On the Varieties of Vegetarian Experience.

Ten Reasons to go vegetarian:

1. To boost your anti-corporate activist cred.
2. To protest in the nude for PETA someday.
3. You’re a cheapass mofo.
4. To pick up on bepierced and tattooed babes/dudes at the vegan grill.
5. To help meatpackers survive through unemployment.
6. What Would Buddha Do?
7. To save the planet by reducing bovine flatulence.
8. To be contrarian.
9. To fit into those skinny jeans all the emo kids wear.
10. You’re just not into lagoons of pigshit.
11. You have romantic notions of cattle frolicking through the fields.
12. All the cool kids are doing it, c’mon!

Okay, so that was twelve. Feel free to add a few of your own.

After a week of being in vegetarian mode, I see no reason to stop. I only had one slip up last week, which I realized in the middle of sharing a delicious curry chicken salad sandwich with Isaac. Call me vegetarian if you want. It will be my primary consideration in my choice of eats.

Only I’m not going to be a dogmatic vegetarian. I’m going to allow myself a once a week meat binge if I so desire, and let me tell you why. I’m turned off by the aspects of vegetarianism and veganism that resemble institutional religion, and I’ve had some bad, bad experiences with God. Proselytize some anti-animal dogma, and I’ll be eating some Hawaiian BBQ before you can say “Spam Musubi.” Don’t argue, it’s not a rational thing.

Thankfully, most of my vegetarian friends give me the low pressure sale, preaching more through example than through word. And for me, my approach to eating is indeed dictated in large part by the social factors. Several of the people I care the most about, including CatGirl, are strict vegetarians. On the flip side, some of my closest friends are avid meat eaters, and some of our cherished moments focus on communally feasting upon prepared flesh. I’m loathe to give up this connection. So my proposal is to shift from my ungoverned eating of meat and unmeat to giving myself a once per week social allowance, so that Isaac and I can relish our genuine Jewish deli Reubens, or the Motikas and Alana and I can enjoy our ritual platter of Korean barbeque *together*, which is the key term. It’s the commensal aspects of dining that I am most loathe to give up. Hell, an entire religion was founded on commensality and on dining together on the Founder’s flesh.

Also, my head and hands are kind of heavier than usual tonight. Thankfully, the majority of alcoholic beverages require no animal involvement…

38 thoughts on “On the Varieties of Vegetarian Experience.

  1. I quit eating beef a few years ago, mostly because I got an irrational fear of mad cow disease after reading too many books. I’m not too dogmatic about it, though, and if I’m at someone’s place for a nice dinner and they didn’t know about my no-beef tendency… well, they already made the food, and I’d prefer not to dampen a pleasant evening with my irrational fears. I suppose this sort of thing can become a bad habit- for instance, I’m much more likely to eat lots of junk food when someone else offers it to me than if I have to pay money for it.

  2. Yeah, it depends on your reasons for being vegetarian. If you are against killing animals, then you can see why some people are strict vegetarian. As for me though, my reasons are mostly environmental and economic, so a bit of meat is fine. If we could get everyone to eat less meat that would solve 99% of the problems without causing too much impact on their habits.

  3. I used to be pretty dogmatic, but I hope I’ve moved beyond it. However, it’s a major ethical issue for me, so I don’t make exceptions. I bring my own food to share when eating with friends so nobody has to feel discomfited. I can find something to eat in any restaurant. I used to rant ‘n’ rave, trying to bully people into adopting my philosophy, but I’ve largely backed off as I’ve realized it’s both ineffectual and not exemplary of the kind of person I want to be.

    That being said, I do want to drop this hard line. I think it becomes very confusing when there are a lot of vegetarians-who-eat-meat running around. If you still eat meat, it would be common sense that you wouldn’t define yourself as a vegetarian. Personally, it irritates me greatly when people refer to themselves as vegetarian-but.

    I do not enjoy playing veggie police officer, and that is not my intention here. It’s wonderful that you wish to reduce your meat consumption so dramatically. In my opinion, there’s a trend (and Bittman is part of it) of people wanting to have the title of vegetarian or vegan without accepting most of the responsibility or taking action in most of the expected ways – like not eating meat! To me, this is a very simple thing. If you don’t eat meat, you’re a vegetarian. If you do, you aren’t. I hope that doesn’t sound dogmatic (I keep writing godmatic!). For me it’s mainly that I like words to really mean something. I hate it when I tell people that I’m a vegetarian and they think I eat chicken, or beef once a week, and almost certainly fish, because so-and-so’s second-cousin’s brother-in-law’s “vegetarian” wife does so. It *means something* to be a vegetarian. Can you see why it might be important to keep these terms meaningful?

    I admit to skidding my own on this issue. I hesitantly identify as a vegan, but I do consume local honey. For a long time after I made that decision, I didn’t call myself a vegan. I just said that I had a plant-based diet. That was because I wanted to honor the meaning of the word “vegan.” But I’ve adopted the term again, although I always make it clear that many vegans consider honey an animal product. I guess you could say I’m a vegan-but. So I obviously don’t follow my own advice as outlined above. This is an issue I struggle with quite a bit. Most of the time I wish I lived in a world free of labels and the judgments we apply to them. But we don’t, so we have to do the best we can to be consistent.

    I hope this isn’t anti-animal dogma, as you say. I really don’t intend to be offensive or hurtful. I just feel that there is great value in retaining the purpose and message of these choices. And I hope that others will respect that, so that when I tell people that I choose not to eat animals or their byproducts, it will penetrate further than the assumption that, like that guy in the NYT or the lady down the hall, I will eat meat when it’s convenient or pleasurable for me.

    OKAY. That was long, boring, and probably easily interpreted as self-righteous.

    Also, many veg*ns consider PETA’s “I’d rather be naked” campaign as shifting exploitation of animals to women. Some vegans have even formed a group opposing PETA’s activities. Not all veg*ns approve of or support PETA; fighting that misconception consumes a ridiculous portion of my conversations with curious omnivores. Good luck with that. :)

    Despite all of what I wrote above, I very much agree with your assessment of vegetarianism becoming a religion for some people. It IS an integral part of my ethical framework. But as I said above, I do try to be more compassionate than to assume that everyone but me is wrong. Maybe someday I’ll be able to relax on the definition as seems to come so easily for some.

  4. I understand the issue, Chandelle. It’s a lot like ECS’s discussion a few months ago at FMH. Labels can mean communities, and communities are in part defined by a set of actions.

    I wonder, to push John’s religion analogy a little bit further, if we’re seeing a fracturing of the label, like happened with Judaism in the past few centuries. The pressures on the community were similar — a large group of people wanted to claim the label, and to follow some of the rules, but not to follow all of the rules as then understood. And the result was the fracturing into different subgroups — orthodox Jews, reform Jews, and so on. And there’s quite a bit of argument between the groups, particularly arguments from orthodox Jews along the lines of “real Jews do not ___” and that reform Jews are not real Jews. And it is clearly frustrating for orthodox observers, that people are willing to grant the label to shrimp-eating reform Jews. And yet most of the world is happy to grant the label to both groups (and to other groups like the conservative Judaism movement). And it’s clear, 200 years later, that the world gets along just fine with multiple communities of Jews, each of whom define their community differently.

    So, I don’t know. I understand your frustration about label precision, I think it’s very understandable. But personally, I tend to be more of a label-inclusivist, like ECS and her claiming of the vegan label despite eating honey. Groups and words are what we make of them. There’s too much exclusion already: Mormons aren’t real Christians, feminists aren’t real Mormons, Reform aren’t real Jews, Log Cabin Republicans aren’t real conservatives. Why add more? John’s gesture is a good faith one, and makes sense to me.

    p.s. “Godmatic” = awesome. :)

  5. That’s why I like the term locavore–it represents (for me at least) the conscious choices I make to support local farmers and an occasional splurge on locally-sourced meat/fish, honey, dairy, etc. For example, I will choose a conventionally-grown apple from a local farmer over an organic one grown in Chile.

  6. My reasons for being vegetarian are based on ethical concerns (reducing suffering, not profiting from or being complicit in the death of other life-forms), so I don’t make exceptions. If that makes me a “dogmatic” or “inflexible” vegetarian, so be it. I don’t usually bring up my vegetarianism unless someone tries to feed me meat, though. I worry that it’s because I’m embarrassed by my ethical stance, and wonder if I should be more outspoken about it.

  7. I definitely do not intend to be exclusionary. I hesitated to write any of that for that exact issue. I didn’t express myself very well.

    Sean, I struggle with that issue so much, because I used to so militant about my beliefs and really pretty hateful of meat-eaters. I played around with cheese and eggs for a year in an attempt to be more moderate in my approach; I was tired of feeling both left out and hostile and the cycle thus created. I ended up shifting back to a vegan diet & philosophy, but it was important for me to gain a mindful middle ground with other people. I don’t relent on my standards now, but I don’t often talk about this issue, even though it is so enormously important to me, unless asked (although I will write about it), and then I try to keep it very civil, welcoming and non-condemnatory. I doubt that you’re embarrassed by your choice so much as that it’s exceptionally difficult to find a peaceful way to discuss it. I blame PETA for that, in part, because their hostile, exploitive and confrontational point of view has been the face of vegetarianism for a long time.

  8. I also want to point out that after I made peace with my ethics and with others who don’t agree, I didn’t feel left out or hostile anymore. So it would be easy for me, now, to go to a Korean BBQ or similar gluttonous meat-fest :) and just have a salad or whatever. I’ve been able to transcend the issue of what everyone’s eating and just be happy to be with others. Many people do worry that they’d feel left out if they don’t eat meat; breaking bread (or bones) is a pretty major part of our culture. But it is possible to be the only person in the room abstaining without it becoming a confrontation on either side. We’ve all had practice with this as the only sober Mormon in a bar. What? Just me?

  9. Isaac, thanks–I’ve been needing to read me some Bittman. :)

    I have to apologize if I seemed dismissive or confrontational with some categories of vegetarianism. I don’t like being pressured or manipulated by anyone, and I think my point was a personal description, that the sheer ornery part of me would be likely to react with childish petulance to such approaches.

    I like that there is debate regarding the terms. If they’re too rigid, then people like me are unlikely to feel like we can move towards those ethics; if they’re too malleable, then they lose meaning. So maybe we need the dynamic tug of war over those terms.

    I appreciate the discussion here, it has me thinking of ways to take the discussion:

    1) A lot of us have been burned by religion. What religious-like social behaviors and attitudes (dogmatism, insider/outsider status, ritual boundary creation, etc.) are problematic when applied to secular areas of our lives? When are they good things?

    2) What are others’ personal experiences with determining when it’s ok to take another life to better/sustain our own? This is something I’ve struggled with in my past attempts to avoid becoming complicit in taking life–anytime we step outside, purchase a home, drink purified water, etc. we’re complicit in the death of something. How do you all draw lines?

    Should I post these questions as separate posts?

    Anyhow, I’m grateful to the quiet examples that Jana, CatGirl, Chandelle, ECS, Sean, Helena, Carolyn/Sharine, and other friends have set. I’ll come around eventually. :)

  10. Chandelle: With all due respect, there is some social separation between the sober Mormon and the drunks. I’m not arguing that this means that people shouldn’t engage in ethical acts that result in separation (I pretty strongly try to avoid talking bad about people behind their backs, and this has isolated me in some group situations), but that we should be aware that some ethical choices do create some social barriers (which you do recognize and which you have tried to minimize). I am making the personal observation that for me, the sense of camaraderie around some types of eating is stronger than my ethics. Also, my celebration of my Japanese heritage (which is strongly tied to food) is more important to me *at this point in my life* than becoming a perfect vegetarian.

    Hehe. I guess that makes me a cafeteria vegetarian, or a Sunday omnivore.

    Again, for my personal journey, this is a big change–moving away from unrestricted meat eating, towards one that is much more thoughtful, more respectful of animal life.

  11. John, I will try to answer your second question. (The first one is way too complicated; it deserves its own post. And this one probably does, too, but I’ll take a shot at it.)

    You asked:

    “What are others’ personal experiences with determining when it’s ok to take another life to better/sustain our own? This is something I’ve struggled with in my past attempts to avoid becoming complicit in taking life–anytime we step outside, purchase a home, drink purified water, etc. we’re complicit in the death of something. How do you all draw lines?”

    To me, the only ethical reason to destroy a life is to save a life. Personally, I think I would still struggle with the issue even if I was at death’s door, because of my own ideas about the equations of life. But that ethic makes sense to me in applying it broadly.

    I don’t believe that any animal death is required to better our lives. When I think about the “sacrifices” I’ve made to try to live in line with my values, I realize that they haven’t been sacrifices at all. I like meat. I love eggs and cheese. Many people make hard assumptions about a diet that excludes these products. But my diet is nothing but a pleasure. It is not a sacrifice. I never miss animal products. I don’t mind living without leather shoes or wool coats. These choices are easy when placed alongside the consequences of slavishly following after superfluous desires. As for medicine, I can’t say that I’ve made up my mind on that issue. For right now I avoid traditional medicinal preparations that are made from animals.

    Of course, I do realize, and often state, that there’s no such thing as pure veganism. It’s impossible to live in the world without destroying life. This is painful to realize. I remember picking some home-grown veggies last year and inadvertently destroying a cocoon. It was a very sad experience for me, and also very profound – it illustrated very succinctly the intertwined nature of life and death. Since adopting Buddhist practice I’ve come to respect this even more.

    But rather than causing me to throw up my hands and say to hell with it, bring on the bacon, it’s affirmed my commitment to avoiding the *deliberate* destruction of life as much as I can. Every life is truly precious, from a plant to an insect to an animal to a human. But every life is also mundane and unexceptional. Melding these two ideas makes it essential that we respect each life, and allow each life to endure if it does not threaten our own, while honoring their impermanence.

    For me, the primary question at hand is my own complicity. I destroy life every time I leave the house, but I *never* do so with intent. If I chose to eat the flesh and reproductive byproducts of animals, there would exist a direct line of harm from my hand to the creature. I would have set my intention for the death of that animal, celebrated its loss, and gorged myself in its leavings. That, to me, is very different from accidentally stepping on an ant on my way to the mailbox.

    No animal would choose to sacrifice its life for you. It frustrates me to hear Pollanites wax poetic about the pastoral “sacrifice” made by the animal. It wasn’t a sacrifice; it was a theft. That chicken didn’t toddle over to the stump and expose its neck for you. If she had any idea what was coming, she would have run. Her imperative to survive is just as profound and intense as yours. That life deserves to be respected, and not squandered for your craving. (General “your” here.)

    Humans in the Western world do not require animals to die to be sustained in their own lives. My children teach me this lesson. They’ve never consumed meat, eggs or animal milk. They are consistently healthy, intelligent, and physically normal. To me, this is the bottom line regarding the necessity of animal death in our own sustenance. Nutrition is never so important as during the first years of life. It’s not essential to destroy animals to survive (at least in our privileged society – I’m not informed enough to comment on other places). And I believe that it’s unethical to destroy animals *except* to survive. So it’s clear to me that the choice to do so for pleasure, culture, tradition, convenience, boredom, lack of creativity, or any other excuse, is wrong.

    That’s where I draw my hard, cold bitch of a line.

    (Please, nobody ask inane questions like, “What would happen to all the farm animals if everyone went vegan!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” I’m speaking purely of ethics here, not of practicality. I don’t expect the world – even most of it – even some of it – to go vegan. I do have the ability to apply this ethic practically to my life, which is simply that I do the best I can within my infinitesimal microcosm. )

  12. Thanks, Chandelle, for sharing your boundaries so clearly. I admire your level of self-awareness and how carefully you’ve thought this through. This is a question that I’ve returned to again and again. I’ve definitely come to my own set of conclusions that I think are ultimately more cynical and fatalistic (compared with you, but maybe more idealistic when compared to most Westerners) about my complicity and participation in this omnivorous, capitalist, humanist, classist, racist, sexist society I am a part of.

  13. DH & I often eat vegetarian without consciously seeking it out. Sometimes I will say that I or we “try” to be vegetarian, to imply that we don’t always eat vegetarianly, but mostly do. I wonder if, like “locovore,” which implies a preference for closer rather than farther, “vegevore” might better describe this.

    I sympathize with Chandelle’s desire for the labels to mean something, and totally get where she’s coming from (godmatic or not ;), but at the same time, think that most people would benefit from a mostly rather than a totally vegetarian diet.

    ‘Course, that said, I’m in Germany right now where everything is made of meat. I think today’s brunch was the first meal I’ve had since I got here that could be called close to vegetarian: a mozzarella sandwich with mayo. But I also know that it’s all local.

  14. What I think some people miss is that dramatic change over large demographics is almost always incremental. There may be moments of sea change and dramatic swings in attitudes at moments of crisis, but otherwise it’s a series of baby steps. When one looks at the advice of someone like Bittman (and others)–first, they are trying to solve a specific problem. Second, the advice is still good advice for incremental change, even if they don’t mean it. The article I linked at the beginning of this discussion is his suggestion for how to not be so meat-centric. Things like not building the meal around meat are literally revolutionary for some people. But it’s also an amazing first step. If instead of steak, I am making bean stew which includes prosciutto, I can easily say “geeze, I don’t even really need the prosciutto” because the meal is otherwise vegetables than to say “I’m going to get rid of the bulk of my meal.” I think these things are important. Some people have the drive, desire, and ability to change over night–but most people change with incremental progress.

  15. I absolutely agree with what you’ve said, Isaac. I encourage people to make small changes, to do what they can, to educate themselves – I support the idea that every little bit counts. But I don’t believe the label of “vegetarian” applies to this practice. Surely people can commit to reducing meat in their diet, for whatever reason, without attaching a label to it that just confuses it for everyone. I understand the desire to set oneself apart from a meat-centric environment, but it’s simple enough to say, “I don’t eat meat very often,” or “I’m moving toward a vegetarian diet,” rather than saying, “I’m a vegetarian, except I eat meat once a week, and at restaurants, and on holidays, and basically whenever it’s convenient or pleasurable for me.” It’s really kind of disrespectful to, and perhaps ignorant of, the actual commitment. I know a lot of vegetarians who “slip” and sometimes eat meat, but they still have the commitment. That’s different from saying, “I’m a vegetarian but I eat meat, and I don’t see a problem with it, and I don’t intend to stop.”

  16. As a biology enthusiast, I’ve come to appreciate the balances inherent in ecosystems and the roles humans play in maintaining and upsetting those balances. I suppose this relates to Chandelle’s principle that it is ethical to take life only when saving other life. As we have replaced the top predators in many ecosystems, prey (like deer and elk) have become so abundant in places that areas once covered by aspen and willow are now grasslands because all the seedlings are eaten by herbivores. For reasons like this, I think hunting can be good because it brings us closer to that balance. Also, most domesticated plants and animals have coevolved with humans for millenia- because these species are attractive to humans as food and companions, they leave more surviving offspring, so it’s actually evolutionarily advantageous to be a really excellent type of human food. I work in a lab studying the ecology of invasive species, in particular a snail that clogs up renewable power generation equipment and outcompetes a lot of native species to become the dominant benthic invertebrate. I don’t feel bad about killing the snails after experiments. I do feel bad about euthanizing the trout I sometimes use to look at effects of species interactions, even though I believe the research is important. I’m glad I do, and I think the act of killing itself should always feel wrong, even if it’s for a good purpose. As long as you can minimize pain, though, I think that killing animals is often necessary and not inherently less ethical than killing plants. I do think that it’s important to minimize our impact on the earth, and if I were to become vegetarian, it would be for that reason (transfer of energy from one trophic level to another is about 10% efficient, so it takes about 10x as much land for you to eat meat as it does for you to eat plants).

  17. Okay, I’m going to probably freak everyone out here, but I have to say this: being vegetarian as a choice is a sign of a certain level of affluence. When you can CHOOSE not to eat something, for whatever reason, you’re already better off than more than half the world.
    Am I opposed to vegetarian/veganism? Heck no. I was a vegan for 2 years, and a veg-head for 10. But then I realized that others didn’t have the choices I do. And while vegan, I missed cheese. And as a vegetarian, I missed deer…and elk….and antelope. (Hey, I’m a Montana girl!).

  18. Melissa, you’re right, and that’s why I made it clear in my comments that I’m referring to those living in privileged countries such as our own. But even from the point of view of poverty in the Western world, veg*nism has validity. Plant foods that should make up the bulk of a healthy diet – vegetables, fruits, legumes, whole grains, nuts and seeds, etc. – are the cheapest foods almost anywhere, and also some of the easiest to obtain locally.

  19. leisurelyviking, I really appreciate your comment. I follow the freakanomics blog, which is constantly pointing out the complexities of the systems we live in and some of the counterintuitive or unintended consequences of our actions. I think that this contributes to why I have a hard time drawing ethical lines on issues like this, and it encourages me to devote more effort to trying to understand these interactions.

  20. hmmmm. freakonomics.

    Also, got those comments for you, Chandelle. Thank you for engaging this issue head on. We definitely have different approaches, but I think they are both worth exploring, and that we may reach more people between us. :)

  21. I was an “almost-vegetarian” for about a year some while back (meaning I didn’t eat any red meat or chicken, but allowed eggs and dairy and fish), but mostly gave it up because it was really hard to maintain; it got really boring! Making it as a vegan would (for me anyway) require a lot more creative energy than I’m usually willing to put into planning and creating meals. Most days I tend to be pretty lazy.

    I also came to the awareness that we are predators; that in order for me to survive, something has to die. I can respect those that draw the line at vegetable, but FOR ME, it’s somewhat of an arbitrary distinction. I evolved with canine teeth, designed by natural selection to consume flesh. And let’s face it — I really ENJOY the taste of a wide variety of animal products. Food FOR ME is as much about enjoyment as it is about nutrition. We evolved to the top of the food chain. Of course we have a responsibility to be ethical and sensible about our stewardship at the top. But should I feel guilty about being there?

    So some days I celebrate life with awesome squash soup or a tossed green salad piled high with avocado and home-grown tomatoes, other days with some yummy salmon, and still others with spaghetti made with lots of squash and mushrooms and onion and garlic and tomatoes and a little ground beef.

    I make an effort to make my diet more vegetable than animal, mostly for health reasons. And I buy eggs from my neighbor, whose chickens free-roam his back yard. Some days I put skim milk on my breakfast cereal; other days it’s soy milk. I also try to limit the amount of refined sugars and processed foods in my diet. I also go out of my way to support local farmers. I ride my bike to work when I can. I mostly drink water, out of the tap (but I live in Utah where it also tastes good; I grew up in So. Cal. where it was pretty nasty).

    Anyway, I applaud your move toward a more vegetable diet John, and I admire folks like Chandelle who can fully live off a vegetable diet (it certainly is much healthier to do so).

  22. I smiled when I saw your reference to boring vegetarianism, Rich. :) I’ve been cooking this way for quite a while now. I love to cook, I think I’m pretty adventurous, and I run a food blog so I feel compelled to come up with new dishes all the time. I rarely make anything twice. I have an attention deficit when it comes to duplicate dinners. But man, I DO remember my ardent college vegetarianism, when I “lived” (barely) on Top Ramen, endless vegetable soup (a crapload of random veggies dumped in a pot with some plastic-packed broth, then boiled to death), and soy lattes. Ah! those were NOT the days. I do realize why some people might believe vegetarianism is pretty nasty and boring. But for me, I’m still a hedonist and glutton at heart, and if my food didn’t taste pretty damn good, all the ethics in the world could not make me continue as a vegan. Now I try to win people to veganism primarily by inducing food-gasms.

  23. Chandelle, I’m pretty sure if you were my spousal unit I would have far less of a problem living the vegan life! Food-gasms indeed! :o)

    My Swedish wife however has introduced me to way too many good cheeses and yogurts to even think of abandoning dairy. And the thought of giving up honey would pretty much kill me. There is NOTHING better in the whole wide world than ripe avocado spread over wheatberry toast and drizzled with clover honey. Pure tastebud heaven!

  24. I haven’t given up honey, which is my one area of contention as a vegan. Actually, I’ve never met a vegan who doesn’t eat honey, but I know they’re out there, hating me. :) I do love honey and I like to buy it from local farmers with backyard bees. But you totally grossed me out with your description of honey-drizzled avocado. That’s just wrong, dude. Then again, avocado is one of the few foods I really dislike (along with turnip greens and lychees – it’s true, I’m not perfect).

  25. I feel compelled to mock (knowing beforehand that it’s wrong to mock) those vegans who refuse to consume honey, seeing it as an animal product. I mean, it’s made from bee spit for crying out loud! Since when does the consumption of saliva (or perhaps vomit is a better term) constitute the violation of “the prime directive”?

    It logically follows that any who engage in sexual activity, including kissing (thereby exchanging bodily fluids) are, by definition, hypocrites! ;)

  26. In “The Omnivore’s Dilemma,” Michael Pollan asked whether the animals which are killed in fields during mechanical harvesting of plants don’t count because we don’t consume them.

    Is it the death, the consumption, or that we have to draw the line somewhere?

  27. Of course they matter. But as I said above, there’s a difference between deliberate, institutionalized, and unnecessary destruction, and accidental, individual destruction.

  28. Sorry, I should have made it clear I wasn’t attacking.

    I’m just saying that the harvesting of grain, for example, requires the death of many many animals. Deliberate, institutionalized, and unnecessary vs. accidental seem like things which could be argued.

  29. I’m sorry; I was just leaving a quick comment and it sounded more brusque than I intended. :)

    You have a good point, and in the industrial setting, this issue could and should be argued. On a small scale, however, there are many alternative farming methods that not only preserve animal life, but also protect and enrich the soil (while industrial deep-tilling has the opposite effect, causing erosion and other soil degradations as well as, yep, the destruction of countless small animals and their habitat), while producing similar yields. The animal issue is just one more reason why I choose to buy from small-scale farmers when I can. I don’t think our first response to the issue of accidental animal death should be resignation and indulgence.

  30. Ah, go vegan. I was just browsing ’round here and found your Adam Ant video. Anyone who loves Adam is a friend of mine. BTW, “loathe” is a verb – for your article here, you’ll need the adjective “loath.” Veganism makes you smarter. Veganism AND Adam Ant make you sexier.

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