One would think that when it comes to living healthy the specifics of the journey aren’t as important as the end result, a healthy life. But if you ask many meat eaters they will tell you that vegetarians and vegans use the fact that they don’t eat meat as a part of their journey (and their love for animals), as the reason that they are slightly better and less hypocritical than those that do.

If you know a non-meat eater chances are you’ve been subjected to the near biblical preaching of why being meat free is the biz and why if you truly love animals you wouldn’t dare let meat touch your lips. Like some religious cults, some vegetarians and vegans are on a constant hunt to spread the word and recruit new members. Many can come off as condescending, I know after speaking to a few of my meat free friends I often feel ashamed of my love for Popeye’s and feel the urge to pay penance to chickens everywhere. Seriously.

NPR recently published a piece on the battle of the meat where they interviewed two meat eaters on their views. Colleen Patrick-Goudreau, who as “The Compassionate Cook” writes a popular series of vegan cookbooks had this to say:

“I think most people agree that not committing violence against another – human or nonhuman – is an ethically superior position to hurting someone. For me, I reflect this ethic by being vegan. Contrary to what some people think, being vegan is not an end in itself; it’s the means to an end. It’s the means through which we can – in our daily lives – reflect our value of not causing harm. The truth is I feel humbled being vegan rather than superior to those who aren’t. I have no cause to be self-righteous. There was a time when I ate animals and made excuses, and I feel grateful to be armed with knowledge and awareness and to be able to act on my values of compassion and kindness. Rather than feel morally superior to people who eat animals, I feel great sorrow for the animals who suffer and for the humans who inflict that suffering. If we keep this big picture in mind, we can create the compassionate world we all envision.”

While I did still feel some slight “you know you wrong for eating meat” shade coming from the statement, I didn’t totally get the feeling that she felt superior to meat eaters like me. I felt that she felt that her choices were better for animals and therefore our planet, a theory which has a well documented air of truth.

Could it be that this message is simply getting lost in the delivery and translation? Or do vegetarians and vegans really believe that their beliefs make them better than the rest of us?


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  1. I actually have experienced the opposite. I found it really hard for some people to understand. One of a vegetarian’s or vegan’s goal is to eat healthier not to just eat for pleasure and for some to save animals. It has nothing to do with thinking you are better. The problem is meat eaters or overeaters think that vegetariansTHINK that they are better (assumptions) . Even if a person isn’t a vegetarian or vegan, I think they should still become aware of their meat/food intake and TRY to at least eat healthier.

  2. I’ve been meat free for about 4 years now and I haven’t really thought about it that way. I made a choice to become a vegetarian and I think other folks should choose what works for them. I have inspired people to try it out. Perhaps because I’m not judgemental about it. It’s pretty straightforward in my house “this is what I’m cooking. If you want to try it, cool. If not you’re free to cook something else for yourself.”

  3. P.S

    That crazy look you receive from traditional people that consume meat < <. It is process, but I think we all should at least try.

  4. If a person think they’re better than me just because I eat and enjoy meat then that’s a person I don’t want to be around. Plan and simple. It’s not hard to x someone out. I love veggies BTW

  5. I’m pescatarian and I’ve never felt like I was better than anyone just because my lifestyle is different than others. There are many different reasons why people decide not to eat meat or not to eat anything that is considered an animal product. It could be a matter of health reasons, to try something different or to eat healthier. I feel as though this idea that people stop eating meat just because of animal rights is a stereotype that is continually enforced. No doubt there are some people who go vegetarian or vegan because of the animals and some of those people do try to enforce their views onto others but that’s not everyone. There are times when meat eaters (I know not everyone necessarily) can be very close minded and as PJ mentioned, you get that look as if you’re crazy for not wanting to eat meat. I would say those people think they’re better, but I know that’s not every who eats meat. The same should go vice versa.

  6. There is always someone who thinks they are better because they live this or that lifestyle, but I don’t think that the majority of vegetarians or vegans are that way. I am a vegetarian, and I’ve never done or said anything to make people feel bad about being omnivores because my reasons are personal and I realize that everyone has a choice and free-will. I have had a couple of people say “What!? No meat? Oh you’re tripping.” But I take it with a grain of salt because my eating habits aren’t affecting them. I usually only tell people I’m a vegetarian when I need to (like before eating at someone’s house or a restaurant). I don’t go around announcing my vegetarianism, nor do I preach about it.

    I do think once you decide to abstain from or depart from something that most humans do, someone will ALWAYS feel like your actions alone make you a holier-than-thou type. Celibate? You think you’re better. Vegan? You think you’re better. A Christian/Muslim/Jew? You automatically think you are better. Don’t relax your hair? You think you’re better.

    I think abstaining from things automatically makes some people feel like you are condemning them for something, and for me, that isn’t the case. I do what I do in life because I feel like it lines up with the Word of God, or it makes me feel happy and/or lines up with my views.

  7. The irony is that people chose to be vegan for the very fact that they do NOT feel they are better or superior to any living thing. I know. January 2012 I decided,after 43 years of consuming the standard American diet to make a new year’s resolution to understand fully the food I was eating and to try to adopt a ‘cruelty free’ way of eating. I thought I would be consuming cage free eggs, organic milk and pastured animals. Research proved my ignorance in believing that these things could be cruelty free – they were anything but. Since I usually accomplish my new year’s resolutions I woke up one day and realized, quite by accident, that I was vegan. It was the only way to achieve the goal. I remember the day as clear as a bell – May 26, 2012. I was feeding a turkey that had been debeaked and had its toes cut off (just like all turkeys do, without any pain meds) and petting a cow and a pig that had survived the unspeakable. I sank to my knees and wept at the grave of a sheep that had been tossed into a dumpster with trash – she had still been alive at the time. She lived thanks to those who realize that animals are not trash. They feel, they have emotions, they respond to their names – if you have owned a dog you know this. What you may not know is that it isn’t only dogs with this kind of intelligence. More importantly, every animal feels pain and understands fear and death and knows when its children are being taken away. Research and two university level standard nutrition classes later I realized that I could no longer take life from another living being, and also that it was not necessary for human health. I extended it to my lifestyle when I watched sheep having their legs cut off while still alive in order to make boots and saw how the rabbits had their eyelids pried open and chemicals poured in for my shampoo. These things scarred me, but in a good way. For now I am no longer a part of that system that ignores the pain of others.

    I never set out to be who I am today. But I am glad it happened none-the-less. I am five months now an ‘accidental’ vegan. And five months free of my former life. I am happy, healthy, and at peace. And not only do I not feel like I am better than ‘you’. I don’t feel like I am better than any living creature. And this has made my heart and mind whole. It is a beautiful feeling inside. Thank you.

  8. I think the problem comes from both sides, to be honest.

    On one side, you have the vegans and vegetarians and, while not all act this way, they have a tendency to sometimes push their views onto others, especially over the internet. It’s similar to how religious people seem to non-religious people; if you live in a way that makes you happy, go for it! If suddenly your life is encroaching on my life and what makes me happy and comfortable, now we ha problem. I understand that they are doing it for the animals, but instead of trying to change our lifestyles, how about working to change how the meat we’re consuming is raised? I’d rather do that than change my whole style of life, as well as give up all my favorite things (especially steak) for something I don’t particularly enjoy.

    On the other side, you have the meat-eaters. Meat eaters, after hearing of some of the more forceful things on the vegan/vegetarian side of the conversation, have soon got it stuck in our heads that vegans and vegetarians will always think their lifestyle is better, and therefore have come to expect that behavior. That’s where the weird looks come from when vegetarians and vegans inform us of their diet; we’re expecting you to start preaching about how great life is now that you’ve changed, and how we should change our lifestyle to match yours. I can say 99.9% of the time, we’re happy in our meat-eating lifestyle, and don’t want to change, so we become defensive as we prepare for a battle against our way of life and the way we’re comfortable.

    So, for those claiming meat-eaters believe we’re better than vegetarians/vegans; we don’t. We just like our life the way it is and want to keep it that way. The misconceptions are heavily coming from both sides of the playing field, and, this goes for the two opposites, instead of trying to change each other, how about we remember what both of us seem to care about; the animals. I will always eat meat because I love meat. I don’t love how animals are being treated, and honestly, not eating meat isn’t helping any of it. There isn’t a chance that the meat industry will shut down because of it, and if it threatened to, meat-lovers like me would fight to protect it because, again, we love meat. I would be more inclined to listen and partake in a change of the industry, rather than a removal. If we could get better care and conditions for them; then I’d be right there next to you guys. As it stands, though, neither side seems to be concerned for the animals anymore, just changing the others lifestyle.

  9. I am an animal lover and I eat meat because my body needs the protein. A vegitarian friend of mine always tells me that I must support animal abuse if I eat meat . This girl thinks she’s better than all meat eaters and just cannot keep an opinion to herself. I have helped care for abused and neglected animals , she has done nothing of the sort but continues to tell me that inside I hate animals. It breaks my heart because I’ve spend so much time nursing them back to health and finding them loving homes.I’m called pathetic and a fake by her sometimes.she fails to see that it’s our choice to eat meat and still love animals !

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