Self-Righteous Vegans Just Make Me Want To Eat More Meat.

Via
on Aug 10, 2010
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Not really, but that side of my personality that doesn’t like to be bossed around (and by “side,” I mean ALL OF IT) gets bent out of shape when other people try to gag me with their dogma.

This, by the way, is an expanded version of a post I originally published on my own blog after being unpleasantly surprised by the following scenario:

A few days ago I published an article here on Elephant Journal called I’m a Buddhist, but my cat is a serial killer: a somewhat tongue-in-cheek but also basically earnest diatribe about how Budapest (my cat, not-so-aptly nicknamed “Buda”) has been busy gleefully slaughtering the songbird population in my neighborhood and shattering mommy’s already-fragile nerves.

I swear I wasn’t trying to be provocative, but for some reason I seem to be a magnet for angry vegans, although the article had almost nothing to do with my eating habits. Somehow, many of the readers took a story about my kitty’s hunting skills and decided to apply it to my personal ethics as a conscious meat-eater. I say “conscious” because I’m actually quite mindful of where I get my food from, whether it’s animal, vegetable or mineral (shout out to a great Barbara Kingsolver book on real ethical eating). But…. I’m not a vegetarian. I was a vegetarian once. For eight long years. It didn’t work for me. I feel like I gave it a pretty good shot.

That’s not the point though, and I am completely disinterested in getting wrapped up in yet another flame-war about the ethics of my food choices (although I’m well aware that’s exactly what’s gonna happen).

The point is this: please don’t boss me.

I don’t boss you! I don’t care what you eat! I don’t care who you voted for! I don’t care what God you worship! I don’t care how you feel about environmental policy! I really don’t!

Of course, there is a time and place for expressing your oh-so-passionate opinions in the interest of making the world a better place. I am all for kind, compassionate education—sans rhetoric or condescension. I read Eating Animals by the brilliant Jonathan Safran Foer, every Michael Pollan book ever published, and watched Food Inc in utter horror. I get it. The atrocities of factory-farmed meat are plenty of incentive to go the extra mile and source your food from more ethical places. I do my best, and 90% of the food I buy is from local farmers with presumably good intentions and practices.

These are my choices. Mine. I’m fortunate because I live in the Bay Area, where we have a lot of variety and we’re apt to be well educated about where our food comes from. Also, I’m lucky because I’m a middle class girl with the means to spend a little more on my food. I am well aware that not everyone has that liberty. Or interest.

So, if my friends eat factory-farmed meat, I don’t judge them! If my friends, hypothetically speaking, asked me to stop at McDonalds on the way to L.A. last weekend so they could get a box of Chicken McNuggets, that’s cool! Cuz, my friends are adults! And so am I!

Sorry about all the exclamation points. I feel passionate about this. Not in an “I feel passionate that it’s my way or the highway,” ironically-violent-and-dogmatic-vegan kind of way that lacks in holistic compassion and a deeper understanding of the nuances of human nature; rather, in a lighten-up-cuz-life-is-hard-enough kind of way. In a don’t-you-have-bigger-problems-than-to-judge-my-choices kind of way.  In a you’ve-gone-too-far-when-you-tell-me-you-think-I’d-be-a-bad-mom-because-you-don’t-like-my-values kind of way.

The ironic thing is that I really do respect and admire the choice to be vegan.

I’m not one of those people who thinks vegans are nutjob loonbags with a chip on their shoulder. I actually lived with a fairly respectful vegan for two years and I know that it’s entirely possible to be vegan and still be cool and open minded and accepting of other people. So we’re not talking about putting the vegan lifestyle choice in a big bad box right now. We’re talking about the small faction of hyper-righteous and unfortunately literate vegans who are vegan because they are angry. These are the same vegans who threw hot cayenne pepper pies on Vegetarian Myth Author Lierre Keith in March as she gave a talk about her book at the San Francisco Anarchist Bookfair.

Being vegan, like all other lifestyle choices, is a personal one. A lot of my friends are vegans, and that’s just fine with me! Is it fine with you that I’m not?

Cuz honestly, it’s none of your business what I put in my belly. And it’s none of my business what you think of me.

I’ll leave you with this Rumi poem about the true nature of compassion:

Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing,
there is a field. I will meet you there.
When the soul lies down in that grass,
the world is too full to talk about
language, ideas, even the phrase each other
doesn’t make any sense.

Brilliant illustration uptop by my very talented friend Vanessa Fiola: www.vanessafiola.com

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Comments

78 Responses to “Self-Righteous Vegans Just Make Me Want To Eat More Meat.”

  1. I eat meat. I eat veggies. For years i could not read Kahlil Gibran's "The Prophet" without tears in my eyes when i read about eating and drinking.
    "But since you must kill to eat, and rob the newly born of its mothers milk to quench your thirst, then let it be an act of worship…."
    "When you kill a beast say to him in your heart, by the same power that slays you, I too am slain, and I too shall be consumed."
    Find it and read it.. and be grateful for everything.

  2. Amy says:

    an excellent read :) Im a vegetarian… making the gradual cross over to vegan…. but I TOTALLY accept whatever choices others wish to make, and hope others will do the same in return.
    Thank you for sharing!

  3. Eric M says:

    I understand the sentiment of this article very well. Its how I feel when my parents ask me to do something still to this day at times. Even if I know they're right! I've come to see though that this is only because there is always some part of me that secretly both knows they are right and is simultaneously VERY resistant to it. I don't want to deal with it, yet they are "making" me look at something I don't want to look at. Hence we rebel. Hence we become so irritated and angered by others.

    So truthfully, when a vegan points out our hypocracy, it would mean absolutely nothing to us if there wasn't at least some part of us that agreed with them. If a commenter had posted "you know the answer with this cat problem here is you need to wear more hats. Y'know, this really is the issue here. If you wore more hats, you'd be happier and your cat would stop killing". There's nothing deep in us that agrees with such a comment, and nothing in us that feels a need to resist it. We'd just say, "huh? ok, whatever" and move on like water rolling off a duck's back. And if they were super agressive and rude about it, we'd just say "ummmm… Ok hat guy…! I'm gonna go over here now…" When something makes us defensive it can only mean that there is either something in us that secretly believes its true and/or fears its true and wants nothing more than to push it far away. I can completely relate.

  4. Kiwi Yogi says:

    > The point is this: please don’t boss me.

    I have noticed that people who take self-responsibility are happier and less conflicted than people who take other-responsibility. For example, I know of a house that was full of activists. They would declare the world was wrong and that everyone needed to conform to their views. They were always fighting amongst themselves and fighting the world. They were not happy people.

    On the other hand I've lived in houses in which people take personal responsibility and grant others the same. It is much easier to live with people who are trying to change themselves, rather than everyone else.

    So I understand your point of view, Joslyn. All power to you!

  5. elephant journal elephantjournal says:

    Via http://www.facebook.com/elephantjournal

    #
    Patti Aker More preaching to the choir to which I'm not a member.

    #
    Nikki Mitchell hahahahaha

    #
    Amy E Randall an excellent read :) Im a vegetarian… making the gradual cross over to vegan…. but I TOTALLY accept whatever choices others wish to make, and hope others will do the same in return.
    Thank you for sharing!

    #
    Shirley Ⓥ Wilkes-Johnson I am a proud member of the choir!

    #
    Dianne Waltner ‎"Meat: Now, It's Not Personal – But like it or not, meat-eating is becoming a problem for everyone on the planet." – http://www.worldwatch.org/system/files/EP174A.pdf

    #
    David McGough
    I'm a vegetarian for many years and I accept others choices because I have learned over the years that Preaching or anger never get anywhere, especially with someone who already has pre-conceptions about vegans or vegetarians or whatever. H…owever, I think many people miss the most important point. It's not about you! This is such a selfish way to approach your life. And for Buddhist to miss this is quite astonishing. I have many friends who eat meat and I am compassionate towards them and their choices, especially when the majority of them confide that they actually wish they could give up eating meat. Most seem to approach their choice as an inherent weakness in themselves. Anyway, recycling isn't about you, driving a more fuel-efficient car isn't about you, trying to find clothes that aren't made by slaves isn't about you, why the hell is your diet ALL about you?

    #
    Nicole Appareti Nicely said, David.

    #
    Jim Tolstrup You guys ever listen to "Living on Earth?" Of all the types of agriculture soy bean production has one of the biggest negative environmental impacts. If you look at local foods that your bio-region can produce sustainably and you live in the Rocky Mountain West you can't really ignore meat as an option. You might have noticed there aren't any coconut trees around here.

    #
    David McGough
    I don't see anyone here advocating soy bean mass-production yet, and I would be willing to bet that most vegetarians or vegans that would read this are aware of the problems with that topic. Besides environmental, it has been shown to be no…t very healthy to eat large quantities of, especially in women. I live in one of them most progressive if not THE most progressive minded cities, in the country, Portland, Or., if not the world, so maybe I am just used to being around well-informed people. There are plenty of options besides soy and meat. For me, I practice ahimsa, non-harming, so meat is not an option. Besides, if you have done your research, you have probably learned, and I can attest to through experience that if you eat a wide variety of vegetables, legumes, fibers, you get the protein that you need, and you don't have to kill sentient beings to get it.

    That being said, the article was about personal choice. I understand that peoples bodies are different and require different things, but I approach the theory that some people just have to have meat with healthy skepticism.

    #
    Kim Sequoia
    Hi David: "Anyway, recycling isn't about you, driving a more fuel-efficient car isn't about you, trying to find clothes that aren't made by slaves isn't about you, why the hell is your diet ALL about you? "

    Um, because its what sustains MY b…ody? You can't do this for me, no one else can. It's my job, so it IS 'all about me'. And for me, I need meat. Really. I do. So I do it as responsibly and compassionate as I can. See More

  6. AMO says:

    Listen Sister:

    You can't blog and then demand immunity from reaction to your ideas and thoughts on the web. You can write "Don't boss me!" like a toddler if you want to, but it won't matter, because this is the Internet. It is a place for sharing ideas and you have a COMMENTS SECTION FOR A REASON.

    1. Letting a pet roam wild is a crime. It's punishable in most places by a fine, and, (horror of horrors!) THEY TAKE YOUR CAT! Most municipalities only enforce these rules when an animal control officer encounters your pet by chance or when a neighbor complains, but that doesn't mean it isn't illegal. What you're doing, allowing your pet to kill native wild species is, by definition, criminal. Are you going to tell the state they aren't the boss of you too? Because unless you choose to live in an anarchist society they are the boss of all of us.

    2. And I quote: "I don’t care who you voted for! ….. I don’t care how you feel about environmental policy! I really don’t!"
    Really? Well then shame on you. You should care. These are important issues. The world stands at a cross roads. Humanity is on the brink of destruction and you sit in your "middle class girl" world with your Kong sized ego talking about how bad you feel about your cat eating birds but how it just stresses you out too much to really do anything about it. Do you care about anything other than your own seemingly very small little corner of the world?

    I am not a vegan. I am an ethical eater. I respect that there are many ways to be ethical. That is not the point. The point is that those vegans and ethical vegetarians who've posted their opinions here have a right to shout out to you that you should care about these important issues. I have a right to point to the ethics of your behavior about your pet, BECAUSE you put the information out on a free public forum. If someone is truly abusive, you can block them posting, but beware using that power too liberally. The only values the Internet knows are Net Neutrality and EVERY ONE gets a say.

    So I say again. Of all the self proclaimed Buddhists I've encountered, you are the most openly egomaniacal I've ever encountered. Look at you. Whining about how bad it makes you feel that your cat kills things. Whining about how bad it makes you feel bad that your cat doesn't like confinement. Whining about how bad it makes you feel that everyone got mad at you. Whining about how you don't like being bossed. You're like a 2 year old, jeez, grow up….

  7. terry says:

    Here is a video on meat: http://meat.org

  8. Dan says:

    Thank you for this article, and I agree strongly with its position.

    Upon reading the comments though, and one repeat commenter in particular, I am amazed by how absolutist and un-ahimsic some vegans can be. The idea that one position is the only proper worldview and everyone else must conform is the kind of absolutist sentiment that has led to some of the world's worst calamities. To live from the heart means to have compassion to all living beings, including humans.

  9. Lindsey says:

    Yes, there is a movement called veganic farming, which is organic and uses no animal products (such as bone or fish meal) in cultivation. I would imagine veganic farmers would try to be as conscious as possible of avoiding harm to animals in the field. I hope that this type of farming continues to increase, so that veganically grown products are more easily available to all. Also, I may have already said above that if more people are vegan, then we will require less crops, which would hopefully make it easier to take more care in avoiding harm to field animals.
    Another way one may reduce harm is by growing (veganically, if possible) as much of their own food as they can at home.
    And yes, that really is a sad fact that just to walk upon this earth, we may kill.

  10. Jay Winston Jay Winston says:

    Overall, I think self-righteous vegans and vegetarians are more concerned with their own egos with animals. If they actually cared about animals they’d realize that they’re actually alienating people from their cause, like alleged anti-war activists burning flags or spitting on soldiers and try actually talking to people instead of preaching and judging.

    That said, at the risk of being one of the self-righteous language police:

    “Righteous” refers to people who are right in behavior and/or thought.

    “Self-righteous” refers to people who think themselves and/or their behavior superior and act high and mighty because of that.

  11. Jeremy says:

    Umm… We actually don't need food at all.. Meditate on that one for a while, everybody. 😉

  12. Julie says:

    Dear Joslyn,

    For as long as:
    1) Cows are being artificially inseminated on "rape racks" (yep, that's a real term…look it up) over and over and over.

    2) For as long as calfs are being dragged from their mothers immediately after birth, as the cow runs after its baby, bellowing in distress.

    3) For as long as pigs are confined to crates, deprived of any pleasure and comfort, banging their heads on steel bars in misery.

    4) For as long beagle dogs are tortured to test pharmaceuticals (the meat industry and big pharma are partners-in-crime. google it)

    5) For as long as slaughterhouse and factory farm workers are brutally exploited and denied basic workers rights (yeah, you didn't think I would mention people here–surprise! most vegans are humanists who are also appalled by human rights violations, which run rampant at factory farms)

    6) For as long as towns are being polluted and destroyed by factory farms, which supply 99% of all meat products in the US.

    7) For as long as our government keeps giving over 75% of its subsidies to animal agriculture and less than half percent to fruit and vegetable production, thus making healthy food unaffordable to regular families.

    8) For as long as chickens are kept in cages so small they are unable to spread their wings.

    9) For as long as animals are treated as property and not living beings.

    10) For as long as there is injustices such as the ones listed above, us vegans will never stop speaking out. Never. Yes, our goal is to make the world vegan. Including you. We are born vegan. Please realize that animal consumption is what's been shoved down your throat from an early age. Not vegan "dogma." Please embrace the truth. It will set you free. I guarantee you.

    Peace and love.

  13. Padma Kadag says:

    11) For as long as billions of animals daily are torn apart, buried, drowned , dehydrated, exposed to predators, and poisoned by exposure to organic nutrients, fertilzers, and organic pesticides through farming grains and vegetables.

  14. Padma Kadag says:

    For Julie:
    11) For as long as billions of animals daily are torn apart, buried, drowned , dehydrated, exposed to predators, and poisoned by exposure to organic nutrients, fertilizers, and organic pesticides through farming grains and vegetables.

  15. Julia Lee julialeeyoga says:

    Lovely words, Jeffrey.

  16. inagaddadavegan says:

    Some choices are hard to respect. If my neighbor wanted to BBQ his dog, would I be a bad person if I tried to explain to him why that's wrong? If my neighbor polluted and poisoned the air and water that we all share, would I be self-righteous to tell her why she should stop that?

    For some reason though, this article was aimed specifically at vegans – the title itself is contentious vegan-bashing. Why is that ok, but when the vegans try to explain our position, we are called self-righteous, self-indulgent, and told that it's our job to solve the problems of killing field mice for agriculture? Really think this goes well beyond egos and tempers and falls straight down the rabbit hole to Wonderland.

  17. Mathew Gerson Provocateur says:

    If a million trees fall in the rainforest
    (to grow soybeans)
    Do any Vegans hear it?

  18. Julie says:

    Padma, it appears you enjoy arguing without clearly or coherently explaining your position. Are you vegan? If you are, that's awesome. If you're not, why are you asking questions about "billions of animals being slaughtered for vegetables and grains?" Is it because you care about the animals, or because you like to provoke for no reason? Can you provide some credible links detailing data in reference to your argument, please?

    I go by facts. And the facts are: animals are raised under unspeakable, horrific conditions on factory farms. 99% of ALL animal products come from factory farms. There are inadequate farm animal welfare laws and they are largely unfollowed, which means factory animals on top of being held in appalling conditions, are also tortured and sadistically abused by factory farm employees. Factory farms pollute the earth, ruin communities and the CEOs of these companies don't give a fuck about this. That's because meat production is a $67 BILLION business. The grain and water required to yield one pound of beef could feed a small village in a third world country.

    So by going vegan, I am ACTIVELY protesting this madness and helping to bring animal suffering to an end. What are YOU doing to achieve the same?

  19. I_provocateur says:

    I believe that my comment was perhaps lost in the shuffle.

    The main import being that this whole conversation // debate // dialog // 101010
    is steering clear of the necessary albeit. sticky and funky, composty aspects of eating to survive and surviving to eat….here on planet earth.

    This either/or or yes/no vegan/meat eater debate is a lazy man's approach to solving issues (religious, social, trans, pre, apres) and often leads more towards a hardening of the us/them (see ad nauseum above) as opposed to the possibility of nuanced responses to complex issues…. that might not leave us with the satisfaction of the good ole 100% dosage of righteousness. but at least leaves the hum(us) in our hum(anity) intact…and leaves the INS out of our Anity.

    We all eat. We all harm. We are all responsible for suffering.
    and yes, this is the ultimate slip and slide as to who is and for how much….and how to minimize…

    I once lost a 2 year debate on ethics and ahimsa with an acupuncturist who was hunting for meat for his family from an overpopulated herd of elk in northern colorado who had no natural predators to keep their herd healthy (we humans shot, poisoned and trapped all the wolves)…..we celebrated with a BBQ.

    Eating meat is a statement. Not eating meat is a statement.
    ~
    But Life,
    Life is a big dirty little verb.

  20. "Globally, there are more than 1 billion overweight adults, at least 300 million of them obese." solve that, and you will solve the planet's problems…well some of them.

  21. Gumbo says:

    Good Work Joslyn! There is no such thing as bad publicity. If it’s OK with everyone else I’ll just go on living my life now. Thanks for the input. Have a nice day!

  22. Chad says:

    OK then, you eat what you want and that satisfies your desires, I eat vegan and that satisfies my desires, but what about the animals’ desires? I guess as long as you’re happy though, that's all that matters.

  23. waxbear says:

    "being vegan just makes you better than most people". I learned that at the Vegan Academy.

  24. waxbear says:

    I kind of get the general idea from reading some of the comments, and I'll say this:

    Even in the more strict sense, there are shades of killing. I would think that a vegan would be more angry at a cow being raised in a CAFO, fed on GMO corn, and then processed in a slaughterhouse than at a farmer who raises his cattle entirely on grass, then, at the end of its happy life, kills it, and uses the whole animal.

    By not eating meat, you are eliminating both forms of killing. This is what I'm doing. But, by eating meat from processes closer to the latter, you are increasing the market for the second, and decreasing the market for the first.

    Which is better?

  25. a bird says:

    I feel that humans are natural omnivores, but I still refuse to participate in the store-bought animal & animal-product eating culture. I feel that I am forced away from my natural tendencies by the mass production of cruelty toward non-human animals. I willingly make that sacrifice. If you do not, I do not push my philosophies on you. We will all reap what we sow in the end.

  26. Rachael says:

    How the hell did any vegan manage to find an angle by which to criticise your blog about Budapest's hunting prowess? They really are the pits.

    I was a vegan for 8 years but never part of that community and cant say I was ever like the rest of them. I just dont get it.

  27. […] publicly frustrated at people who do not follow their hallowed causes—be it left-wing politics, veganism, anti-Walmart sentiments, or local leash-laws—are only promoting anger. They’re the ones at […]

  28. […] Eat meat in abundance. Eat it every day, at every meal. Eat it for breakfast, lunch and dinner, when you […]

  29. Daisy says:

    seriously, people who are vegan snobs piss off some people and the question I am trying to answer is why is it such a phenomenon that people who turn vegan, or raw vegan, get up on pedestals to preach to anyone and everyone?

    what is that about, really?

  30. stealthylemon says:

    When did Elephant get so anti-vegan? Lame.

  31. cmm812 says:

    Thank you, for your brave post. I've been enlightened by the responses. But, as an animal-loving-meat-eater, I guess I have to stand up for what I believe in and become more immersed in the positions. I want and need to be aware of humane slaughtering approaches and so when I buy from a CSA, I hope I am doing the best of all things considered. It's hard to know where to go to get an objective perspective (non-vegan) about humane meat-eating. Please don't respond that it isn't ethical to eat meat at all- I intend to- I just want the information about purchasing it from the best source that uses the most humane methods.

  32. becks says:

    This is one of the dumbest and most childish things I've ever read.

    "Cuz honestly, it’s none of your business what I put in my belly."

    In all actuality, it very much IS everyone's business what you eat seeing as the meat/dairy industry pollutes our SHARED environment more than big oil. Meat/dairy contributes to climate change, pollutes our SHARED water sources, as well as our SHARED oxygen. Hmm…so I am going to go ahead and say that you are wrong that it "is none of my business".

    WTF, elephant journal?? I thought higher of you. Good thing I haven't given you a single dime of my money.

  33. David says:

    I completely sympathize with you ! On the one hand I understand and admire vegans and I dislike animal cruelty, on the other hand i am not vegan, i like eating meat and i think it's only normal to eat meat.
    Great article !

  34. zathra says:

    I had a long – distance relationship with a vegetarian. She was a vegetarian by choice, because she is / was a mortician, & after working with human cadavers for ( very likely ) 8 hours a day she didn't want to consume anything that would remind her of her work day – save for eggs & milk. I'm okay with most vegetarians. This is the Right Wing Bible Belt, & vegetarians are quite rare. Vegans seem as sanctimonious as the Right Wing extremist Christian crowd.
    We take life in some form every day, sometimes it's necessary to take life ( Killing viruses & harmful parasites, thinning a herd of animals,etc. ), sometimes it's merciful – if an animal is in real pain after getting hit by a vehicle. Or walking down a sidewalk, we kill bugs without being aware of it. It's part of life's circle.

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