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?