to the stronger, together with a resolution to be braver in the health-food shop, perhaps next week.