Vegetarian Don’ts

This post was inspired by an article at Alternet titled Eating Meat Is Not Natural. I wrote a long-ass comment, but now that I am blogging again, I will turn it into a post, goddamn it! It got a good response over there, but I think my ideas were inspired by a post at Feministe, so I can’t take all the cred.

I am an omnivore. AND I completely respect and support the choices of those friends who are vegan and vegetarian, and I expect the same respect for my choices. We are all thinking adults and have come to our conclusions after careful deliberation.

I do have criticism for *some* vegans/vegetarians for the way they interact with omnivores.

1. Using gory images to try and shock omnivores into not eating meat, much the same way anti-abortion activists use shocking pictures of dismembered fetuses to make a point. It is disrespectful and in poor form for the anti-abortion activists, just as for the anti-meat activists. As a woman, I am turned off by this kind of rhetoric because of its close connection to a movement wanting to take my rights away.

2. Using the tactics of creationists to cherry-pick science and create specious pseudo-scientific arguments. We are talking about a moral choice, and it is clear that there are convincing scientific arguments for and against eating meat, as well as how long human have historically been eating it. When I see a side of an argument refuse to accept evidence simply because it contradicts a preferred world-view, I am reminded of creationists. Anyway, we all know that science can’t prove morality.

3. Using the language of the anti-gay movement. For me, as a queer person, a huge red flag goes up when I see an argument for what’s “natural” or not. Natural is a subjective and loaded term, and is often used by bigots against marginalized groups in society. Why would anti-meat activists choose such a term? Humans are also animals. We are part of nature, not separate from it. Humans and our behavior is just as natural as any other animal and their behavior.

4. Comparing meat-eaters to slave-owners, and animals to black people. As an anti-racist, it raises red flags when I hear the anti-meat argument put this way. It makes vegetarians seem as though they must all be white and privileged to be unaware of how insulting this rhetoric is to blacks. It makes me wonder why a movement would be willing to sacrifice dignity for blacks, to further marginalize an already marginalized group, in order to promote their cause.

Again, I am only speaking to those vegetarians and vegans who use this sort of disrespectful language. I have nothing but respect for those of you who respect me in return!

Please add your vegetarian/vegan dos and don’ts in the comments.

11 thoughts on “Vegetarian Don’ts

  1. So glad you’re back! Specious reasoning also is bad because it makes it look like you don’t have a good grounds for your point. It’s easily disregarded, like bosley hair club, herbal male enhancement, and whatever else they try to sell you on daytime TV.

  2. My big one would be, “Don’t suggest that meat-centric diets are why people today are (ostensibly) ‘so fat’,” and/or that “veg*nism produces weight loss.”
    I am very fat, and have been a vegan since back when many of today’s AR activists were still wearing short pants. A large number of my very fat friends are lifelong vegetarians. Fat people have existed in all societies and at all points in history, regardless of cultural diets. Changing one’s diet is unlikely to result in dramatic or permanent weight changes, and using terms like ‘overweight’ or ‘obese’, and producing representations of fatness as bad, will confirm my suspicions of ignorance and fatphobia. Despite my passion for AR and veganism, I need to be fully convinced that you welcome me, and people like me, into your movement, or I won’t participate (I’m looking at you, PETA).

  3. Thanks for your comments Vidya. Great addition. I hear *some* veggies say things like “You’ll never see a fat vegan” and there are two problems with that, which you also identify: 1. There ARE fat vegans and 2. Is being free of fat adherents supposed to be a good thing?

    Another argument to be avoided.

  4. The same logic you are using in this is that which was used against every other movement. Oh the underground railroad was ILLEGAL! The suffragists were TOO RADICAL, getting arrested all of the time! It really amazes me how people are unable to see the connection between humans and other animals. Humans are all races, sexes, orientations, and so on but we are ANIMALS. SO, comparing other animal struggles to nonhuman animal struggles is perfectly valid.

    I can only hope one day, humans will realize this and stop using it as an excuse to exploit.

    As a note, respecting one’s dietary choice to NOT contribute to cruelty, suffering, and environmental degradation is completely different than someone respecting one’s right to support those things.

    If I said, I support my feminist friends, but I chain my wife to the kitchen and expect them to support me on that, would that fly?

  5. I don’t understand your first paragraph. Different animals species have different sets of behaviors.

    Women’s equality and freedom from slavery for blacks is not equivalent to vegetarianism, and it is insulting and disrespectful that you would suggest it.

    You state that you refuse to respect my choices, no matter how carefully thought out and conscientious. You then say my choices are comparable to spousal abuse. You get no respect from me.

    Why does this small segment of vegetarians insist on making them all look bad? Veggies, I know you’re not all like this!

  6. I am not so proud and self-important that comparing animal suffering to my own insults me. Anyone who is insulted by it has self-esteem issues. There are plenty people of colors, genders, orientations, and so on that support nonhuman animal rights. To deny them in terms of being insulted is a self-centered excuse for exploitation, not an actual reason.

    Because a cow is not exactly like a human, she should be forcefully impregnated, have her babies stolen from her again and again and turned into beef and veal, so that she can be milked for dairy and cheese for humans?

    Because a monkey is not exactly like a human (despite being as intelligent as a toddler) she can be forced into surgeries, have machinery implanted in her skull, and then be killed and dissected for human interest?

    Because a chicken is unlike a human, she can be shoved into a cage and forced to lay eggs over and over again but be unable to even turn around or spread her wings, so humans can eat her periods?

    Equal consideration and equal rights are different. Just as a man does not need the right to an abortion since he can not have one, a cow does not need the right to vote. But she does deserve the right to freedom from exploitation for human greed.

    I accept your decision to eat animals, but do not respect it as some morally considered thing.

    I am not sure how being against other animal cruelty as much as I am against cruelty to humans makes veggies look bad. I know not all human rights activists are like the group on this page though, thank god. Thank god many do see the connection, or else we’d still be in the dark ages of all social movements.

    Check out this person’s entry as well:

  7. Oh and one more thing, do not forget that a large black and hispanic vote was responsible for prop 8 and there is a large female population amongst racist hate groups. Just because a comparison insults someone, it doesn’t mean that person is correct.

    If you are insulted by the idea that nonhuman animals deserve equal consideration as much as humans do, you may want to look at why that is…

  8. ARPhilo, race-baiting is not acceptable on this blog. People of color were NOT responsible for the passage of Prop 8. This topic is a derail.

    “I accept your decision to eat animals, but do not respect it as some morally considered thing.”

    The reality is that my decision is a morally considered thing. I considered the morality of it. Whether you except reality or not is your decision.

    You haven’t asked me about my thoughts on omnivorous living, so I don’t understand where your post at 2:04 comes from. Nor why you added experimentation on animals in, when that is not the topic of the post. Nor why you assume I don’t support animal rights. Nor why you repeat the same shock-stories, in the manner of anti-abortion activists, that my Vegetarian Don’t #1 covers. Do you know if I support factory farming? No you do not, because you didn’t ask.

    I enjoy your postulation that human rights wouldn’t exist without vegetarians who use offensive tactics against omnivores.

    So long as you use the tactics of the pro-life, anti-gay or creationist movements, I cannot engage in productive dialogue with you. Respect is key when having a useful conversation with someone who believes differently from you.

  9. Excuse me, racial baiting? I was just stating the demographics of the vote that passed prop 8 were mostly blacks and hispanics. It’s reality. It’s not racial baiting.

    As for your support of “factory farming” half of the things I mentioned happen on “family farms” or “organic farms”. Take a look at

    Good job ignoring everything else in my post though and diverting to insulting me then talking about “respect”. Way to make your point. It actually made me chuckle.

    Bye bye now.

  10. I don’t know where you get your information, but the claim that people of color are the reason prop 8 passed is based in racism, not statistics or facts. I know this is a derail, but I hate to let these kind of pernicious lies stand unchallenged.

    These just discusses blacks: Facts Belie the Scapegoating of Black People for Proposition 8
    Gay Marriage: If It Were Not For Those Pesky Blacks

    And here are some pertinent numbers disproving this bigoted myth:
    Below is the field poll of the voter demographics for PROP 8:

    Group % Yes % No
    Obama voters 21 73
    McCain voters 84 13
    Identify as non-partisan 31 60
    Female voters 42 51
    Male voters 46 47
    Voters over 65 62 32
    Identify as conservative 87 10
    Identify as liberal 10 86
    Identify as moderate 40 51
    Live in coastal counties 39 54
    Live in inland counties 57 37
    White non-Hispanic 44 50
    Latino 46 48
    African-American 49 43
    Asian-American 41 51
    High school education 62 27
    Post-graduate education 33 61
    Protestants 60 33
    Catholics 44 48

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