We’re living in contentious times. Concerted efforts have been made to divide us in any way possible, for all sorts of purposes. Libertarian billionaires have funded Astroturf movements like the Tea Party to keep us squabbling with each other instead of banding together with pitchforks. Russian oligarchs have flooded us with disinformation to discourage voters or split votes in order to build their own power. Newscasters fan the flames because there’s money in it for them. And, of course, sometimes a single man might wedge us apart simply because he likes to call people doody-pantses and get crowds roaring, because it gives him a little woodie again. Ah, nostalgia! There’s all kinds of reasons to make us One Nation, Divisible.

So we must look for ways to bridge the gaps between us, and celebrate those areas where we still have common ground.

For instance, nobody much likes vegans.

We just don’t. We don’t really mind a lot of the other diets. They’re so easy to make fun of. They eat only grapefruit. Or algae pellets. Or bacon. There’s always a justification.  This diet aligns with the stomach contents of a perfectly sound frozen person who died of old age 10,000 years ago. That diet makes your urine crystals line up with the magnetic field. The other diet stimulates your metabolism in the morning, your chakras at noon, and your balls at night.

We think vegetarians are silly but sort of cute. But vegans? Man. They’re just too extreme. They think they’re better than we are. And if there’s anything we can’t stand, it’s other people thinking they’re better than we are, even if they are. Some people hate it so much, they even throw in with Donald Trump, who is a pus-filled waste of carbon.

Vegans choose their food and clothing and other things on principle. And principles are annoying as hell, in other people. Principles don’t just sit on the sidelines. They accuse. We want to mock vegans. We want to poke them with a fork and speculate on how well-marbled they are.

Vegans will not partake of animals or animal products or consider animals a commodity in any way. Some vegans particularly revile factory-farming because of its unspeakable cruelty. Others emphasize the dire consequences to the planet of the whole system of animal agriculture. In the face of these strong, unassailable points, it is incumbent upon the rest of us to catch vegans stepping on bugs and accuse them of rank hypocrisy.

Because they’re clearly out of control. For instance, good vegans avoid standard vaccines because chicken eggs are used to incubate their viruses. Lots and lots and lots of chicken eggs. There are ways to make vaccines that use cells from insects instead, which, technically, are animals. This is what the wise vegan would opt for, as opposed to forgoing vaccines, because it is not a perfect world and an insect is assumed to be a few notches less suffery than a chicken.

Not photo-edited. Dave didn’t hold the camera steady.

You can make fun of this view if you want, but I won’t join you. The vast majority of vegans are people who do not shy away from ethical dilemmas and who educate themselves about the fallout of their actions and conduct themselves accordingly. This is the mark of a grownup. Mocking vegans as scolds who don’t want anybody to have any fun is totally toddler territory. That said, I had a flu shot, and so I believe a chicken has contributed to my well-being this year, and is liable to contribute to my plate this week.

I eat less meat all the time. You could call me a Flexitarian. Or just plain chicken. But I’m a work in progress.

I did hear that Sebastian Gorka, a former Trump aide and conservative bile factory, thundered “They want to take away your hamburgers! This is what Stalin dreamed about but never achieved!” Well, I swan. Ol’ Sebass, there, might finally make a vegan out of me. Here’s a tip. As soon as you hear people yelling about taking away your hamburgers, or your pickup trucks, or your guns, or your light bulbs, or your toilet, know this: that person really wants to take away your health care, your pension, your wages, and your Social Security. Screw them and pass the yams.