Thursday, April 26, 2012

Dear Vegans,

First of all, I'd like to say that I really don't find anything wrong with someone choosing to eat a vegan diet. I think some of the logic is flawed, but if you choose to eat vegan than it really doesn't matter to me.
Which is why I can't understand the fact that vegans seem to be trying to persuade the rest of the world to eat vegan. It's like there's a Church of Veganism and everyone who belongs to it is as evangelical as any uber-conservative Christian church. I almost expect to open my door one day to see vegan missionaries, hoping desperately to convince me that butter and honey are evil. Like any good religion, there is no black and white in the world of veganism. (If there are shades of gray then perhaps, just perhaps, everything you've built your religion on is false....) You either are or you aren't vegan--no one is ever "kinda" vegan--and if you aren't, you're a horrible animal-hater who likes the torture of animals. In the world of veganism, there is no room for a person who eats ethically raised and slaughtered animals, and who gives thanks for sacrifice the animal has made.
I'm not trying to convince anyone that they should give up veganism, just that it would be nice if you all stopped rabidly trying to convince me that your way of life is the "right" one, or that we all must become vegans to save the world. It's never going to happen. You need to make room in your idea of the "perfect" world that people all have different nutritional needs, and that not everyone shares your opinion. I tried being vegetarian for a while. It didn't work for me, health-wise, and it didn't work for my lifestyle. I was anemic and sick all the time, and it put a burden on the rest of my family. It even limited choices as far as hanging out with friends. And this was just vegetarianism, not veganism.
You try to say that everyone can and should be vegan, but that's just not true. I've even read a number of articles in which people lie about what it takes to be vegan. The honest truth is, it's a lot of work. And you need to take supplements to be truly healthy and get all of the vitamins you need. (Hello, B vitamins!) If we all turned vegan tomorrow, there would be a huge problem of what to do with all those farm animals. They're not going to disappear, and after millenia of agriculture, in which we bred for characteristics we wanted and bred the wildness out of them, they're as suited to suddenly being free as they're suited to the industrial cages in which they can't turn around. Which is to say, not at all.
I promise, I will not try to convince you that meat is best. I really do think that most people in this country need to eat less meat and fish. I think that when we do eat it, we need to make sure that it's as ethical as possible. I agree that factory farming animals is sick, wrong, and unhealthy. But that doesn't mean the solution is to go so far to the other direction that all meat and dairy becomes evil, or that eaters of meat are the handmaidens of the devil.
I'm just as thankful for the animals that have died so that I can eat and live as I'm thankful for the plants that have died for that same purpose. Because something, whether plant or animal, is going to have to die for me to eat. If you really believe that all living creatures matter, then why do plants not matter? I believe it was Goethe who said, "In nature we never see anything isolated, but everything in connection with something else which is before it, beside it, under it and over it." The plants I eat are just as integral a part of the planet and the ecosystem as the animals. Should I be less grateful for their sacrifice on my behalf simply because we don't see them as intelligent the way animals are? I lovingly tend my garden. I know how much work and sweat I've put into it, and how much more work the plants themselves do. It's just as merciless and heartless of me to rip out my broccoli before it can flower and seed as it is to hunt or otherwise harvest an animal.
Please, stop telling me that I'm a "killer", or that I don't appreciate and love animals, because I do. I love them no less than I love the plants I grow. And this love, while you might have a hard time understanding it, is so much deeper than you give me credit for. I don't mean that I "love" animals in the same way I'd say, "Ooh, love those shoes!" There are many types of love in the world. I can love an animal and still eat it, and the eating only makes me more appreciative of everything the animal is and has done.
You can certainly talk about the yummy thing you ate (such as this delicious looking recipe--I'm totally trying it next time Shane's out of town!). But please, please don't try to convert me to the Fundamentalist Church of Veganism. Most of you just sound so preachy, high-handed, and self-righteous that it's more than a little off-putting. In fact, it's downright offensive a lot of the time. Vegans, you're not better people than the rest of us are. And if you really don't think that you are, then you might want to change your tone because that's the way you sound. Honestly, when you sound that way I'll just tune you out and that does neither of us any good. I don't preach at vegetarians about how they should start eating meat. (My comments on this blog about eating meat are focused on finding better sources, not at convincing anyone they should eat meat.) Please return the courtesy and stop telling me how I should eat and live my life.


*In case you're wondering, this post was prompted by the absolutely INSANE number of articles I've seen in the past six months about how eating meat is "wrong" and in which vegans try to convince the rest of the world that all meat and dairy is evil. The comments sections of those articles often read like people are taking sides in a Holy War. In fact, the comments (on both sides) are at least as crazy as the idea that we all need to go vegan. Some of the pro-meat side talk as if someone's trying to deny them the right to breathe. On the other hand, the vegan side mentions things like how I should also start feeding my pets vegetarian or vegan diets, which is so outside the realm of sane that I don't know what to do with it. DOGS AND CATS ARE CARNIVORES, IDIOTS. I used to laugh at this "Futurama" clip, but now it just makes me wince because I've realized that there actually are people out there who think this way.
However you choose to eat, please just do a little research about it. That's all I ask. Most of us realize that our health is intrinsically tied to what we eat and want to find the best for ourselves. So experiment, and read. If you find that veganism becomes you, fantastic. Just don't try to convince me that I should do it too. The arguments against veganism are at least as strong as those for, and in some cases better. Many of the studies vegans quote actually talk about eating *less* meat, not none. And not one reputable study I've ever found has said that products such as dairy and honey are categorically bad for your health.
So please, read the other side and get their opinion too. Clearly, I've read a lot of articles written by vegans and vegetarians, even though I'm a meat eater. I will concede that they often have good points. What I take exception to is the fundamentalism within the vegan culture.

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