Weak Excuses 2

Excuses-PicYOU KNOW WHAT really cheeses me off, apart from words and phrases that use dairy and meat references to get their point across? People that give weak excuses for not being vegetarian. Unsolicited weak excuses, at that.
To me, it’s a bit like smoking: keep on doing it, or give it up, but don’t stand there making excuses.
One that keeps rotating in my mind was recently uttered by a person I generally have a lot of respect for: “I used to be a vegetarian, but it didn’t agree with me.”
In this case, “didn’t agree with me” meant that as a teenager, the person had tried out vegetarianism, and simultaneously encountered some health problems. When she resumed eating meat, those health problems ultimately went away. Making connections and drawing assumptions is part of what it is to be human, but I would like to have seen some evidence that vegetarianism and those health issues were connected, and further evidence that resuming the consumption of meat was the cure she assumes it to have been. It’s possible that she wasn’t getting enough variety in her vegetarian diet, and it’s possible that she was too reliant on one particular type of nutrition to see her right.
imagesBut no, vegetarianism “didn’t agree with me.”
Now, this person has gone on to study diet, health, nutrition, the lot, and is seriously into sports training. Her latest step is towards an even more serious form of meat consumption, the Paleo diet. I can understand the logic: many of the underlying human diseases that we habitually put up with in the 21st century stem from that time around 20,000 years ago when we settled down and cultivated crops. Before that, we were essentially nomadic, eating fresh meat and whatever greenery was wild and available. That’s bound to be healthier than modified gluten-rich grains and a diet heavy in dairy.
But even if there was some genuine benefit in attempting to eat like our ancestors (an impossibility, really) from a health and nutrition point of view, what about the ethics of meat-eating? This person is thinking only of herself, and of her performance, or that of her body. I would posit the thought that if your body is your temple, then it’s some kind of sin to ingest animal carcass, but that’s beside the point.
The point is that I’m not a vegetarian first and foremost because I think that it’s the healthiest option (although I do believe that it is, or can be), but because I don’t have to murder an animal, depriving it of its life, just for my personal vanity for some perverted kind of nostalgia for a scent or a taste I crave from childhood. Secondly, I’m a vegetarian because I know that the less meat we eat the more potential there is for the whole world to get enough to eat; and that at the moment, apart from sheer greed, the fact that the rich countries are drowning in animal gravy means that people are starving, and the environment is suffering.
article-2236768-162972C8000005DC-929_634x417Another classic is: “I used to be a vegetarian, but I was young and flatting and eating really badly, and then I met my boyfriend and he’s Mr Big Meateater From Hell, so…”
I heard this exact excuse at a function I attended yesterday. She was a nice young woman who seemed very interested in Doctor Feelgood and vegetarianism, but had strayed, as she so eloquently put it, “to the dark side”.
Of course, there are two parts to her excuse, so let’s deal with them individually. “I was young and flatting and eating really badly.” Well, yes. Totally understandable. I did the same thing those first few years away from the family home, with no cooking skills, and no understanding of the nutritional requirements to maintain my body in running order. Every vegetarian knows that it’s much quicker to throw a cut of meat on the barbecue than it is to prepare a vegetarian feast. Fast vegetarian cooking is possible, but it takes preparation, and some culinary knowledge and experience. So ideally, the young vegetarian uses the experience as a catalyst to learn the skills that will last them life-long. It is true, however, that young people tend to be more preoccupied with their love lives and careers, and consequently find it devilishly hard to keep their lives in balance.
“And then I met my boyfriend and he’s a big meat eater.” This is the big one, and the reason so many vegetarians go back on their convictions. Everybody is looking for love, but there’s no guarantee that you’ll end up with someone who shares your desire to not eat anything with a face. And if you’re with someone who eats meat, it must be a huge temptation just to do as they do – it’s way more convenient, and probably avoids arguments.
532702_10151382464436440_1378164060_nIn the wider context, it’s one’s social life that’s the biggest test of your vegetarian convictions. Choosing to be a plant eater when all your friends are into meat can be terribly challenging. Perhaps I’ve managed to weather all of that because I like my own company so much. If people can handle my vegetarianism, then I’ll put up with their flagrant denigration of other species. Otherwise, they can go jump. And it’s the same for prospective partners.
Nobody ever said it would be easy. Life is tough, and each choice you make has its implications and ramifications. But I wouldn’t bend my ethical choice – go Bonita! – for anyone. It’s time for humans to start thinking about what they eat and how they live their lives. In my view, going vegetarian is the single most effective way to potentially create a genuine ‘sea-change’, and to revolutionise the way we do things on planet earth. So that’s not something this homosapien is prepared to compromise on. GARY STEEL

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2 thoughts on “Weak Excuses

  • Gary Steel Post author

    No, but it certainly means you’re not vegan! That’s one irony of veganism – that all mammals start out drinking their mother’s milk. But of course, we’re designed to do that, just as calves are designed specifically to drink their mother’s milk… purpose made, not for human consumption.