An open letter to carnivores: What, in the name of cow pies, is your problem?!

Categories: Veggie Girl

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After I penned my open letter to militant vegans, several people asked why I was focusing on militant vegans and letting meat-eaters off the hook.

They had a point. Although I take issue with the comments that suggested militant vegans are an urban legend -- I've met more of them than I care to remember -- bossy, up-in-my-business carnivores are much, much more prevalent. So, meat-eaters, let me just ask you this: Why?

Do my dietary choices somehow threaten you? Do they make you feel bad about yourself -- insecure, sad and lonely? Or are you just one of those people who likes to play devil's advocate and stir the pot?

If it's the latter, then I guess that's your prerogative -- but for what it's worth, I was a teenage vegetarian in a household with two meat-eating younger brothers, who used to joke about eating my pet chicken, Jasper. My mother grew up on a family farm, and on that farm, my grandfather raised and sold pigs and cattle for slaughter. So between my brothers and the extended family on my mother's side, I've heard every argument, "clever" jibe and snarky comment it's possible for a meat-eater to utter to a vegetarian.

I put up with it from my family, because I love them and I know they love my salad-eating self as well -- but from strangers and acquaintances, it's a bit much. You might think you're being witty and original, but most of the meat-slinging y'all get into is highly repetitive; I've heard it all before. And if it makes you chuckle, then that makes one of us who's amused by your boring, self-congratulatory drivel. (If you do manage to come up with something I've never heard before? I'll buy you a burger.)

And if my dietary choices frighten you? I'd be happy to answer any serious questions about my dietary lifestyle; in fact, I do it all the time. The most common question from your ilk, of course, is this: "Why would you ever give up meat? It tastes so good!"

Ask that, and I'll explain how my abnormally healthy, active father had a fatal heart attack when he was 53 and I was 25, which scared me into some better behaviors. (Maybe that will make you feel bad for prying -- but in my experience, probably not.) I quit smoking, which I'd done for the better part of ten years, and got my cholesterol checked -- which turned out to be abnormally high for someone my age. When I eat meat, that is. The only thing that got my cholesterol down to a manageable level was going veg. (And this is aside from my family history of cervical cancer, breast cancer and diabetes -- all of which can be fought by eating a low-fat, vegetarian diet.)

So I get attacked by the militant vegans for giving up meat and dairy for "the wrong reasons," while from cranky carnivores, I get this: "Well, why don't you just take a drug for that?"

Because I'm kind of a hippie, that's why. I don't see the point in addressing the symptoms of a problem when I can get straight to the root with some diet-and-exercise changes. I know that's not really the American way, but that's what I've chosen to do.

(As an aside: There are people with far more serious health issues than mine, which is why it's inexcusable for some restaurant owners -- like Larry Gutierrez of Little Anita's -- to think that that broth simmered with dead cow or chicken is still "vegetarian," and advertise their food as such. I'm not looking for special treatment -- if you don't have a wide vegetarian selection, I'll just order a salad with balsamic vinaigrette, and 86 the cheese. But there are some people with serious food allergies, and if you don't understand that you need to be aware of the ingredients in your dishes and disclose those to your customers when they ask, then you really need to get out of the restaurant business. )

Here's the real question for meddling meat-eaters: Why the hell do you care? Why are you so very, very bothered by the fact that I made a decision to better my health and am following a plan and reaping the benefits? And why are you trying to convince me that my choice is bad for American jobs or my own health?

As I noted in my original open letter to militant vegans, I am not one of those vegans who calls other people out on what I might perceive to be inappropriate eating habits. Because I feel (and I know people disagree with me here) that it's none of my business. Just like what I eat is none of your business. When I'm invited to someone's house for a meal, I always offer to provide a recipe or bring a dish or two myself, so they're not put out by my dietary choices. When guests stay at my house, I don't have a problem with them purchasing their own meat and preparing it in my kitchen. I'm just not that girl.

So why do you insist on being that guy? What IS it about me and my lifestyle that causes such a huge problem for you? I leave you alone; is it too much to ask that you show the same respect for me?

My friends are fine with my choices -- but I've encountered many strangers and near-strangers who'll attack me for my eating habits, without provocation. Some of them are vegans, but most are carnivores. I'll get into a seemingly innocent conversation with someone while eating lunch alone, or standing in line at the grocery store -- and one time, even while on a date -- and suddenly, it's all about how I'm probably not getting enough protein (I get plenty) or calcium (same) or how liberals are ruining the country with their nanny-state mentality (I'm not even sure how that gets worked into the equation). I'm just trying to eat my lunch/buy my groceries/whatever it is I was doing before you came along. Okay?! (And to the guy who probably wondered why I wasn't interested in date number two: You were acting like an asshole. That is why.)

And if you're not happy with yourself -- which is the only reason I can think of why it would bother you so very much that some people have the temerity to choose a lifestyle change over a lifelong prescription-drug dependence -- then might I suggest figuring out what's wrong in your life and changing it yourself? Worked for me!

One final thought: For those of you who will argue that it's better to go on the offensive than the defensive -- perhaps you've had a prior experience with a veggie-lover that left a bad taste in your mouth, and you're afraid I'm going to give you the same treatment -- seriously? That's like being afraid of soccer balls because you got hit in the face with one when you were five. As you meat-eaters are so fond of reminding me, you probably are stronger and faster and better in every way physically than I am, anyway ... so why on God's green earth are you so threatened by a 5'3 girl who eats vegetables?

Tell me, carnivores. Why?

Sincerely,

Veggie Girl

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31 comments
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B Holbrook
B Holbrook

I don't care what you eat, but I do care about militant vegans trying to dictate what *I* can eat. Militant vegans set the tone of this argument because they are the agitators. They are the ones coining terms like "specieist" and "bee slavery" and "animal slavery" and "animal abolitionist." I have never gathered outside a vegan restaurant with my omnivore friends so that we might toss steaks and cold-cuts at the patrons as they enter and exit. Militant vegans and animal rights activists routinely hit people with pies, paint, and feces. I have never broken into someone's home or business in order to enslave their animals; militant vegans break into private property for the purpose of "freeing" other people's property.

Vegans (at least those who do it for animal rights reasons) are the ones seeking to change the status quo. My eating habits are what they want to change. They are the aggressors in this debate because they are the ones challenging the system. I don't want vegans to *start* eating meat, I just don't want them to make me *stop*. By contrast, militant vegans very much want me to stop eating meat. That is, by definition, an aggressive position (don't confuse aggressive with violent here).

The antipathy and hostility you might sometimes feel from omnivores is a direct result of militant vegan activism pushing against the status quo and having as a stated goal depriving the rest of the global population of meat consumption. In my perfect world, had I the power, I would not take away a vegan's salad. If the situation were reversed the opposite would be true.

So, again, it goes back to your militant colleagues. If you push against the establishment you should expect to get pushed back. If you don't feel you are a militant vegan and are worried you are being painted by too broad a brush then I suggest that you and other non-militant vegans find another label for yourselves, because in the mind of the vast majority of Americans, vegan = militant radical.

BeaElliott
BeaElliott

Hello B Holbrook... I think you might be missing the point --- It is NOT concern with ***what*** you consume. I really couldn't care less what people choose to eat as long as that choice does not involve unwilling second-party victims.

And of course in your "perfect world" what would there be to gain in denying anyone the option of salad, or avocados, or carrots, or black beans, red beans, etc.??? What would be the point? It would be foolish and arbitrary. There is no difference or critical external costs between those choices. You see those choices, between apples and oranges, have no real or important consequences... At least not to sentient life. The "negatives" in choosing potatoes over rice are quite superficial.

Of course you seem like an intelligent person, so of course I don't have to explain how harming animals DOES negatively, and wrongfully affect other lives. (?)

I don't know that there are any beets, cabbages, pears or plums that would be grateful if I spoke up on there behalf... Now see how ridiculous that sounds?

Now, there are words that DO define concepts... The idea that some beings (by default) are "worth more" than others IS a "speciesist" concept. It IS rooted in an ideology that sees one's own "group" as "better" or "more valuable" than another. I know what "racism", "sexism", "ageism", etc. define... And of course since with nonhuman animals we are talking about "species" --- Guess what? That "coinage" accurately applies! And gee... If I were a being "bred to serve" and to be slaughtered when no longer profitable to keep alive --- What else would you call it other than "slavery"?

I think you're way off the mark with claiming that "militant vegans" "routinely" engage in hostile OR illegal activity. On the other hand, I see the violence perpetrated on helpless, innocent creatures 24/7 - 365, as being quite unacceptable treatment to those who never did anyone harm. Shoving a knife into a cow's throat? --- That's violent. Electrocuting a pig or a lamb? --- That's violent. Cutting off 9.5 billion bird's heads? --- Violent!

Finally, I do not mind engaging with anyone who sees my views as "antagonistic". I am speaking the truth and if I can be proved in error - I'd love to hear the case as to why my premises are wrong. Gladly, I invite everyone I can, to question and voice their views. I am under no threat from any opposition as I know reality is my strongest ally. I am certain that these discussions, though sensitive and sometimes heated, are the only way we're ever going to fix the ills in our relationship to animals and each other. ~peace~

B Holbrook
B Holbrook

Hello B Holbrook... I think you might be missing the point --- It is NOT concern with ***what*** you consume. I really couldn't care less what people choose to eat as long as that choice does not involve unwilling second-party victims. You contradict yourself. You are absolutely concerned with what I eat if what I eat includes animals. While you might consider human beings no different than any other species, that point of view places you a minuscule minority of the world's population. Most human beings accept the fact that we are the planet's apex predator. Like all predators on the planet, we prey upon the animals lower in the hierarchy. We do it for the same reasons sharks eat seals and orcas eat whales and bears eat bunnies: it's an effective and efficient means of nutrition and we like the taste.

I see the positives in choosing rive over a pork chop as very superficial.

I don't see any "ills in our relationship to animals."

I believe (as do the vast majority of human beings) that violence toward animals is not the same as violence toward humans.

If I were a being "bred to serve" and to be slaughtered when no longer profitable to keep alive --- What else would you call it other than "slavery"?Well, since I am assuming you are placing yourself in the animal's position, I would call it "ranching."

BeaElliott
BeaElliott

Hi B Holbrook - Perhaps I should be more blunt... I care not that you eat meat from animals that are not deliberately killed. For example, if you wish to troll the interstate at dawn for some tasty morsels, fresh from the kill of a semi... I have absolutely no concern. The willful taking of innocent life to steal flesh from? Now, yes... That is a point of contention for me.

And maybe I am a "miniscule minority"... Do you think it bothers me that I'm not part of some mass grouping that follows whatever archaic "traditions" meant to keep the "flock" in order? Not hardly. But for what it's worth I'm in a lot more "good company" now then I was 8 years ago... And in more good company then yesterday. Progress you know --- Our exceptional species destined to evolve!

Apex predator? But the beings we eat are the most docile, helpless of creatures... And even they, (aside from most birds), we could hardly kill with our bare "claws" and "fangs".

And sharks, bears and lions physically require flesh for sustenance... Humans do not. Further --- IF a tiger could go into any store, and if his physiology did not require flesh... And IF he still chose a food that required UNNECESSARY killing anyway --- We'd call him dangerous and vicious in his choice. Now, if that logic works with the tiger - Why not with man? We, as I'm sure you know are moral agents. As rational beings we know the value of life and the wrongs in killing. Certainly no carnivore has that responsibility or option.

"rive over a pork chop"? I don't understand your point.

You don't see any ills in our relationship to animals? Then By George! - You might want to open your eyes! What do you think these many dozens of comments just on this forum alone indicate? Of course it's an issue! Probably one of the most urgent and "controversial" one of our time! If not, why are you here?

You do realize that once "the vast majority" did not think it wrong to enslave other humans, or to beat women, or to conscript children for wars or for labor... You forget, you're in a position of "social" power, therefore you can't see the injustice of your actions.

Perhaps the rancher now is akin to the plantation owner? The beings forced onto each property- not there by "right" but by might. Oh yes, and majority "rule".

Finally: Violence is the same whether the victim has 2 legs or 4. The act is equally as harmful and vicious to the victims... It is only unchallenged indoctrination that changes our perception. But it does not change the core truth that harming, hurting and taking life when we don't have to is wrong.

Abboth
Abboth

The annoyance of causes is the problem here. Wearing anything you believe or do on your sleeve is just asking for attention not that it's a bad thing. I live a healthy lifestyle, but you would only know that because I'm not obese.

Keep your thoughts in your head where they belong.

DSMunk
DSMunk

My wife is a vegetarian and I am by proxy when she cooks because meats disgusts her and I don't expect her to prepare it for me. The only thing I wish I could do is share some of my favorite foods with her, like the cheese burgers at Five Guys or some really awesome buffalo chicken. Not all foods are for everyone though, so I don't bring it up any more. When I used to though, it was just to share the experience of some really rad food, not to poke fun.

Hoser
Hoser

"Here's the real question for meddling meat-eaters: Why the hell do you care?" Well, as it turns out, I don't. So I stopped reading here.

Sparky
Sparky

Well stated and I agree!

$$$DMoney$$$
$$$DMoney$$$

As a meat eater and a friend..I stand by you 100% Veggie Girl! Love the blog!

vegangurl
vegangurl

Nice- I was verbally attacked by a militant omni the other night while sitting there, minding my own business. I didn't say a single word about her cheeseburger, I was just quietly enjoying my salad...

Anyway, I commented on the last story that I think "militant vegans" are becoming kind of an urban myth. I never said they don't exist, just that their numbers are blown out of proportion. In fact, many people (read: omnis) blow everything a vegan says out of proportion. If someone asks me "why are you vegan" and I answer "For my health..." or "Because I care a great deal about animal welfare..." I'd likely be labeled a militant vegan. I don't force my views or beliefs on anyone, but I'll happily share information with those who seem interested. I do this calmly, rationally and with purpose- but there's always someone who will take offense and call me militant- including the omni from the other night who attacked me- and no, I didn't attack back. I just said "Hey, we'll have to agree to disagree!"

food
food

really, just out of the blue, someone saw you eating a salad and went ballistic? I eat salads all the time and have never had anyone even look. So your claim makes no sense as it is stated.

Andrew
Andrew

Amber Taufen, I think I love you.

High Plains Drifter
High Plains Drifter

I'm not a "militant meat-eater" and I'm all for P.E.T.A.

People EatingTasty Animals

phuckcstar
phuckcstar

You are a clever one, and you obviously thought of that yourself.

Somerandomegirl
Somerandomegirl

Great article but the only part that I question is this...."or how liberals are ruining the country with their nanny-state mentality"

Are you claiming that you are NOT a liberal? Why would you include politics in your article when you are likely a liberal who is FOR virtually all nanny state programs?

Amber Taufen
Amber Taufen

If you read that contextually, you'd realize that I'm not the one bringing it up. I don't see why my personal choice to cut certain foods out of my diet should be construed as an endorsement of whatever food-regulation bill is currently up in the legislature. Other people seem to see the connection, which is supremely ironic to me. How does it follow that someone rails against regulation as restricting personal autonomy ... and then attacks me for exercising my own personal autonomy?

I'm not claiming anything about my political leanings. (If you asked, I'd tell you that education is far more effective than legislation -- give people information and let them make their own decisions.) In fact, my point is very close to yours: Why is it that when, for whatever reason, I'm discussing the foods I choose to eat and avoid, I get pigeonholed as someone who automatically supports certain types of legislation? Why are meat-eaters referencing politics in their uninvited questions about my diet?

Juliefrancineallis1
Juliefrancineallis1

Dear Veggie Girl; thanks for writing this... I guess I disagree with you on one point which is when you say "...it's none of my business..." in regards to what food choices others make in life. As you noted, you are aware that there is disagreement... but the reason why I disagree is this: the choice of eating meat, like it or not, is all of our business because that choice effects all of us. Like it or not, the meat industry is contributing to the collapse of the world we all share, hence, it is my business what other's food choices are, and people who choose to eat meat are impacting me, my life, and the life of all others.

Batman
Batman

Really, you think that if I do something that affects the world, it makes it your business? Almost everything we do affects the world. Do you own a car? Have children? Are you overweight or obese? Do you smoke, drink, or use any sort of drugs? Do you have central air conditioning? Do you drink bottled water or buy a lot of products that are packaged in plastic? Do you think any of this is any of my business?I eat meat, but I don't own a car, use air conditioning, or have children, all of which are also helping drive the world's collapse (please understand that I mean overpopulation, not children themselves) . However, I don't think I should be able to decide whether others live as I do, nor do I even try to sway them to my ways. We all make choices, good and bad, that affect others. That you have decided only your choices are acceptable is a shame, as there are a lot of people out there that are working hard to make this world a better place, even if their life choices do not mirror your own.

BeaElliott
BeaElliott

Of course nearly everything each of us does effects someone/something else. I live on a lake... Though my property may only be limited to X number of feet, if my neighbor on the other side dumps his crap into "his" part of the lake - Guess what? We ALL suffer the consequences. Certain things are more critical than others of course... Taking the willful slaughter of innocent beings into account, that kind of moral bankruptcy DOES affect all of society and culture. It creates and supports systems of exploitation and violence through the force of the weak. I don't think that helps us evolve into the more peaceful existence we all (rationally) desire.

Working hard to create a better world is a great idea! Yet the easiest of all that "hard work" is in simply removing animals from the "edible" list. No "work" to it at all - But look at the benefits to be had! :)

Steve
Steve

If you think being Vegan is hard, try having kids allergic to peanuts, tree nuts and Sesame and also trying to give them healthy non-animal choices for dinner. There's only so much poultry and beef we stomach feeding our kids. My wife was Vegan for years, we both do eat meat, but know that some really good vegetarian dishes provide variety and different nutrients. Unfortunately, none of the products are safe for us. We get judged by others all the time with our food allergy "high maintenance" label and just ignore it. My suggestion, be happy with your choice. We didn't choose allergies but accept it and our proud of the choices we make. As a Vegan, you are making a conscious choice to take better care of yourself...nothing wrong with that.

Stevewww.AllerDine.com - The Food Allergy Friendly Restaurant Guide

tyler
tyler

i am a vegan personal chef who went to a vegan culinary school and animals taste good. dont think by being righteous that they will kill one less animal because you dont consume it.

besides cows are vegan

JustSayin'
JustSayin'

You know, who cares if you are vegan, vegetarian, or a carnivore. To each his own, and there is never any point in arguing with somebody who has a differing opinion. Religious or political arguments never leading to a mass changing of opinion from the opposite side of your argument, anyone?

Also, for example, I'm a carnivore. The only meat I dislike is pork, for no reason beyond I just don't like the flavor. I could eat red meat and poultry all day long. I don't listen to vegetarians/vegans that try to persuade me to join their beliefs, nor do I try to convince vegetarians/vegans to just try a bit of meat and know how good it is. It's like people trying a raw food diet/elimination diet (especially gluten/lactose without an allergy, just on PERSONAL DECISION to try something for feeling healthier/weight loss/whatever), I don't want them to try and change me and I won't try and change them.

It's not my business, nor am I getting paid, to manage your nutritional intake whatever your diet may be. It's a personal choice and responsibility (or lack thereof, on either side if you are eating what you need in terms of nutrients or not) to do so. Saying something like, "OMG you're vegan?! How the hell do you get your necessary protein?!" is the same ignorance/busy-bodyness as saying, "OMG you're sexually active? You aren't on birth control?! What the hell do you do to protect yourself?!" Aka, its nobody's business but your own.

On that note, and trying to inject *some* humor into this debate despite the lack of "a winning side," I present this image:

http://cdn.nextround.net/wp-co...

Keep in mind, people, it's a just a joke, and clearly with such a hot debate going on in Cafe Society, lets just post relevant jokes just to lighten things up a bit.

AllVegan
AllVegan

Well said Veggie Girl, As a 30 year Vegetarian/Vegan I have had much more problems from self righteous meat eaters than I have from activist vegans. The most common question "where do you get your protein" just shows a complete lack of knowledge about nutrition. Unfortunately, our media whose job it is to educate us about important things like nutrition have let us down. Instead spouting industry propaganda to convince people that unhealthy Animal foods are somehow ok to eat. Combine this with the massive ad campaigns the meat and dairy industries produce and it is no wonder that people do not know the damage they are doing to their health by eating meat and dairy. I agree with many who posted on your vegan article that speaking up about the health consequences of meat and dairy consumption is the best and only way to change peoples eating habits and ultimately lessen the suffering of animals. I personally have had a positive influence on many people by explaining the risks to their health they are assuming by consuming meat.

food
food

Is that the same nefarious media who spouts all the propaganda about how good soy is for you, without ANY discussion of the downside and dangers of the phytoestrogens? hmmmmm, looks like it goes both ways.

AllVegan
AllVegan

Actually food, The Soy phytoestrogens myth has been completely debunked by clinical studies.. An easy Google search will confirm this for you. I would venture to guess that the reason you know about the "dangers" of phytoestrogens is because it is a myth which continues to be propagated by the media. along with the protein complementing myth, and the many other myths put forward by meat and dairy interests to try and discredit healthy plant based diets.

BeaElliott
BeaElliott

You know... I can never figure out why people assume that all vegans eat (a lot of) soy products?!? In 8 years of being "meat free" - I might have consumed soy products a few dozen times. It is NOT a "staple"... Besides, if one is really concerned about consuming soy they might want to consider that "livestock" eat the vast majority of it - Who knows how the negative attributes effect the flesh that is consumed in a meat-eaters diet?

just saying...
just saying...

"our media whose job it is to educate us"? Really?! It's the job of each individual and a critical mindset to ferret out the truth from all available sources.

AllVegan
AllVegan

You Know (or maybe you don't) just saying... There are many people who depend on media sources to provide them with the information they need to make informed decisions about things like nutritional health. When the sources they trust deceive them by broadcasting industry propaganda. It is not the fault of the consumer. They have been betrayed by those media sources because their loyalties lie with special interests and corporations instead of the consumers whose interests they claim they represent. Does that make consumers naive perhaps but it does not make them stupid. It makes them mislead, deceived, taken advantage of. If someone is the victim of a con artist they do not put the victim in jail because he should have done better research, do they!

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