Letter To A Vegan, From A Meat Eater.

Via on Jan 10, 2013

Here is a letter, emailed to me this morning:

Hi Karl,

I hope this doesn’t come off as weird or annoying, but I want to talk to someone and you seem like the perfect person because I actually find you the least judgmental of the vegans/vegetarians I know.

Whew! Poor woman, you must know so few vegans. If I was any more judgemental, I’d need a black robe and magistrate’s wig. Well, maybe I’m getting better at hiding it. That’s something.

I have been thinking for a long time of embarking on a vegetarian experiment—I’ve been turning my eyes away from the truth for a lot of years that I really do believe it is probably wrong for me to eat meat.

Awesome! Watch this now, don’t worry, its only a song.

When asked about it or confronted about it by vegetarians I have never had any argument—it has always been just that I admit my hypocrisy. If I had to actually kill an animal or watch it be killed for my food, I would not eat meat, so to eat it otherwise, simply because it comes neatly/cleanly packaged in styrofoam and plastic wrap, is just willful blindness.

Well, from over here, yeah. Complete agreement. We all know its easier to sneak up on carrots, too. And besided, all the guts. Gross.

Photo: Dharma Yoga Playa
Photo: Dharma Yoga Playa

I do feel, however, that this is intensely personal to me, and I’m not going to become one of those loudmouth converts who proselytize and condemn everyone else from their self righteous perches. Also, I don’t see myself never having another cheeseburger or never eating Thanksgiving turkey again.

Completely agreed, and believe me, if it wasn’t for my self-imposed “wear it loosely” boundaries, I wouldn’t be able to wear the labels I so preciously adorn daily. I’d have to turn in my “no cheese” crown! Oh, and the sash. There are lines in the sand all the time, and I usually do the best I can, on a given day. There’s no police, and its kind of delicious and yummy and sexy to eat plant-based. Perfection is overrated. And self-righteous perches are for dorks.

I’m a little stuck by those ‘blocks’ and also by the fact that I am in a relationship with an avowed carnivore—I tend to raise or lower myself to the behavior of those I am with, in some ways (though not all).

Hmmm, tough one. Especially if your partner is lightning fast with concepts and sharp as a tack. I’ve been there. Maybe take it as playfully as possible, allowing lots and lots of space.  Any other ideas out there, readers?

Were you always a vegan? How did you handle those issues? If you have already written something about this, you can link me to it, rather than having to spend time answering it.

I handled those issues clumsily, when I handled them at all.

No, I was vegetarian a few years ago. I heard Dharma Mittra speak on animals and compassion. His voice was genuine; he is a true teacher. I cannot convey the power in his approach, the gentle way he conveys his message, but I remember what he said:

“All animals are our little brothers. They fear violence. They look to us for protection.”

Something happened to me when I heard that, and it made the choice to step away from eating fish meat and dairy not something I was taking away from myself. It made it gift I was giving myself. That viewpoint has remained. My only problems with my diet now is that it often sends the wrong message to my friends; I appear judgmental just from my choices. (That, and from the fact that I judge them horrifically.)

Thanks for listening—I know we aren’t close friends, but I liked you/felt drawn/connected to your brain and creativity right away and I do set a lot of store by your writing and opinions. And just the way you are.

Saludos, hope you are well (and not too resentful anymore).

Well, thanks for that.

I’m interested mostly in what the writer fears regarding others: “I do feel, however, that this is intensely personal to me, and I’m not going to become one of those loudmouth converts who proselytize and condemn everyone else from their self righteous perches.”

preacher
Photo: Ken Kanouse

Because I’ve been there. I’ve railed loudly on elephant, regarding diet here. And less loudly here and here. I’ve tried it gently, here. About horrible elephant poaching bastards here, and the great cowardice of modern hunters here.

But lately, I’ve grown quieter. I’m listening. I’m tired (of that). I know my position and nobody is trying to stuff anything down my throat, so why should I do the reverse?

The truth is, Monsanto is well on the way to poisoning all the veggies, too, so squalking about plant-based love stuff is kind of, well, I don’t do it anymore.

I wish you the best in your journey; it isn’t my place to pretend to be anyone’s guide. Sorrow for the animals is so, so raw; it can easily lead us to mistreating the animal called “human.” I am glad you wrote and I am as unequipped to give clear answers as people writing ethical reasons to eat meat.

Want the video that will cure you of meat? Hit Gary up.

You cannot watch this with a full attention span and enjoy meat or dairy after that, I don’t think. His logic is impeccable, he’s hip and there is nothing he lays out that I disagree with.

When I really looked into what meat and dairy are, the choice was made for me, by what I found; it was simple.

Walking away from that horror show was a genuine gift to myself.

Thank you so, so much for reaching out. I hope this serves.

 

 

Like elephant animals are people too on Facebook.

 

Ed: Bryonie Wise

 

(Source: meth-amorphosis.tumblr.com via Kerri on Pinterest)

 

About Karl Saliter

Karl is a circus artist sculptor yoga teacher writer miscreant gypsy, living in Mexico. He often feels as if he was born under a silver whale of a frisbee moon in the back of a red cartoon pickup truck, careening down route 66 at speed, that he somehow took the wheel, stuck his baby elbow out the rolled-down window, and decided to roll with it, and that though the truck had awesome chrome mirrors, he never looked back. He hopes you sometimes feel the same.

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89 Responses to “Letter To A Vegan, From A Meat Eater.”

  1. This little vegan lady approves, Karl! Lovely write-up. And the Gary Yourofsky speech is one of my favorites! Cheers! xoxo

  2. oz_ says:

    "When I really looked into what meat and dairy are, the choice was made for me, by what I found; it was simple. Walking away from that horror show was a genuine gift to myself."

    This is the kind of statement that makes me glad I went back to meat eating. Let's be clear: factory farming is horrible and should under no circumstances ever be supported, as it's a system based entirely on cruelty – but there are in fact meat animals available (more and more every day in fact) NOT subject to that "horror show," and to pose it thus oversimplifies the situation into a black and white position perfectly suitable for today's impoverished sociopolitical discourse.

    For example, rarely have I seen thought given to the fact that gargantuan amounts of land (something like 4 billion hectares globally) are under cultivation for vegetables (usually monoculture) on which all animal life (moles, voles, shrews, gophers, etc) first killed, then is excluded in perpetuity (not least by the toxic chemicals applied to the soil) – and to make matters worse many of those lands are NOT suitable for agriculture and can be used only via the aid of massive fossil fuel and fossil water inputs that do egregious damage.

    For example it is VASTLY more ecologically responsible to eat bison raised sustainably and naturally and without cruelty on the Great Plains of America that to eat veggies grown in that region which the Dustbowl showed was entirely unsuitable for agriculture – until the Ogallala was discovered and exploited, which itself horridly ecologically damaging.

    Even organic veggies fail in this scheme. One would need to eat veggies grown in a permacultural fashion – where animals are welcomed into the scheme – to elude this argument.

    Further, as Simon Fairlie has shown (http://tinyurl.com/b8cf45s), the argument that vegetarianism is ecologically superior to eating meat, intuitive though it may seem, simply doesn't hold up under scrutiny.

    Point being – this is a far more complex issue that statements such as the one quoted above admit to. And the dogmatic 'meat is murder' argument made by so many vegans only makes it harder to work through the complexities in good faith.

    As with so many social issues, it would be wise to beware of people who pretend that complex challenges have simple, ideological answers.

    • kris says:

      Great and important points

    • Ruthie says:

      thank you so much for the reply! thank you, thank you thank you! yes.

    • Winnie says:

      "rarely have I seen thought given to the fact that gargantuan amounts of land (something like 4 billion hectares globally) are under cultivation for vegetables(usually monoculture) on which all animal life (moles, voles, shrews, gophers, etc) first killed, then is excluded in perpetuity (not least by the toxic chemicals applied to the soil) – and to make matters worse many of those lands are NOT suitable for agriculture and can be used only via the aid of massive fossil fuel and fossil water inputs that do egregious damage."

      I think you are crossing your arguments since most vegetarian/vegans I know strive to care for the environment as well as animals and thus eat locally grown organic food. A great deal of thought has been given to these problems, but monocultured vegetables are usually not being raised for vegan and vegetarian diets. Your argument against large and damaging agricultural practices is an argument for eating locally – and is not necessarily an argument against vegetarianism. Much of the corn and grain is used for bio-fuel or is used to feed the animals that meat eaters consume. A great deal of land in the amazon is destroyed everyday in order to grow grains for cows, for instance, and to meet the needs of growing populations of meat eaters in developing countries.

      You are correct that the large scale agricultural practices such as the ones mentioned require "massive fossil fuel and fossil water inputs that do egregious damage," but should add something about the damaging effects of pesticides. This is an argument in the direction of organic farming – which does not necessarily require the use of animals, as suggested. I have visited a number of farms and give as example my own garden which successfully raise vegetables without the use of animal products or pesticides. But I digress, the point is, eating meat and thus supporting the meat industry and the large mono-cultured farms, which also support the meat industry, do much more damage ecologically speaking, than a vegetarian/vegan diet ever could.

      • karlsaliter says:

        This in from Wizard friend Jim on facebook:
        " plant-based diets (however imperfect, etc. etc.) don't have to use the industrial farming methods that devastate the environment. Neither do diets that incorporate meat—for example the food for cats and dogs. Factory farming of anything relies on violent externalization of most of the costs of production. I mean literally violent, too. It's ultimately backed by the full punitive force of the state. It requires a huge class of immiserated, desperate people who can be forced to work in appalling conditions. It destroys the livelihoods of people who farm responsibly and is a public health catastrophe."

        Both meat raising and veggie farming are more harmful or less harmful depending on the farmers.

      • oz_ says:

        Winnie, you seem to have completely misunderstood my point because you sort of made it for me – this is that vegetarians do not understand that their 'locally grown organic food' is NOT ecologically responsible, nor ethically supportable. In fact all the animals that once used that land have been killed, driven off, and disallowed from returning, effectively excluded on a quasi-permanent basis. This is what you call 'caring for animals'?

        Organic growing methods are NOT sustainable, let alone regenerative! I should know – I run an organic gardening co-op. So while this is better (aka less unsustainable) than industrial ag, it still is a far cry from 'caring for the environment' unless you think that a slower degradation represents 'caring.' Which would be like saying poisoning a person more slowly would be 'caring for them.'

        The ethical basis for all of this comes from one of the all time greatest environmentalists – Aldo Leopold, whose land ethic is stated thus:

        "A thing is right when it tends to preserve the integrity, stability, and beauty of the biotic community. It is wrong when it tends otherwise."

        Simply stated, organic food production is clearly wrong, per this ethic.

        I was a vegetarian for years myself, and I know lots and lots of vegetarians, and yet I would estimate that less than 2% realize this truth – and based on your statements here, that clearly doesn't include you. So it's not my arguments that are crossed. It is your grasp of the ecological ethic that underpins these arguments.

        The only scheme – as I noted in my original comment – that gets around this violence toward animals and toward biotic systems in general would be a permaculture system than welcomes animals and other life forms that populate natural systems. But you're clearly not talking about that kind of system, since the vast majority (99.99%+) of vegetarians and vegans do NOT eat from a permaculture-based sustainable or regenerative food system. Hint: whole foods? Not sustainable, not a 'friend of the environment.' Hint: your local farmer's market? NOT sustainable, not a 'friend of the biotic community' – better by far than industrial ag, yes, but still – NOT sustainable, not ecologically responsible.

        You are right that much of the industrial agriculture practiced in the country is to grow food for animals. But you are wrong to think that a vegetarian lifestyle somehow automatically means 'better for the environment' or even 'better for animals' (a more accurate way to characterize the vegetarian lifestyle would be: "better for some animals, worse for others"). And you are wildly wrong to think that just because you do not dump chemicals on your soil that you are somehow practicing sustainable food production. So this is not in fact a digression, is goes to the heart of the point I was making.

        BTW, that was a straw man fallacy that you used – by asserting what I "should have" added and then arguing about that which I chose not to add! Well, I didn't add it for a reason. Every fool (if not most modern farmers) knows dumping synthetic chemicals onto soil is a bad idea – this is all but self evident after all. But way too many don't know that simply going organic doesn't qualify one for the 'ecologically responsible' award. Especially if, as in the case of way too many of the organic farmers and gardeners I know (even though they know better), the soil is being tilled and inputs from 'organically approved' sources are being applied year in and year out.

        BTW, did you know that fertilizers and pesticides approved for organic use can ba as or even more harmful to human health than their non-organic counterparts? I've found that many organic gardeners are ignorant of this fact. Wash your veggies well…

        To sum up, as I noted in my original comment, it is FAR more ecologically responsible and ethical to eat bison which has been humanely raised and killed from a ranch in the Great Plains, where bison have evolved into the large herbivore niche in that set of ecosystems (and in fact are considered a linchpin species – thus necessary to support the *other* living beings in those ecosystems), than it is to eat produce grown organically on land that has disrupted the existing ecosystem by killing off and then excluding all of the animal life forms that made that ecosystem work.

        In Leopold's land ethic terms, to eat that bison helps to "preserve the integrity, stability, and beauty of the biotic community" – and so is right. Vegetarianism based on organic food production is wrong.

        We can think of it this way: any non-permaculture gardening or farming is simply a method for arresting the ecological process of succession at an early stage in order to prevent natural cycles and natural systems from proliferation.

        Thus, organic gardening, while far less harmful than industrial ag, is still on an anthropocentric trajectory that denies nature and harms animals.

        My suggestion: convert your organic garden into a regenerative, permaculture-based system. Then you can eat from it with clean ethics. Until then, you simply cannot.

  3. Karl Saliter Karl says:

    Thank you for that!

    • Karl Saliter Karl says:

      There is I would venture considerably less horror at vegetable slaughter. Just sayin’.

      • Timmy_Robins says:

        I think that what Oz is saying is that a lot of (wild) animals are killed and/or displaced in order to make room for agricultural land…this includes insects, reptiles, mammals , birds , etc .., trees and many other plant species. As a result of this no vegan diet is 100% cruelty free either.

        Habitat destruction is one of the main causes of animal and plant exctinction.

        • karlsaliter says:

          Yes I hear that.
          Can't say its the first time.
          Mention that you are vegan, you'll get accused of not being a saint.
          Really, really often.
          It's weird. Its like the first default answer: it absolves people from choosing to partake in excess cruelty, because hey, you're imperfect too.
          Japan did it to the French when Whaling bans were up, they said
          "Hey, shut up, you goose punishing froi gras eating hypocrites!" It stopped the talks.
          I've been told my international travel cancels out my dieting choices.
          Fair enough, I guess, but ask a typical pig. They'll choose air travel.
          Having said that, thank you for commenting, Timmy.

          • Timmy_Robins says:

            "It's weird. Its like the first default answer: it absolves people from choosing to partake in excess cruelty, because hey, you're imperfect too."

            Not really , it's just an undeniable fact.
            We humans dont get energy and nutrients directly from the sun , that means there will never be such a thing as a no impact diet , it's basic physics.

          • Karl Saliter Karl says:

            Yes but true does not equal relevant, Timmy.

            Nobody is denying it. But here’s the thing: vegans are not claiming perfection. So pointing out the very obvious truth that nobody lives without making an impact is not engaging in the conversation so much as it is quelling it.

          • Timmy_Robins says:

            If animal suffering is one of the main concerns of vegans then how is the suffering of an orangutan different from that of a pig? How is this not relevant?

            Speaking of relevance, demand for animal products is increasing and will keep doing so in the following decades this means that veganism doesnt have a real impact on animal welfare so maybe it is more accurate to say veganism is more like a symbolic act than a form of activism.

            A balanced , unbiased discussion should include all the facts, not just those we feel comfortable with.

            So far the only facts considered relevant in the debate have been those proposed by vegans but like other commentors have said there is so much more to this than "anyone can be vegan".

          • Karl Saliter Karl says:

            Timmy first of all thanks for engaging in this and sticking with it. I
            My guess is neither of us is eating 100% home grown food, so there are compromises. I’ve read the Vegetarian Myth, and know that what you ate saying is true, about the robbery of land for agriculture, and the killing of animals, the felling of trees to make agriland.

            But on balance, even with those numbers crunched, the plant- based diet kills WAY less. Consumes less water, creates less waste. You must know that we are talking apples and atom bombs in terms of environmental damage and sustainability.

            Just as there is nobody eating only kind, plsins grazed bison, there are no vegans eating “pure”. To live us to kill. I know.

            But it is the idea of killing less. Choosing less harm. Of course, your idea that meat demand is rising so vegan ism is not activism is vacuous.

          • Timmy_Robins says:

            Karl,
            I agree, a plant based diet is less damaging to the environment.

            I think that what I meant to say is that veganism is not activism because other than stop eating meat, (which doesnt actually affect the total meat production because of the extremely low percentage of people who dont eat meat) vegans really dont do much else, they dont engage in direct or concrete actions to stop the meat industry.

          • Timmy_Robins says:

            Btw, great attitude buddy! :) a civilized debate is always a good thing.

          • Karl Saliter Karl says:

            Right back at ya, Timmy! Thanks for joining in, these comments are making me think.

  4. graceonthefly says:

    I always cringe when people say…"If you had to watch the animal die." I grew up very close to the animals that wound up on my plate. piglets were chased around the yard, grew into pigs and then became dinner, chickens and even Rabbits too. That was life. I am a vegan now, i practice yoga and Ahimsa, I sit in loving kindness meditation but I became a vegan because of the distance between me and my food. Not knowing where it came from did not sit well with me. As I dove in and discovered the horror of and the environmental impact of corporate farming I became more and more vocal….It's inevitable and necessary. Take it from someone who grew up knowing the value of the life they consumed.

    • karlsaliter says:

      Thanks Grace. I agree with where you are coming form. Too few people are eating consciously.

      I am going to re-paste this to you, in answer:

      This in from Wizard friend Jim on facebook:
      " plant-based diets (however imperfect, etc. etc.) don't have to use the industrial farming methods that devastate the environment. Neither do diets that incorporate meat—for example the food for cats and dogs. Factory farming of anything relies on violent externalization of most of the costs of production. I mean literally violent, too. It's ultimately backed by the full punitive force of the state. It requires a huge class of immiserated, desperate people who can be forced to work in appalling conditions. It destroys the livelihoods of people who farm responsibly and is a public health catastrophe."

      Both meat raising and veggie farming are more harmful or less harmful depending on the farmers.

  5. Ruthie says:

    all vegetarians and vegans out there, go pick up a copy of The Vegetarian Myth: food, justice and sustainability by Lierre Keith. and first, look up the definition of "cognitive dissonance."

    • Maru says:

      Ruthie, how many other boos have you read on the subject? What is YOUR PERSONAL experience?
      Your point is you are not vegetarian because of that book?

  6. Karl Saliter Karl says:

    Any other commands for us, Ruthie?

  7. [...] Letter To A Vegan, From A Meat Eater. (elephantjournal.com) [...]

  8. Robert says:

    Animals do best living as they have always lived. For example, rabbits have always eaten primarily greens, with a few other vegetables, berries and fruits mixed in. Humans have historically always eaten primarily meats (insects, animals, birds, fish) and vegetables that grew in the wild, and occasionally some fruits, berries and nuts when they were available. If you suddenly switch rabbits to a diet of meat, its likely they will not be so healthy. Same thing for humans. Paleo diet, which see. Nature is not murder, its nature. Life feeds on life. To support a previous post, check out "The Vegetarian Myth." There is a synonym for your "animal brothers and sisters." Its called "food."

  9. Karl Saliter Karl says:

    Robert, I agree that those are some words you typed. Bit “Do Better”

    Might be a little vague.

    What are your thoughts on the China Study?
    http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_China_Study

    • Mr.Science says:

      Hi Karl,
      I have read a lot of your stuff here, and get the feeling that I would like you if we met in person, for whatever that is worth.
      I have spent the last three years or so researching diet and nutrition, learning a lot more about what to eat. I make my choices based on that, and really don’t care what other people eat, unless I love them and they are on the everything comes from a box or can diet.
      You mention the China Study. I wonder if you are familiar with Denise Minger’s critique, T. Colin Campbell’s response, and Denise’s response to the response.
      From reading those is seems that the conclusion that animal products cause a rise in diseases of civilization is a very questionable conclusion. One could just as easily conclude that the increase of wheat intake is responsible. They did some very questionable things with the data in that study.
      That doesn’t mean that one can’t be fairly healthy on a vegan diet. It just means that it is not the slam dunk most vegans claim it is.
      The conclusion I have drawn, from much research, is that the only real guideline for everyone, from a health standpoint is “eat real food”. Unprocessed and as free of chemicals as possible, after that, it really is down to individual physiology.
      the best reason to be a vegan is that you don’t want to eat flesh(cheese etc.) That is respectable. But the issues regarding health, the environment etc. are actually pretty complicated.
      Most people don’t make choices based on information, which is unfortunate.
      The veg/vegan versus meat argument is a distraction that prevents progress towards a better healthier planet.
      The main difference I see is that it is rare to see someone writing an article on Elephant trying to convince vegetarians to eat like them. Yet every two months or so there is someone trying to convert meat eaters to their way of thinking. Further, most of these article assume that meat eaters are stupid, or hateful, and have not considered these issues at all. . . ‘If we could just educate them’, But many have actually thought it and felt it through quite well.
      The thinking Vegan and the thinking omnivore really should be working together to help those who do not consider their food rather than arguing about whether one can get COQ10 and choline on a vegan diet. It doesn’t help.
      None of us will get our perfect world where everyone acts the way we think we should.
      (Lastly, I didn’t find your piece particularly preachy, I just wanted to point out the complexity of the situation)

    • Karl Saliter Karl says:

      Mr Science!

      So sorry I blew by this reply this morning, especially as it is one of the best- informed, including mine, in the batch.

      No, I have not read those refutations but I did glance at Wheat Belly and I’m almost ready to start noshing exclusively on found stones.

      You are right of course, and generally we form our opinions, piggyback on others opinions, and do very little fact finding or research.

      Articles advocating conscious meat eating do appear on elephant, though.

      • karlsaliter says:

        Mr S,
        I have a friend, Jimmy, way smarter than me, who has this perspective on the Minger rebuttle:

        …on your article mentioned the Denise Minger critique of the China Study. I've read both. I expected at least a stab at science from Minger, but all she provided was an odd sort of self-reflective logic chopping and subjective inference. Campbell's reply to her was courteous and worth reading. I dislike subjective inference. I don't care why someone thinks they might reasonably infer something. The thought process itself is not compelling. It's narcissistic. A substantiated conclusion can be interesting, provided it's substantiated.

        I can't add anything to that, because I'm having a team of skilled dwarves with calculators and dictionaries working it out to see if it can be used to make me seem cool.

        • Mr.Science says:

          Hi Karl,
          Well, I don’t really understand Jimmy’s response. What I read had to do with looking at how data was compiled, and how it was interpreted. further, I found the response to her critique less than courteous. He accused her of being a shill for the meat and dairy industry, and even suggested that she was not a real person.
          The main takeaway for me is that it does seem that Campbell had results in mind when he set out, and bent his data to fit that.
          But there is a larger point in all of this. People won’t always agree, and there is no point in trying to get them to do so. Meat eaters need to stop looking sideways at veggies and veggies need to stop trying to convert people.
          Vegans and Paleos, sometimes considered opposite ends of the spectrum, all believe in a real food diet grown locally under humane and environmentally friendly conditions. they are generally anti-gmo, growth hormone, antibiotics, and chemical fertilizers. In some way they are both on the fringe. Imagine if they concentrated on what they have in common rather than sniping each other on an issue that will never be resolved. (I did actually know a vegan who ate only tofuti and corn chips, but that was a rare case.)
          The same problem exists in all kinds of polarities. that is the main point here. But I do know a lot of people who need to eat meat or choose to do so in an informed way. The insulting argument that you just didn’t do it right is pretty tired.
          I think you know I am not accusing you of these things, but it does make me said that people with so much in common fight about things that won’t really change that much.
          thanks for being a good sport.

          • karlsaliter says:

            Always an nonor, Mr. S.

            I loved "Meat eaters need to stop looking sideways at veggies and veggies need to stop trying to convert people."

    • Feliciano says:

      The China Study, impressive as it seems, is full of holes. Here's just one:

      Campbell cites a chain of three variables: Cancer associates with cholesterol, cholesterol associates with animal protein, and therefore we infer that animal protein associates with cancer. But when we actually track down the direct correlation between animal protein and cancer, there is no statistically significant positive trend.

  10. Heather Morton HeatherM says:

    I know my position and nobody is trying to stuff anything down my throat, so why should I do the reverse?

    It's good, but everyone always imposes their beliefs on others….re: meat-eater on non-meat eater…and vice versa. Not all the time, but generally it is part of the human dilemma. My family are not vegetarians. I was the first to enter into it. In fact, some of my family come from a long-line of cattle and pig farmers. So, you can only imagine what my behavior stirred up.

    When others around you are not doing the same events like Christmas dinner, Easter, Thanksgiving and birthdays can become increasingly filled with difficulty and challenges. These were some of the issues I never thought about when making my decision some 20 odd years ago. However, they have been on-going issues to deal with since most people I know including most of my students are not vegetarians or vegans.

    That said, there is something called respect…for each person's choice.

    • Karl Saliter Karl says:

      Thank you for reading and posting, Heather. The holiday table can get dodgy, yes. My sister Sue put on a great feast this year, and whipped up a little special fake turkey for me on the side. I felt cared for and loved, it was awesome.
      The cool part was not so much the fake turkey, it was what you mentioned, the respect. I didn’t feel the need to defend.
      My lovely niece Hannah Rose asked: “Uncle Karl, how come you don’t eat meat!”
      I said because I feel sorry for the animals.
      It was true, it was respected, and nobody made a big deal out of it, when all we wanted to do was eat together, and share some love.

  11. Ayoganut says:

    Sigh. I first went vegetarian at age 14 for emotional reasons. Then I became horribly anemic. I went back to eating fish and eggs for my health. I then decided I could "do" vegan. Again, anemic. I've studied natural medicine and healing diets since the age of 16 in a personal search and I have detoxed, juiced, fasted, you name it.

    I've eaten a clean diet most of my life (now 44). As an experiment two years ago I tried vegan again. I have a University degree in Nutritional Medicine so I know what I'm doing. I had blood work done before and after a four month strictly vegan diet. Once again, anemic. Not to mention lack of energy, cranky, spotty and bloated.

    So no, not everyone can be a healthy vegan. What do I do? I buy local organic good welfare meat. I make sure to spend my money on the farmers who care for their animals, do not feed them things they would not normally eat, no drugs, no chemicals etc.

    I feel the healthiest I ever have. I am grateful to the animals that allow me this. Like Native Americans, I bless and thank the animal for its life. I am grateful. I know that someday I will become worm food, then bird food, then cat or fox food. I am part of the cycle. I do my best and I do not judge people by what they eat.

    Blessings to all creatures large and small. Don't judge the Spirit by the food choices or you might miss someone amazing.

    • Karl Saliter Karl says:

      Thank you for replying, AYN, and for your perspective. I admire you for exploring and trying, and I know everyone’s food needs are unique. How do we, as vegans or vegetarians or conscious omnivores, share what we have learned without making people feel judged?

      I think it’s important. To open the conversation without shutting people down.

  12. Karl Saliter Karl says:

    So hey, elephant readers, what tricks do you have for opening up conversations about food choices without pissing people off? My approaches have always been, well, the proper phrase is ham- fisted.

    • Ayoganut says:

      LOL ham-fisted. I don't know Karl. I've been in this debate for the good part of thirty years. People get offended so easily when it comes to food and beliefs. I'd say don't worry about it. If people get pissed it usually means they have something within themselves to examine. What and how I eat has been ridiculed by many of my close friends and family whether it was vegetarian, vegan, gluten free, organic, animal welfare etc. simply because I had an opinion or awareness or conviction.

      When going out for dinner to a pizza place and I ordered a salad I was given the evil eye by a female friend. When I asked her what was up, my choice (emphasis my choice) made her "feel bad" about hers. Um…. yeah.

      I'd say let's just keep talking about this. It is important to explore what we eat and how it impacts our lives because ultimately that rubs off on those around us and those around them and on and on.

      • karlsaliter says:

        You are right Yoga Nut. There is some genuine value even in this thread for the perspectives on the horror show thai is growing modern vegetables. It looks like gardening is gaining, inching up the to do list.

        Oy! I seriously don't have time for that.

        • karlsaliter says:

          So it is in conversations that I learn. Hey, conversations with teachers brought me to drop the meat fork in the first place.

  13. sunshine says:

    "My only problems with my diet now is that it often sends the wrong message to my friends; I appear judgmental just from my choices. (That, and from the fact that I judge them horrifically.)"

    That line made me love you, whoever you are.

    • karlsaliter says:

      Oh, Good! I am so glad to hear that. You never know sometimes, where that line is. Great of you to respond to that, it was one of those "do I?" moments.

  14. Sam says:

    Hi Karl I want to comment on Gary's vid.

    I hate to say this but Gary's speech lacks objectivity , in fact it is chock-full of fallacies, rhetoric, manipulation , generalizations , appeals to emotion ,hyperbole, scare tactics, loaded questions, statistics and "facts" of questionable quality and origin , and of course a good amount of lies. It's just a mess.

    Here are a few examples of some claims that are really far from being factual or accurate:

    - We are born vegans
    We have zero carnivorous instincts
    We are herbivores

    This counters all scientific evidence .I would say this is just wishful thinking. We dont have any of the phisiological features that herbivores have ( specialized teeth and gut).
    Also what he said in this part of the lecture (and others) seems to be suggesting some kind of blank slate theory about human behavior , again, this goes against current evidence to the contrary.

    -Veggies dont harm anyone else in the process
    Veggies, peanuts , etc cant make you sick
    Veggies cant cause disease
    If you eat an apple you wont need laxatives

    Nevermind allergies, intolerance , etc this argument is just silly and shows just how ignorant he is concerning nutrition and physiology. Veggie production has an environmental impact too …a very big impact if we talk about the soy industry .

    -Animal protein causes, cancer , stroke , heart disease,
    Animal protein is one of the main causes of osteoporosis
    You dont need dairy
    Meat, cheese , milk, and eggs are the cause of all disease

    Again, generalizing and ignoring the complexity of the issue , ignoring other causes of disease that have nothing to do with animal protein. Not qualified to talk about the subject and even less qualified to offer nutritional advice.
    Low dietary calcium intake is associated with decreased bone density and osteoporosis, this is a fact.

    -Root cause of world hunger is meat eating societies.

    Simplifying the issue, lack of comprehension of the complexity of the situaton of those suffering hunger , ignoring other causes (political, overpopulation, etc)

    -Meat has transfats

    He forgot to mention that only 2-5% of body fat in ruminants is trans. He also forgot to mention that most of the trans fats we consume come from junk food not from animal products.

    Finally, other than the china study , which has been debunked he doesnt provide any citations .
    I'm sure a detailed analisis would show that 90% of the information presented is incorrect.

    • karlsaliter says:

      Other than that, no critiques?

      • Sam says:

        No, I just think that if he wants to educate people he should leave out all the logical fallacies , rhetoric, biases, etc… And incorporate up to date, peer reviewed data….real facts .

        There is just so much manipulation going on there that no one who is really interested in having a meaningful debate can take him seriously.

        I just find it surprising that someone would actually let him give lectures in their own school.

        As a former vegetarian/ vegan I think both sides have good points.
        Vegan's arguments would be stronger if they backed them up with good science.

        • Edward Staskus says:

          I have a question and two comments. My question is, who has debunked The China Study? My comments are: there is a study in the Archives of Internal Medicine published last year that studied more than 100,000 people eating animals for 26 years. They found numerous risk factors involved with animal eating. My second comment is, all other things aside, eating meat is unhealthy. I do not believe this can really be debated. I am a vegetarian for my own personal reasons, which involve animal rights, Marxism, and health, but I do not argue with people about their food choices. It's a free country, eat what you want. But it is disingenuous to say that it is a healthy food choice.

          • Sam says:

            Can you provide a link to that study? in the meantime I think it is important to say that moderation is key , animal protein in itself is not harmful. It is simply not true that animal protein equals cancer, stroke , etc…
            I guess the belief that it does specially in the vegetarian/vegan comunity comes precisely from the china study but like I said before it has been proven to be SEVERLY flawed. Veggs should really stop citing it as a reliable source of information. 

            You say that eating meat is unhealthy but the same came be said for anything , a good example is soy .  Eating too much soy can be very harmful , many doctors advice women not to consume soy products because of the posible effects it can have on the endocrine system. 
            Even a vegan diet can be harmful. Some people tolerate a vegan diet very well , others end up anemic and underweight . There is not a one diet fits all sort of thing , what works for you might not work for me . 
            Age , gender, height, genetic predisposition, family history , physical activity . etc are all factors that must be taken into account when choosing a diet and the food groups that will suit you best.
             
            It is simply not true that "no one needs animal protein".

          • karlsaliter says:

            Hi Edward! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_China_Study_(boo
            Thank you for commenting, it is a very interesting puzzle to me.
            Really, I think that with the growth hormones, antibiotics, and animal treatment for 99% of meat consumed on the planet today, it is safe to say not good for you. I'm less interested in the 1% of "kind" meat. But I'm pretty provincial.

          • Sam says:

            Hi Karl,
            But the exact same thing can be said of veggies and fruits that are not "permaculturally" produced like Oz said.
            No sensible person would ever argue that eating food with hormones and pesticides is healthy but this is our reality today, probably 90 percent of all the food produced globally is polluted in some way. Probably 98 % of the world's population dont have access or cant afford the organic alternative. What is the solution? I dont have the answer to that question but I do think there is room for improvement .

            I think eating the smallest neccesary amount of animal protein or none at all if possible ( if it suits your physiology) is a good choice , doing something about our overpopulation problem would be helpful too.

          • Karl Saliter Karl says:

            Hi Sam! “room for improvement”! I live it. We are sure on the same page there!

          • Edward Staskus says:

            Sam, the study was published in March 2012. The NY Times and CNN did stories about it. Ed

  15. Maru says:

    It will always freeze me to hear people actually saying that making a slave of another living and sentient being, torturing, murdering, dismembering and eating this being WITHOUT any need is a personal choice… denial at its maximum blossoming, wow… and the other one is how vegans feel superior…

    When a third party´s life is involved is NOT a personal choice… or is rape a personal choice of the raper?
    And it is precisely because we vegans DO NOT feel superior why we do not believe we can kill another for our trivial agendas… we believe we are all the same-

    Eatng animals is a crime of stratospherical proportions, either people want to see it or not…

    Sam, do you have a degree in nutrtion, because I do and Gary´s knowledeg is correct. If you like his delivery or not, that s somethng else, but he is accurate. And if he weren´t… are you saying that you eat meat because of nutritional needs… do you even know how much proptein or calcium do you actually need per day according to your gender, age, level of activity etc… how do you know he is wrong?

    • Sam says:

      If as a nutritionist you cant see what is wrong with gary's arguments then your credentials should be questioned as well…your critical thinking skills too.

      One thing is to support veganism for ethical reasons another very different one is to support a person who needs to lie and manipulate in order to persuade 18 year old kids to join his cause. That is just so low and dishonest.

      Btw, that attitude of yours, not very helpful if you are interested in having a meaningful debate.

      • karlsaliter says:

        Or maybe it is, Sam. Too often the "third party" in the discussion is considered an object to be manipulated, don't you think? I mean, if we are talking about Gary's video, isn't Maru's statement really underlining one of his most solid points?

        That is really at the heart of why so many vegans seem to be soap boxing. We flat cannot understand how the life and suffering of the animals is just a given in the conversation.

        What abut what Gary says about the pus in cow's milk, which people drink? Can we agree on that? Because that in itself is reason enough to quit milk.

        • karlsaliter says:

          I mean like, you know, health reason, forget the third party.

          • Sam says:

            I'm not saying that all of what he said is wrong but his lecture is significantly flawed for the reasons I have already described above.

            I think what is important to point out is that all that noise weakens his argument.

            I dare you to watch the whole video again keeping in mind all the persuasive strategies that he is using. A good argument is made up of solid facts and should be as objective as possible.
            What do you think would happen if Gary presented his lecture to a group of scientists ( Ph.Ds M.Ds) that do reasearch on nutrition?
            I think if you want to educate then you need up to date , high quality information otherwise you you'll be spreading misinformation.

          • Sam says:

            The suffering part is crucial.

          • Maru says:

            I dare you to look at the WHOLE video EARTHLINKS and tell me it is ok to eat meat

          • Karl Saliter Karl says:

            Sam, I will do that, with your points in front of me, because I’ll confess to wanting him to be right, but I also respect intellectual rigor. But it will take me awhile as I’m on a retreat right now. (don’t tell the Lama I’m online, ok?)

          • Sam says:

            Great, truth above all else man!
            Btw, that cherry chocolate looked delicious!! Envy!!

  16. JoeC2K says:

    "Eatng animals is a crime of stratospherical proportions, either people want to see it or not… " So the Dalia Lama is a criminal. Jesus was a criminal too.

    • Maru says:

      JoeC2K, the Dalai Lama or jesus did not, would not, endorse or involve in a system that murders 25 BILLION animals a year… But interesting comment though, in what other modalities do you emulate Jesus or the Dalai Lama? r that is the only one you conveniently chose? How spiritual. Will you be willing to be exiled or crucified as well, since you follow their path so close? Theere is no new justification to be heard that is original anymore, sorry to say. You mean you eat meat to be like them… be honest, you just like the taste of your burger! ;) and choose to close your eyes and heart to the reaity of where your food comes from.

  17. JoeC2K says:

    The Dalai Lama eats meat because he became sick when he switched to a vegetarian diet. In the Bible Jesus said "Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man; but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man." I'm not comparing myself to Jesus or the Dalai Lama but making the point that if they eat/ate meat then it's ok for the rest of us humans on this planet. I eat meat occasionally but statements like this just really get to me because they're so ridiculous and make those who support a sensible and healthy vegetarian diet look ridiculous as well. Seriously, the statement is comparing eating meat to crime. Humans lived for millennia on eating animal flesh. I feel that many vegetarians are just zealots and are really not concerned with ahmisa but on pushing their agenda to others to support their ego. I feel that they're more concerned with the treatment of animals than the treatment of other fellow humans… May I also say that you should perhaps try a bit less sarcasm in your posts for obvious reasons… or should I point them out to you?

  18. Maru says:

    Point them out if you need to do so to distract the attention from your opinions since there are no facts that supports them…

  19. Maru says:

    “Life is as dear to a mute creature as it is to man.
    Just as one wants happiness and fears pain, just as one wants to live and not die, so do other creatures.”
    ~ The Dalai Lama

  20. karlsaliter says:

    Joe, you might be right on " I feel that many vegetarians are just zealots and are really not concerned with ahmisa but on pushing their agenda to others to support their ego", but isn't it also possible that vegans are heartbroken at the treatment of animals?

    While "comparing eating meat to crime" might be fruitless, the way the meat is often created is nothing short of criminal. Literally. Groups like Mercy For Animals are getting people jailed simply by filming what goes on every day in factory farms, on a huge scale.

    Of course you can eat what you like. Of course you have these choices.

    The perceived zealotry of vegans most often stems I think, not from ego, but from genuine, to the bones, legitimate, sorrow.

    Nobody likes to be told "You are wrong!" I know. I hate being told that. And you are not wrong of course, you are free.

    But evil is afoot. Really. When money became the #1 motive for farms, something evil happened, and it is being visited on innocents. Vegans often speak for the muted innocents, and yes, sometimes, we speak harshly.

  21. Rose says:

    It's too bad that people do not have to personally hunt down their own food. Look that being in the eye as they draw and quarter it for themselves.
    We eat like no human beings ever have. The industrial age changed our diets into defying any connection with the number of lives we consume and the absolutely unceasing march of them down our gullets. And I think the unspent adrenalin that still courses through of bodies as a long ago needed hormone and now misdirected violence producer is part of the deadly combination of hormones and guns.
    We should not be evolving so slowly mentally. Technology has surpassed us in everyway.

    • Karl Saliter Karl says:

      Cheers Rose, beautiful perspective. There is something lost in the distancing from slaughter, the absense of which gives birth to great sorrow.

  22. Pamela says:

    I have been vegan for 18 years. I was thirty when I chose to live a more compassionate life. This was my choice and I have been compassionate toward all of my "meat eater" friends and family. They have their choice and I have mine. One would think it so simple. I respect you, you respect me. However, I have been the one to face judgement and goading for my choices. It's really something to hear them say, "Oh, is that mushroom your meat?". Really? Or, "All you need to go with that is a nice big steak". I don't go around saying "Eat more beans" or "You're nothing' but a dead flesh eater and a barbarian".

    My husband eats meat occasionally, my children do as well as. I have a very large family and I am the only vegan/vegetarian, Would it me nice if "everyone" consumed less animal products? Yes, of course. Would it be better for our world and health? Of course it would. Yet, I will not force my beliefs on anyone. If you ask me why I chose to be vegan I will tell you. If you are interested in how I do it, I will tell you. Should my answers to these questions inspire you to give this lifestyle a try, then I say good for you, good for your health, good for the animal that has not been slain to feed you and good for our world!

    • Edward Staskus says:

      What is interesting about your comment to me is that I have had the same experience. I am vegetarian, and when some people find out they say, oh, that's interesting, and they move on. Some ask me why, I tell them, and we move on. Others, however, react with what I can only describe as muted hostility, as though the very fact that I don't eat what they do is judgmental on my part, when in fact I don't care all that much. I don' t think eating animals is a good idea, for several reasons, but billions of people have been eating gazillions of them for millions of years, so it is a never-ending argument. Everyone has to decide for themselves. But, some people get offended, just by the fact that I am not doing what they do at the dinner table.

  23. Maru says:

    That was amazing Pamela. thank you. I never find the perfect medium on how to act or react around people that eat meta. And I too, have felt attacked or ridiculed many times., yet I always feel complete and whole in my choices …

  24. Karl Saliter Karl says:

    I think we should all go out for a huge bowl of ginger carrot soup. Unless that offends somebody.

  25. Beloved Sinner says:

    I was until very recently 100% convinced that raw food veganism was the way to go, and planned on progressively going 100% raw vegan, even buying a pro juicer and blender. But thankfully, my own experience, and that of other experienced, non-PC people, helped me, and I abandoned the idea.

    That being said, I think people should eat what they want, and be very tolerant of others who choose to eat differently. In this day and age, it's not an issue we should squabble about. I've found vegetarians are as intolerant and attacking of meateaters as vice versa (if not more.) Is that their idea of 'non-violence'?

    The China Study, as mentioned earlier by someone, is full of holes and assumptions that lead to false conclusions. For details google: china study fact or fallacy.

    Furthermore, when speaking of eating meat, there is a HUGE difference between factory-raised, stressed-out, GMO corn-fed meat, being eating 4 times a day in a fried hamburger by the average American, and healthy, grass-fed beef eaten once a day. I'd venture to say that these two are almost different animals when it comes to human health.

    Thirdly, in practice, most vegans (especially raw vegans) fall ill after a while. I know several, and they are all either very ill, or have B12 deficiencies. This is tricky to prove, since the problems only set in after a while (could be 6 months for one person, and 6 years for another.) Also, in the start, raw veganism actually heals most physical issues, which tends to convince people that it's very healthy. Indeed, I'd probably recommend a 3-month raw vegan diet to people with chronic diseases, WITH THE CAVEAT that they stop after 3 or 4 months and go back to a healthy normal diet.

    As I said, I really don't care whether people eat meat or veggies as long as they're healthy, and I love fruit juice and salads, but looking at my raw vegan friends (as well as many 'normal' vegetarians I know) – healthy they're definitely not, and some are now facing huge health challenges. Such people get silenced when they voice their opinions on Vegan coach websites (many of these 'coaches' take B12 shots themselves, and often 'cheat' by eating things they shouldn't! The 30bananas a day girl got fatter and fatter for a year and a half before starting to slim down, and SHE'S AN ATHLETE!)

    Also we should bear in mind that being vegan can mean eating French fries, chips, milk-free chocolate bars, crackers, coke, and fried seitan hamburgers. Which means that, by simple common sense, the sole fact that one is vegan means NOTHING in terms of guaranteeing good health – in fact it could mean quite the opposite!

    As for 'being environmental', I agree that we don't need even 10% of the meat and meat farms we have today, but do people really think that planting crops is more 'environmentally friendly'? In fact, agriculture is quite a recent invention, and it's COMPLETE ECOCIDE! Planting crops on large areas of land destroys practically all other plant, animal, topsoil and nutrient varieties where the field is – yet nobody cares or is even aware of that! The argument that "not planting soybeans to feed cows would save so many hectares of land being destroyed for planting soybeans" is ridiculous, since humans would have to substitute the large amounts of calories they get from beef by equal amounts of calories from corn and soya (yuck!) – meaning huge amounts of land cleared for soy/corn farming for humans!

    So as humane as 'not killing animals' sounds, I'd suggest to people to START BEING HUMANE TO THEMSELVES! Put political correctness aside, use your common sense and intuition, ask your body what it TRULY wants, and think of what's really good for your health! What sense does it make to not kill an animal, if in the process, you're killing yourself?

  26. Feliciano says:

    An interesting post about the China study at Freetheanimal dot com:

    "One thing you'll never hear Campbell mention, nor have I seen other China Study skeptics come across, is the health of one unique county in China called Tuoli. Unlike the rest of China, the Tuoli ate 40% of their diet as fat, ate 134 grams of animal protein per day (twice as much as the average American), and rarely ate vegetables or other plant foods. According to the China Study data, these people were extremely healthy with low rates of cancers and heart disease… healthier, in fact, than many of the counties that were nearly vegan. (No big shocker there, but it's something Campbell completely ignores.)"

  27. Feliciano says:

    Perhaps the people in the China Study were healthy simply because they didn't eat processed, off-the-shelf foods?

    I suggest reading Weston Price's book "Nutrition And Physical Degeneration".

    It details a doctor's account of visiting isolated tribes all over the world, 100 years ago, before contact with 'modern' man and his dietary habits. All these tribes ate meat. No cancer, diabetes, etc. among any of them. Price also details what happens to their teeth, bones, and general health just ONE GENERATION after being exposed to a Western diet. (Yes, with pictures.)

    I think it should be an interesting read, especially in view of the fact that Price did his study a century ago, when nobody in the West cared about being politically correct, non-violent, vegetarian, so he just does the study and is not biased with pre-concieved notions of the superiority of veganism or meat-eating.

  28. Mädel says:

    Wouldn´t not hurting an innocent being be enough to make a change??
    It is only about compassion.

  29. Mädel says:

    Wouldn´t not hurting an innocent being be enough to make a change??

  30. Robert says:

    I would also argue to eat what you want. I enjoy the paleo diet, and some of the brightest individuals I know also eat the way I do (Dr. Kurt Harris is one of the individuals I would suggest reading). However, unlike the religious fantacism of some vegans, I think everyone should be free to eat as they prefer. I support your right to eat vegetarian or vegan, and my right to eat an archevore (paleo 2.0) diet.

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