The Flaming Vegan

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Food For Thought
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Food For Thought

It's funny how many people think of themselves as animal-lovers and yet still eat them, isn't it? They may give wonderful homes to their pets and donate to animal charities, or help out at shelters, etc, but still don't make the connection between their diets and the cruelty of the meat industries. But then, I used to be one of those people. All my life I have been mad about animals and concerned about their suffering at the hands of humans, but I only went vegetarian at the age of 25 (and still occasionally ate meat after that for a few years) and only went vegan about 2 years ago, at the age of 43. I had known all about meat production methods for a number of years, and once I got into my forties, I could no longer kid myself that the dairy and egg industries were OK.

It seems to me that it is the same with almost everyone: the aspect of animal rights that they have the most trouble with is the use of animals for food. It is the last bastion of defence with most people: they may wholeheartedly agree about the cruelty of the fur trade, of vivisection, circuses, etc, and not support any of those vile industries, but they still eat meat and dairy, and are in denial about the cruelty involved in that choice. Why should that be? Maybe because our relationship with food is based on such a primal, instinctive urge: it is one of the few things we absolutely cannot do without, for our physical survival. Since the early humans evolved as hunter-gatherers, a lot of that primal urge still exists in the subconscious of many people today, seemingly. Also, naturally, there is the immense and intense emotional value attached to food, and its social function. We don't just eat when we are hungry or to keep ourselves alive, we also eat for pleasure, comfort, out of boredom, etc. So that makes it hard for people to change their dietary habits, if they have been used to eating cheeseburgers, for example, as a comfort food (even though there are wonderful vegan alternatives these days, which give the same emotional hit! It's just a question of getting people to try those substitutes).

I also think that many do still genuinely believe in the humane slaughter myth as well, or maybe, more accurately, they are in denial about it. Despite all the evidence to the contrary! Or they think that all it needs is  for  regulations to be tightened up in the farming and slaughter business so that animals don't suffer, i.e. the “welfarist” approach. I myself used to believe that: used to assume that is was perfectly OK for humans to eat animals, as long as they had a reasonable life first, and were killed humanely. But then I realised that when animals are used as a commodity in this way, that never happens, as there is no sentiment in business. It's all about profit margins, and of course, it costs much more to rear organic, free-range animals, to give them plenty of space, to let them reach adulthood, and to make sure that they are slaughtered so that they don't suffer. “Humane” slaughter? What a joke! And why should they have to give their lives just for human appetites anyway, no matter how “humanely” it is done?

Once people really accept how cruel the meat industry is, they often start waking up and having a crisis of conscience . They are willing to make the change, become vegetarian or vegan, but they don't know how, so this is where we can help them. We can give them tasty, satisfying vegan meals and recipes, and advise them about ethical shopping choices, but without actually pressure-converting them. The transition is not easy, so let's just be as supportive as people as possible, if they are really trying to become vegan. Let them get there in their own time.

Image credit: Tobias Akerboom (at hutmeelz)

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  1. Akanksha
    Loved it! Reading those lines about eating out of other urges other than hunger reminded me of my craze for Maggi instant noodles. I have been looking for a way to give it up...
    1. Akanksha
      Btw, is that a sitar in the image...or some other stringed instrument?
  2. Veganara
    Thanks for the vote and comment Akanksha. Yes, it is a sitar in the picture: that pic was taken in an Indian restaurant last year, a place which did lovely veggie food. But then, that is one of the big advantages of Indian cuisine, isn't it? The strong vegetarian bias.
  3. The Vegan Menu
    The Vegan Menu
    Well said, I honestly became a vegan strictly for health reasons but the more time goes by the more and more it becomes about compassion. I totally agree with what you said about comfort food, people are afraid to let it go because it almost becomes a tradition to them. We need to teach people how to create new traditions, it can still be delicious.
  4. Tatterhood
    That's exactly what I'm trying to remember as I watch my husband consuming meat every night. I used to be one of those people. So, while he doesn't try to sabbotage my veganism, I have to be patient about his fear of giving up meat. Voted!
    1. Veganara
      Thank you for the vote and comment Tatterhood. Your vote doesn't seem to have registered though, as I am still on 4, so would you mind doing it again? hopefully it will stick the second time! I have experienced this before, it seems to be one of the glitshces with this website.
  5. pftsusan
    Voted. Keep going. You might get me there yet.
  6. Carolyn
    Vote #8! Looks like this article is headed for Top Posts!
  7. Daniel Garcia
    Daniel Garcia
    Vote #10 :) "It seems to me that it is the same with almost everyone: the aspect of animal rights that they have the most trouble with is the use of animals for food." It's the first time I ever heard this perspective and it is quite enlightening for me. I never thought of it that way, now I have :)
    1. Veganara
      Thank you for the vote and comment Daniel. I had noticed how many people abhor cruelty to animals and want to do something about it, yet still eat meat and dairy, and seem quite resistant to giving them up. I was trying to analyse why that might be in my article. It's not an easy transition though usually, as I have pointed out, so we need to be patient with people who are trying.
  8. Virtually Homemade
    Virtually Homemade
    Very, very good points! And good reminders. Voted!
    1. Veganara
      Thank you VH!
  9. avi
    Maggie; I seem to raise this "paradox" at least once a week with "animal lovers", and the reactions and internal conflict driving their rationalization is as you described for yourself, so at least there is some consistency in human emotionalism. I'm glad you were able to look at the issue from a "rational" point of view, and keep a critical eye towards your thinking, and ultimately work the issue out for yourself. It is unfortunate that many people wont reach this epiphany and continue to delude themselves, continuing to endanger their health, animals, and the environment.
  10. Mark T
    Quite thoughtful.


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