Oh, You Don’t Eat Meat? Do Tell Me More.

The whole “vegetarian/vegan as insufferable blowhard” trope has been dragged through society since humans have had the privilege of looking at food that was available to eat at that moment and saying, “Nah, bro, I think I’m gonna wait around for some kale.” And yet, as if they are blissfully unaware of the reputation that precedes them the second they proclaim their animal-free lifestyle, you can expect the most exhausting diatribes at the drop of a hat. With the advent of the internet, the various ways in which these people can preach to us from their position high atop Mount Judgment have virtually exploded. Now, don’t get me wrong — I have no problems with people’s personal dietary choices, so long as they remain just that — personal. Not a cause to proselytize to every lowly serf to ever ingest a chicken wing. I suppose, in the interest of specificity, I am talking here about the militants.

And the ways in which they make their veg-status known are many, each more dripping with condescension than the last. It can be a pages-long essay in a comment forum that brutally describes the procedures in factory farms (in a thread that likely has little to do with meat itself), or deceptive, misleading infographics, or a simple accusation of cruelty at a total internet stranger (I once saw a particularly feisty vegan use the term “bloodmouth,” which sounds oddly like a villain in Harry Potter). All of these methods and more are at their disposal to browbeat the internet at large into agreeing with the general premise that animal products are bad, and we should feel bad for using them.

But to address one of the more egregious methods, let’s talk about those condescending images of all the delicious, healthy food we could be buying if only we pried ourselves from the cruel teat of the animal-abuse industry. I’m sure you’ve seen the proud, well-lit photo of a refrigerator or kitchen counter simply overflowing with 4 metric tons of organic, farm-fresh produce that was purchased by the non-meat-eater for a mere 35 cents at his or her local market, as they only too proud to tell us. Look at how much money we could be saving if we only didn’t gorge ourselves like gout-ridden royalty at our local KFC, you guys! Aside from being amongst the most disingenuous images on the entire internet, this is also just a slightly more complex way of writing “F-CK YOU, POOR PEOPLE” across your forehead and putting up your middle fingers.

You see, while some people have the luxury of lingering in the aisles of Whole Foods and buying free-range when the occasion calls for it, not to mention living within reasonable distance of an actual grocery store that provides them with mildly heart-healthy options, a huge amount of people don’t. We have what are called “food deserts,” huge swaths of the country in which the options for dinner are fast food, fast food, or convenience store sticky bun. The people who are regularly feeding their family with cheap, easily accessible, unhealthy fast foods or prepackaged meals are often those who don’t have the choice. It’s nice that you can buy 8 pounds of lentils and several hectares of apple trees and then Instagram it to show everyone how ~balanced~ your nutrition is, but some people wouldn’t even have the time to turn that into a viable meal for their family — if the actual purchasing of it was even at their disposal.

There are fundamental problems underlying the kinds of foods that vegetarians and vegans often decry, and it’s not as simple as chaining yourself to a Burger King and hoping that animal cruelty will come to a screeching halt worldwide. It’s one thing to say that we should try to buy our food responsibly and ethically whenever possible, and we should, but it’s quite another to shame a huge amount of people to whom even the concept of a farmer’s market is completely unavailable. And yes, working to make a diverse array of healthy options available to an entire country is harder than yelling at people over the internet about how evil they are for eating a hamburger, but it might eventually lead to less animals living torturous lives.

Which leads to another flaw in this grand scheme to direct us all to the salad bar: most people aren’t going to stop eating meat. It is delicious, it is often healthy, and we have been eating it since we were able to sharpen a stick and throw it at moving things. I feel no need to apologize for the fact that I love chicken, tuna, or venison. I have seen my meal go from animal bounding around a small farm, to being bled out in a barn, to surrounded by roast vegetables on my plate. I know that eating an animal — or often, using its residual products — has taken a life. I am comfortable with that, and I don’t feel remorse. I simply do not place animals on the same level as humans in any ethical, moral, or intellectual sense. (No matter how many times you compare any animal conditions to the Holocaust, it’s not going to be any less offensive.) There are people that do, though, and more power to them. My aunt can post pro-animal, heartstring-tugging videos on Facebook until the sun caves in on itself and it is as though humanity never existed, but I’m still going to thoroughly enjoy meat products.

The truth is, I don’t care about most of the arguments militant vegans/vegetarians present. The second they stop being classist, offensive, disingenuous, and outright ridiculous — I’m all ears. But until that happens, it’s just another group of smug people looking for their soapbox. TC mark

image – Shutterstock

Chelsea Fagan

Chelsea Fagan founded the blog The Financial Diet. She is on Twitter.

Trace the scars life has left you. It will remind you that at one point, you fought for something. You believed.

“You are the only person who gets to decide if you are happy or not—do not put your happiness into the hands of other people. Do not make it contingent on their acceptance of you or their feelings for you. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter if someone dislikes you or if someone doesn’t want to be with you. All that matters is that you are happy with the person you are becoming. All that matters is that you like yourself, that you are proud of what you are putting out into the world. You are in charge of your joy, of your worth. You get to be your own validation. Please don’t ever forget that.” — Bianca Sparacino

Excerpted from The Strength In Our Scars by Bianca Sparacino.

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More From Thought Catalog

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1363230138 Michael Koh

    my asshole middle school teacher said to the class “cooking meat is basically spoiling it—you’re eating spoiled meat. that’s why i only eat vegetables.” 

    i didn’t eat meat for a week until my parents took me to a bbq restaurant and i meat-gasmed 

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=587186164 Bernice Koh

      why would a teacher do that?! such spoiling of the minds of impressionable middle schoolers

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1363230138 Michael Koh

        yeah we aren’t related, right?

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=587186164 Bernice Koh

        ohh i didn’t realize! i have literally met less than five people with the same last name so maybe we are… distantly. 

  • Matthew

    I know this is largely a troll article but I’m gonna take the bait anyway.

    I’m not a vegetarian or vegan. The majority of my friends and family are, but they’re not dicks about it. The people who are dicks about it are the ones who get offended by vegetarians’ dietary choices – people who eat meat and can’t stand the idea of someone leading a different lifestyle to them, as though the act of abstaining from certain food is an affront to every essence of their being. Those types seem are more common, and those are the ones that lead to uncivil discussion.

    Maybe the problem isn’t vegetarians – maybe the problem is you associate with shitty people. Time for a Facebook culling.

    • Finn

      Jesus, I couldn’t agree more. I don’t eat meat (not for any of the reasons people always assume I don’t eat meat) and I never talk about it unless someone offers me meat or asks me about it and then I always just say “I don’t eat meat”. I never get into it unless I’m asked, and even then I never try to get people “on board” with me. However, the number of times I’ve heard this exact speech is amazing. People feel free to attack you if the word vegetarian ever comes up in casual conversation. 

    • Guest

      i disagree…there are LOADS of vegetarians and vegans who are more than willing to jump down your throat about the millions of reasons why it’s bad to eat meat. case in point: peta.

      • Matthew

        Then don’t hang out with them. There are militant feminists, militant Muslims and militant Christians too. If someone’s a shitty person, it doesn’t matter what cause they’re fighting for: they’re shitty individuals and they represents nothing but themselves. If you paint them all with the same brush, not only is it your own fault but you’re doing yourself a disservice. 

      • sneakypizza

        most of the vegs/veegs I know would prefer not to be associated with PETA. Their tactics are pretty offensive to most, and in my experience, don’t mirror the attitudes of your everyday veggie head. 

  • Lex

    I have never once met a vegetarian or vegan who acted this way. Either you are hanging out with actual crazy people, or you’re just really weirdly defensive.

    • Jaxx

       “actual crazy people” made me laugh.

  • Anonymous

    Being attacked by meat eaters is probably up there as one of the main reasons vegetarians/vegans can sometimes get territorial or whatnot, the problem is when YOU bring up dietary choices. I can be in a restaurant with friends, order a non-meat dish and minding my own business, and then *I* am the one who gets attacked. “Oh hurr that vegetable had to suffer too,” “are you SURE you don’t want a bite of my burger?,” “meat is so delicious, how could you hate this stuff?”. I’m sorry, but that’s called asking for a condescending attitude. And then *I* get preached to about how meat is the best thing ever? Okay.

    • Chelsea Powell

      Exactly.

  • Guest

    YES ON SO MANY LEVELS. now i don’t feel like such an asshole anymore for thinking these exact thoughts.

  • Guest

    I’m a vegetarian and I agree 100% I am so damn tired of high and mighty non-meat eaters. 

  • Fanney

    I’ve literally never met a vegetarian who acts like this. The number of overly defensive carnivores I’ve met is very high though. 

    • lu

      fuck yes, whenever you mention it they are always so quick to put down vegetarianism/defend eating meat. All you have to do to provoke them is state you don’t eat meat. I even try and avoid saying ‘vegetarian’ because people get so bloody touchy about it.

    • David

      Same here. As a polite, vegetarian atheist, I’m always shocked at these outbursts about “militants” who share my values. I’ve not met them. If I did know people like that, I wouldn’t spend time with them. How insufferable. I only mention that I’m vegetarian if someone asks, and maybe 20% of the time I have to listen to a rant about how meat eating is natural, blah, blah whatever. I didn’t ask!

    • Nathaniel

      I completely agree with you (as well as David and Lu); I’ve never met one of these “militants” in person. I admit, I have come across some die-hard vegan evangelists on the Internet, but never in person. I’ve been a vegetarian for most of my life, and I don’t proselytize my principles. As you mentioned, the only times that conflict arises is when non-vegetarians, upon learning that I am a vegetarian, become indignant and offended, or begin asking me hypothetical scenarios about “would you eat meat if…” 

      It’s unfortunate that this image exists around vegetarians. In many ways, I agree with the points that Ms. Fagan makes (“I don’t care what you do/eat, as long as you don’t try to make me do/eat it”), I just think it is sad that she feels morally persecuted by vegetarians. I have never, ever told someone: “you should be a vegetarian” (or anything to that effect).

  • Guest

    I am vegan but I only tell people if we are going for food somewhere. I never make a point of telling people about my beliefs yet when they find out, I am bombarded with pictures of meat or comments like ‘mmm steak’ posted on my profile. Meat eaters shove their beliefs in our faces just like vegans do.

  • http://twitter.com/shelbyemustang Shelby Bourne

    Steak with a side of bitter much? As a vegetarian (which is a lifestyle choice I made for myself), I found your article to be smug and crass. We are all responsible for the choices we make in our life particularly our attitudes. I’ll happily eat from the Whole Foods salad bar and purchase non-gmo almond milk because it is the right choice for ME. I have never spoken a ill word towards those who inquired about the choices I’ve made and happily share information when possible AND prompted. With education comes better choices and if I can help a friend who is curious, I am happy to do so. It sounds like you don’t have anyone in your life to do so and for that, I’m sorry.

  • Kirsten

    I love meat but I feel more energized on a vegetarian diet.  Still people are quick to judge me and just assume things about my beliefs. “I don’t care about animals getting slaughtered nor do I preach about it and yes sir I do know theyre tasty thank you.” is usually how conversations about it go.

    • kokomo

      you dont care about animals being slaughtered yet u are a vegetarian..?

      • Guest

        because she JUST said she feels more energized on a vegetarian diet…?

      • sneakypizza

        Even if you hate animals and want them all to die, there are about a bazillion other reasons to reduce the amount of animal-based products you consume. Google it, boss. 

  • Ainsley

    YOU are insecure around vegans/vegetarians. i actually have never in my life heard a vegan give an unwarranted lecture. people seem to freak out at the fact that vegetarians even state that they are vegetarian, like they think they are so much better, but actually YOU THINK THEY ARE. they are only doing it in response to having to deny meat being offered.

    • cait

      PREACH

  • Jaxx

    I’m a vegetarian, and I’m not a jerk about it. I never mention it until someone offers me a slab of ribs or something, and I don’t want to offend the chef by declining. The only thing I really miss is bacon. Has anyone found a good vegetarian bacon substitute? Everything I’ve encountered tastes like spicy cardboard.

    • Shandra

       Morningstar makes a good bacon substitute that is vegetarian, but not vegan.  It was actually harder for me to give that up (when I went from vegetarian to vegan) than pig bacon.

  • margot

    most pathetic article about generalizing vegetarians/vegans i have barely read. seriously, i couldn’t get through the whole thing because i knew what it was going to say. 

    sincerely, a vegetarian ~

  • Mad

    Thanks for grouping all vegetarians together, ass hole. Not all of us are as condescending and judgmental as you appear to be. Also, in no way does me being a vegetarian mean that I’m taking a jab against those who can’t afford to feed their families proper meals. It’s a personal choice. Hope this clarifies things for you! You seemed confused.

    • Oliver Miller

      “Not all of us are as condescending and judgmental as you appear to be.”

      Which in itself…  But then:

      “Hope this clarifies things for you! You seemed confused.”

      And I died.  Died.

  • crazycatlady

    People are threatened by vegetarianism because it implicitly condemns a meat-eating diet, which it does. Because however you look at it, it is morally higher ground.

    • Matthew

      Nope. People go on vegetarian diets for non-ethical reasons – elevated liver enzymes, heart problems, or maybe they just don’t like meat anymore. The only implicit condemnation comes from projected insecurities.

    • Sam

      LOL

  • Scottcoubrough

    you have to understand that other people do not see meat-eating as a ‘personal choice’ because it is a choice that causes pain to another. choosing to paint your bedroom pink, for example, is a personal choice in a more definite way because it does not hurt anybody. this is just what vegans think – they do not see veganism as ‘personal dietary choice’. so you just have to get over this personal choice thing. it makes no sense in the context of veganism.

    i am disappointed with this article. it is bitter and not funny or relevant at all.

    • sneakypizza

      YES. The sad thing is, it would have taken Ms. Fagan about 5 seconds to google the reasons why people choose to go veg/vegan/flexitarian/whatevs.

  • crazycatlady

    Oh and, does giving someone Word and a thesaurus mean they can write now?

    • Guest

      LOL GOOD ONE

  • Veronica

    This article is completely hypocritical and only adds fuel to the fire.  The author seems to complain about vegetarians who are scowly, defensive, generalizing, and rude —- by being scowly, defensive, generalizing, and rude.

    I feel as though the author could have written a much more constructive article about the need for better access to and education about healthy food and nutrition (regardless of whether that includes meat or not) for the economic underclass. The article makes it sound as though vegetarians want to perpetuate this elitism, when the reality is that they are likely the ones who are pushing to make these important policy changes.

    I totally agree that it is hard to eat healthy and that junk is often the cheaper option. Polarizing vegetarians is so anti-constructive to this issue. Even though this is a ‘rant’ opinion piece, I think it’s actually a pretty irresponsible piece that skews the reality behind why many people choose to be vegetarian.

    P.S. I’m not vegetarian

  • Karlos

    How can you tell if someone’s a vegan?

    Don’t worry, they’ll tell you.

    That’s from a quickmeme image, and it’s accurate in my life.

    • Guest

      true true true true true true true

    • Anonymous

      How can you tell if someone eats meat?

      Don’t worry, they’ll tell you.

  • nicetomeatyou

    i’ve met more people in my life who complain about bragging vegetarians than vegetarians actually bragging themselves 

  • guest

    YES thank you. The entitled pretension of a lot of vegans has always frustrated me–obviously our country has a lot of problems with food, but buying organic/free range/vitamins and supplements to balance out a vegan diet is absolutely exclusionary

    • Scottcoubrough

      as far as i know there are no ‘free range’ vegan foods because they are not made from animals. there is also no requirement to eat organic. i know it has a reputation for being difficult and exclusionary, but in reality this is not the case. please forgive the ‘entitled pretension’ of vegans, becase i bet that most of the time they are just trying to promote a different and less violent way of living.

  • http://theworldpulse.com/ Nandikesha Jungwirth

    we’re all doing our best to cope with that innate, aching sense of separateness from the rest of life. some people feel greater connection with nature by abstaining from ingesting parts of it and doing what they can to try to protect that. some people feel greater connection with nature by entering into an exchange and reciprocity with animals which includes eating them. all around us and within our very bodies, life is suckling on the swollen sagging breasts of death. we do what we can to feel alright with this unbearably natural process. we erect towering philosophies and pass hammers around online to revel in how impenetrable we’ve walled ourselves in with beliefs and preferences. towers chip, towers smash, towers fall. crisp strips of bacon grow under the rubble. 

  • Domino

    i’m glad most of the comments here are from vegetarians who have never met people like this… because i, a  vegetarian, haven’t either. we’re not snobby, annoying, or condescending. we simply do not enjoy eating dead animals. some people do. i really miss steak and salami. but i’d rather eat other things and feel better with myself. but if we go out to a restaurant and you’re gonna order a huge steak, i’m not gonna blink twice, and i’m certainly not gonna lecture you about it. i hope you’ll do the same as i eat my meat-free food (no, we don’t always eat kale)

  • Chelsea Powell

    Someone please write a rebuttal about smug, militant meat eaters who constantly look for their soapbox. Bacon really isn’t that tasty, y’all.

    • http://twitter.com/emilcDC Emil Caillaux

      Yes it is.

    • Gmo Saza

      Blasphemy!

    • Ashleigh

      False.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_VYDVROKY4PUBOKUHB3QF42FH2Y Paul S

    Anecdotal, I know, but every vegan/vegetarian I know (while thin) is perpetually sick and/or sickly.  While I, a voracious carnivore, haven’t had so much as a cold in more than a decade.

    • Nishant

      If you haven’t had a cold in more than a decade, please report yourself to a physician. Your immune system is fucked. Sincerely.

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