[Image: A background of hay. A yellow chick stands beside an egg.]
What came first? The chicken or the asshole?
It really surprised me how hostile some people were when I told them that I became a vegetarian. Sometimes making that statement was enough for someone to launch into a diatribe where they told me what I thought and felt about omnivores and just how wrong I was to think it. Sometimes there was eye rolling. Sometimes there were stories about other people they knew who were vegetarian who were just so difficult that it was impossible to put up with their food demands. Other times there was the age-old question, “How are you going to get your protein?” or questions about my health which aren’t any of their business.
I started thinking, why is my statement of vegetarianism so offensive to some people? Why are people so annoyed or angry when I merely state what I eat? And why would anyone care what I put in my mouth?
Being on both sides of this issue, first an avowed meat eater, and now a vegetarian, I think I understand why everyone on both sides of the spectrum are so annoyed with each other. Kind of. Personally, I’ve mellowed in my old age and I really don’t have enough fucks to give over shit like this.
Omnivore side: Some animal rights groups and activists use shame, guilt, and scare tactics to try to convince others to be more like them. One way to get someone to stop listening to you when you’re trying to make a point is to be insulting and rude. Even if these groups are making good points about how animals are treated in factory farming, human health and wellness, or whatnot, most people are major fans of tone policing and won’t listen if the delivery is angry or accusatory.
Vegetarian side: Meat eaters hear that you’re a vegetarian and immediately leap to the conclusion that you’re one of THOSE vegetarians that thinks they’re lesser human beings and lacking in intelligence solely based on their diet. So they go on the offensive immediately. Meanwhile, a person that doesn’t want to eat meat is confronted with an angry person who is defending themselves against something they were never accused of.
So what can we do? First off, everyone needs to relax.
Non-meat eaters, quitting, shaming, insulting, and berating people who don’t eat what you do does not work. So stop doing it to omnivores. If you need proof that this doesn’t work, just look at how angry and defensive some people get as soon as you mention vegetarianism.
Meat eaters, don’t assume that everyone who doesn’t eat meat is attacking you for doing it when all they’re actually doing is stating their diet. There’s no need to defend yourself from a vegetarian who uttered the phrase, “I’m a vegetarian.” There are extremists in every group in history. There’s no need to treat everyone in a group like they are the most dedicated extremist there ever was.
When it really comes down to it, what you eat is a personal choice and everyone should be free to make that choice for themselves. Whatever it is.