Powerful and Powerless Minorities
Why does everyone know jokes about vegans?
How can you tell someone's a vegan?
Don't worry, they'll tell you.
I know you’ve heard that joke. If you haven’t, you have truly been living under a rock. But that’s OK, because the joke is simple.
The joke also shows that vegans have outsized cultural influence. Everyone knows a vegan, so presumably, they make up a large portion of society. But this couldn’t be further from the truth. To make this point, I recently ran a set of polls on Twitter, asking people which of two groups were larger: vegans or a single other group.
The groups I asked about were fairly diverse, so click into the tweet thread to see specific wording. The groups I asked about included:
Libertarian party voters
Baldur’s Gate 3 players
Computer science majors
Several people asked for the answer key. The way I’ve calculated these numbers is given in this footnote.1 Here are the numbers:
The most shocking thing for me was the figure for OnlyFans users. Many people seemed to be surprised that vegans were smaller than or comparable to several of these groups. They’re considerably less numerous than players of a popular roleplaying game, but they’re similar in numbers to the average number of live births in the U.S. after 2010 or the number of people who self-identify as transgender. If we include other non-cisgender choice, then vegans are outnumbered by that group, but not by an enormous amount.
Why Isn’t This Just a Twitter Graph?
The joke at the beginning of the post is incredibly popular. It’s appeared on many television shows, in print countless times, and it’s certainly graced more lips than the statement “I’m a vegan” ever has.
The point is that vegans have outsized popularity. Not only that, but vegans are a commanding cultural force. Restaurants, advertisers, producers of clothing and any sort of foodstuffs—they all seem to kowtow to vegans. This is no accident. Vegans have all of the three key traits you need to be a successful minority.2
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