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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Brilliant illustration uptop by my very talented friend Vanessa Fiola:


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 [email protected]


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

  1. 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?

  2. 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.

  3. Padma Kadag says:

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

  4. 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

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. "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.

  8. 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. 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!

  10. 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.

  11. waxbear says:

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

  12. 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.

  13. 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?

  14. 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.

  15. 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.

  16. […] 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 […]

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

  18. Sansara says:

    Great quote, thank you.

  19. 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!

  20. 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?

  21. stealthylemon says:

    When did Elephant get so anti-vegan? Lame.

  22. 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.

  23. 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.

  24. becks says:

    I agree. Very lame.

  25. 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 !

  26. zathra says:

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