Saturday, February 17, 2007

Why I Hate Vegetarians

Julie Bindel
Monday June 13, 2005
The Guardian

People should not be bullied into giving up meat by humourless, judgmental souls using spurious arguments

Well allow me to retort (best Samuel L. Jackson voice)

Eating in a meat-free restaurant the other day made me realise why I hate vegetarians. The food, unlike the tasteless, bland rubbish often served up in such places, was delicious. Unusually for meatless cuisine, it had flavour and texture, and had even been seasoned.
What was unpalatable were the customers and waiting staff, all of whom seemed to believe that what they were eating made them superior. They all looked smug and self-satisfied. It brought it home to me that most vegetarians - and I am largely excluding those who eschew meat for religious and cultural reasons - give themselves a bad name. They are better than you, don't you know? The atmosphere in the restaurant was one of pompous aloofness. I left with indigestion.

You seem to have the opinion that vegetarian cooking in general is something less than meat centric cooking. This is a common misconception.

I can't speak to your experiences, but I have never had a bland or tasteless meal at a vegetarian restaurant in my area. Ever. I'll take you at your word though, and I'd recommend seeking out better restaurants. Have you tried vegetarian Indian? Bland? I think not.

People often assume I don't eat meat, because I am a feminist and vaguely of the left. I have turned up at dinner parties to find the host has assumed that at least one guest would be vegetarian, and served undercooked baked potatoes. What an atrocity! Why can they not put a chicken in the oven at the same time? Or is the sight of meat so offensive to veggies that they would pass out at the table?

To recap, you're saying that at an omni dinner event, the omni host did a poor job of cooking a vegetarian dinner, AND didn't provide a meat option, presumably because it would insult the sensibilities of the vegetarians?

Isn't that a little like going to a Chinese restaurant for German food?

I think you're trying to assign blame here. I frequently enjoy meals with omni friends., and have yet to pass out at the sight of meat.

I know you're exaggerating to make a point, but neither point is valid.

Recent converts can be the worst. I have lost friends to the cult who, once they get fed the mantra from the militants, become something akin to ex-smokers. I am tired of feeling self-conscious in restaurants when ordering meat in front of them. No one should deny that factory-farmed animals are kept in the most appalling conditions, and that eating too much meat is bad for you. But look at their claims. Crusaders promote vegetarianism not only as healthy but as a solution to world hunger and a safeguard of the planet.

You touch on a lot of things here. Let's dissect.

Agreed on the enthusiasm of some vegetarians. Doesn't the same hold true, though, for any group of people? Some people are going to be more vocal than others. Take some Christians or Apple computer users, as an example. I'd caution on the use of such sweeping generalities.

Perhaps you feel self conscious because, as you yourself agree, factory farming is unethical?

Regarding promoting vegetarianism as healthy and as more ecologically sound than raising meat. These are facts, not wishful thinking. Compare cost of land usage, water, fertilizer, waste contamination, and energy of producing one pound of soy, corn, or grain to one pound of meat. Many times less resources could go into feeding many times more people. Repeat after me, meat is not a necessity.

Do not assume living without animal products is always a positive, healthy choice. A vegan couple in American have recently been charged with child abuse for malnourishing their three small children. They had been brought up on a vegan diet from birth. There have been similar cases where children, who cannot choose what they eat, have had their health severely damaged because of their parents' principles. They are putting the welfare of animals before that of their children. Giving up meat and dairy has been linked to anorexia and other eating disorders in teenage girls. Lack of vitamin B12, found mainly in meats, eggs, dairy and fish, can cause brain damage. Most vegans, and some non-meat-eaters, have to supplement their diet with pills. In the developed world, vegetarianism is a privileged choice. How many working-class vegetarians do you know? It is not an option for most poor people in this country.

Do all vegetarians (and I include vegans) eat a healthy diet? No, of course not. Do all omni's eat a healthy diet? Look around, you tell me. Vegetarianism does not automatically translate into a healthy diet. As far as child abuse, I'd react with the same concern for a vegetarian child suffering from malnutrition as I would to an omni child. Have you been to your local Mc Donald's lately? How many of the morbidly obese children have been put into foster care?

The cost issue you bring up is completely absurd. It's no more expensive to live as a vegetarian than an omni, unless your diet consists of primarily pre-processed meals or restaurant food.

A veggie colleague once said of a woman with her three young children in a supermarket, "Have you seen those cheap beefburgers and pies she's feeding them? Why does she not go to the market, buy some fresh vegetables and make them all some nice, healthy soup?" Again that assumption that vegetarian and vegan foods are cheaper, which they are not, and that the mother had all the time in the world to prepare food from scratch.

Does anyone actually have sympathy for that argument? First, again, you are incorrect in your assumption that a veggie diet is more costly. Second, are you actually advocating cheap cheeseburgers and pies as being superior food to a vegetable soup? Third, it certainly does not take any more time to prepare a vegetarian meal. You're speaking out of ignorance.

Let's get our priorities right. People who put foxes and lambs before people do not have my vote. Animal liberationists blowing up scientists for conducting experiments that might lead to a cure for cancer are odious. There are more refuge spaces for cats than there are for women and their children fleeing domestic violence. While rape crisis centres are closing due to lack of funds, animal charities are raking it in.

These things are not mutually exclusive, as you'd like your reader to believe. Can one not care for people as well as animals? Your assertion is ridiculous.

Although vegetarianism is often seen as a "women's issue", there is a nasty, misogynistic wing that relies on sexist images and messages to convince people that meat is murder. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (Peta) are the worst offenders. One of their early adverts features a woman dragging a fur coat behind her. She is captioned as a "dumb animal". Another has a woman having her fur coat ripped off in the street and clubbed to death by a man, to make the point that it is not nice to be killed for your coat. The actor who played Lolita in the 1997 remake became "the youngest star to pose naked for Peta's anti-fur campaign". The message is: treat women, not animals, like meat.

That's an interesting interpretation. I have a different take, see if you agree. To me the first image says wake up and realize that you're causing pain and suffering to animals for vanity's sake. You totally misconstrued the point of the second ad as well. The person being killed for their fur coat is a symbol of the animal being killed for its coat. You may become more sympathetic to the animals plight if you put yourself in its, er, coat. See how that works? I miss the point of your Lolita actress ad comment altogether. You do know that both men and women have posed nude for PETA ads?

Stop trying to interpret everything as having sexist roots, you undermine your credibility.

Those who think we should not eat meat because all life is sacred are naive. Would they be happy allowing mosquitoes to spread malaria, or having rats run loose in their home? Not all creatures are equal. There are natural hierarchies in the food chain.

Food chains and hierarchies. The 19th century called, they want their labels back. Your point, I think, is that we have some ueber-position in this food chain, and that it's 'natural' for us to eat meat? I say evolve. You have the ability to choose how much harm you do.

People should be allowed to make their own choices and not be bullied or frightened into giving up meat. In the US recently, children in a secondary school were taken by their teachers to a slaughterhouse to show them how animals are killed for food. This tactic is a form of mind control, as unethical as discouraging young girls from having sex by making them watch a difficult childbirth.

Of course people should make their own decisions. Why does the natural and beautiful process of animal rearing and slaughter bother anyone? Oh, that's right, because it's brutal and barbaric.

It's not mind control. You're thinking of the dairy, egg, and meat lobbies on TV. It's reality.

I may hate vegetarians because they make me feel guilty, or because, meat being so delicious, they must have lots of willpower. But as an animal lover who agrees in principle with most reasons for giving up meat, I would rather not join that band of humourless, judgmental souls. It would seem that you are indeed what you eat.

Gotta be honest Julie, you come across as an angry and bitter person. Hate is a strong word, but you seem to see the glass as half-empty. If you are ever in the SoCal area, I'd like to invite you out to a meal. This is a sincere invitation.

· Julie Bindel is the founder of Justice for Women


Anonymous said...

I agree with everything you said, although I could never have put it that well myself. Very very well done!

-Pescas (VB member)

A Vegan's Life in Southern California said...

Thanks Pescas, that's kind of you.