Alternet, the online news magazine attempting to compensate for our biased, conservative media reporting, caters to a diverse readership that usually agrees about issues such as the war in Iraq, fundamentalist religions, and the dangerous course the present administration is pursuing. However, there’s one topic that never fails to turn its audience against each other with vicious attacks: somebody writes a story about being vegan/vegetarian, and all hell breaks loose.
Author Kathy Freston’s article You Call Yourself a Progressive — But You Still Eat Meat? is no exception. Sure, the title sounds a bit polemic, but apart from that, she lines up some convincing arguments without sounding preachy or judgmental. Nevertheless, she is being called a militant fanatic, a self-righteous zealot by some defensive meat-eaters who’re unable to admit that they like the taste too much to do without.
So they come up with some hilarious arguments in order to justify their rapacious appetites. Like the one about Hitler having been a vegetarian. By all accounts this is an incorrect myth, but even if it were true — what exactly would this prove? If Hitler was fond of orange juice, would that make every fan of orange juice a Nazi? And the reverse argument seeks support from the Dalai Lama who apparently eats some meat, for health reasons. If he does it, it must be o.k.
Whether a meatless diet is healthy or not is another point of contention. Some claim that humans become lethargic, weak, and pale when they go without animal protein for any amount of time. Never mind the comments by people who state they’ve been vegan for 10, 20, and more years, who feel healthy and energetic, and hardly ever get sick. No matter — humans are built to eat meat, we need to eat meat, even cavemen ate meat, or something along those lines.
Others maintain that severe allergies and other health problems make it impossible for them to stick with purely vegan or vegetarian fare. I don’t doubt that there are individuals for whom this is true, and it must be a difficult situation. But why would these people find it so hard to accept that they’re the exception and not the rule, that the majority of folks who don’t consume animal products actually maintain that they feel better? Why do they accuse the writer to force them to give up meat, when she is simply presenting her arguments for general consideration?
One particularly silly reason brought forth in the defense of meat consumption is the statement that fruits and veggies are living too; that carrots have feelings, that vegetarians actually murder their Brussels sprouts and potatoes. Duh. That’s like saying that as long as we can’t all ride bicycles, we might as well all drive Hummers.
Actually, when I gave up cheese which I LOVED, it really felt good to be in control of my taste buds — if ever so little. I still LOVE chocolate; dark and bitter, of course .