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

Via on Aug 10, 2010

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

About Joslyn Hamilton

Joslyn Hamilton is a freelance writer living in beautiful Marin County, California. She is one of the co-founders of Recovering Yogi and also launched Creative Truth or Dare. Joslyn has an imaginary spice + skincare line called SimpleBasic. She is a functioning craftaholic and counts hiking, cooking, reading and rabid tweeting among her many chaste vices. Reach her directly at joslyn@recoveringyogi.com

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77 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.

    • Kiwi Yogi says:

      This is brilliant. Gibran is so wise. Thank you for sharing this.

    • Julie says:

      It is not an act of worship but an act of cowardice to slay and rob an innocent, defenseless creature. I worship Mother Earth and I worship freedom and justice. I do not worship slaughter and pain.

      • Humanitarian says:

        Mother earth created carnivores and other creatures that would gladly eat you. Ignorant of the cycle of life. Life exists to feed life. Fried chicken tastes soo goood none of this Vegan dogma can ever guilt trip me into enjoying this!
        OM NOM NOM NOM

    • Sansara says:

      Great quote, thank you.

  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. 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….

    • elephantjournal says:

      WARNING WARNING: we require community members to disagree, if they feel so inclined, without being disagreeable. Let's take a step back, breathe deep, get a little more constructive, and remember we're all in this together? http://www.elephantjournal.com/2010/08/be-nice-or

    • Kara Noel says:

      Most "municipalities" do not have leash laws for cats. There are often city ordinances regarding feral cats, but that's a diff matter. "They" don't take your cat and it isn't illegal to let a cat play around outside in most jurisdictions. It also could not be a "crime," since violating a city ordinance is a civil matter. Just FYI. There's no need to make her feel like a criminal.

      In any case, she's just objecting to being preached at, primarily because people like to preach without having much understanding or insight into the object of their preaching. How many times has someone judged you and preached at you and you just thought to yourself "but what about X and what about Y? You don't understand everything at play here!" And you were right. Human beings are severely limited creatures. We have all sorts of self-imposed limitations on our own insight – sometimes those limitations keep us safe and sometimes they keep us stuck. Often ppl judge others in an attempt to loosen those constraints in themselves, because it's much easier to aim a shot at others and have it reflected back at us than it is to aim it at ourselves, but usually people aren't aware that this is what they're doing. Unfortunately, a lot of ppl who spend some energy developing their own insight and self-awareness begin to seriously overestimate their ability to see clearly. For example, I used to rent an apartment in a house from some Shambala folks who taught at Naropa. My entrance went by their kitchen, so I frequently overheard evening conversations they would have. Usually these conversations involved talking sh!t about all the ppl they knew and attempting to evaluate their Karma by blaming them for every little hardship they might be enduring. It usually amounted to a very ugly smack talking session that I found absurd and embarrassing. They also committed tax fraud and their drug addled teen-agers stole from me. In other words, they were just flawed human beings, like we all are, but they seemed to think the right vernacular somehow inoculated them from the possibility that they were being petty, dismissive, nasty and judgmental. The upshot is that you can't really know enough to make those kinds of judgments and you can't know what's playing out in another person's Karma. The idea that one person is in a position to make those determinations requires a bit of hubris, and it's not surprising in the least that people will react with a loud "who the f*#k are you?!" Indeed.

  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.

    • Joslyn Hamilton says:

      Right on, and, EXACTLY. Thank you for so succinctly saying what I was trying to.

      • Lindsey says:

        I don't think there is anything bad about taking an absolute position on some things. Do I lack compassion if I think it is absolutely without question wrong to rape a child or murder someone (not out of self-defense)? How about if I think it's absolutely wrong to torture a stray animal just because one enjoys it? Does that make the world a bad place because people are absolutist about these kinds of things and strongly desire for everyone to conform?

        Even as a vegan, I will admit that eating meat is not an absolute wrong. Some cases I can come up off the top of my head where eating meat is justifiable are the following: one who trying to survive in the wilderness, one who has few food options where one lives. or one who is a child who can't make his own food choices (and can't always make correct moral choices anyway, not having a fully developed mind yet). However, the vast majority of people, in the US and similar countries at least, eat meat solely for pleasure, not out of need, since we have such a wide variety of plant foods available to us at every supermarket and then on top of that a plethora more available on the Internet. I don't think it's extreme in the least to see it as an absolute wrong to take a life just because of taste (it's along the same lines as torturing an animal just because one finds it's fun). Pleasure is a good thing, and I wish it for all people, but at what price does that pleasure come? Is every pleasure justifiable and strictly a personal choice whether to indulge in it? Certainly, acting on pedophilic instincts is not a justifiable pleasure. The only difference is that the violent pleasure of eating animal products is socially acceptable. I'm sure there are cultures where pedophilia is acceptable. And please don't take that comment to mean I'm putting every nonvegan on the same social level as a pedophile. I'm trying as hard as I can to not offend, and to just to talk all this out, and show the logic behind it all.

        Now, maybe what you're getting at is that we shouldn't be quick to judge people, and we definitely should never say harmful things to people. That's why I'm never going to get up in someone's face about eating meat. They might have medical reasons or whatever (although I believe the medical industry really doesn't know much about nutrition – but that is a whole 'nother crazy topic, in itself!!), or they just may not know the true impact of their food choices (usually the case). I also certainly don't think someone's a bad person for making the choice to eat meat. But I will stand by my position that killing an animal *just* for pleasure is an absolute wrong, and I can hold to that and still have ahimsic relations with others.

  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 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.

    • 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.

  13. 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.

  14. julialeeyoga says:

    Lovely words, Jeffrey.

  15. 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.

  16. Provocateur says:

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

    • inagaddadavegan says:

      Sorry, it's cattle that are displacing the trees in the amazon – and the organic soy to feed them. Organic soy for organic meat is required – and the cattle eat a lot more of it than we do. Please research this.

    • Lindsey says:

      Yep, I believe the majority of soy is grown to feed animals.
      Also, eating soy is not a requirement to be a vegan.

  17. 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?

    • Padma Kadag says:

      What have I written that is not factual. My position is clear. That farming is killing billions of animals daily and it seems to be not considered by "most" vegans, let alone, anyone. I am not arguing…merely pointing out something.

    • Padma Kadag says:

      Have you ever farmed…I have…i currently do…not gardening…farming. Your facts are interesting but clearly not the entire story. Why are you resistant to the fact that billions of animals (insects are animals) are killed daily. You can't anderstand that. That Organic farming minimizes to a very small degree the number of insects killed but still use organic rated oesticides to kill massive populations of nematodes and flies and so on. They use copper, sulfur, other "environmemntally" friemdly products which are organic certified. The machinery for tilling tears the bodies apart. When you eat your brown rice know that those fields are flooded drowning millions of insects and rodents. When that same rice is harvested they dry out the established amphibians and water bugs. When they burn the rice chaff ..animals burn. Shall we move on to other crops or do you still want to pretend that that being a vegan comes without harming?

      • inagaddadavegan says:

        I think you're the only one here who think vegans think (!) farming comes without harm. The vegan solution to that is veganic farming and reducing the number of crops raised – by feeding them directly to people.

        It's an old tired cliche that many use – "Vegetables are what my food eats." If you want to reduce suffering of animals for vegetable crops and use the nutrition efficiently, stop feeding it to food animals first.

        • Padma Kadag says:

          i dont think i am the only that thinks that. Vegans and everyone should be reminded of this fact.

        • Padma Kadag says:

          It sounds as if your experience as a vegan has worked for you. But I will say that you have no experience in actual crop raising and that all of your information is not applied knowledge but rather intellectual at best. Many facts, figures dont plant seeds. Why are you so defensive? Rather aggressive I might add…hahaha

  18. 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.

    • K Sequoia says:

      Yup. What you eat is based largely – if not utterly – on your culture and environment.

      I don't feel better than anyone else due to my beliefs, and I'm mortified over and over at how judgmental and righteous vegetarians can be. The ones who are NOT, I learn a lot from. And in kind, they learn from me. Together, we find compassion in that field beyond right and wrong.

  19. "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.

  20. 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!

  21. 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.

  22. waxbear says:

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

  23. 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?

  24. 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.

  25. 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.

  26. [...] 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 [...]

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

  28. 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?

  29. stealthylemon says:

    When did Elephant get so anti-vegan? Lame.

  30. 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.

  31. 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.

  32. 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 !

  33. Nathan says:

    Swine flu and avian flu are products of confinement agriculture. Drug resistant e. coli results from the overuse of antibiotics. Don't try to paint all animal agriculture with the same brush.

    Vegetable farming also destroys wild habitats, and pollutes air, water, and soil. How many field mice had to die for your Boca Burger?

  34. elephantjournal says:

    In any case, we can all agree that one step at a time is a good thing, better than nothing. And that the first step is to avoid factory-farmed animals—it's akin to torture.

  35. inagaddadavegan says:

    I don't recommend humanely farmed animals as an incremental step just because the suffering you save livestock is only transferred to free-living ones =:/ Here in UT we are trapping and shooting wolves in the name of humanely raised cattle and sheep… that's torture too.

    I do think reducing consumption of any type of animal products is meaningful though, if we want something that is better than nothing =).

  36. Kiwi Yogi says:

    This comment is so much like religious fundamentalism and can be summed up in one word: fearful. Fear doesn't recognise wisdom (ie Gibran) – it just shouts its self-righteous message and pats itself on the back.

    A thousand years ago people were eating meat but there was no environmental damage. So the issue is not about meat, it's about pollution and industrialisation.

    Eating meat is really an matter between the eater and the eaten. Each party has its karma – so there is no injustice. Who are we to judge?

    BTW I am a vegetarian and agree with most of your points, but I strongly disagree with your attitude.

  37. Kiwi Yogi says:

    > Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing, there is a field. I will meet you there.

    Guess we won't be seeing you there.

  38. inagaddadavegan says:

    No, I'll be here on this planet, speaking out against injustice. If that makes me self-righteous, I'm in good company.

  39. Padma Kadag says:

    innagaddadavegan… lets forget about meat…what will you do to stop the slaughter of billions of animals daily due to both organic and inorganic farming? Do you care? What steps have you taken to curtail and completely stop the collateral killing by farming? What will you do? Should this killing concern us?

  40. BillCherryJr says:

    May I butt in?

    Kharmically speaking… we all know that death is a natural part of the liberation process. The Jainists take it more seriously than others. But, there is for the rest of us, an unavoidable "collateral damage" (if you will). If I were to kill a fly simply because it is buzzing around me playfully but annoying me, then I may have hindered my own spiritual evolution but inadvertently helped the flies.

    In all reality, the best i think we van all hope for is that we do as little harm as possible. It is easy to fall prey to the gunas and react out of emotion when a (seeming) fault is pointed out. If it was seriously that easy to avoid inflicting any harm at all then we would all spend only one lifetime on this planet.

    So, the conclusion, as I see it, is that the vegan diet/lifestyle is the least harmful of all. I guess it depends on how seriously one takes their own spiritual growth/evolution as to how far the want to go in their commitment to Ahimsa. Thus, it does become a personal choice. But, as I said previously, when one becomes aware of the damage they inflict by contributing, however, innocent it may seem, then to those who are spiritually committed to non-violence it is no longer a choice but an obligation.

  41. Padma Kadag says:

    certainly…butt in…You have skipped the issue of my question and concern. The reason I ask about the collateral killing in farming is that it is a reality which when examined, to me, seems as though it would be a concern for vegans and morally minded vegetarians. Such a concern that it would "move" them to take action in the form of finding ways to reduce the killing by farming. Yet, it seems, to me, that there is such a concentration on meat production and it's obvious moral and detrimental environmental effects that the immorality of the deaths of billions of animals daily by farming is going unnoticed. The problem with your "vegan diet/ lifestyle is the least harmful" is that it is not harmless. That by being a vegan goes without the killing of innumerable sentient beings and that the majority of vegans are not considering, seriously, this slaughter if you will. It just may humble them and also agree that there is much to be done for the saving of lives in farming…if we are to be talking about all animals no matter how large or small they are.

  42. Padma Kadag says:

    That vegans do nothing…nothing…to curtail the slaughter of billions daily by farming. That there is nothing being done to find ways to farm without the killing of sentient beings. It seems that vegans are satisfied with the farming of vegetables and grains as being least harmful. It is harmful and yet vegans do nothing.

  43. BillCherryJr says:

    You said. " lets forget about meat…"

    You can't forget about meat. It comes from beings that have been slaughtered (in this case) for human consumption.

    "what will you do to stop the slaughter of billions of animals daily due to both organic and inorganic farming?"

    Aside from voting or resorting to the childish antics of the ALF, the only thing I can do is NOT BUY THE PRODUCTS.

    " Do you care?"

    Of course I care. Do you think I would bother with responding if I didn't?

    " What steps have you taken to curtail and completely stop the collateral killing by farming?"

    Well, I suppose i could resort to eating rocks or something. But that would not be realistic, now. Would it? So, I am Vegan. It is a result of my philosophical outlook.

    "What will you do?"

    The same thing I have been doing for the past few years. Inflict as little harm as I possibly can and avoid inadvertently contributing to the violence and destruction as well as I can.

    "Should this killing concern us?"

    :-/ what do you think? duh…

  44. inagaddadavegan says:

    What should we eat then ?

    You seem to be saying that if we have to kill some for sustenance, even doing it in the least harmful way, then we might as well kill 10000x as many of them plus all the livestock animals required to consume meat?

    If i have to steal food to survive then would it be justified for me to murder all my neighbors and the clerk when I do it? I'm not following here.

  45. Padma Kadag says:

    Bill…So again…I sense that being a vegan is the end all to end suffering, according to you. With the utmost sincerity I am very happy for you. I would never argue to eat meat. I will say that your response to: " What steps have you taken to curtail and completely stop the collateral killing by farming?" was a less than sincere attempt at facing the slaughter of billions of beings due to farming and coming up with real solutions to curtailing, at some level, the slaughter. Are we to assume vegans care not for all of the beings slaughtered by farming? Certainly vegans cannot be comfortable at the top of the moral ladder knowing that they are not doing anything, let alone even considering, the slaughter which is being every moment for their food.

  46. BillCherryJr says:

    *rolls eyes*

    fine. whatever. go have another drink

  47. Lindsey says:

    No vegan thinks that veganism is the perfect solution. Veganism is a START to ending violence against all sentient beings. It is better than seeing one flaw in the solution and then saying oh well, guess I can't do anything. Also, it's not just a choice between eating plants or eating animals. It's a choice between eating plants or eating animals PLUS all the plants that went into making them. I think you are unaware of the fact that it takes roughly 5-10 times the plants to make meat than it does to just eat the plants directly. The animals have to eat SOMETHING, and there is no such thing as perfect efficiency in thermodynamics. Animal bodies are some of the most efficient machines on the planet, and even they give off 70-80% of the energy they consume as heat. Add to that some of the energy from the eaten plants goes into material that is inedible, like bone. Therefore, you are destroying the animals you eat for food PLUS 5-10 times the animals in the field hurt by the farming. Being vegan takes the first part of that equation out completely and then seriously reduces the number of animals hurt in the field. I also believe that once the world moves to a largely vegan diet, then farming may become gentler. Also, we will need way less crops to feed everyone, so it may be possible to remove much of that harm completely. Again, veganism is a start to getting to that gentler world.

  48. Kiwi Yogi says:

    Yes, fair enough.

    Do you think that eating meat is unethical?

  49. Lindsey says:

    Sure, modern agriculture is a problem in general, but still, a vegan diet significantly reduces the number of crops required to feed everyone, since you don't have to inefficiently feed most of it to the animals first. So even if one is still eating conventionally farmed food as a vegan, it is still better than eating a conventionally farmed nonvegan diet.

  50. Lindsey says:

    "Safeguarding the rights of others is the most noble and beautiful end of a human being." – Kahlil Gibran

  51. Blake says:

    Conventionally raised animals consume vegetation that is otherwise unusable for human consumption, namely, field corn. I will give you that those farms could be used to grow other crops but food animals are not being fed human-grade food. Hell, they aren't even being fed animal-grade food.

  52. Lindsey says:

    I do agree with you that veganism is not THE final solution to environmental problems. And I do see what you mean about most of those crops not being edible by humans, but we are also consuming far more water and fossil fuels to farm those extra crops. Even if everyone became vegan today, I would hope we would never stop trying to improve life for all on this planet (which of course includes taking care of the planet itself). I'm just trying to say that not all vegans think that being vegan is enough and that it absolves them from any further duties.

  53. Padma Kadag says:

    Mr. innagaddadavegan….all I am attempting to ask vegans is two things…Do they recognize the mass slaughter of animals due to current farming practices? What will you do to curtail the fact of this mass slaughter?

  54. Padma Kadag says:

    sorry….MS. innagaddadavegan.

  55. Padma Kadag says:

    Woh woh woh…if we were speaking face to face and if you were to reread what I have written in regard to whom i was referring to you would see that, yes I may have generalized some, but my tone is not too adverserial. I accuse you, personally, of nothing. Unfortunately, any discussions I have seen or heard about veganism have revolved around meat production and consumption and the immorality of both. Though we might agree on the immorality I think that our points of view of where the immorality lies may differ….some other time we can explore this. But! Never have I heard a vegan, with there own free will without being coaxed into acknowlegement, that they have any concern for the massive slaughter of animals due to farming in general. That is my only point. It is my experience and I do not have these conversations frequently. I find it, however, insensitive and discompassionate…but aren't we all to some degree.

  56. Julie says:

    Thanks, Lindsey. Eloquently put. I would like to add also that being vegan is about putting your moral obligations above trivial things like appetite. It is about achieving an understanding that no creature should suffer, experience pain and perish just so you can experience a fleeting pleasure. It is common knowledge that we don't require meat or any other animal products to survive. So then, the only reason we slaughter these animals is a superficial one. Which, once you connect all the dots, becomes indefensible–whether the animal was raised at a small local farm or a slaughterhouse. The journey to the slaughterhouse and the time spent there awaiting slaughter is gruesome, torturous and macabre. All "food" animals face this journey. Once upon a time there were no factory farms, just local small ones. But now 99% of meat comes from factory farms. Factory farms evolved out of local farms. Until we reject the notion that we have some sort of right to exploit, confine and brutally slaughter animals, factory farms will exist. Buying "humane" meat only supports the continued torture and exploitation of all animals. The only humane solution is to go vegan. Period.

    If you wouldn't eat your family dog, if you wouldn't personally kill, dismember and consume a beloved cat, then you must make the connection and realize that farm animals like cows and pigs are just as sentient as our pets, just as yearning for freedom and comfort, just as intelligent and loyal. And we have no right to take their lives, for they exist for their own reason. Not to serve us, not to be exploited by us. They have an interest is enjoying life, just like us. And it is the most profound cowardice and downfall to destroy these innocent, defenseless animals for our "pleasure." There is no pleasure in eating an animal who has suffered profoundly. Make the connection, please.

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