I almost forgot that it was Everest season until I read the story, “Woman trying to prove ‘vegans can do anything’ among 3 dead, 30 sick on Everest.”
It’s so sad that people end up dying on Everest just about every year. But I hope you can see that Maria Strydom’s veganism has nothing to do with her sad fate on Everest.
Vegans can do all sorts of things. Ultra runner Scott Jurek is vegan. Ultra triathlete Rich Roll is vegan. Cyclocross competitor Catherine Johnson is vegan. Heck, I’m vegan and I’ve amazed myself by doing all sorts of things in my late forties and early fifties that I’ve never done before.
But to try to turn dying on Everest into some sort of vegan comeuppance, as this headline does, is not just in poor taste. This article calls it out as “vegan shaming.” The author, James Fell, says:
…veganism is neither magical nor unhealthy. If one is careful with their diet, veganism can be perfectly health. Just as being an omnivore can equally be healthy. Strydom and her husband were extraordinarily fit and accomplished climbers who had achieved numerous difficult summits. Odds are, dear reader, that she was in better shape than you.
And what about the Dutch Man, Eric Arnold, who also died from altitude sickness on Everest just a few hours before Maria Strydom did? There is nothing in the news about him being vegan. Did meat eating kill him?
Of course not.
Anyway, Fell is on the right track when he says people need to stop and take stock of why they’re reacting this way to this particular death. I wonder–is it because she’s vegan and people hate militant vegans? Is it because she’s a woman and people hate women who are trying to prove they’re not weak? He says:
I’m not trying to convince anyone to go vegan; it would be hypocritical considering I roasted a chicken for dinner last night. But if the mere existence of veganism is causing you to have an innate hostile reaction that would cause you to celebrate the death of someone, perhaps you should take a look at why you feel that way.
Anyway, the bottom line is this. People dying on Everest, no matter what they eat, is not funny. It’s tragic.