I've said before; I "like" Backpacker Magazine on Facebook, which means that my feed has articles highlighted by the magazine; usually several a day. Often these generate discussion in Facebook itself.
One that popped up recently was an article highlighting vegan shoes.
Now, I've said many times, although maybe not here exactly, that I struggle a bit with my perception of "hiker culture." Hiker culture, at least as presented by backpacker authors and journalists, seems to skew highly towards the PNW granola set; cultural (and economic, for that matter) Marxists and hippies. I have little patience with this vibe. A friend of mine, who I bumped into at REI once when he was buying a replacement mouthpiece for his Camelback bladder, said that REI was the place where outdoor-loving hippies shop, while Cabela's is where outdoor-loving rednecks shop. Although REI seems to focus much more than Cabela's on the types of activities that I enjoy outdoors (I'm not a hunter or fisherman, but I love hiking and backpacking), I still feel more at home at Cabela's than I do at REI for precisely this reason: I dislike this hippy nonsense. Plus, Cabela's has recently made an effort to deliberately reach out to their customer base that already enjoys backpacking and other outdoor activities besides hunting and fishing, with their XPG line, and others.
Vegan shoes is exactly the type of hippy nonsense that I'm talking about. I've never yet met a Vegan who wasn't a completely pretentious, smug, self-righteous douche-bag. I think the movement inherently attracts exactly that type; it serves no purpose other than to be a positional good; that is, it's entire purpose is to give to its consumer (i.e., the vegan himself) a sense of self-righteousness. This includes, for the record, many of those who responded in the Facebook comments to the article above.
I was gratified, however, to note that the presence of pro-Vegan, or even sympathetic, comments were much scarcer than I expected. A lot of people made jokes about eating your shoes, a lot of people made mention of the fact that they've never met a Vegan who was likable and not militaristic preachy and obnoxious. A number of other people expressed some slight dismay, or at least a warning, that they come to Backpacker for articles on backpacking, and have no interest in preachy hippy nonsense.
Of course, where I've been backpacking lately, in Utah, the climate tends to be less sympathetic to hippiness in general. But still, I was encouraged by the trends. Most of the pro-Vegan comments really only came from a very small set of individuals who responded a lot, making their frequency appear greater than it really was. I think that maybe I have more in common with my fellow backpackers than I thought. Maybe it's not a hobby that's as rife with smug granolas as I thought.
Although I will admit that the smug granolas tend to dominate a lot of the discussion and appear to be more prevalent than I suspect that they actually are. Such is the way of things, though, in other hobbies of mine as well.
Sprite Granola Cola - Grimace from Steve Doppelt on Vimeo.