Here’s a good article at The Atlantic about why eating meat is bad. It’s a response to this interesting essay about former vegetarians and vegans who decided that eating meat was alright after all.
As I may have mentioned before on this blog, I am a life-long vegetarian. I do avoid trying to impose my dietary preferences on others, or haranguing them for not emulating me. People can choose to eat what they like, and trying to persuade them otherwise rarely changes their minds except inasmuch as it makes them think you arrogant and imposing. I retain enough of my old libertarian outlook that I choose not to bother people about it. Besides, people are different, and I can believe some people need meat more than others.
It can be awkward nonetheless, because as carnivorous diets are the rule, people ordering food for groups I am part of naturally assume everyone will eat meat. When I mention, as politely as I possibly can, that I’m a vegetarian, I suppose it comes across as me being deliberately difficult, even though I don’t mean it as such. (But, in my defense, it is often the case that people who have been repeatedly informed that I am vegetarian still forget this when ordering food. Really, I don’t know what else I can do.)
But I do not blame my meat-eating friends. After all, one has to pay a price somewhere down the line for being different, and I’m perfectly content with this one. Indeed, I’ll go even further than this: I enjoy it. Being different is part of the fun of being a vegetarian.
The question is asked: “but would it not be more convenient for everyone if you were a vegetarian on your own time, and ate meat in social settings?” Perhaps, but I see it in this way: if one is going to be “different” in some way one might as well make as much as one can of it. After all, as somebody once said, even radicals are conformist about most things. And rightly so. So, when one can not conform without hurting anyone else, one ought to take advantage of it.
Have I ever been tempted to try meat? Well, no, not really. Although–the whimsical title of this post aside–I do like the smell of steak. I can understand why people might eat that. On the other hand, I cannot see why anyone would ever eat anything that had in life dwelt underwater unless it were matter of necessity.
There comes a time when every vegetarian is asked some form of the question: “To what lengths will you go to preserve animal life? Just how much are you willing to sacrifice? Would you, for example, trade [insert loved one’s name here] to save an animal?”
I have always hated these sorts of artificially constructed moral questions, as they are the basis for much bad philosophy. But, in any case, the answer to the last question is “no”, and the other two are too vague to answer. And if, as some hunters will wonder, civilization does come to an end in some horrible disaster and humanity is forced to start over at square one, I will abandon this lifestyle, and do what it takes to survive. (And pretty damn silly all those people who said I played too much Fallout will feel, I might add.)
But these are hypothetical questions, and, frankly, none of them seem likely to happen. As matters stand now, being vegetarian is a way of differentiating oneself, and in my opinion, a pretty harmless way.