Note: After this post, I became a fairly strict vegan, and have been since. I feel my line has now shifted to the place where I’m most comfortable. However, these are my thoughts at the time, unedited.
By now, most people have realized that I’m a vegetarian. The reason they have to realize it at all is that even though I’m proud of my choices, I’ve spent the last fifteen years downplaying them. (The last time I ate meat, the Spice Girls’ debut album was hot.) I don’t think people should be overzealous in pushing their beliefs (it can be quite rude), but to have to constantly downplay them is really sort of a bummer. (Sadly, this is not even the belief I downplay the most but we’ll leave that for the moment.)
I just have a real lack of desire to deal with the overenthusiastic, sarcastic comments. Whether someone immediately declares they want to eat a, “big juicy steak,” makes a joke about eating vegetarians, or raves about bacon in a “pig voice,” I just don’t want to hear it. I don’t react to other people’s values that way, and I’m guessing most people haven’t thought about what it would be like to have their own beliefs mocked.
The bottom line is, I’m never going to try to convince you. There are people, and organizations out there that make the case much more comprehensively than I could, and if you aren’t listening to them, you won’t listen to me.
I will try, though, to put the whole thing in perspective. Vegetarianism isn’t really so out there. I’ve never met a person who would eat anything, because I’ve never met a cannibal. And even they likely have limits. So everyone draws their line somewhere. Mine is perhaps different than yours, and I wish people would respect that.
I don’t know anyone that would eat human meat. (And if you think that’s disgusting, then you’ve taken your first step toward understanding vegetarians.) Most people I know won’t eat primates, dogs, or cats. Some of the most enthusiastic omnivores I know are enraged by the ethics of eating a dog. At least half of the people I know won’t eat organ meat. Many people, including my husband, won’t eat veal, foie gras, or other meat products produced by particularly cruel practices. I know several people who won’t eat red meat. I worked with a guy once who would only eat meat that he personally hunted, because he knew how the animal was treated.
And this is where I’ll probably start to lose you. Pescetarians only eat meat from seafood. Vegetarians, by definition, won’t eat animal flesh or derivative (like gelatin). Vegans won’t eat eggs, dairy, animal byproduct, or foods produced using captive animals (like honey). I’ve met people who don’t eat fungus. Raw foodists including raw vegans don’t cook their food; I used to volunteer with one and he taught me a lot about it. Strict Jains won’t eat root vegetables, and many fruitarians only eat fruits and only after they have fallen from the plant.
It is a known and oft discussed fact that for humans to sustain themselves, they are required to eat either something that was alive or could become life (like a seed). But that doesn’t preclude people from having intelligent, reasonable debates about what practices they are willing to support, and the types of foods they are willing to put into their body.
I don’t really care about pop stars, but just for fun did you know that Natalie Portman, Alanis Morissette, Robin Gibb, Fiona Apple, Prince, Carrie Underwood, Weird Al, Eddie Vedder, Shania Twain, Michael Bolton, and Michael Dorn are vegetarian (or vegan)? That’s right – Worf is a vegan. Bob Barker, Fred Rogers, Johnny Appleseed, John Kellogg, and half of the Beatles were vegetarians. Yep, Mr. Rogers and the guy who headlined the last Olympics. What about athletes? Carl Lewis, Tony Gonzales, and Bode Miller to name a few. Even one of our former presidents is now vegan, though driven by health concerns.
So maybe you don’t care about celebrities either, well except Mr. Rogers of course. But the roster of vegetarians also includes Gautama Buddha, Mohandas Gandhi, Pythagoras, Confucius, Leonardo DaVinci, and Albert Einstein. If I’m a fool, I’m at least in some good company.
If you still hate it, I don’t actually care. But it would be nice if you’d keep those thoughts to yourself. For each her own, you know. And if you’re interested in hearing more, do the research and draw your own conclusions. I’m always happy to answer sincere respectful questions. Drop me a line anytime.