Tuesday, April 18, 2006

On Vegetarianism

Anonymous asked in the comments section of my previous post:

I've been a vegetarian for 13 years or so, and I've noticed it pisses a lot of people off. I don't know why people take my eating habits so seriously, but it really gets to them. Or people tell me, "I could never be a vegetarian! I love meat too much!" It's like they feel threatened or something, like they think I'm criticizing their choices, so their going to criticize me first. Ever been treated that way, Vuboq?

I've been a vegetarian since 2000. I have had people, including my parents, question my decision to quit eating meat. Unfortunately, some people do seem threatened by vegetarians. I'm not entirely sure why, but here's what I think:

Some meat-eaters feel threatened because, as moral people, they know that eating animals raised in cruel ways and killed in cruel ways is morally unacceptable. They have to create arguments, more for themselves than vegetarians, to justify their food choices. Hence, vegetarians have to deal with ludicrous arguments, such as "I love meat and could never stop eating it" and "We have always eaten meat. We have canine teeth."

Of course, some of you who know me are thinking, "Hello, Kettle. This is Pot. You're black."

And, yes, I am. I eat dairy products and eggs. I know that dairy cows and egg-laying hens are treated in cruel ways - pumped full of hormones, raised in overcrowded situations, etc. As a moral person, I should find this unacceptable and give up eating those products. However, I haven't and probably won't anytime soon.

The great thing about being a vicious, unrepentant, bitter, old queen is that I don't try to justify my eating choices to vegans, nor do I have to justify it to myself.

If you're interested in some recommended reading, I enjoyed these books:

  1. Mad Cowboy: Plain Truth from the Cattle Rancher Who Won't Eat Meat by Howard F. Lyman
  2. Animal Liberation by Peter Singer
  3. Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal by Eric Schlosser


  1. I buy local milk. Those cows get treated better than I do. (I wish all dairy products came from cows like these. I don't think about the milk already in the other products I buy.)

    I've owned chickens. The breeds that lay your eggs are barely more sentient than broccoli. They can still feel pain, of course, but layers aren't typically treated *all* that bad, even in a factory setting.

    The fryers get treated worse, but they're only alive for a few weeks so they hardly even have a chance to notice because they're so busy tripling in size in a totally unnatural, inbred sort of way. (*shudder*)

    The meat animals, now they get tortured. Don't even get me started on veal, or what it smells like when I drive past Excel, the Midwest's hugest pork packing/processing plant.

  2. I wish I could be a vegetarian for the aforementioned moral issues. Giving up red meat would not be so tricky for me, as I rarely eat it anyway. I never eat seafood, ever. Chicken, though, would just be too tough to forgo. Plus, everything tastes better with bacon. **Sigh** I am a weak, weak man.

  3. Another superb, and utterly convincing, book from just a few years ago is "Dominion: The Power of Man, the Suffering of Animals, and the Call to Mercy" by Matthew Scully.

  4. i became vegan for a while after reading Food for Life by Neal Barnard. it argues mostly for veganism as a health issue. there are a lot of books on the ecological sense of being vegetarian too. i wasn't able to sustain being vegan after a boyfriend started feeding me ben & jerry's and i've been on the slippery slope ever since. i also looked like i was wasting away. now i'm tending in the other direction so maybe i should reread barnard's book!