Vegetarians

I have been a vegetarian (depending on your definition) since 16 August 2010.

It’s not that I have anything against eating meat, but my wife is a vegetarian, so when I met her, I adopted her diet. I figured that if I had made a decision not to eat something, I wouldn’t be too attracted to the person sitting opposite me if they were eating it. The majority of my life was spent eating meat, in as close to a raw state as possible.

Lieve’s definition of “Vegetarianism” wasn’t as severe as others. We eat seafood, and when I come across an interesting meat she doesn’t mind if I try it. A few years ago in Belgium, “Paard” was on the menu, so I ordered it. A lovely steak, I quite liked it. It wasn’t an experience to share with everyone, as later that week we visited a cousin, and they kept horses. Which brings to mind something my Grandfather would say. “Don’t name your food”.

Where we fit in the food chain has always been a source of interest to me. There are very few animals I have not eaten, or dishes I haven’t tried. I have hunted and killed food, as have the majority of my family. I cannot to this day understand why some people find certain foods disgusting simply because of its source.

Some of my first pets were guinea pigs, and in learning about them I found that they are eaten in South America. The thought that struck me was not horror, but humor. In my mind I saw a herd of guinea pigs running through a forest. When my two guinea pigs became forty guinea pigs, I suggested that we eat the surplus. My mother didn’t care for that idea.

When I worked in Animal Control, I noticed that there were no stray dogs in the Korean neighborhood. A colleague pointed to a rack of long brown strips drying in the Sun and said “There they are”. I read a couple of articles from animal rights groups denigrating the Koreans for eating dogs, and I could hear my Grandfather’s words. They were upset because their pets were another person’s livestock. It struck me as racism. Maybe the Koreans are disgusted that we eat chickens. Hindu’s don’t frequent McDonald’s.

The other day, in a group that is normally level headed and allegedly involved in world peace, someone posted a story about a market in China that serves cat. The responses were astounding. “Inhuman” and “Scum of the Earth” were some of the milder comments. I know that some of these people are from countries with cuisines that would not be accepted in America, so I was perplexed. They were most upset that the animal was cooked alive. Apparently none of them had ever eaten lobster.

I would never eat veal. I won’t go into how it is raised (although I have, at a table where someone ordered veal, gone into a description of the life of a veal calf), but perhaps knowing what you do about what I will eat tells you enough. I completely understand the difference between aesthetically unpleasant and inhumane, and the treatment of veal is inhumane. Yes, I realize the hypocrisy of wanting an animal to live a peaceful, gentle life right up until the moment it is herded to slaughter, but I also know that a cat is not terribly humane in the way it treats a mouse.

Humane is largely in the eye of the beholder. Halal, the only method of slaughter acceptable to Muslims, is considered inhumane by many people, mostly those who have never seen the inside of a slaughterhouse in America (and also probably people who just don’t like Muslims). Most of my friends cannot understand hunting, I guess they assume that cattle are simply lulled to sleep before they are killed, under a tree overlooking a valley of flowers. Euthanasia of animals is rarely understood, and even though ethicists argue over methods before they can be certified as humane, some methods that I would never employ are still legal. I believe that much of this is because as mortals, we are fearful of death, and want nothing to do with it, including understanding it. 

Food in general has become sanitized. The majority of school children, when asked where milk is from, say “Bottles”. Despite the call for “Organic” food, most people want “perfect”, unblemished fruits and vegetables, cleaned before reaching the consumer. Meat is butchered and wrapped in plastic before most people see it. It is widely recognized that in a major disaster, starvation will be the number one cause of death, as people simply don’t know how to feed themselves without the assistance of the “food industry” (as an example, some people have felt their only recourse is to call 911 when McDonald’s can’t fill their order).

I am an animal. My teeth and digestive processes were designed to consume other animals and plants, I can eat what I choose, and the Earth is my Supermarket.

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14 comments on “Vegetarians

  1. Sounds like one of the most balanced perspectives of human behaviour and diet I have come across.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Jade says:

    Agreed – If people can’t stomach the idea of where their food came from, and wouldn’t be able to kill it themselves, they shouldn’t be eating it. I like animals too much to ever be able to slaughter them myself, so I don’t eat them! My fiance is also an animal lover, but grew up on a farm. He eats what he shoots, and I accept that. Greed should not take precedence over your own moral code. Jx

    Liked by 1 person

  3. lievemc says:

    this is the song I was thinking of Miike Snow’s Animal … https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mVWeqAPQUXc

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I believe this paragraph says it all, especially the last sentence:

    “Humane is largely in the eye of the beholder. Halal, the only method of slaughter acceptable to Muslims, is considered inhumane by many people, mostly those who have never seen the inside of a slaughterhouse in America (and also probably people who just don’t like Muslims). Most of my friends cannot understand hunting, I guess they assume that cattle are simply lulled to sleep before they are killed, under a tree overlooking a valley of flowers. Euthanasia of animals is rarely understood, and even though ethicists argue over methods before they can be certified as humane, some methods that I would never employ are still legal. I believe that much of this is because as mortals, we are fearful of death, and want nothing to do with it, including understanding it. “

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Tara says:

    “I read a couple of articles from animal rights groups denigrating the Koreans for eating dogs, and I could hear my Grandfather’s words. They were upset because their pets were another person’s livestock. It struck me as racism.”

    Except that what you write here is a rather profound misrepresentation of an animal rights perspective. If a MEAT EATER were to recoil in disgust at the thought of eating dog or cat, THAT is an “ism” (not always race based, could be a cultural bigotry or an ethnic one, but could also certainly be racism).

    But an animal rights perspective (that you say the piece you accuse of being racist) would be (and IS) just as appalled by the use of cows, chickens, dogs, pigs, guinea pigs, etc who are all stabbed in the throat and whose bodies are served on plates.

    I just wanted to address the very erroneous assertion that it would be an animal rights perspective that would be racist here. Far from it. It would be those that eat and exploit animals daily that would be applying biased judgment to this behavior. In other words, it would be the meat eaters and vegetarians who are being bigoted for balking at the use of dogs and cats when they do the same thing. Animal Rights folks balk at ALL animal exploitation and abuse, no matter the species.

    Liked by 1 person

    • kblakecash says:

      So what you’re saying, Tara, is that racism is acceptable if it perpetuates a view that you find acceptable (animal rights in this case).

      Not having the now thirty year old articles available, I cannot provide them as reference, but what was being stated was that eating dogs was uniquely cruel, set against a (false) back-story of a family out for a picnic with the family pet, which they suddenly hung from a tree and ate. There are many animal rights supporters who are carnivores, the piece was designed to assault Koreans for their choice of meat. Just as the story about eating cats in China. That story was not presented by an animal rights group, but a human rights group.

      Using dietary practices as a source for racism is wrong. Animals eat what is available, humans are animals. You may recoil at carnivores, but to attack them for their choices is intolerant. Just as it is intolerant to make fun of vegetarians, vegans, or fruitarians. A number of people who eat meat are disgusted by octopus or escargot, but they don’t denigrate the people who eat them.

      I would suggest to you that “Animal Rights Folk” is not a certification, there are infinite points along the spectrum. I have yet to meet anyone who professes to be against animals, particularly those who choose to eat them.

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      • Tara says:

        Um, no. Its not racism if the judgement is not limited only to those who are culturally/racially/ethnically distinct, ut rather a criticism of an overal act that crosses all racial, ethnic and cultural boundaries.

        If the judgement is applied to ALL animal exploitation, then its not racism to point out how horrifying an individual would find eating cat or dog, because that person would be (if they are animal rights proponents) equally horrified by the eating of a cow, or a cchicken, or a fish or any animal that ANY culture might find it acceptable to eat.

        Its generally the omnivores and vegetarians that decide that the exploitation that is culturally familiar to them is ok while the exploitation that their culture frowns upon is not….not the Animal Rights proponents.

        And no. there really are no animal rights people who are “carnivores” (very innaccurate label, but in the interest of communication, I will use your term). There are animal WELFARISTS who might eat meat or dairy, but not rights.

        That was what I was critiquing here: I get the overall point you may have been trying to make, but by not knowing the meanings of the labels you were using, you ended up being incredibly inaccurate in what you were saying.

        “Attacking” a person who elects to have living beings killed for a flavor preference (which in most parts of the world, is what it amounts to) is certainly open to assessment by those that do not. Just like any other choice. Having one’s ethics pointed out and questioned isn’t really an attack.

        And if you don’t think that the term ANimal Rights does mean something, I strongly urge you to look into it further. The term very much does have a meaning….as do all words. Animal right in no way whatsoever means “animal fancier” or “animal welfarist” or even just “animal lover”. That is what I meant by you apparently not being clear on what these things mean before attributing an entire way of thinking to people that – by definition – wouldn’t be limiting their criticism to only one culture’s approach to killing. Because that limited approach would be (and IS) racist. But AR folks don’t limit their criticisms to culturally based leanings on this issue, and are therefore not basing their judgement of food choices on anything that has to do with what color skin someone has or what culture someone comes from. In fact, its ISMs in ALL forms that AR folks actively fight. Speciesism is simply one of the ISMs that Animal Rights people work diligently against.

        So yes, I took exception to your misremembering who wrote the piece, and misrepresenting who WOULD even write the piece. You got that part very wrong. Sorry, but you did.

        Liked by 1 person

        • kblakecash says:

          Tara, I couldn’t give you the author’s name, but it was in a PETA publication in 1985.

          If it had focused on the practice, it would not have been as offensive even though the practice is largely confined to Korea.

          You may have a definition of Animal rights, but the other seven billion humans on the planet all define it their own way. That’s how PETA stays in business, if they only allowed the extremists, they’d be a much smaller organization.

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          • Tara says:

            Given that Peta ALSO fights against the practice of killing cows and chickens and fish and all animals for food, they are (were, really, as they have absolutely become welfarists in the past 15 years, NOT Animal Rights), that goes with what I was saying. That they have become primarily a welfarist (and incredibly hypocritical) organization in the last 15-20 years is a shame, but they are not animal rights, according to what the movement actually means and intends.

            But then, many people have issues with Peta’s approaches on a lot of things.

            And no, this is not MY definition of animal rights. The phrase has a meaning. Its a movement and a belief system.

            There are people that are Christians. I don’t happen to be one of them, but I also don’t run around defining it any way I want to and telling christians that they don’t get to decide what it means when the stuff I make up contradicts their actual meaning. Same goes for Atheists, for that matter. Words and phrases do have meanings. And Animal Rights has a very specific meaning. Vegetarian has a specific meaning. Lots of words do have meanings that people like to try to bend, but that doesn’t mean those trying to bend the meaning are successful. It just means they tried.

            Liked by 1 person

            • kblakecash says:

              Wow. Very well stated Tara. You used some of the same words I had in mind. I am a Christian, and am annoyed by the mis use and abuse of that term.

              I greatly admire your dedication to your ideals, even while not agreeing with them. Keep in mind, the point of this article was tolerance, not diet.

              Would you mind if I continued this conversation via email? I have some questions about the “belief system” and I have your email address from your comments.

              Like

              • Tara says:

                I got heated up because while I did see that your point was tolerance (racial/ethnic/cultural), or at least non bias, you were inadvertently creating even more bias against a group by thoroughly misrepresenting their viewpoint. So while your intentions may have been to increase tolerance, the impact was the opposite.

                This was especially troubling since in Animal Rights, the ideal is that there is NO one culture that has the moral high ground on this issue. An Animal Rights group might use cultural bias to point out the listener’s own habit of killing, and use the image of killing, skinning and eating a dog to shock the listener into seeing that what they do to cows is no better. But that’s using the *listener’s* bias to open their eyes to the fact that they do the same thing.

                But I see from your comments on another blog page that tolerance isn’t really what you’re after anbyway. Unless calling someone else’s beliefs “denial” and “weak” is some fancy new baseline for “tolerance”?

                Liked by 1 person

                • kblakecash says:

                  Gee Tara, it doesn’t sound like you’re interested in polite or honest conversation. You confirm my earlier impression of Animal Rights folks. Would you prefer to provide some context for your accusation, or be blocked? I’ve given you time and space, but you’re becoming tedious.

                  Like

                  • Tara says:

                    That was my error, and I apologize. Your screen name was very similar to one on another page where the person was being very judgmental. I tried to edit my comment to remove that part once I realized the error, but your comments section does not allow that.

                    I apologize for that comment. Block me if you will. I am done with this conversation anyway. I’m posting this because I feel it is important to own one’s errors and to take responsibility for them. Beyond that, this has been going in circles for several responses now.

                    The comment I made was in error, but was specific to what I thought was *your* comments. Notice I was not saying “all meat eaters” or “all Christians”, but was specifically pointing out what I *thought* was something *you* said. However, your latest comment makes it clear that you would take ANYTHING said by an individual and use that to paint an entire group with your reaction to it, This – ironically – does seem to point towards your own willingness to leap to stereotyping and bias here. I was responding to a specific individual: you were very quick to attempt to label an entire group.

                    So, the irony is that by being so quick to paint an entire group due to my error, you did in fact show that tolerance may not be what you were after in the end anyway.

                    enjoy.

                    Liked by 1 person

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