I was a vegetarian for about half a year when I lived with my father. I was a child protester, upset that my sisters and I had little influence on what was served for dinner. My father tried to make us feel guilty for the great American food we were eating and he suggested I go to Viet Nam if I wanted to eat more rice. I remember him making my step sisters stand against the wall and ask them to look at their toes. Two of them were ridiculed for being too fat to see them and the one was praised for not being able to because of her huge breasts. The protest was simple, if I didn’t eat the extremely heavy meat diet I was being fed, my nutrition would suffer. And it did, corn, pasta and potatoes only go so far. I remember the first meat I ate to break my fast. I was with some skateboarding buddies in a McDonald’s dumpster. I ate a “safe” burger and almost vomited. Not because it was literally garbage, but rather because it was figurative garbage and my body had become accustomed to a lighter diet.
Later in my life I found myself dating a Jewish hippie in Albuquerque. In the new SUV her parents bought her she drove me to a hipster party were half the people were vegetarians. It made sense to me that that vegetarians and money went hand and hand because if you don’t have money, being a proper veghead is difficult due to US ag policy. My curiosity had me asking a bunch of questions. I discovered that my girlfriend did not (like) eat beans. Fresh out of culinary school, where I took a nutrition course, I found it difficult to grasp how a person could be a healthy vegetarian without eating beans and legumes. I asked and within 5 minutes we were no longer a couple and most of the people at the party looked at me like I was the devil. Food can be a very sensitive subject.
There’s no question that humans are omnivores. I recently read a hypothesis that it’s our ability to cook food that really separates us from other animals, not our thumbs. Cooking food enables us to be extremely efficient omnivores. While carnivores have to spend the majority of their time hunting and herbivores have to spend the majority of their time chewing, we use cooking as a way to preserve meat and delegate the act of chewing plants to fire, artificial predigestion. This gave us a huge survival advantage and freed up massive amounts of time so our brains could swell and we were able to usher critical thought to the earth.
I’ve noticed when speaking to vegetarians about their vegetarianism that they feel attacked. That confused me because there rarely is a need to defend not doing something. But being an atheist has helped me understand. I don’t feel the need to defend not believing in established make-believes, but the underlying message from the religious, whether it’s conscious or not, is that not believing in thier make believe makes me a bad person. The Christians I know love me anyway… so generous. The bad pope even says that Jesus really didn’t mean that one had to be baptized and believe in him to avoid eternal damnation. When I speak to the religious about my nothing they feel attacked because I am asserting they are wrong. It’s fun to watch Christians take it personally. I despise all religion, even Buddhism. I do not support COEXIST.
Not believing in religion does not mean a person is rational or good. Although I am a technical atheist, I’m not a monist, which most people unknowingly interchange. There is something more to “existence” than matter and energy and determining what right and wrong are, is very important to me. I even have my own very active ghosty crew (i call it, It), which at first I made the mistake of the religious and fell into a few years of tormenting delusion. Dropping the monism saved me from a downward spiral, though it is difficult always having to doubt your sanity. There are two kingdoms of knowledge, epistemological, which is the domain of science and ideological, which is the domain of art, identity and politics. The first’s goal is to remove doubt and have consensus, the other demands doubt be present and is a circle, not a dot. If you truly want to be a good person you have to be humble and explore these kingdoms for yourself.
I now think I understand why vegetarians feel attacked when speaking with meat eaters. Similar to religion, moral based vegetarians are asserting that meat eaters are bad and most likely intellectually inferior. They believe we are wrong because they assign near human rights to lower animals. They believe we’re intellectually inferior because most of us have given less than a blinks worth of thought to what should be one of the most important decisions of our lives, how we treat the rest of life on earth. If you’re going to eat meat and be a good person you have to be able to justify yourself. You have to take responsibility for how the animal is raised and slaughtered. I’m a chef. I learned in school how to take the bones out of a chicken, but leave the flesh-suit entirely intact. That gross process might have helped me not have issue in taking an animals life with my own hands. But the packaged meat in the supermarket, which makes it more removed from reality even more than the store itself, is a disturbing development. If you put down a dollar for a whopper you are responsible for putting a bolt in a tortured cow’s brain. If you can’t touch raw chicken, you shouldn’t put it in your mouth cooked.
The next time you argue with a vegetarian, remember that it is you who has to justify what you eat, not them. And it’s a complicated argument involving the dot and circle. At the very least, you should at least kill one animal to eat in your life and visit a factory farm. I don’t eat meat because it’s “natural” or “tastes good”, I do it because there’s a scientific method of placing consciousness on a scale. Some animals have a consciousness that aproaches humans. And those animals deserve more rights than a 6 week old human fetus.