Friday, April 13, 2012

"Inconvenient Vegetarians"

When I was working on my article about veganism, one of the people I interviewed said something that really stuck with me:
"Eating is a personal decision and a personal act, but it is also a public decision and a public act," said Vasile Stanescu, a vegan expert and PhD candidate at Stanford University.

This statement is something that I have been thinking about for the past few weeks as I have transitioned into a more strict vegan diet, and I really saw it's truth this week after an article was published in The Santa Clara (yes, the school newspaper I work for) titled "Don't be Vegetarian."

It is slightly ironic that this article was run the week after my piece on vegans on campus, but I also found it to be personally offensive. I am not obnoxious about being a vegetarian (and mostly vegan) and I have not tried to coerce anyone or throw red paint on them for eating meat in the newsroom, but this article made all vegetarians seem like self-righteous people who only inconvenience other people:

"I personally feel that being a vegetarian by choice is just a huge inconvenience to others with more flexibility in their diets.

I also feel that choosing to be a vegetarian is something that only people who do not live their daily lives struggling to fill their stomachs have the privilege of making. If we were to take vegetarians and force them to live in third world conditions, you better believe they wouldn’t last as vegetarians for very long. If forced to choose between killing an animal or starving, I think our human survival instinct would kick in and nix any vegetarian tendencies.

Human beings are naturally omnivorous, meaning we are supposed to eat plants and animals."
It frustrates me that people are so against vegetarians and vegans because we "inconvenience" them by not eating everything they will or that we refuse to eat animals for moral standards they do not believe in. It's like telling me you refuse to even bother dealing with me because I am extremely allergic to peanuts and that's too big of an inconvenience to you. 

I do not understand why my personal choices of what I will and will not eat have to become politicized and discussed by people who do not have a true understanding of why I'm doing it in the first place. What we eat is incredibly personal and it has ties to our society, religion and personal beliefs. It's time for people to accept that we are all different and we all have different beliefs about what should and should not be eaten. I am not an inconvenience, I am a human being. 

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