Saturday, June 27, 2009

A Tree-hugging Hippie Vegetarian Rant

I'm tired of people telling me that I should eat meat because it tastes good. It's like saying you should use cocaine because it makes you feel good.

Every time I go in for my internship I am asked another question about what I do and do not eat. My coworkers are all foodies, and they have a very Western idea that only food with animal products can be gourmet. I suppose I understand: meat has traditionally been a global luxury, therefore "meat" is still equated with "good." My favorite cuisine has long been Indian food, even before I went vegetarian. Indian cooking does use a lot of animal products; even if there is not meat or cheese the dish is often prepared with ghee (clarified butter), but because Hinduism reveres cows and supposedly respects all creatures, I've found Indian dishes to be very vegetarian-friendly and still delicious. Also, since meat is scarce in many places, the vegetarian dishes of these regions are spectacular. India, China and Ethiopia come to mind.

At the same time, I'm pretty much convinced that PETA, Greenpeace, etc are all right-wing conspiracies to make the American public look down on the environmental and animal rights movements. The local PETA group hired a homeless man at the Pride festival today to hold a sign saying "Save the Cows- Go Vegan"; how does that make veganism look? First, I don't give a damn about the cows. Don't get me wrong- I like cows on an individual level, but cattle are a huge detriment on the environment. Second, the alcoholic, most-likely mentally-ill man who begs for money and cigarettes outside of QFC should not be the face of the movement. Again, I am not trying to pass judgment on this person as an individual and I do not know his story. My point is that PETA should be making a convincing argument for their case. PETA is essentially applying for a position in people's lives; if an applicant walked into a job interview having not showered or changed his clothes for days, the company would immediately show him to the door; a man in a suit would have a chance. If PETA truly wants change, they should be transmitting a convincing message of legitimacy.

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