Vegans and TattoosJul 30, 2021 05:04PM ● By Shae Marcus
by Matt Preston
As parings go, vegan tattoos aren’t exactly brown rice with seasoned salt, but few things in life go that well together. However, they’re not mutually exclusive either. So when talking about vegan tattoos in general and or in polite company, there’s a variety of reactions that range on the incredulous to the outright confused.
This begins with the various stereotypes vegans sustain, enough to potentially circumvent the planet. Some are true, some are not so true; others can be annoying while some are spot on. It mostly depends on how a vegan takes it, and chances are their thin skin won’t allow them to laugh at it at all. Now see, that’s a stereotype right there; just because one wouldn’t consume animal products doesn’t mean their skin loses elasticity.
As a vegetarian, I’ve dealt with stereotypes for a while, and not just because of my eating habits either. Just the same, my oldest brother has had to deal with stereotypes based on having two full sleeves and his upper chest tattooed as well. At the same time, he prides himself on being a meat eater and often talks about getting something called the “meat sweats” at family barbecues.
It can be imagined that my vegan tattoo would have a lot in common with a lead balloon, as it’s unveiled for the first time at the barbecue. As a fan of 90s sitcoms, I would more than likely use a quote from the star of Blossom on my arm, in fine print because it’s wordy. To wit: “It takes 12 pounds of grain and 2,500 gallons of water to create a single pound of beef.” This could be punctuated with the cruelty free logo, with an emphasis on the bunny’s whiskers.
My oldest brother would register various reactions no doubt. They would range from him thinking it’s cool that he’s not the only tattooed member of our sibling group any longer, but not excited to be looking at what he sees as vegan propaganda. Assurances would no doubt be given that it’s not that at all; just a way to support a positive cause with a nod to a sitcom with quirky hats. However, it’s the conversation that that this would spur on that would make all this awkwardness worth it.
First, there are the various sizes and designs as well as many variations on the positive themes within the vegan lifestyle. The most basic designs can include quotes, depictions of animals or logos associated with animal rights welfare and activism. They can be colored or plain, elaborate or simple, or an original design. This could especially be a great opportunity to combine art and creativity in getting some good energy out into the world.
There will more than likely be a lot of greens, which is perfect as green is the color of life. And it may also be on a part of their body that said tattoo will be easily visible, so that if they catch someone looking, they can strike up a nice conversation about it.
However, it’s important to understand the context of such a conversation. For example, the vegan symbol on someone’s right forearm being seen while "snap clapping" at a slam poetry contest would probably be received with nods of approval. More than likely the opposite would be the case at the annual meeting of Big Ag conglomerates. So it’s always useful to be able to read the room no matter the context or people involved.
Another component of being a vegan and getting a tattoo, is knowing that animal by-products are used at many points in the process. This can be in the ink itself, the products used in the cleaning, stenciling, or somewhere else along the line. There are ways around this, and it’s easier now more than ever to go for the products and artists that match their convictions. There are even the aftercare and maintenance products that are needed for tattoos that could also contain animal components, so again it’s up to the user to know this ahead of time.
In the end, it really is a matter of personal choice and the energy which is engaged in displaying this. Tattoos can be a creative, unique and positive way to share an important side to someone’s passion, and vegans often find this to be just the case. As it is though, I’m not quite ready to land on a tattoo yet, vegan or otherwise; and/or the subsequent decades of conversations afterwards.
Matt Preston is a creative and professional writer from Gloucester Township in South Jersey. Writing is one of his passions, body, mind and soul wellness one of his goals, and belief in destiny his continual motivation. His website and podcast can be found @TheApatheticVegan.com.