Washington Post looks at “attitudes”

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Today, the Washington Post took a good look at the attitudes of meat-eaters, vegetarians, and vegans (link via Alex). It starts with a brief overview of how, apparently, meat-eaters see vegetarians (as “wan and undernourished” people that “can’t understand why everyone won’t make allowances for what essentially is their own choice”) and vice-versa (“Meat eaters are rude… They think animal products are the only way to get protein”).

The article then discusses the stand-offish attutide of cookbook authors from each camp. Anthony Bourdain refers to vegans as “a persistent irritant to any chef worth a damn” while Carol J. Adams says of meat-eaters, “I truly believed that when they asked about vegetarianism, they really wanted answers. I was wrong.”

Things conclude with a roundtable discussion with six DC-area vegans.

I think it’s a shame how this article seems to take the “us versus them” attitude of some people from both camps and really amplifies it. While I have run into meat-eaters that take absolute offense to even the most passive vegetarians, the majority of people I’ve talked to are understanding, respectful, and interested. At the same time, I’ve met a few “militant vegans,” but even among the misunderstood vegan community, the majority that I’ve met haven’t been the aggressive, self-righteous type, but rather laid back, intelligent people who made a choice for “compassion over killing.”

I think among the meat-eaters that do get offended by a vegetarian’s very existence, the problem tends to be that they feel threatened. They feel threatened that “we” are somehow going to take away their right to eat a fat steak and force them to eat a tofu gluten bulgur burger with a side of kidney beans and flax seeds. But that’s not the case. I know that I’d love it if family members became vegetarian, but I realize it’s a personal choice. And while I’d love for everyone I know to read about the horrors of factory farming practices and the political shadiness in the dairy, meat, and poultry industries, I know that forcing information on them won’t do any good. I wasn’t ready to hear it five years ago when I was eating cheeseburgers for lunch everyday, but when I was ready, that’s when the information made a difference in my life.

The best we can do is to answer questions and set a good example. Let people look at you and see your positive attitude, your good health, and your compassion for living things. Don’t let them see the bitter “I’m-right-you’re-wrong” attitude that some people associate with vegetarians. It’s the old idea of “lead by example.”

We can only change our own lives, but we can influence others’ without saying a word.

5 Responses to “Washington Post looks at “attitudes””

  1. Katherine

    Very well-written, Ryan.

  2. John

    I too enjoyed the article in the Washington Post. However, I wonder why people believe (as one of the vegan interviewees seemed to) that if meat-eaters could just take a peek inside a slaughterhouse, they would all become vegetarians. How many vegetarians do you think there are among slaughterhouse employees? These people see animals killed every day of the week, and it doesn’t turn them into vegetarians. In fact, people I’ve known who worked in the meat packing industry seemed proud of their knowledge of how meat is processed, and readily offerered advice as to which cuts are the best.

    I’m a vegetarian who believes there is a lot of misinformation out there — much of it spread be vegetarians themselves.

  3. Robin Arcuri

    I like this article!

  4. Msb And Lorien

    You have a great site, but I’m so sorry you have a lot of spam :-(

  5. K

    They feel threatened that “we” are somehow going to take away their right to eat a fat steak

    Reminds me of the sentiment behind another rabid movement, one that is currently very prominent, that I think probably has a lot of coincidental social overlap here.

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