My Choice to Not Eat Meat Shouldn’t Be Controversial
Why is despising the unnecessary death of animals so unorthodox?
‘Oh, you’re one of those people.’
This is the most typical reply I get when I inform people that I do not eat meat. Their tone of voice suggests that I belong to some obscure cult, that practises strange rituals.
I’m not crazy, I'm not unorthodox, I’m not a believer of far-fetched conspiracies. I am an empath and I don't agree with killing or harming animals for unnecessary means.
I have always had these views, but up until about 3 years ago, I was naive to a lot of the truth about the meat and dairy industries. I decided one day, to try and become vegetarian for two weeks as a personal challenge. I found it so simple to achieve, which spurred me to continue this diet long-term.
For three years I have been a vegetarian, eating mainly plant-based the majority of the time. I aim to be fully vegan without any exception in the near future.
Whilst for me, adhering to this diet is simple, it remains so difficult for others to accept my choice. I am faced with comments and jokes consistently, so I pose this question: why is my choice to do something kind and positive so controversial?
I am seen as a burden at dinner parties- people panic when they realise they have to adapt dinner plans to suit my diet. It has become such an ordeal for meat-eaters to create a meal for me that doesn't contain meat when it should be a normal part of everyone’s diet. Even if people choose to eat meat, creating or even eating a meal without it should be normal.
As a vegetarian, through my experience and education, I have realised that many people are blind to the truths of the meat industry. People often perceive meat as food rather than a dead animal. This isn't because people lack empathy, but it is rather because of the way our society has normalised killing animals.
Once you make the transition, this normalisation of killing animals for food necessarily becomes so shocking. So when meat-eaters make sly comments or jokes, branding you as a ‘hippy’ or a freak, it becomes so confusing as to why they cannot see the way you do. Why can you not see that my choices are for the greater good of other beings?
Even if people do not follow the same diet or lifestyle as you do, there should still be an understanding of why you choose to live this way and a recognition that this diet is a positive one.
Personally, I believe those that make fun or persecute vegans and vegetarians are doing so to cover their subconscious guilt. To ease their conscience, they lash out and label those that are able to transcend their own selfish desire and think of the greater good of other beings as ‘abnormal’ and ‘strange’.
My family do not follow my diet, but they understand why I choose to follow it and agree that it is the best way to live- however, they cannot commit to following it wholeheartedly.
If you do not understand why I choose to not eat meat, ask me politely- I am more than happy to educate people on my beliefs. However, please do not constantly tell me that I am ‘missing out’ when you eat a bacon sandwich in front of me.
People often what are some of the foods that I miss the most since turning vegetarian and when I tell them that I miss the taste of salmon, for example, they say ‘well why not just eat it then’. My answer is, that the minor inconvenience of missing the taste of a certain food, does not ever weigh above my belief that harming other beings for your own pleasure is wrong. People cannot understand that I did like the taste of meat, but I sacrificed it for my moral code.
Knowledge and acceptance for veganism and vegetarianism have vastly improved over the years, however, there is still such a long way to go.
I urge you not to laugh at my choices or insult the food that I eat. Don't tell me that it would taste better with chicken in, or that I will ‘waste away by only eating leaves’. When you make these comments you come across as largely ignorant and whilst it may only be a simple joke to you, the joke you are making is actually about murder.
If you choose to eat meat, that is completely your choice, but do not belittle me for making a moral change to my lifestyle and please do not joke about something that is so important to me.