How the vegan lobby made a cool baby boomer feel like a fuddy-duddy Brexiteer
A generation gap has crept up on us and the kids just don’t understand us anymore. How have I ended up sitting on the old farts’ side of the fence?
Well I never thought it would happen. I never thought we’d live to see a new generation gap. I thought the generation gap belonged to the last century, all those 1950s parents sitting primly at home aghast at their offspring going out to drink coffee and listen to a jukebox in their bobby socks.
I thought the generation gap was all about the Mary Whitehouse anti-permissive society brigade and words like “not under my roof” and “turn that racket down” being bandied about.
Surely the generation gap only existed because once upon a time parents were dinosaurs with weirdly puritanical views about sex and mini skirts. But somehow a generation gap seems to have crept up on us baby boomers and suddenly the kids just don’t understand us anymore.
Join Independent Minds
For exclusive articles, events and an advertising-free read for just £5.99 €6.99 $9.99 a month
Get the best of The Independent
With an Independent Minds subscription for just £5.99 €6.99 $9.99 a month
How could this even happen? We’re the parents that let our children have sleepovers with their boyfriends; offered them a small glass of wine when they’d had a hard day at school; we are the ones who turned a blind eye to soft drugs and staying out all night; how could we ever get relegated to sad old sack territory?
But somehow it’s happened, there has been a huge cultural shift over the past couple of years and people born before 1964 (officially the baby boomer DOB cutoff point) are getting it in the neck.
All of a sudden we’re the meat-eating fuddy-duddies, driving our cars and polluting the planet. Yes, the same car that used to drive you to taekwondo, mate; the same car that picked you up at 3am when you took the wrong night bus and ended up in Croydon; the same car that took all your crap to university that time.
As for the meat thing, we like it, we buy free range if possible, but if you don’t want to eat it, why not invite us to your place for dinner rather than expecting us to cater for your dietary needs when we’ve got a nice ham in the fridge begging to get baked?
OK, so I’m being deliberately facetious here, but old habits die hard. I’m happy to experiment with plant-based recipes. I make a butternut squash and sweet potato soup that is silkier and smoother than my legs will ever be. But now and again I do like an organic sausage. Big deal.
I’ve had vegetarian friends since the Seventies without any problem whatsoever, but recently I tweeted something about chicken thighs and spent a lot of time having to mute some hardline vegans who decided to invade my time line with some upsettingly aggressive responses. Call me naive but I was shocked. I genuinely thought we could all get on! I didn’t know we had to fight just because we have different views, but apparently, because I eat meat, to some people I’m the enemy and I must be shot down in flames. Well I’m sorry but attacking me is not going to bring me round to your point of view. However, cook me a delicious vegan dish and maybe I will take down the recipe and replicate it at home...
I think one of the biggest problems we seem to have created – and believe me, I might be defending my age group, but that doesn’t mean to say I think we’re absolutely right – is that people around my age (58) grew up in a time when we rejected all labels and fought hard not to be pigeonholed. Now it seems that young people are madly labelling and pigeonholing themselves with such minute attention to detail and with ever more complicated acronyms. It’s bewildering, and as everyone rushes to identify themselves into smaller and smaller groups, it seems we can’t play happy families anymore.
Of course it’s the old bogeyman – Brexit – that first created this divide. Before then people seemed to be muddling along en masse just fine. Obviously some older people were annoying, in that doddery “slow to get their purses out at the supermarket” kind of way, but they weren’t seen as potential life spoilers.
Then came Brexit and a lot of the blame got pinned on the pensioners. Listen, I was livid with them too and I certainly didn’t count myself among them. After all, I’m a groovy thing with spiky hair. But recently I’ve been made aware that anyone over 50 kind of gets lumped in as a potential Farage-ophile and I’m thinking of permanently wearing one of those blue European berets with the 12 yellow stars that were very popular on the People’s Vote march.
I’m just really sad about all this. I’m sad that I’m scared of saying or doing the wrong thing in case I either upset someone or get upset myself. I’m sad that I genuinely feel confused and conflicted by some of the issues that are causing so much aggro at the moment and most of all, I’m absolutely gutted that I’ve ended up sitting on the old farts’ side of the fence.
How the f*** did that happen?
The Independent has launched its #FinalSay campaign to demand that voters are given a voice on the final Brexit deal.
Sign our petition here