I think there are two main topics here that one could discuss. One is about deriving conclusions through stereotyping, and the other is about how people can be "anti" something due to how they feel about it.
I've never encountered *aggressive* vegans in real-life, but I know the stereotype well through pop culture and the internet. It sounds a lot like the resistance to virtually everything else that people get into. From Crossfit, to politicians like Hillary & Bernie, to TV shows and gaming franchises. "I was going to check it out, but I hate the way these fans are acting so I am not going to".
Sometimes that disclaimer comes with an added "I know not all of them are like this, but many are".
Which is a convenient way to appear more open minded, but actually not being, and I think this is a trap that all of us here on GAF has fallen into. Probably more than a few times. And really, if you think about it, having thoughts that derive into stereotypes is your brains natural way of creating patterns, setting up systems, categorizing and using logic. Your brain tries to defragment everything you see, hear and read. You have millions of random thoughts pouring into your head every day, of which you have no control over.
I believe the key is not to be mad at having stereotypical thoughts like "vegans are aggressive assholes", but to catch yourself when you do have that thought. Being aware of it and thinking about it, is the key to change that mode of behavior. Because first impressions are so powerful, and our own anecdotes are so powerful. They control so much and give us so much bias. We know intellectually that our anecdotes are not the entire picture, and we try to reassure ourselves, but knowing something is not the same as applying it.
What is more is that negative anecdotals tend to weigh so much on us as well. There is an old saying that it takes 10 good reviews to make up for 1 poor one. We get fixtured on negativity, and we tend to be bothered when someone complains bringing in their shit to our mental state. I think a lot of the personal offense against protests, complaining and people talking about problems is derived from this.
Perhaps people are just troubled with dealing with other people and their feelings. And when they are upset about something they enjoy or take pleasure from, it comes off as anti. Then there literally is not room for both of us. If vegans are the problem, then we just don't have a problem of ideology and character, as well as problems of institutions, laws, regulations, social accepted customs and norms. If Vegans get their way, it will detract from my own life. More vegan options could mean less choice for me. More vegan options could mean less things for me to enjoy. More vegan options could make it more difficult in the future to enjoy what I am doing if through a hypothetical slippery slope in the future, that veganism became the staple diet. More vegan options could mean that I would meet more people who make me feel bad about what I like to eat.
You can apply it to veganism, or race, or religion, or politics. I think the paranoia, slippery slope, double down effects and sense of opposing something, almost always is born out of fear, ego and anger. 3 powerful states that most people are controlled by their entire lives.
This division and hostile opposition to proactive desire to change other peoples mode of behavior or thinking is deeply embedded within our psyche. That might be why it's almost impossible to change other peoples opinion through active mode of persuasion with arguments, logic or facts.
Rather, I think that many peoples ego and personal bias makes them more likely to change their opinions if they feel that they are the ones who got the idea- not some external factor like a survey or a tumblr blog.
Because people live inside their own heads and think their lives is a movie, and they need to derive deep change through a personal transformative experience. External stimuli from other people regurgitating things is just not going to cross that ego-brain barrier.
And the more hostile and toxic the conversation get with snark, condemnation and judgement, the more the tendency to double down and become further anti becomes.
I suspect that some of the things that might be going on when could be things like;
- Some people can feel that they are being lectured by someone who they do not perceive as being on a higher plane than themselves, so the ego gets aggressive and takes it as a personal insult. "This person has no right to lecture me about this. Fuck him, and the cause he is trying to wield".
- Some people can feel that they are being manipulated, and might become anti that thing simply because there is a natural human reaction to being controlled or feeling like you don't have a choice for yourself. A negative connotation is born between the thing being preached and how you feel about it.
- Some people can feel embarassed and will react in an aggressive way. Others will just admit to defeat and acknowledge their own shortcomings, but those that are unable to articulate and deal with their own shame can become a walking nightmare. "Who, hurt you?"
- Some people can feel easily knee jerked. Random people ruin their fucking day by just fucking.. being that way. Quick to anger, takes things personal, remembers slights and insults forever and tattoos them in their mind and fantasizes about what they should have told them when they brought those bad people. "You often know the size of the person, by the size of the things that is making him angry".