People always get really upset with me when I tell them I’m a vegan. If the topic ever comes up, my admission is almost inevitably met with stares of condescension, rolled eyes and furrowed brows. It makes me feel weak and emasculated, when really all I want is to show my solidarity for animals and let the world know how much I love them.

I find that the only time I’m really comfortable admitting that is when I’m in the company of other vegans. Whenever I spot the telltale signs of a vegan — bare feet in public and a Subaru wagon with a Kerry Edwards ’04 sticker on it — I can’t help but feel a sense of unity, and the hair on the back of my unwashed neck raises in anticipation of our encounter. When we see each other, I give my brother in arms the vegan salute, which is just a choreographed dance from “Step Up 2: The Streets” that prominently features my Wild Oats card.

When he sees my salute, he reciprocates appropriately, tilting his head to the left, squinting, and giving me a quizzical look. That’s when I know for sure that he’s a vegan, and not just some dirty hippie who drives a Subaru and can’t afford shoes. I approach him and, when we finally arrive at each others’ side, I address him in the universal vegan language: Esperanto.

“Saluton,” I always say, “mi vidi tiu vi es a vegan.”

“Oh, I’m sorry, I don’t speak Italian,” he responds, “but I did like your dance from ‘Step Up 2: The Streets.’ That movie was amazing.”

At this point I usually know that he’s a beginner vegan, not yet proficient in the auxiliary language of the world, but dedicated enough to the cause to know a good dance movie when he sees one. I don’t condescend to beginner vegans because, embarrassingly enough, I was once a beginner, too. Instead, I make a move to further welcome him into the elite world of veganism.

“Oh, that’s okay, you’ll learn Esperanto soon enough, especially since everyone in the future is going to speak it. Anyway, I couldn’t help but notice that you, too, are a vegan. There’s an Outback Steakhouse around the corner, and I’d love it if you found a pair of shoes and went there with me.”

And that’s always where the conversation turns sour. For whatever reason, I’m the only vegan I’ve ever met who likes steakhouses, and whenever I invite another vegan to join me for a steak dinner, he or she gets really angry and goes on a long tirade about animal rights. It’s so ridiculous to preach to me about that! I of all people know that animals have rights, like the right to be lightly seasoned, and the right to be delicious.

Clearly, these people I meet and greet and not true vegans, because if they were, they’d be eager to eat a steak. But apparently there are different schools of veganism. For example, there is my school – the traditionalist, conservative school – that believes that it’s disrespectful to animals to eat more than one type of meat at any meal. You must show your love for a specific type of animal by not diluting its uniqueness and heritage with other types of meat.

Furthermore, we believe you should lather every piece of meat you eat in butter to prove your respect for all types of animal products, and you should eat your meat as rare as possible, so that the animal may be respected in as pure of state as is possible without you getting E. coli.

But the, on the other side, there are people who I refer to as “Sissy McDennis Kucinich vegans,” who insist on “abstaining” from eating any type of “meat” or “animal product” and who “just want you to leave them alone because you’re distracting me from playing my bongo drum.” These Sissy McDennis Kucinich vegans are cowards who don’t know how to respect an animal when they see one. They make a mockery out of everything that is sacred to me – namely, buttered sirloin and buttered pork ribs – and they spread misinformation about how eating animals is cruel.

The truth is that it would be cruel not to eat animals, since we’ve already fattened them up and raised them close to slaughterhouses. If we didn’t eat them, their fragile legs would eventually succumb to the delicious weight of their ribs, flanks, and haunches, and that would be extremely painful for them. Is that what bullshit vegans want? For fat young cows to be robbed of their chance at heroic martyrdom and deliciousness because a bunch of poncho-wearing twenty-year-olds with nose rings thought they should live?

I, for one, will not stand for that sort of idiocy. Sissy McDennis Kucinich vegans are diluting what it really means to be a vegan, and they prevent mankind from showing appreciation for cows, pigs, lambs, chickens and turkeys in the most reverent way possible: by consuming them – with butter, and also with light seasoning.

For those of you who think my veganism is cruel or ignorant towards animals, I wholeheartedly disagree, and I bet they do, too. If cows had evolved to the point of developing methods to domesticate, fatten, and slaughter humans for consumption, then I’d be more than okay with that, since the cows would clearly be the more able-bodied, intelligent ones. “Congratulations, you bovine geniuses,” I’d say to my cow masters, “you’ve won.”

But instead, humans are the ones who are smarter, more capable, and intrinsically carnivorous, which is why my veganism means so much to me. Veganism means embracing evolution and the natural order of life, and not trying to dilute it by adopting Sissy McDennis Kucinichism.

That said, the one plus side of that sort of veganism is that their abstaining from meat means that there’s more for me to eat, particularly considering we all know their views won’t have an actual impact on the eating habits of the larger population. All I request is that they stop calling themselves “vegans,” since it distorts the true meaning of the word and detracts from the pride of actual vegans, like myself.

Daniel Zier is like the Jesus of cows.