The Sandy Hook Argument We Don’t Need To Have: Whether The Shooter Was Vegan

adam lanza vegan

Since the deaths of 20 students and 6 teachers at Sandy Hook Elementary school, everyone we know has been arguing over which arguments to have, and when to have them. But one argument that’s emerged since Monday is so irrelevant, it’s shocking: The fact that the shooter, Adam Lanza, was vegan. Because we write about diet and veganism on Blisstree, it seems like a story we should weigh in on. But frankly, it’s only worth bringing up to say that it’s offensive.

Salon published an article yesterday saying that Adam Lanza was vegan, based on statements from Russ Hanoman, a former friend of the shooter’s mother, Nancy Lanza. In an interview with local news station PIX 11, Hanoman mentioned that Lanza was a vegan for moral reasons, because he didn’t want to hurt animals.

Hanoman was clearly just conveying his impressions about the family and his shock over the Newton massacre, like you’d expect. But zeroing in on this detail has spawned a new debate over think link between “extreme diets” like veganism and violence. Which just seems wholly inappropriate.

Salon’s comments section is full of speculation about vegetarianism, veganism and violence, and has sparked an old debate over whether Hitler was vegetarian, and what having more compassion for animals than humans says about someone’s mental health. On Facebook, nutritionists are starting to opine on whether Adam Lanza’s diet had anything to do with his violent tendencies, and frankly: I find it a little disgusting.

Like everyone else, I’m struggling to make sense of what happened in Newton, Connecticut. Our knee-jerk reaction is to identify something that was “wrong” with Lanza, to explain his actions and give us the beginnings of a road map to prevent something like this from every happening again, but rushing to place blame has so far spread false rumors about Asperger Syndrome and violence (did Adam Lanza have Asperger Syndrome? we don’t even know…) and has caused vitriolic debates over what responsibility parents of children with mental illness have in preventing their children from becoming violent. (Again: We don’t even know anything about his official mental health records yet.)

Trying to link a vegan diet to Asperger’s, Autism, or violence isn’t going to help us grapple with the loss of so many children and teachers, or prevent future acts of violence. (As Go Kaleo noted on Facebook, “If veganism (or other extreme restrictive diets) caused violent behavior, there wouldn’t be many people left alive.”) It’s no more productive than blaming the shootings on the lack of religion on schools or comparing what happened to abortion, and just serves to distract from the more important conversations we should be having about our culture’s tolerance of violence–and yes, eventually, our gun laws and serious problems with mental health.

So please, talk about your own food choices, do what makes you feel best, but don’t waste your time discussing whether Adam Lanza–or Hitler–was vegan.

Photo: USDA

Share This Post:
    • xsnake

      The perp was a nut….and should’ve been in a mental health facility getting treatment. The guns were no more responsible for his actions, than my key board is responsible for my spelling errer.

      • Luc Brien

        Except your spelling error is an *error*. Keyboards don’t exist to make people misspell words, but to let people type. The only reason guns exist is to kill people. You can’t compare the two.

      • TJ Hale

        Keyboards exist to effectuate user interface with computers and similar devices…misspelling, going to porn sites, playing WoW all day and demonstrating 0 ability to connect cause with effect are all potential byproducts of this. Its like saying the only reason your brain exists is so that we can be entertained. Tendentious and funny, but untrue.

    • Rana pipiens

      Guns don’t kill people, people with guns kill people.

    • Vegetarian_CS

      Hands down, this is the most callus, idiotic attempt to insert a vegan debate into a horrifying event.

    • Brian

      Hands down, this is the most callus, idiotic attempt to insert a vegan debate into a horrifying event. Substitute Tea Party-er for vega.

    • ramsfan

      A lack of B12, provided only through animal sources, can cause bizarre behaviors. Food for thought.

      • ianlogsdon

        B12 is actually sourced from bacteria that grow in soil, animals have it in their systems from either eating soil along with plants, or from eating animals that ate the B12 in the soil, its easily cultured and is fortified in most soy milks and nutritional yeast, among many other sources

    • waffre

      For what it’s worth, I know two vegans, and they couldn’t be more different from one another. One is the sweetest, most unassuming person I know, and the other one is an outspoken control freak. As far as I can remember, they’re both vegan for ethical reasons. So in my non-professional opinion, being vegan has nothing to do with your temperament.

    • OTamandua, which apparently broke this story, also reported a dozen years ago that the Columbine shooter/ringleader Eric Harris said online, shortly before his final day: “You know what I hate? Racism. People who discriminate against others just because they’re different.”

      You can be a vegan who doesn’t want to see animals killed and/or be someone who despises bigotry yet still have serious mental illness.

    • Recovering Vegan

      A poor vegan diet deprives the brain of vital nutrients and can flood it with toxic elements. The connection between brain function and nutrition cannot be underestimated. See the work of Dr. Natasha Campbell-Brown author of the Gut and Psychology Syndrome (GAPS).

    • marie
    • garyej

      that he was an ethhical vegan and this article makes me question the conventional wisdom even more.