So, I’ve been a vegetarian for a little over a week now and I’ve noticed a few things:
That I’m hungry, like, all the time. I usually eat more than three meals a day.
That I’m definitely not any healthier, since I find myself eating far more dairy than before.
That one or two beers are suddenly enough to get me drunk (though I’m a snob who likes high alcohol content, so maybe I’m just getting old).
And that life is kinda barbaric when you think about it.
That last part is what I want to focus on, but I need to rewind a bit for some context.
My wife Jena, who’s been with me with for about 6 years, is a vegan and has been as long as I’ve known her. I am not, and I’ve never entertained the idea of going vegan myself. My family has always used food as a bonding experience, and they would not have been happy with the idea of limiting the eclectic dining adventures that anchor our family get-togethers and vacations. So when Jena and I first got together, I told her that if she was hoping to convert me, she was likely to fail. But she never tried, and in turn, I never tried to “turn” her. Instead, we accepted each other’s beliefs and embraced who we were, with mutual respect for our respective choices.
Jena always gave that respect to others, too, but that didn’t stop them from trying to “outsmart” her vegan logic. You know what I mean. The questions, asked under the guise of curiosity, that try to poke holes in her beliefs, to prove her wrong. It always struck me as rude and pointless, as though her moral choices didn’t matter. And the two comments she got the most irritated me to no end.
- We evolved as animals who were supposed to eat meat to live.
- But meat is so good.
Just to tackle these one at a time:
- We also were supposed to be hairy beasts with limited language skills that fling poo and live in caves, so I think we’ve evolved as a society beyond “carnivores vs. herbivores”.
- You’re an asshole.
Seriously on that last one. It’s also great to get your employees to work for free, but that doesn’t make it right, and maybe you shouldn’t be so callous towards someone, just because their suffering doesn’t affect you.
Though I never made either argument out loud, a lot of my reason for even trying this is because, despite my protests, number 2 is why I’ve stayed a meat eater this long. It was tradition, it was what I knew, and I enjoyed it so much. So much that I decided that my taste buds and opinions mean more than another species.
I’ve never gone more than a week without consuming some sort of meat, so I decided, why not give it a try.
The results of putting myself on the other side of the fence have been fascinating, to say the least.
Aside from the initial adjustment of not just being able to order anything off a menu anymore, I was suddenly in the position of looking at the issue from a moral standpoint, like my wife, and realizing how much of a dominance issue we as a species seem to have. We subjugate entire species, building businesses, slogans, commercials and displays off of their death and consumption in a way that, if you look at them like people, is super duper fucked up.
And you say “But they’re not people”, and you’re right. But for a long time, our society didn’t see women or nonwhites as people. And it wasn’t just through enslavement or other kinds of mistreatment. It was through brainwashing them and ourselves into thinking this was their place. It wasn’t until recently that I noticed how deep that programming goes. That slavery goes beyond holding someone hostage. It means convincing them that this is just the way of the world, and convincing yourself, and everyone around you.
We can all agree that as compared to our society 100 years ago, we’ve come a long way. Women can vote, hold jobs, and head households. Gay marriage has gone mainstream. African-Americans no longer need a special goddamn travel guide to mitigate the dangers of traveling while Black (seriously, check out that link. It’s insane). But are we done growing as a society?
Is meat next on the menu? Or rather, is it coming off the menu?
Maybe not. Maybe I’m grasping at straws, and hell, MAYBE it’s the ravenous hunger talking. I would never ask someone to do as I do because I did it or because I believe it. But when I look the other way and see how in under a week, I’m already able to see the hypocrisies…
Maybe we’re not as enlightened as we’d like to believe.