I guess it’s only natural to feel frustrated sometimes when you’re part of a minority of any sort, whether it’s one by birth (race) or by choice (diet/beliefs). I mean, while articles like Is the meat-free diet for the chop? (an article about the decline of vegetarianism in Scotland which includes choice quotes like “There is a feeling that vegetarianism isn’t such a big deal any more. I’ve noticed a lot of people turning back to meat.”) are a dime a dozen and just serve to show that if you look at vegetarianism as a trend or a quick-fix diet rather than a life-long change, you’ll eventually “get tired” of it. Whatever. Articles like this one are just nonsense filler with no real point or, forgive the term, meat.
What really gets me frustrated is in-fighting. I’ve been seeing in it amongst all sorts of groups, including some you’d never expect there to be such anger being tossed around. An appropriate example to share here is the hot topic in the vegetarian movement: the disbursement of money from the McDonald’s beef-flavored-fries lawsuit amongst “vegetarian groups.” The long argument made short: some vegetarian activists were angry at how the money was being distributed, with certain organizations getting a lot and some other worhty organizations getting none. There’s also controversy about the ethics of the lawyers involved, but I’ll leave it to you to read the full story on the link above. The VegSource folks have struck hard at McDonald’s and groups like the Vegetarian Resource Group (one article VegSource wrote was titled “Sleeping with the Enemy”) for their stance in the issue and their own willingness to accept such a large sum of money for themselves.
I get frustrated because all this fighting, mudslinging, and name-calling takes away focus from what’s really important: getting information out to the public that speaks well for the vegetarian movement. And don’t get me wrong: I’m not taking sides here. I think Jeff Nelson has a point and he articulates it well, and I also think that the manner in which the lawsuit was handled is shady. But when I visit web sites to read about vegetarian food, animal rights issues, or battles against big business, I don’t want my attention to be drawn to in-fighting amongst groups that should be on the same side, you know?
As all that was getting me riled up, Erik posted a link on Vegan.com to a well-written op-ed piece in a University of Texas at Arlington school paper titled Thought Food: Alternative eating habits not only save animals but save on the bottom line. Taking a pro-vegetarian stance in Texas takes some guts. Of course, when the rebuttal uses the incredibly tired “animals exist for human use and consumption, which is simply proven by the fact that every human being possesses carnivorous incisors in their mouth” argument, a pro-vegetarian stance will make sense to all but the most staunch meat-eaters.
So do me a favor: find some “happy news” or share some information about good food you’ve been eating. Let’s brighten things up around here…