An Open Letter to Vegans From an Ethical Omnivore

Categories: Rants

pig pic.jpg
Sara Ventiera
Let me start this out by saying I fully support veganism. I think it's great that individuals choose to honor their own bodies and the rest of the animal kingdom by abstaining from meat.

Aside from the obvious anti-cruelty aspects, being vegan is better for ones health (mostly anyway, but we'll get to that in a minute), it's significantly easier on the environment (much of the time), and due to both of these factors, it has a positive economic impact in terms of reducing dollars spent on curing illness, negating climate change, cleaning up the destruction left over from concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs), and a whole host of other issues associated with the production of meat.

That being said, as someone who enjoys exploring the ethical implications of our food system, I'm tired of the self-righteous zealots who claim the only way to show compassion and humanity is through veganism.

See Also: An Open Letter to BurgerFi From a Vegan

*Before we get started: If you are an open-minded vegan who does go around not telling people their lifestyles are wrong, this letter isn't addressed to you. Most vegans are lovely, compassionate people who make their choices and allow others to make theirs. This letter is not addressed to them.

Dear Militant Vegan,

I like that you care about animals. I appreciate that you don't want to eat them. Heck, I even love much of your food and your eateries. Grains, beans, vegetables, and fruits are freaking delicious -- I wish more of our fellow humans would switch to consuming more of these healthy, ethically sound products.

Maybe we can even dedicate an entire day to do so.

Oh, wait, we have. It's called Meatless Monday. And a large segment of the meat-eating world (you know, those uncompassionate heathens you like to chastise) does partake.

I may not have my own dedicated day, personally, but I tend to favor vegetarian cuisine on my days off. (Although, I will say I just participated as a judge in a lamb competition and it was amazing.)

Look, while I appreciate and support much of what you do, I don't need to be verbally accosted because I choose to eat meat -- and most of my flexitarian and carnivorous comrades feel the same way.

We don't want a lecture at the Whole Foods checkout from the chick decked out in Lululemon, who just nearly ran over a mother with a stroller, while fighting for a parking spot, in her coexist- and namaste-stickered Prius. (Those things are silent. We can't hear them coming!)

Your car says it for you, we're supposed to coexist. Just because some of us eat meat, doesn't mean we aren't humane or don't care about animals or the environmental impact of our food choices. And quite honestly, we're all ethically complicit. Vegans are not necessarily any less guilty than omnivores.

Did you forage your own grains? No?

Well then, it's pretty much guaranteed that field mice, moles, and rabbits were killed in the cultivation of your soy, wheat, and barley.

Are you eating processed vegan meat-substitutes?

Chances are you're eating copious amounts of genetically modified soy, which leads to all sorts of health problems: liver problems, sterility, immune problems, the list goes on and on.

Another frequently found ingredient in all these soy-based food is hexane. A neurotoxic petrochemical solvent, it's used to make oils, isolated soy proteins, or texturized soy protein (TVP) from soybeans.

And while we're on the subject of soy, the once-upon-a-time super crop is plagued by the same deforestation issues and impacts on wildlife displacement as all other major sources of protein. In addition to run-off and pushing developing countries' farmers off their land, the growth of the soy industry threatens endangered species throughout South America and Asia. As millions of hectares of savannah and forest have been cleared for soy production, animals like jaguars, maned wolves, and giant ant eaters are left with nowhere to live.

The reason I feel the need to address this issue, dear vegan, is I'd like to find common ground. Not everyone is going to dive head first into a diet free of animal products.

Others may want to consider choosing sources of meat that are raised in a humane manner. You may claim there is no such thing as humane meat, but this dear holier-than-thou vegan, is a matter of semantics.

A couple years ago, I wrote a series of articles entitled "From Pig to Pork," in which I documented the birth to slaughter process on a small farm in Central Florida. Two years later, I received a letter of complaint about the manner in which certain sections were worded.

It was said that there is no way the premeditated killing of animals would be considered humane. (I was also told to embark on a more loving, spiritual journey.)

See Also: I Watched a Hog Get Slaughtered

As the only witness to the described slaughter scene (aside from the farm's owner, staff, and the USDA inspector who was afraid I'd pass out), I stick by my assertion that the process was humane. The pigs on this farm had not the slightest hint what was coming their way as the captive bolt stun gun hit entered their brains. From where I was standing (right next to the pen), I could see no evidence of pain.

I admit now, just as I did then, that this farm was far from the norm. On average it slaughters around ten hogs in a day, just once a week, where an industrial slaughterhouse is said to kill 1,100 per hour.

No one is perfect -- not even you. But we're all trying to do the best we can. And for some of us, it's buying $6 a dozen pasture-raised eggs or $8 a pound grass-fed beef. For others, it's making sure you have enough food (of any source) to feed a family. For you, it's abstaining from eating meat.

So I end, dear pious vegan, with this: many (certainly not all) meat-eaters are probably open to your ways -- we just don't want your sanctimonious views thrown in our faces.

I applaud your efforts, but no one likes to be told they are bad or unspiritual for the way they live. And is it really divine to act as a hypocrite or a self-righteous know-it-all? How does that help anything or convince anyone? Sanctimonious lectures don't change minds or win hearts.

If you love all creatures, big and small, you might want to remember that humans fall under that category as well.

Just like you're bumper sticker says, we all need to coexist.

Namaste,
Ethical Eater Looking for Some Peace

Follow Sara Ventiera on Twitter, @saraventiera.




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8 comments
olinader
olinader

as a disclaimer, i'm not one of those holier-than-thou vegans. i don't judge people for their dietary habits, i only hope that they come to their decisions after knowing all the facts. in recent years, i have become more outspoken about veganism, seeing it as an issue with moral urgency and thus i need to respond to this open letter.

this op-ed piece fails because it includes caveats, acknowledged by the author to counter his point. he says meat isn't necessarily inhumane while acknowledging that the vast majority of animal slaughters are, in fact, inhumane. he admits the health and environmental benefits of a vegan diet but....


you know what? screw it. this is pointless. i've tried to convince people that violence is wrong (a curse in fact) and they don't see how killing an animal is violence. and they never will. we'll drive our species to extinction for the irresistible flavor of bacon. so be it.

anindigogirl
anindigogirl

This article would be hilarious if it weren't so sad regarding animals. I would think any decent human being would be a lot more concerned about militant omnivore murderers who habitually torture and kill animals or contributes to that. Talk about misplaced ethics on the author's part. 


Once again, pulling the "judgment card" against vegans when you are missing the entire point.


Oh and by the way, there is no such thing as an "ethical omnivore". There is nothing ethical about deliberately torturing innocent beings.

jc00
jc00

One important distinction, YOU intentionally kill and eat animals. There's nothing "humane" about being raped, having her offspring kidnapped, exploiting her reproductive system (milking for some, eggs for others) and then being brutally murdered in the prime of her life - all for some "caring" consumer? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fKr4HZ7ukSE and http://www.veganvideo.org

hostile177
hostile177

Thanks for leaving us non-militants out. It sounds like you had a run in with a few people who have had a "come to Jesus" moment and are trying to spread the word through intimidation.  

But just so you know, every normal vegetarian and vegan I know is overly educated in label ingredient deciphering and manufacturing processes.  GMO's, hexane and deforestation are to them what notes are to a musician.

My suggestion is to ignore the fringe lunatics.

Eat whatever you like and enjoy life.

anindigogirl
anindigogirl

@saraventiera @jc00 But YOU Sara are one of the problems in this world and you don't even realize it.


Also, veganism is about helping humans too--yes, YOU--as well. It's about helping humans, animals and the planet. Further information on this is easy to find if you do any research at all on veganism, which is by definition a social justice cause.

jc00
jc00

@saraventiera @jc00 What sets carnists apart from higher forms of life is their seemingly infinite capacity to love, nurture and care for other animals and then to betray, kill and eat them.

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