Someone once accused me of being an atheist because I just wanted to sin all the time with no repercussions. “No,” I said. “You are confused. That’s not why I’m not a Christian. That’s why I’m not a vegetarian.”
In the spirit of just because you CAN do something doesn’t mean you SHOULD do something, I object to using our planet’s limited resources to feed myself through the broken, dirty disgusting industrial animals for food complex. Like maybe if I had my own chickens, and I cut their heads off and ate them, that would be ok. But I suddenly do not want chicken so much after all. And also I am a big wimp, and left to my own devices in the wild without a vending machine for more than four hours, I would die.
It’s not just the ethics of eating things with faces. It’s not enough to address the whole question of using animals for food when we don’t have to, what conditions farm animals should be allotted if we are going to eat them, and how long we before we all die from the superbug created by feeding livestock preventative antibiotics. We really should question where all out food comes from. Is palm oil destroying the rain forest? Are almonds contributing to the drought? If I really thought about where my food comes from, the origin of the seeds, what was sprayed on it, who got paid how much to pick it and under what conditions, what economic systems were effected by what subsidies, and whose corporate headquarters’ have shitty family leave policies every time I put something in my mouth, I probably would be really skinny. I gave up Chick-Fil-A. What do you want from me?
I have cut most meat out of my daily life with the exception of all the lovely Asian broths and sauces I keep in my cabinet. I mean shrimp paste really shouldn’t count anyway because shrimp are bugs. And fish sauce? Well, I think they make that from squeezing ethically sourced sardines into a jar. I’m pretty sure that’s how they make that.
Eating out is a different story, though I tend to stick to seafood. I can’t quite remember the last time I had a big piece of steak or fried chicken or something like that. Yet, the strength of my convictions is weak. And the tests are many. One might argue that adopting a fully vegetarian lifestyle eliminates having to make these ethical choices over and over again. You simply adopt new habits supported by that one lifestyle choice. But I am only a vegetarian on a case by case basis because I just really don’t want to miss out on anything. Like Thanksgiving. Or tamales made by someone’s grandmother. Or drinking beer and sucking the heads of crawfish. You really should try that at least once. Really.
I have recently discovered Vietnamese food (I know I’m pretty late to the party). My local establishment is happy to make me vegetarian banh mi, and menu options include both fried egg and tofu for your sandwich. That’s great because I am also open to trying out new vegetarian options. (I strongly advise against tofurky.) But I tried the pork banh mi. Because I want to know what pork bahn mi tastes like, just once. And Pho, just once.
Ok, not just once. I want to eat Pho broth every day all day forever and ever. What do they put in that stuff? Apparently, it is the very souls of various dead animals stewed together for several days and strained out so you could pretend it comes from a very flavorful carrot if you want to. I think I might just do that. I’m tired. I cannot save the world today. I am only a vegetarian like 70% of the time, and I feel bad about it. Am I a worse person for believing it is unethical to consume meat and not following through, or a better person because I eat considerably less than the 125 pounds of meat the average American consumes in a year?