The other day, I read a Freshly Pressed blog post from an RD explaining the differences (and benefits) of grass fed vs. grain fed beef. One commenter said she “…loves being a vegetarian.” I responded to her comment and said, “Amen! I love being a vegan.”
And then another commenter responded to my comment and said the following:
I doubt you are a true Vegan. You don’t own a leather hand bag? Your car doesn’t have leather seats…or you would walk rather than riding in a car that has leather seats? You clearly would never fly JetBlue then. If you have a son, you won’t let him play baseball…the ball and glove are leather. Because to be a true Vegan, you can’t use ANY product that comes from animals…even though the animals were put here for us. And don’t forget, if Vegan’s were around back in the good ole days, our society would look quite different now. It would have been kind of hard to expand West without eating a Buffalo or two. Those long journey’s would have been really tough going across Nebraska eating nothing but tumble weeds. In the immortal words of Denis Leary – “not eating meat is a choice, eating meat is an instinct.”
My initial reaction to this commenter was to laugh because in the almost two years I have been a vegan (former vegetarian), I have never heard of the phrase *true vegan*. I also found his (assuming it is a he) comments idiotic and not worthy of a response. Generally I make it a point to avoid getting into debates with non-vegans whose minds are completely closed to the idea of living a vegan lifestyle (like the commenter above). When I run up against anti-vegans, I find most are quite hostile and tend to make blanket statements without any factual data to back up their claims. And then this morning, I decided to share the comment above with two fellow vegans, one more seasoned (his name is Greg) and the other who is relatively new to the vegan scene (his name is Thomas) and this is what they had to say:
“They are not all bad points. I would tell him that being vegan means you don’t “support” animal cruelty to the best of your ability. For example, I didn’t get the hybrid Ford Fusion because it had leather seats. I chose to get the stripped down version of the car because I didn’t want leather. If he did his research he would have mentioned that the tires in your car probably have animal products, that’s something you cannot practically avoid in my opinion. You can also tell him you look at the ground when you walk so you don’t step on ants, you have the PETA bug catcher for spiders and flies in your house, you wash microbes off your tomatoes before you eat, you don’t use products that were tested on animals, etc. but it won’t matter. The bottom line is you want to be the best person you can be and not eating or wearing animal products gets you there. Even if you walked to every place you went he would argue that you can’t eat anything that was trucked to its destination because of the tire affect. That is, if he was informed enough.
The ignorance shines through in his other points. I don’t have to tell you that humans evolved as herbivores but rather than explaining evolution to somebody that may not have the capacity to understand it just simply ask how elephants or giraffes would do it? They travel clear across countries in order to get to water. I’m also pretty sure you could find more than tumble weeds in Nebraska. I resent the belittling of humans… The same species that created the pyramids are not capable of dragging food across a state? And it’s not surprising that he’s looking up to Denis Leary. A comic who makes a living off of re-ensuring people’s biases. Maybe he should turn off Comedy Central and pick up a book written by Peter Singer, a well respected philosopher who will tell him why meat is absolutely a choice here or the China Study which would inform him of the dangers of eating meat. Lastly, if eating meat is an instinct, why doesn’t he run after a deer, or rabbit or even a turkey in his back yard and sink his teeth into its flesh for dinner tonight?
“I take strong exception to his post. First of all, who said that animals were put here for us? What is his source, The Bible? What about the dozens of other hominid species that preceded us? Were they put here for us as well? What about Homo neanderthalensis (Neanderthals) that lived concurrently with modern humans? They were bigger and stronger than us and their brains were about as large. They looked virtually identical to us. Did God intend for us to have dominion over them as well? What about the 99% of all species that have ever existed on Earth that are now extinct, most of whom preceded the emergence of Homo sapiens? Were they all put here for us as well? Billions of years of evolution and progress and extinction, all just to make fossil fuels for our Sea-Doos? What about microbes and bacteria and viruses? Were they put here for us, so that we might have dominion over them? One could argue that many of them have dominion over us. To simply say “animals were put here for us,” without so much as citing a single source or conveying any rationale for such a profound and sweeping statement seems to me a very arrogant thing to do.
[This portion is written directly to the poster] As for your Denis Leary quote, I object to the notion that eating meat is an instinct. Whenever I’ve watched young children interact with the world, and in particular with animals, I’ve never concluded from those observations that eating other animals is instinctual for human beings. Think back to when you were a child and you first encountered a cow or a chicken or a horse. What was your instinct then? Did you salivate at the sight of the animal? Did you feel an irresistible urge to pounce on it and sink your woefully inadequate teeth into the animal’s hide and its warm, pulsating flesh underneath? Do you enjoy raw, blood drenched flesh? Does that satisfy your instincts, or like most humans do you find it repulsive?
Just because you and I and so many others have been conditioned since a child to enjoy highly disguised animal flesh that has been cooked and modified and processed to the point where it no longer evokes in you any association with an actual living creature does not mean that eating meat is “instinctual.” Eating meat is instinctual for many animals. That fact is easily observed in kittens that will salivate at the sight of a rodent and pounce on it and kill it. They genuinely do appear to savor and enjoy raw flesh. However, I have yet to see a three-year old human compelled by instinct to behave in the same fashion and, when I think objectively about it, I don’t believe I am inherently endowed with even the slightest instinct to devour other animals.”
In closing, I think both of my fellow vegans have made strong arguments against the blanket ignorant statements made by the anonymous poster (Full Discloser: I do know the commenter’s blog handle; however, I refuse to direct any traffic to his blog) and I don’t think I could have said it any better. As a vegan, I am faced with the challenges of living among non-vegans, which society caters to. To that end, if I can live in harmony with meat-eaters, why can’t non-vegans do the same? Why must non-vegans/anti-vegans become so enraged over my choice to live a vegan, earth friendly lifestyle? What are they so afraid of?