I have something to confess: I’m not vegan; not even vegetarian. I know, shame on me! Well, maybe not. But in any case I’m not proud of it. For me, vegetarians and especially vegans, they are role models. I admire those people who gave up eating meat or using animal products in general only to follow their principles. Or, at least, I admire most of them.
But why should I admire them? They are so annoying! They make it always so difficult to find a place to eat out… and they passively point to us, animal eaters, as heartless beings capable to kill other sentient beings for the sole purpose of our enjoyment. My dear! This is not a nice accusation! Even when they don’t say it directly. We don’t like to feel like this! This is why part of the animal eaters disregard them as freaks, extremists, or even fanatics. This way we can ignore the implicit accusation based on who does it, not based on its content. That’s a good way not to think about the reasons behind being vegetarian or vegan. That’s a good way to lie to ourselves. Nevertheless, this accusation is true. We are killing other sentient beings for the sole purpose of our enjoyment.
Wait! Health! We need to eat meat in order to be healthy. Well, ask vegans how they feel… Sure, they are not really trustworthy, they are kind of freaks, right? Let’s look at it with another angle: in some states of India, at least 70% of the people are vegetarians, and 27% of the whole country are vegans . Not enough? Then go to any dietitian and ask: if you are vegan you have to pay more attention to what you eat, since it is easy to lack vitamin B12 and some other nutrient. But with a bit of care and some nutritional technology —e.g. many plant foods are fortified with B12– this is not more than an excuse as they normally enjoy far healthier lives than meat-eaters. And, by the way, if you put as excuse that you want to be an all-natural, and that food additives are not for you, you can always eat insects. Eating insects basically is trolling veganism. It is not a way to troll it 100%, but it trolls veganism a lot. You eat animals but, how sentient are them? Are plants much less sentient than insects? Sure, you don’t need to kill most of the plants in order to eat them, but you do need to kill some. As I said, it is a very good way to troll veganism. And it is a really very good alternative to “normal” meat in all aspects. I may write about it in another post but, for now, if you care about sustainability, “evolved animals”, or your health: eat insects.
Let’s go back to the topic. Why do I admire vegans and vegetarians? –Sorry, let me group vegetarians and vegans in one name to make my life easier. From now on I will call them veggiers–. It is easy, what are the reasons to become a veggier? The main reasons are: taste, religion in general terms (including traditions), avoid animal suffering, and environmentalism. Leaving the ‘taste-vegetarians’ aside –yes, this is the group I don’t admire–, all other veggiers are so despite the pleasure and convenience of eating meat. I will also let aside the ones who are veggiers for religious reasons; although this is not a strictly random reason –there are probably historic hygienic as well as ethical reasons behind it–, it is true that if religion would say the opposite, they would do the opposite without further thought. In any case, they deserve some respect for their self-discipline.
But what about all these incredibly wonderful people who are veggiers even though they might have loved to eat meat, even though they have probably tasted a wonderful slice of juicy Serrano, even though it is sometimes hell-difficult to find veggier options in restaurants? What about these incredibly annoying wonderful people who passively point at our selfishness because they stopped eating meat simply because they love animals? Or because they simply asked themselves why should they kill anything if they do not need to? Or because they know eating animals is (one of) the main source(s) of greenhouse gases ?
Yes, these wonderful annoying almost perfect people, they are scary. They frighten us because we see what they do and we cannot imagine any straightforward way to follow the same path. I propose to you, meat-eater, to change this fear for admiration. Or do you feel fear when you see, let’s say, Messi doing his magic? Or Elon Musk, or Yuval Noah Harari… or Chuck Norris?! Or do fear Emma Watson, Beyoncé, or Malala Yousifazi? No, we admire them. They inspire us. Many use them as role models to get better in sports, business, thinking, activism or life in general. And we don’t even dream to get close to their achievements. Let’s do the same with veggiers! And they are closer so we can ask them how they managed it. We will realise that it took most of them a long journey until they became veggiers.
And veggiers, please; don’t make it all so difficult! Don’t be so inflexible! Make it easier for the rest of us to admire you instead of fear you! This is a message especially directed to that small sub-section of veggiers which could be called angry-veggiers: those who make a whole group walk half a city in order to find a veggier-friendly restaurant, those who do not let flatmates have meat in the fridge or even eat it in front of them, those who try to make animal-eaters feel bad about it. Those are the ones who make all the group be feared by many animal-eaters. Think about it in tactical terms: do you want people to be veggier, or do you want to improve animal welfare and/or the environment? If your answer is the latter, then it is much more useful that everybody decreases their meat consumption to a 50% of what it was, than that a fistful of people uses no animal product at all. Make the numbers! Show us how easy it is to decrease our meat consumption to a fraction of what it was before. Show us that you can feel good with yourself while you enjoy a slice of Serrano. And enjoy it! This 0.1% of meat you will eat, will show the rest that being a veggier is not something absolute, it is not a cult. It is something to aspire to. A goal. An asymptote. What is important is not to reach zero but to get closer to it. And if your answer to the question was the former option… think again about your reasons for being a veggier and afterwards go back to the question again.
And meat eaters, did we ever ask ourselves why do we eat so much meat? Do we even enjoy it? I’m not asking you to give up eating good meat, or doing a BBQ from time to time. But all this meat we eat without even enjoying it? It is not even healthy! And many times we only use meat as a basis for sauce! If we want to eat meat, let’s try to eat meat which tastes like meat at least. What’s the logic otherwise? And let’s eat vegetables. Many more vegetables. It is easy! And they don’t need to be boringly boiled; they can be grilled, or steamed, or baked, roasted, or raw. Tasty! And fruits! I’m not a fruit man, I mostly find them too sweet and I don’t really have a sweet tooth, but most people have. And NUTS. This manna from the heavens! Really, all the money you will save not buying boring meat, spend it with nuts. Really, do it. Well, spend more!
And, after a while, you, meat-eater, will realise that veggies are actually tastier than regular meat. I’m not speaking about good meat, here. But, please, don’t even try to compare a stupidly boring chicken breast with a plate of mixed veggies grilled in a pan. At that point is when eating meat doesn’t make sense unless it is special in some way. One way of it being special, don’t get me wrong, can be that you are hungry and there is no other option than eating meat. This is a perfectly valid ‘special’ occasion to me. So, as I was saying, at that point, when we are not addicted to meat any longer, is when eating starts to rock. Then is when you start considering whether to eat meat or not even in special occasions. We all care about the environment, even those who don’t –put them in the middle of a dumping site and ask them if they feel very happy there–. We all care about other’s suffering too. At that point is when you will start taking all that into consideration when you eat. Don’t fear this point, my friend. Because here is when you are really free. Being free means being able to choose. Until this point you, meat-eater, were not free. Society had stolen from you the chance to eat anything else than meat –well, it gave you also fries, boringly-boilded bad veggies, and sometimes a couple of salad leaves. At this point you will be free, and you will enjoy your freedom.
So, let’s all eat many more vegetables and much less meat! Our bodies will be healthier, our planet will be healthier and our animals will be healthier! And speaking about healthier animals brings me to yet another reason to aspire to be a veggier: antibiotic resistance. Antibiotic resistance is one of the most overlooked dangers for humans. In the next few decades many of our most used antibiotics may become almost useless due to bacteria growing resistance to them. It is a multifactorial problem, of course, and probably most of the guilt comes to our stupidly wrong use of antibiotics for human health. But another large source of antibiotic resistance is the animal farming industry. This industry uses antibiotics in order for the animals to grow bigger and as prophylaxis measure. Both reasons are crazily capitalistic! Medicate animals for the only reason that they grow more and faster? Medicate our animals preventively before they get sick because of their lack of hygienic measures and their crowding? Yuck! There is a huge problem here. And part of the reason for this problem is our addiction to eating meat.
Knowing all this let me go back to the beginning of the post. I’m not vegan; not even vegetarian. And I’m not proud of it. However, I don’t think I will ever be. At least not a strict veggier in any way. I don’t think I will ever decide that, if the opportunity of eating a wonderful juicy slice of Serrano arises, I won’t take it. What I will probably do when I have such an opportunity, is to think if the pleasure is really worthwhile. Or whether I have any alternative. Or whether I already had this opportunity too often. I will also not seek these opportunities. I hope. I don’t know. But I’m sure if we all eat more veggies and less meat we will all be more healthy, as well as the environment and the other animals. And we may collaborate to delay antibiotic resistance. What is sure is that I will continue admiring veggiers for their commitment and will power; that’s for sure.