A Vegetarian Conversation Held Over a Steak Dinner

You know why I like being a vegetarian with vegan qualities? Because it gives me reason to be a pompous, arrogant, in-your-face prick who throws his beliefs in your face while you shove chicken nuggets down your throat.

Well, that’s not entirely true. In fact, it’s not true at all. A person is defined by both the decisions they make and the decisions they choose not to make. Four and a half years ago, I chose to stop eating meat and wearing animal by-products. After a decade of unnecessarily long deliberation, I had made the decision on the morning of my birthday while driving to work listening to Fugazi. Almost five years later, I can say I’ve never felt healthier in my life, I rarely get sick and I feel strong for having never abandoned my convictions.

One question remains however: Although my refusal to eat meat and wear animal by-products obviously saves the lives of innocent animals, shouldn’t it be my obligation to inform others about the effects of factory farming on the environment, the horrendous immorality involved in slaughtering animals we don’t need to eat and the health effects of a meatless and fruitful diet? Well, yes and no.

Vegetarianism is similar to religion in the way that it should be a personal choice, it should be born from your own decisions and perhaps most importantly, it shouldn’t be thrown in people’s faces. I understand that the last point is controversial as many people believe that the above mentioned points can be brought to light so the masses are aware of the decisions they make in eating food and purchasing animal-sourced clothing. But that light will only bring shadows if it is shoved down people’s throats.

Throwing ideas in a person’s face is arrogant and rude, not admirable and effective. Like religion, shoving your beliefs down someone’s throat will only push them away, prevent them from seeing the purpose of your actions and make people more resistant to accepting your lifestyle.

Despite their abhorrent logic and mentality, the Westboro Baptist Church could probably convince more people that God actually hates homosexuals if they didn’t carry obnoxious signs reading “God Hates Fags.” This isn’t to say they have any good point to make other than “Wow, some people are incredibly ignorant (a term that should be used sparingly for cases like these),” but the point remains, using aggression as opposed to vehement purpose to make your point will only make you see people’s backs, not their curious and questioning faces.

When I sit down to dinner with my carnivorous friends, I don’t voice my opinion when they slice their steak knives into their bloody steaks. In fact, if they choose to eat meat, that’s their choice, but sometimes they ask me, “Hey, Phil, I didn’t know you were a vegetarian; why did you choose to make that decision?”

In response, I tell them, “I couldn’t help but realize that, as a child, the cow I thought was cute whose ‘moo’ I was asked to imitate in the picture book was the same cow I was eating later that night for dinner. It’s not wrong for me to harm another human being because they’re smart or dress well, but because they feel pain, the same pain animals feel when they are physically hurt, and because they feel the same grief we do when their children are taken from them, and therefore, I don’t want to take part in that system. I know that my sole decision to stop eating meat and not wear animal products will not end the system, but I feel better for not partaking in a process I disagree with.”

Usually, people respect that; sometimes they don’t, but every time, I have taken the time to listen to what people have to say (Ok, not every time – some people just reply with stupid remarks – if you’ve been vegetarian longer than a week, you know this). But one thing is for sure, I have influenced other people in going vegetarian – not because I shoved it in their face, but because I openly and without judgment answered their questions regarding a lifestyle they were new to and curious about – and that is much more that I would have done than if I had yelled at them for eating a steak in front of me.

Here are some FAQ’s for those seeking to go vegetarian:

Q: My friend says vegetarians/vegans are faggots, is this true?

A: This question has multiple responses:

1. Your friend is an idiot.
2. Your dietary preference has no bearing upon your sexual orientation.
3. The implication of this statement is that there is something inherently wrong with homosexuality, which means that, well, go back to answer 1.

Q: My friend got really sick when he/she became a vegetarian/vegan, will I get sick?

A: That really depends on what you seek to substitute your meat with. Doritos? Then yes. No offense to Doritos, but becoming a vegetarian or vegan forces you to “go healthy or go home.” When I became a vegetarian, I started eating a lot of fruits and vegetables I never liked before. After six months, I actually craved the taste of fruits and vegetables that I had previously despised. Again, as a healthy eating vegetarian, I’ve never been healthier, which means I rarely get sick.

Q: You can’t get any protein with a vegetarian or vegan diet, care to challenge that?

A: Why yes I do. Protein is available in abundant quantities from non-meat sources including protein shakes, nuts, legumes and beans. A quick Google (or if you’re stuck in 1999, askjeeves.com) search will provide you with plenty of ideas for cooking these delicious foods. Next step? Impress the opposite sex with your awesome cooking skills.

3 thoughts on “A Vegetarian Conversation Held Over a Steak Dinner

  1. I’ve probably been asked why I’m vegetarian/you aren’t one of those are you?, etc…with every single person I’ve shared a meal with! I should print these question/answers and give them out to the jerky ones.

  2. Kylee, you should print it out, and as soon as they start getting into it say, “Pardon me,” then reach into your purse and pull out the Q&A. Of course, feel free to add your own.

  3. I think the response that actually bothers me the most is “Well, I could never give up chicken/cheese/milk/ice cream/pig butt/misc. body part or fluid”. Thank you for completely missing the point about conforming outward actions to values. The very principles, such as the sanctity of life, being against animal cruelty, etc. that you say that you espouse you aren’t willing to make a change to support? Seriously? Not that difficult.

    But then again I was told over the holidays that my use of veggie stock in recipes was “ridiculous”. I’m pleased to report that my soups and foods have been absolutely ludicrous ever since.

    On a separate note, I prefer to not think of those Westboro douches as merely ignorant. As a trainer, my favorite trainerism is “I can teach ignorance, but I can’t teach stupid.” If someone is simply ignorant (they just don’t know) I can educate, but if they are four levels of stupid then there’s no getting through. Westboro is in the “stupid” category.

    Good post, Phil.

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