There is this site I visit often in order to earn some points that can be redeemed for gift cards. Every day they have a poll which, upon answering, earns 1pt (which translates to $0.01.) Not very much, I’ll admit, but there are also other ways (such as taking surveys) to earn points, and they do add up.
Lately there have been many polls around food. It appears the states have a ‘national day for…’ just about every day – and a lot of it is food: donuts, chicken wings, seafood…
Anyway all of these polls come up, and many have been specifically asking what our favourite type of meat is. How do you like your chicken wings? (Don’t eat meat.) Which is your favourite burger place? (Don’t eat meat.) What is your favourite seafood? (Don’t like seaweed, don’t eat meat.)
Each of the polls has a list to choose from, and ‘vegetarian’ or ‘vegan’ has not been an option.
So for each poll, those of us who are vegan or vegetarian have been responding on the comments section, “don’t eat meat,” or “I am vegetarian,” or something like that.
What really got me, though, was how upset all of the non-vegetarians got with those responses.
“How do you know if someone is a vegetarian? They will tell you.”
And why shouldn’t we.
Someone even went as far as to say that vegetarians – especially people who used to eat meat – are a lot like ex-smokers in that they are very vocal about their distaste for something they used to consume.
For a couple of years in my teens, I was a smoker. I quit when I was pregnant with my son – and aside from 6 weeks during a very stressful summer a couple of years later, I never went back. I hated the smell of smoke before I was a smoker (I suppose I could write a post about what happened there,) and aside from the time when the cravings were still strong, I have had an even worse reaction to the smell of smoke (not just while someone is smoking, which is really bad, but also the smell that follows them after) ever since.
A person makes a choice to move away from an addiction, puts a strong effort into denying the cravings, and comes out the other side disgusted about the things they once enjoyed. But if a person has made a decision to move towards a kinder, healthier, more environmentally friendly, more sustainable lifestyle – why should others be upset at them for sharing their success?
“But that isn’t it,” they say. Today I read something about a person who had gone to a vegetarian restaurant. They were impressed with the food, but saw the servers and cooks as having an attitude of “we are better than you,” because they were vegetarian. They left unhappy and disgusted.
That might be the case with some vegetarians – like it might be the case with some Christians, or ex-smokers, or… But did he ask them? My initial thought would be that perhaps that wasn’t what they were feeling at all. Maybe they were proud to work in a place where they are able to inspire people towards a kinder lifestyle. Perhaps they were happy that people were enjoying their food so much – when that isn’t always the case with any food that is different.
All I know is that I am vegetarian (almost vegan). I am Christian. I am an ex-smoker. I am many things that set me apart from ‘most’ people – but I have never felt “better than,” and if people ever thought that about me, it would be their mistake, not mine. Though I do believe these are kinder, healthier, better choices – but that doesn’t make me a better person (or less of a sinner) for choosing them.
People express their opinion that Vegetarians are trying to push their views – yet everywhere I go, and many of the things I see, people are celebrating around meat, and trying to feed it to others, and…
I don’t believe that Vegans or Vegetarians are better people – but I do believe we were given an extra strong dose of empathy to the point that we are unable to block out the pain, and the cruelty, and the… evil that exists in the meat industry. We can neither block it out, nor can we stand by without saying something,
- as people spoke out against slavery
- as people spoke out against the holocaust
- as people spoke out against child abuse
- as people spoke out against rape
As people have spoken out against all the pain that people bring to the world, those of us who have this in our hearts and minds must speak out; we must.
And really, is it more cruel for vegetarians to say, “I don’t eat meat,” or for meat eaters to mock, and joke, and exclude, and get upset with someone who is doing their best to be ‘a little bit kinder?’