Humanimal – Daily Life Of The Vegetarian #2

What I Want

Madge – the vanity vegetarian

WHAT I WANT for Doctor Feelgood – now that it’s successfully home-birthed with few complications – is for a community of kindred spirits to make it their voice.
Of course, that’s utopian thinking. If there’s one thing that characterises vegetarians it’s the differences, not the uniformity of thought.
At the bottom of my list are those known as ‘vanity vegetarians’. Notably, Madonna was once in that category, although I’ve heard rumours that these days she’s as carnivorous with her eating habits as she is with her musical peccadillos. Vanity vegos don’t have an ethical bone in their body: it’s all about them, and they’re vegetarian simply because they believe it improves their health or beauty.
Then there are the ethicists, who sometimes don’t care about the health issues at all, but probably should. Over on a fluffy cloud are all those believers in some kind of benevolent spirit who insists it’s bad karma to eat the flesh of other animals.
Not to forget the environmentalists, who maybe don’t think there’s anything intrinsically wrong with eating the flesh of rotting cadavers,

We’re all animals

but have studied the science, and know it makes sense in a world of diminishing returns to grow and eat less energy-intensive food.
I could go on, and on, naming the various subdivisions of vegetarianism, all with their own take on the world and how we should be responding to its dilemmas.
There are the extremists who think that any kind of big business is bad business, and want the whole world to be a farmers market. There are raw food proponents, and then there are vegans.
I’m imagining all the vegans out there now, perusing Doctor Feelgood and tut-tutting at the amount of coverage given to consumption of ovo-lacto material. And you want to know something? I agree with them.
When I finally came to terms with the idea of effectively “coming out of the closet” with my vegetarianism after more than 30 years (my family and friends knew, but few professional colleagues did, and certainly not the wider world), I was already battling with my own lack of conviction, and now there’s Doctor Feelgood for all the world to see, I’m having to admit that I’m simply not quite the person my personal ethics want me to be.

New-born slaughtered male calf.

Vegans are right when they claim that anyone consuming dairy products or eggs is contributing to the animal death industry and the meat economy. We don’t get cow’s milk without calves being born, and those calves are slaughtered for meat. But that’s not all. There’s plenty of evidence that intensive milking puts a huge strain on cows and shortens their lives. When you think about it, drinking the milk of other creatures that’s designed for their own babies is simply insane, but we don’t think about that. If human females were constantly impregnated and kept permanently lactating, there’d be hell to pay.
I agree with vegans, but I’m not one… yet. I’ve tried a few times and lapsed. I found that a lot of vegan foods were very processed, and without my daily dose of yoghurt, my whole constitution was different, and not in a good way. My consumption of dairy products is minimal, because most of the time I drink milk substitutes, and I kid myself that eating organic means the animals are treated more kindly… but deep down, I know that’s unlikely.
These are the contradictions we live with. One day I do hope to make the jump to full veganism, but not until I’m sure I can do so without having to supplement with vitamin B injections, and not until I know I can get what I need to sustain this body from natural, unprocessed food.
In the meantime, Doctor Feelgood allows me to be just a little bit selfish, because I’m looking forward to soaking up the advice (and recipes) of my vegan brethren, as well as reading a wide range of views within these virtual pages.
Please, whatever persuasion of non-meat-eater you are, get involved. GARY STEEL

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