First of all, let me say that I have no problem with vegans. Actually, I have no issues with anyone’s food choices but my own. Recently however, I had a “conversation” with a vegan who felt it was her job to force her views on me and everyone else within the range of her keyboard. She was championing the cause of animal rights, defending the defenseless she says, giving a voice to those who have none. However, due to her tactics, the only voice she gave them was one of arrogant pride and startling ignorance.
The crux of the matter comes in how you view animals. My vegan friend views them as equal, and I might go so far as to say superior, to humans. I do not. I believe that animals should be treated kindly and used responsibly, but that they are not on par with people. I will always place the intrinsic value of a human life above that of an animal. Does that mean I agree with the methods used in much of agribusiness? No, absolutely not. There are terrible, terrible things that go on in the processing of meat, and food in general. I praise the efforts of those that attempt to educate the public and better the standards of treatment and control concerning food growth and processing. Michael Pollan and Temple Grandin come to mind as two people who have done much in those areas.
The entire encounter started when a friend of mine posted a recipe, containing the use of wild game, on an online site. To me, it sounded wonderful, and it was enhanced by the fact that it utilized unindustrialized food. However, to the militant vegan, it was an affront to her senses, animalkind, nature, and God… and she was sure to let us know that in no uncertain terms. At first, her posting was fairly benign, simply stating that it probably didn’t sound good to the animals that had been killed to provide the meal. I had responded to my friend that I thought it sounded great. She took that as the opportunity to inform us both that the slaughter of animals and the eating of meat were morally wrong and that she sought to positively change the world by not indulging in it. To me, that was fine, it was her choice. If she didn’t want it on her plate and in her mouth due to her own convictions, I certainly would not be one to force the issue. As a matter of fact, were I with a friend who had strong views on the morality of meat, I would probably refrain from eating it in their presence as a matter of respecting them… as long as they accept the fact that I simply do not share that view.
Following her statement, I said that I believed the eating of meat is following the natural order of things and that I believe that is positive. If I recall properly, it is Michael Pollan that explains this to a point in his book The Omnivore’s Dilemma. Animalkind and Mankind made an agreement of sorts, while mankind would care for, protect, feed, house, and breed the animals, thus ensuring the continuation of the species, animalkind would in return, provide labor, milk, eggs, and yes, meat and hides in exchange. It was a mutually beneficial exchange. Was it a literal shaking of hand and hoof? Of course not, but I’m sure you see the point I’m making.
At this point, the militant vegan, informed me that not only was I wrong, I was morally bankrupt and generally corrupted in my soul due to the fact that I like a steak from time to time. She posted a video, which I admit, I did not watch asking me “is this the natural order of things?” I am not uniformed. I have seen the behind the scenes horror stories, and have already mentioned my stance on (irresponsible) industrialized agriculture. I believe we are paying a price for our actions as a society concerning our stewardship of animals and land… it comes in the form of diseases, both of the animals and ourselves, overwhelming waste, and environmental havoc. She proceeded to post statement after statement about how it was impossible to eat meat without being a black-hearted murder, and I finally snapped at her. Perhaps I shouldn’t have, but I was tired of her spamming rants.
I called her a fanatic, an illogical person who could not see reason beyond the scope of her own beliefs. I had no issue with her beliefs (at this point), only that she attempted to force them to be mine as well. She had quoted secular sources, saints, and scriptures at me, talking of the importance of animal welfare and the sanctity of life. I suggested reading the rest of the Bible if she enjoyed that source, considering the use, slaughter, and eating of animals all through the text. She again posted video after video, along with accusations that I was ignorant and cruel and had never seen a litany of environmental documentaries focusing on food, read certain books, or attended church in my life. She also implied that I “only prayed once on Sundays, and that won’t save your soul.” She attacked my character, my faith, and intelligence without knowing me at all. As it happens, I’d seen all of her listed films, read several of the books, and am a Christian, believing in the words of Christ in my mind and in my heart. As I said, I was not uninformed, and many of the issues these sources platform are indeed concerns of mine. The trouble is, I simply did not agree with her worldview, and that, to her, was the highest of crimes.
Speaking of crimes, when she finally, through another post, equated the eating of meat and slaughtering of animals for food to the Holocaust of the Jews, I lost any and all respect for not only her beliefs, but for her as a human being. There is no comparison. I felt sorry for her. To me, that displayed a degree of ignorance that was not only striking, but dangerous. In the end, she not only failed to convince me, she made my stance firmer than ever. If I were to offer advice to her, I would say that your views are your views, and when you attempt to make someone else agree with you through force and derision, you will cement in them a desire to cling to their beliefs with a conviction far beyond the degree to which they previously held them. This is true in all aspects of life, politics, faith, and yes, even food.
Finally, let me say I believe Vegan, Vegetarian, and Omnivorous diets all have beneficial and negative aspects. The key to them is finding what works for you physically, ethically, and spiritually. There is always a balance for which to strive. To quote a favorite source, I believe Michael Pollan said it best…