What Happens When You Mix a Vegan and a CrossFitter?

If you know me, you know the best way to get me to do something is to tell me not to do it. Conversely, the best way to get me to stop doing something is to tell me to do it. I don't respond to holier-than-thou or healthier-than-thou people telling me how I ought to live.

It's Newton's Third Law of Psychology: People who tell me that I "have to" do some action will get an equal and opposite reaction.

That's why my skin got all itchy when I read a story about Cilla Carden, a vegan woman in Perth, Australia who filed a lawsuit against her neighbors because she didn't like the smell as they were grilling meat in their own yard.

Carden took her lawsuit to the Supreme Court of Western Australia in late 2018, claiming her neighbors were interrupting her time in the back garden by barbecuing meat, smoking outdoors, and letting their kids play basketball. You know, normal backyard activities.

If it had been me, I would have turned my house into a meat smoker and bought an NBA team.

When news of the lawsuit broke, Carden told Australia's Nine News TV station, "It's deliberate. All I can smell is fish. I can't enjoy my back yard."

Surely it's not that bad, is it? I mean, you can't just accept that these are the smells and sounds of the city? Don't you know this is what you can expect when you live near other people? How bad can it really be?

"It's been devastating, it's been turmoil, it's been unrest," Carden said. "I haven't been able to sleep?"

Seriously? Are they cooking their fish at 3:00 AM? Are their kids bouncing bank shots off your vinyl siding after midnight?

Of course not. If anything, the neighbors have tried to accommodate Carden's unreasonable requests. The unnamed neighbor invited Nine News to their home and showed that they removed their grill and asked their kids to stop playing in their own yard.

Regardless, the Supreme Court of Western Australia recognized that Carden's request was unreasonable and they sided with the neighbor. They dismissed the case outright back in January, saying she didn't have enough evidence.

So she filed a 600-page appeal, saying her rights as a homeowner were being violated. For comparison, War and Peace is 1,225 pages.

I know vegans like to talk a lot about being vegan, but that's a bit much, right? Even other vegans rolled their eyes at 600 pages. I sure hope it was recycled paper.

And without any sense of irony or hypocrisy, Carden further demanded her neighbors reduce their patio lightning, silence their pets, and replace certain plants in their common garden, thus infringing on their own rights.

Happily, the Supreme Court smacked that appeal down and said, "What they're doing is living in their backyard and their home as a family." They even observed that the neighbors had actually tried to placate Carden by moving their grill the previous month.

Still, some people were so outraged by Carden's over-reaching unreasonableness that they organized a protest called "Community BBQ for Cilla Carden," and it grew to over 9,000 people, but it was soon removed. It was replaced by a Facebook group, which grew to nearly 2,000 members in just a few hours — I was number 997. (It's now at 2,750 at 10 am on Friday, September 6.)

I appreciate the humor behind the protest, although it may be a bit much. Carden is unreasonable in expecting her neighbors to withdraw from their own yard, but it's also unreasonable to pollute Carden's own space just to make a point.

I may not ever want to be vegan, but that doesn't mean I'm going to wear a meat suit and hug them because they irritated me.

So I hope they don't smoke Carden out; two wrongs don't make a right, after all. Her desire to never smell meat cooking is understandable, even if it's overreaching and unrealistic. After all, I don't like it when my CrossFit friends post videos of their workouts on social media, but I'm not going to put cupcakes on their treadmills.

Still, I wouldn't say no to a vanilla cupcake with pink frosting.

"I’m a good person," Carden told News Nine. "I just want peace and quiet."

That may normally be true, but Carden stopped being a good person when she demanded that her neighbors accept less of their own lives for the sole purpose of giving her what she wanted. That's not the action of a good person.

But neither should Carden let herself be walked all over just to make other people happy. Camilla Carden shouldn't have to stop going outside just so her neighbors can cook fish, and she certainly shouldn't be blasted with hundreds of steaks cooking outside her house. (Those people should all come to my house and cook steaks for me. I prefer ribeye, medium rare.)

I don't know what the right answer is or what it's going to take for Carden and her neighbors to reach a solution, but I hope they figure it out.

Maybe the neighbors should just take up CrossFit: then they'll both have something they won't shut up about.

Photo credit: Stuart Caie (Flickr, Creative Commons 2.0)

The 3rd edition of Branding Yourself is now available on Amazon.com and in your local Barnes & Noble bookstore.