Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Eating Animals

I just started reading Eating Animals, by Jonathan Safran Foer, and the first chapter has me thinking about excuses people make for why they "need" to eat meat, and the pettiness of those reasons when stacked against the billions of animals that die each year as a result of factory farming, in addition to the environmental impact of said factory farming, not to mention the negative impact eating animal products has on a person's health.  This blog is not meant to be a series of diatribes, but I do have to say that the longer I'm vegan, the more disturbing factory farming becomes to me.  Maybe it is because I stopped affording myself the luxury of blissful ignorance.  Years ago when I did eat meat, I ignored the things that bothered me about doing so.  When I started educating myself about where my food was coming from, eating meat became very difficult.  It made me feel sick.  Watching other people eat meat bothers me more and more these days.

My tone today is much more serious than usual, perhaps because I've been exposed to many more questions and comments from family members as of late.  Safran Foer really struck a chord with me: "I can't count the times that upon telling someone I am vegetarian, he or she responded by pointing out an inconsistency in my lifestyle or trying to find a flaw in an argument I never made. (I have often felt that my vegetarianism matters more to such people than it does to me" (33). One of the comments I hear most frequently is: "Don't you know that plants have feelings, too?"  Seriously?  More commonly people tell me that they "could never go vegan."  In reality, they do not want to go vegan.  It's not convenient.  What follows is a list of other common remarks I get, and my (slightly sarcastic) responses:

"I have to eat meat.  Otherwise I will not have enough energy."
I have not eaten red meat, pork, or fish in eight years.  I stopped eating meat completely three years ago.  I work ten hour days with middle school students, then come home and run several miles in the evening.  I would say those tasks require a significant amount of energy, and I'm doing just fine.

"I just don't think I could go without cheese.  I just love cheese so much."
I used to be a dairy fanatic.  I ate a cheese sandwich every day for lunch and my dinner was usually covered in cheese.  I ate ice cream every day.  Then I realized that I am probably lactose intolerant and this stuff was making me feel ill.  When I think about eating cheese or dairy ice cream, I think about the abuse that animals endured to make that slice of cheese or dish of ice cream possible.  And then it doesn't sound so great anymore. 

"I have to eat meat.  Otherwise I would be starving."
I never feel hungry after eating a vegan meal.  Period.  Your body needs to adjust to not feeling gorged all the time.  The end.

"How can you not eat pizza?"
I eat pizza all the time.  It's loaded with vegetables and really delicious and you would love it if you tried it.  So come over and I'll make you some vegan pizza.

"So you really can't eat cheese?"
Still, no.

"I just can't hear the details about where the meat comes from."
If you know it's that bad, why are you eating the stuff?

"You won't even eat a clam?  A piece of shrimp?"
Does it have a face?  Did it have a mom and a dad?  Then, no.  It's pretty simple.

I was raised to have a great deal of compassion for animals.  My cousin posted this on Facebook today, and it's a pretty accurate portrayal of me:


However, I don't think you need to be crazy about animals to understand why an individual would choose not to eat meat and other animal products, or to consider changing your own lifestyle.  If you want to eat a slice of cheese, that's your prerogative.  You won't hear me asking weird questions about your dietary choices.  I just ask the same in return.

Blogger's Soundtrack
Incubus - "Warning"