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Can An Omnivore Be Ethical?
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Can An Omnivore Be Ethical?

I came across an article that speaks of the advice column in a the same newspaper, the timesunion.com. Here is a summary of the request. A woman writes to receive advice about her marriage. She is a vegan and when they got married, her husband was also vegan. Now, he claims that he no longer wants to be vegan and returned to the way he used to eat before marrying that woman. She is sorely disappointed because the two of them used to have heartfelt discussions about animal cruelty and factory farming, and now he just doesn't care.

What upsets me is the take the columnist takes on the story. She first mentions that this woman doesn't respect her husband anymore. However, if she accepted him because he had the same values as her, and now just blatantly drops them, it's different than agreeing to marry a person that is not vegan and mentions that he or she may never be vegan. Then the herbivore can make a real choice, a decision based on the person's real personality, and not a diet and lifestyle that just might have been accepted to be with someone, and not about the real issues. I have often told men that I want to marry a vegan, no 'ifs, ands or buts' about it. If you're not herbivore, forget it. And don't become a vegan for me, either. Do it because you believe in it, and be sincere - otherwise, at the slightest sign of problems or the smallest argument, the chances of you going back to spite me are pretty big. You may even go back to your lifestyle just because you realise that it's not you. Is this the case with this couple? The letter doesn't mention it, but the adviser doesn't take it into account, either.

She goes on to say that the newly-returned omnivore is entitled to his opinions. Yes, he is. She's right about that. But the basis of marriage is to trust each other, and if this man lied by promising to be a vegan forever, and this is an important factor not only because of the choice of food but because of the values that stand behind this decision, then the trust is the marriage crumples. I certainly would have a hard time accepting this from a man. I've had a hard time accepting that a friend did this, and it's because one of the main parts of the foundation of a strong relationship - be it friendship, marriage or famiy - is the bond created by ways of seeing life. At least she has the respect to say that the couple now has to analize whether they can agree to disagree, or just move on to someone else. Which is definitely true.

However, the issue of money is the one that stings me the most. I can't emphasize enough how much our dollars are our vote for the way we want companies to run their business and to decide what kind of products end up on shelves and in restaurants. So, the fact that she says that this is something that should not even be mentioned is false. This is more important than anything else. The man doesn't work at the moment. How long has it been? If he isn't vegan anymore and is now even trying to make her 'take care' of him financially, this is part of the problem. This looks more like a man who is with this woman because he believes she can be rolled out like a red carpet and trampled over. He quit his job and she hasn't kicked him out yet. He know decides to stop being the good granola-eating vegan. What next? And of course I understand this woman's disgust at buying meat. I refused to pick up milk for my dad once because I can't stand the thought of being seen walking out of the store carrying it, even if my parents are going to reimburse me for it.

The last sentence is the one that makes me want to scream the most. Yes, we have pointy teeth. And? This is the only part of our body that may have been adapted to accomodate meat. The rest of us still screams 'vegan'. Our digestive system is a herbivore's; we need 12 hours to fully digest our food. A carnivore needs only 3 or 4 because meat would ROT in their stomachs if it took longer. Plants don't rot that quickly, and we need more time to properly absorb the nutrition. Furthermore, we don't own claws like carnivores do - picture yourselves trying to 'claw' into a carcass with your bare hands. Carnivores can claw into them; we would die of hunger depending on our weak nails. And I would love to see how sick people would become if we stopped cooking meat. Anyone who says that our bodies are meant to digest meat should do just like all other carnivore animals: eat it raw. We'll sit by the phone and wait for their call from the hospital to let us know what they're going through.

Is there such a thing as an ethical omnivore? Of course. Their ethics aren't stemming from their diets, though.  And this columnist seems to want to bash veganism.  Why?

What is your take on this story?  How would you feel if this happened to you?

 

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Image credit: Tobias Akerboom (at hutmeelz)

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  1. Anita Vegana
    I have to say that although your feelings may be a bit strong, I have to agree with most of what you say. I voted.
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  2. Veganara
    Veganara
    Voted. Great article Annie, and I agree with you wholeheartedly! I have very strong feelings about these issues too, i.e. veganism, AR and shared values in marriage. That is a good point you make about ethical omnivores - yes, it is possible for them to be ethical, but not about their diets. That woman who wrote the letter sounds as if she would be better off without her waste-of-space husband.
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  3. Veganara
    Veganara
    I have just read the answer to the letter, and the article that referred to it. Both stupid, and clearly anti-vegan.
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  4. dianabart
    dianabart
    I am so blessed that my husband felt called to fast the same day as I, which led to us to a Vegan lifestlye. I've also made it clear that I can't nor won't ever again buy, cook or eat animal. It is to much 'who I am' and I am thankful that my husband has stuck to this too. I am so happy that my immediate family (husband and kids) respect me and this choice enough to honor my wishes. They are between flexitarian - vegetarian, and vegan! I would not allow animal in my house, simple as that. If I am to respect him and all his wishes, then he should respect me and mine. If he were ever to wish to eat animal again - he'd have to do it else where, or at least cook it for himself and keep his leftovers in his won fridge. My three daughters know I will never buy or cook animal ever again also, and all is well here. LOVE and respect is what family is all about; and being a Vegan isn't something as simple as hey I prefer onions to peppers, it's a seriously important conscious decision, and I truly don't understand how anyone becomes one and then goes back to not being one. In those cases it may have been a health or environmental reason, but definitely not a ethical love for the animal type of reason, because you don't go from LOVING the animals to eating them. YOU JUST SIMPLY DON'T!! LOVED your article! Voted and shared! :-)
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    1. Anita Vegana
      I am vegan for environmental reasons, and am still one. So I think that it is possible. You see, animals are a major part of the environment, so therefore you automatically love animals, including farm animals. But you make a good point. I agree with you - you can't justify going back to eating animal by-products but still claim to love the animals that are on your plate. I can't imagine having my cat on my plate, so why would I eat a cow?
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  5. Carolyn
    Carolyn
    Vote #6! Annie, I am for keeping families together if at all possible. I hope they can repair their marriage and remain together. As always I am never disappointed with your thought provoking and creative articles. Great job!
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    1. SnakeWitch
      I agree with you. But this woman doesn't mention if they have children yet, and I would be much less likely to encourage them to stay together if they don't have any. There is so much information missing that it's hard to make a judgement about their disagreement. I don't know if I've pointed it out well enough in my article, but that is the purpose: that the advice columnist gives harsh advice without koowing the details that matter, such as whether their union bore children or not. We don't know how long it's been since the husband is out of work, nor why, nor the reasons why he became vegan in the first place, or why he stopped. We just know he did. Did the wife bicker at him up to the point of becoming annoying? Maybe.
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      1. Anita Vegana
        Maybe they can save their marriage, maybe they can't. It is true that the article is missig a lot of info.
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