Learning how to be vegetarian without being a jerk about it

Categories: Breeality Bites

ChickenNuggets.jpg
These are some of the things I have consumed alone in my car in shame.
Many times in my life, others have assumed I was a vegetarian. At a work function or a family dinner, someone would attempt to pass me some kind of animal product, only to pull back the offering abruptly and say, "Oh, I forgot. You're vegetarian." But I'm not a vegetarian -- never have been -- and up until this past weekend, I never once considered it.

However, I'm starting to think that in the evolution my of own life and as a person who is conscious of how she treats others, vegetarianism might be the logical next step.

See also: Five best vegetarian restaurants in Denver

KaleChips.jpg
Kale chips rule!
I think militant vegan types must feel as I do about feminism: The facts are out there, the injustice is real. Why aren't people jumping on board with what we're trying to do, which is just making the world right for all beings who inhabit it?

I wish I had some thought-provoking and complex answer as to why I still eat meat, but I don't. I have the same reasoning many people in my position probably do: I like the taste of meat. That, and I see the struggles of my friends and family as they try to socially navigate vegetarianism and veganism every day. I'm talking less about the availability of good food choices (there are plenty of plant-based food choices, especially protein sources, that are accessible and not hard to prepare) and more about the social nature of explaining to every single person who is serving or selling food to you, preparing it for you or sharing it with you why you choose to not eat meat and how it is something that isn't that difficult to do.

But sometimes we love things that are awful for us, so much so that we want to own them: I'm a recovering alcoholic who once pridefully identified myself by my adoration and consumption of shit beer and the extra-long, extra-chemical-filled cigarettes I left in ashtrays across the city as a calling card.

Come on, dude. "Owning" the idea that you eat beef or pork or chicken that was not ethically procured isn't cool; it makes you look like an idiot. It is that kind of mindless entitlement that comes along with a pro-animal diet that I find embarrassing, though I am equally guilty of it. My internal monologue has many times said stuff like, "Whatever! I eat whatever I want because I am an autonomous body who is free to consume as I please!" Which is so distressingly shortsighted for someone who pretends to be intelligent and considers herself an empath.

My shaman (yup, you've got a family doctor, I've got a shaman) said something to me once that has stuck in my brain for a long time: When we eat products made from animals who spent their lives in pain, only to die horrible deaths, how can we not be consuming their energy, too?

I know that for Americans, mindless consumption is our thing; no one who actively eats a DoubleDown is listening to their body. If we did, I think we would be a lot nicer to each other in general -- and not do things like block traffic in order to take our road-raging to the ultimate level of insanity. I'm not saying a poor diet is the sole reason for bad behavior in this world, but it probably accounts for more than we realize.

I remember being on tour and standing in a massive truck stop in the middle of Nowhere, Kansas with hundreds of terrifying food choices, yet not being able to find anything to eat that wasn't remotely processed beyond recognition. I watched my vegan tourmate struggle with horrific vomiting and diarrhea after he attempted to buck up and not be vegan for those two weeks that we were stuck in the cab of a Ford F-150 together. It sucked.


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29 comments
captaintrips1
captaintrips1

The teeth argument is carnivore willful ignorance. 

Jay Cismaru
Jay Cismaru

No Dina it is not an opinion it is a fact a scientific fact

Stephen Felt
Stephen Felt

If we were meant to be vegetarians then our teeth would not have evolved into the way they are. Stop killing innocent veggies and just eat bacon!

Dena Ellis
Dena Ellis

Jam, everyone is different; I'm glad to hear u found a diet that works best for your body. I'm 43 and I've been a vegetarian for over 20 years, so I have "tried that" and never been healthier. In fact, I switched to a vegetarian diet because of my health. It's been a wonderful journey so far. Here's to having choices and making the choices that suit each of us best!

Dena Ellis
Dena Ellis

Benjamin, since u don't come anywhere close to knowing all vegetarians and vegans in the world, ur comment about "almost all vegetarians and vegans..." is way off base and out of line.

Dena Ellis
Dena Ellis

Wow. Instead of pointIng the finger at vegetarians being jerks, why don't we just agree that PEOPLE can be jerks in general. I've experienced quite a bit of intolerance from meat eaters in my life... Even straight up anger and true ugliness. To say that vegetarians are the only jerks regarding food choices is quite unfair and most definitely one-sided. Let's try remember our own biases here.

Brian Knaub
Brian Knaub

There's more $ in meat so of course we will be told it's good for us.

Denver Westword
Denver Westword

So you're saying vegetarians are necessarily less healthy than omnivores who eat a balanced diet? We know a lot of long-time vegetarians who would beg to differ.

Benjamin Bradburn
Benjamin Bradburn

So I read through this whole ego stroking article and I didn't see anything about not being a jerk. Which honestly is something almost all vegetarians and vegans could benefit from learning.

Ryk McDorman
Ryk McDorman

26-year vegetarian here. Wife & kids are too. It's a total non-issue & not difficult at all. I can't remember the last time someone asked me why I was a vegetarian.

Jason Wagner
Jason Wagner

Humans are omnivores. Which is different from carnivores who must eat meat. There are jerks on both sides. Every vegetarian knows all about the pizza party where everyone wants meat pizza and they order one veggie pizza, then everyone takes a piece or two of the single veggie pizza.

Dena Ellis
Dena Ellis

I've been a vegetarian for 20 years and I'm quite healthy.

Dena Ellis
Dena Ellis

Be careful when u talk about what humans are by nature. That's an opinion, not fact.

Joshua David
Joshua David

Abd the dumbest, most uninformed statement of the day goes to Eric Valles. Congratulations, you've won an all expense paid trip to Dignitas.

Eric Valles
Eric Valles

Humans by nature are omnivores, take a look at a long time vegiterian and a normal omnivorous human who mind you eats that, in a healthy way. Not the mid west sown south run of the mill american who stuffs processed fast food down their throats. ... I think the aruments that vegiatrians make are so farfetched that they have to dog deep to the extremes of their argument to make vegiatiran-ism sound rational even to themselves

Jonathan Nott
Jonathan Nott

Being vegetarian isn't going to save you. No one is watching what you do.

steppesmusic
steppesmusic

I'm still a meat eater, but I will regularly go a month without eating it as a personal challenge.  It frustrates me that all my cooking ideas have to center around a protein entrée, and forcing myself to work around this too-common dining paradigm has really been a positive influence on my eating habits.


Yup, a lot of vegetarians and vegans are kind of assholes about everyone else's eating preferences, but they're not wrong in that we should carefully consider how our eating affects agriculture, livestock, and the environment.  That said, there are plenty of vegetables and fruits sold in grocery stores year-round that shouldn't be, and non-meat eaters need to take ownership of these senseless food consumption practices as well.


Everything in moderation.

Christy O'Flaherty
Christy O'Flaherty

It's easy to be a vegetarian and not a jerk. Just be the vegetarian but not the jerk. Seriously, though, vegetarianism is a choice and a sometimes-difficult one (meat is delicious and smells terrific) so just work on being at peace with that choice for yourself and don't think of it as your job to "spread the gospel". I don't offer my reasons to anyone unless they ask and then I say "for environmental and animal cruelty reasons" and I don't go into more detail unless interest is expressed in knowing more (never happened). Especially in Colorado, it's easier than you think. There are literally BBQ restaurants with vegetarian menus. I've never encountered a server or friend or party hostess who even blinked when I declined meat. It's a bit tougher in the south and midwest, where I travel for work, but it's mostly ok as long as you're in a city. I'm a pescatarian myself, and try to reserve fish for now-and-then, but it does make a nice fall-back in a dining situation where my only other option would be a baked potato and a limp salad.

fishingblues
fishingblues topcommenter

@DonkeyHotay  


Please explain your comment.


Murder because an animal has to die?  (Plants have feelings too.)

Murder because it is hard to digest?

Murder to cut because you aren't trusted with a knife or other sharp objects?

Murder to spell because you are a brain-dead retard?

Mantonat
Mantonat topcommenter

This is what's known, according to Kohlberg's theory of moral hierarchy, as pre-conventional reasoning. Most people advance beyond this level of morality after early childhood.

seriously.
seriously.

@steppesmusic thats funny, nobody asked you what you eat, yet here you are, like an asshole, telling us all what we are supposed to be doing. Like an asshole.

seriously.
seriously.

@fishingblues @DonkeyHotayLooks like youre the brain dead retard, retard. Plants do not have central nervous systems, so go fuck yourself,.

fishingblues
fishingblues topcommenter

@seriously. @steppesmusic


Once again for the mental retards:


Your use of the contraction thats (sic) requires an apostrophe.


It is "seriously" difficult to overcome stupidity and ignorance.  However, we all wish you would give it a try.   

fishingblues
fishingblues topcommenter

@seriously.  


No levity allowed with the slow-witted, loony, limp-dick liberal.


While I do not subscribe to anthropomorphism, studies abound that plants do indeed "feel" something.   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plant_perception_(paranormal)


By the way genius, when using the contraction for you are, an apostrophe is required.  


As to your thoughtful request (or retarded retort) that I "go fuck myself", I believe it is you who defined exactly who the retard might be.    

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