Mean Vegetarians?

I was watching a documentary on hippos when the disillusioning process began. “The common hippopotamus from sub-Saharan Africa is largely herbivorous,” the commentator stated.

I looked at my husband in confusion. “How can that be? How can hippos be vegetarians? I thought they were mean.”

“They are among the most aggressive animals on the planet,” he said. “And they’re vegetarians.”

Ah. Mean vegetarians. A little research reveals that hippos will even attack humans with no apparent provocation. And hippos are not the only mean vegetarians. Turns out there are a number of other plant-eating aggressors among us. Here are a few more facts on mean vegetarians and what brings out their aggression.

1. Some vegetarians become uncomfortable when things start moving away from the safe and known. “Hippos are unpredictable. If they are encountered away from the safety of water, anything that gets between them and their refuge may be bitten or trampled.”1

2. Some vegetarians become annoyed and lash out at anyone that gets in the way. “A moose that has been harassed may vent its anger on anyone in the vicinity, and they often do not make distinctions between their tormentors and innocent passers-by.”2

3. Some vegetarians make lots of noise when they feel intimidated. “When bulls [bison] threaten, they may bellow, stamp feet and snort, approach each other with tails high.”3

4. Some vegetarians refuse to let go of the past. “In India and Africa, elephant bulls have been known to attack entire villages, killing people and destroying rural homes. Presently, elephants kill up to 200 people a year in India and up to 50 in Sri Lanka. Elephants have a remarkable memory and many of these killings are inflicted upon villages that were involved in mass culling, even decades prior to the attacks.”4

5. Some vegetarians don’t like it when it appears that others are stepping on their turf. “Rhinoceroses are, generally, solitary animals that prefer to live an independent life….However, they all demand their own territories, particularly the males of the species. In order to ensure that they can secure their territory, certain behaviour has been established. This behaviour is sometimes aggressive, and sometimes displayed merely as a warning.”5

Lest you think I am treating vegetarians in a biased and unfair manner, I will concede the point that my research also revealed a number of admirable qualities among plant-eaters. Here are a few such traits:

1. Some vegetarians create close communities, working together to keep their offspring safe. “Elephants form deep family bonds and live in tight matriarchal family groups of related females called a herd….When a calf is born, it is raised and protected by the whole matriarchal herd.”6

2. Some vegetarians are so non-threatening and gentle, they have a calming influence on the aggressive and dangerous. Manatees, also known as sea cows, are often called gentle giants. “Alligators have been seen swimming peacefully past manatees. Sharks have been known to leave them alone, as well.”7

3. Some vegetarians stick together, overcome problems, and work in unity. Take, for example, the great migration of the wildebeest. “While having the appearance of a frenzy, recent research has shown a herd of wildebeest possesses what is known as a ‘swarm intelligence,’ whereby the animals systematically explore and overcome the obstacle as one.”8

Vegetarians. Mean? Non-threatening and gentle? Sounds like who you are may be determined by more than what you eat. Now that’s something to chew on!

Notes & References:









Sandra Doran, Ed.D., is the author of hundreds of articles and five published books and has been a columnist for the Adventist Review and Signs of the Times. She is currently the HeadMaster of North Tampa Christian Academy, an innovative, project-based learning school serving PreK through High School on the west coast of Florida.

Photo by Hendrik Cornelissen on Unsplash

We invite you to join our community through conversation by commenting below. We ask that you engage in courteous and respectful discourse. You can view our full commenting policy by clicking here.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at

It serves to look at the big picture. Thank you so much for this article. Really enjoyed reading it. Insightful. North Tampa Christian Academy is blessed to have you and colleagues on the staff.

Romans 14:17 The Message

God’s kingdom isn’t a matter of what you put in your stomach, for goodness’ sake. It’s what God does with your life as he sets it right, puts it together, and completes it with joy.

The message behind the message is great in this article. Excellent job!

Just thinking of the things we have seen developing lately in our Church; so much meanness and hypocrisy by people who are, indeed, vegetarians. Some are even LGTarians - which is in itself a major tragedy that exacerbates the difficulties in our Church.

What can we expect when even the GC President is a self-confessed LGTarian? (As he revealed/confirmed in his own sermon at the AC/18 on Saturday morning)


Thanks for the compilation, Sandra.
Perhaps a companion reference would be the 2017 study byTamara Pfeiler and Boris Egloff styled "Examining the ‘Veggie’ personality: Results from a representative German sample"

"We also found differences between vegetarians and meat eaters with regard to personality traits, political attitudes, and health-related variables."

"Individuals with higher scores in openness and political interest had a higher probability of being vegetarian, whereas people with higher scores in conscientiousness and conservatism had a smaller likelihood of being vegetarian. We conclude that there are individual differences between vegetarians and meat eaters in socio-demographics, personality traits, and political attitudes."

Very creative thinking, with tongue in cheek! Made me laugh, relate to the manatees, and wish for heaven where the carnivore lies down with the vegetarian. What else can we learn from God’s creation (before it is gone?) What are the ants and bees teaching us?

Sandra, thanks for writing, and teaching, wherever you are called - say hi to Eric from an old friend!

1 Like

Me, i’m a vaguetarian. Not only do i not know what i’m eating, i don’t eat and tell.
Actually, I’m a lacto-ovo-pisci-pollo tarian because, well, it rhymes.

1 Like

This topic was automatically closed after 30 days. New replies are no longer allowed.