Dan Murphy: Three Questions for Vegetarians

As much as we love to dish it out, none of us love getting our semi-witty sarcasms and dagger-like dissections of somebody else’s choices thrown back in our face.

It kinda sucks to hear your verbal put-downs — passive aggressive though they may be — repackaged and redirected right back at ya.

So I’ll acknowledge that a little humility’s in order upon reading one vegetarian’s screed about the reactions she encounters from the other 90% of the world that hasn’t internalized the horror that is meat-eating.

Sorry — I went off script already. See how easy it is to dish out the put-downs?

Anyway, in a commentary posted online—the source is immaterial, since there are a dozen such screeds posted every week of the year—this young woman recounted the scenario she encounters upon announcing, or admitting, to a group on non-veggies that she does not eat meat.

She said, such a statement “instigates a dance we all know very well, but never stop doing” (“we” being vegetarians). She complained that she has to cycle through a litany of answers to what she characterized as ridiculous questions:

  • “Yes, I’m a vegetarian.”
  • “Yes, it’s because I don’t like killing animals.”
  • “Yes, I’m aware that it’s ‘natural’ to eat animals.”
  • “No, I don’t need to discuss why we have incisors.”
  • “No, I can’t give you a full breakdown of where I got my protein this week.”

I suppose it would get old if one had to constantly offer stock replies to what are perceived as banal questions, but wouldn’t the apparent frequency of such a line of inquiry indicate, at the very least, that going full veggie is a departure from the norm?

 

Thoughts, Veggies?
Anyway, here are three questions I’d like to pose to all those world-weary vegetarians who hold that the truths underlying their “conversion” ought to be self-evident:

Question No. 1: Is vegetarianism for everyone? Or is it only for the small percentage of affluent consumers with access to all the processed, prepared foods that modern vegies insist are valid substitutes for animal foods? The reason this question demands a response is because for every staple of the proverbial “balanced” diet — which includes meat eggs, and dairy foods — vegetarians point to substitutes, like cashew cheez, soy sausage and tofu-banana-coconut egg substitute (seriously) that they claim are perfect replacements for animal foods.

The only problem is that such foods are highly processed, which presumes an advanced manufacturing infrastructure and requires a robust distribution and cold chain system, along with retail access widely available to the entire population of a country. That’s simply not the case for billions of people around the world, and to ignore that fact is the height of arrogance, yet it’s a reality most veggies prefer to pretend is irrelevant.

Question No. 2: Is the growing prevalence of factory foods a positive development? With the emergence of all the alt-meat products being marketed as oh-so superior to the gross and primitive profession of animal husbandry, why are vegetarians so comfortable with the specter of massive, automated factories churning out faux foods, like the cell-cultured shamburgers touted as being “bloody?” Do they believe that the eventual dominance of high-tech, capital-intense food production systems, which would displace hundreds of thousands of small-scale farmers, ranchers and millions of meat industry workers to be cause for celebration? I don’t.

Question No. 3: If meat-eating was acceptable in earlier eras, but now is wholly unnecessary, is it then a good thing that Western “explorers” have wiped out indigenous people around the world? If advancing beyond a lifestyle that at least partially depended on hunting, and later on domestication of livestock, is a good thing, then should we celebrate the fact that virtually every population that survived on such sustenance for millennia are either eradicated or reduced to subsisting on packaged, processed foods?

That’s not a rhetorical question. Consider the poor, mentally exhausted vegetarian referenced above, and her weariness at acknowledging that it’s “natural” to eat animals, although she believes that not doing so is a positive, life-affirming choice.

That reply begs the question: Should veggies be happy that humans have “evolved” beyond the point where they needed to eat animals? Because the reason so many cultures have evolved is because they were virtually — or literally — wiped out.

And that is decidedly not a positive development.

To respond to these three questions honestly, while maintaining one’s conviction that vegetarianism ought to be the world’s preferred choice of diet and lifestyle, requires a level of psychological gymnastics that is truly breathtaking.

It’s a sport at which I won’t even try to excel.

Editor’s Note: The opinions I this commentary are those of Dan Murphy, a veteran journalist and commentator.

 
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